Thursday, 15 April 2010

the birth and death of Kodachrome

Today is the 75th anniversary of the introduction of Kodachrome colour transparency (slide and movie) film. Production was discontinued in 2009, and the one remaining lab in the world which processes the films (in Kansas USA) will stop developing them at the end of December 2010.
The Kodachrome process is quite different from all other colour slide films, and it is not possible for any other labs to develop them. In Europe, the films were sold "process paid" and an envelope was supplied to post the film to the lab. The last European lab was in Switzerland and closed on 2006. Kodak will be honouring the pre-paid envelopes, which will still need to be sent to Switzerland, from where they will be sent in batches to Kansas. To allow for the further travel, all European orders will have to be sent before the end of November.
The Kodachrome emulsions evolved over the years, and the version that has just been discontinued (K-14 process) was introduced in 1974.
I bought this expired film last year, and now have to decide which camera to use it in. I may split it between two cameras (having e-mailed the Kansas lab to check that they can handle uneven spacings). It would be nice to use a camera that dates from the time of the first Kodachrome film, and then maybe one from 1974, when the last version was introduced.

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