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The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:27 pm
by naim
Kodak taking Kodachrome away

Image
Photojournalist Steve McCurry's widely recognized portrait of an Afghan refugee girl, shot on Kodachrome, appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

The world's first commercially successful colour film, immortalized in song by Paul Simon, is being retired because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age

CAROLYN THOMPSON

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Associated Press, Monday, Jun. 22, 2009 09:35AM EDT

Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

The Eastman Kodak Co. (EK-N2.69-0.16-5.61%) announced Monday it's retiring its most senior film because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

The world's first commercially successful colour film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak's portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and '60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 per cent of the company's total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.

“Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon,” Ms. Hellyar said.

Simon sang about it in 1973 in the aptly titled “Kodachrome.”

“They give us those nice bright colours. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the world's a sunny day,” he sang. “... So Mama don't take my Kodachrome away.”

Indeed, Kodachrome was favoured by still and motion picture photographers for its rich but realistic tones, vibrant colours and durability.

It was the basis not only for countless family slideshows on carousel projectors over the years but also for world-renowned images, including Abraham Zapruder's 8 mm reel of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

Photojournalist Steve McCurry's widely recognized portrait of an Afghan refugee girl, shot on Kodachrome, appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. At Kodak's request, Mr. McCurry will shoot one of the last rolls of Kodachrome film and donate the images to the George Eastman House museum, which honours the company's founder, in Rochester.

For Mr. McCurry, who after 25 years with Kodachrome moved on to digital photography and other films in the last few years, the project will close out an era.

“I want to take (the last roll) with me and somehow make every frame count ... just as a way to honour the memory and always be able to look back with fond memories at how it capped and ended my shooting Kodachrome,” Mr. McCurry said last week from Singapore, where he has an exhibition at the Asian Civilizations Museum.

As a tribute to the film, Kodak has compiled on its website a gallery of iconic images, including Mr. McCurry's Afghan girl and others from photographers Eric Meola and Peter Guttman.

Mr. Guttman used Kodachrome for 16 years, until about 1990, before switching to Kodak's more modern Ektachrome film, and he calls it “the visual crib that I was nurtured in.” He used it to create a widely published image of a snowman beneath a solar eclipse, shot in the dead of winter in North Dakota.

“I was pretty much entranced by the incredibly realistic tones and really beautiful colour,” Mr. Guttman said, “but it didn't have that artificial Crayola coloration of some of the other products that were out there.”

Unlike any other colour film, Kodachrome is purely black and white when exposed. The three primary colours that mix to form the spectrum are added in three development steps rather than built into its layers.

Because of the complexity, only Dwayne's Photo, in Parsons, Kan., still processes Kodachrome film. The lab has agreed to continue through 2010, Kodak said.

Ms. Hellyar estimates the retail supply of Kodachrome will run out in the fall, though it could be sooner if devotees stockpile. In the U.S., Kodachrome film is available only through photo specialty dealers. In Europe, some retailers, including the Boots chain, carry it.

Responding to photographers like Mr. Guttman, who refuse to go digital, Ms. Hellyar said that despite Kodachrome's demise Kodak will stay in the film business “as far into the future as possible,” even though the company now gets about 70 per cent of its revenue from its digital business.

Ms. Hellyar points to the seven new professional still films and several new motion picture films introduced in the last few years and to a strategy that emphasizes efficiency.

“Anywhere where we can have common components and common design and common chemistry that let us build multiple films off of those same components, then we're in a much stronger position to be able to continue to meet customers' needs,” she said.

Kodachrome, because of its one-of-a-kind formula, didn't fit in with the philosophy and was made only about once a year.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-o ... le1191815/

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:52 am
by LaughingMan1
I like that girl eyes....very beautiful.

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:45 pm
by topoguy
I am sad that the era of chemical film is over.

The big advantage with prints is that they are on the whole more durable. otherwise, there would not have existed daguerrotypes from the American Civil War.

With didgital images, they tend to become corrupted, or lost. who can guarantee that our photos stored in Secure Digital Cards or thumb drives would be accessible or readable in even say 30 years from now? would there still be readers for these media?

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:59 pm
by SOSweet
Bro topoguy, don't forget that, if we wanted to, we still can print the digital images and with better quality and result.

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:15 pm
by topoguy
Black and white prints properly stopped and washed on good paper have a long life.
Color photos use dyes that are not as stable especially in the light. digital photos can migrate from media to media and should have a long life. The disk storage is not perfect, I had some photos ruined, that is why backup becomes important. Disks cost very little now. I have almost always had two. The lost pictures were when I had one disk.

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:36 pm
by LaughingMan1
:mrgreen: digital camera is more expensive than old camera...but old camera have a good wuality also.

Re: The End of Kodachrome

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:50 pm
by Redstorm
Some professional photographers swear by Fuji Velvia after it was first released. According to a pro, Ken Rockwell, Kodachrome didn't make much further improvement eversince the entry of Velvia.