Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away


This photo shows photographer Jay Maisel buried in Kodachrome slides around 1980. But Kodachrome is doomed. Kodachrome, the most permanent and colorful of color films is also very expensive to process.

An 2005 New York Times article covers the story of the end of Kodachrome in Super 8 format. (Processing ceased at the end of 2007.) Kodak still makes and processes Kodachrome in 16mm and 35mm formats, but the picture is clearly flickring on the wall. Kodachrome will join all the other antique processes – tintypes, daguerotypes, cyanotypes, and so on – in the dustbin of technology history.

In the Times article, Kodak spokesperson Judy Doherty is quoted as saying that Super 8 Kodachrome fans can simply transfer their film onto digital “and achieve any kind of effect they want.”

Much as I love digital photography, this (of course) is simply not true. There are plenty of extremely cool things you can do with digital that you can’t do with film. But making your digitals imagery look like Kodachrome is not easily one of them.

Generally, it’s no good being nostalgic for the era of film anymore than it makes sense for motorists to waste over the glory days of horse transport. Digital is here to stay, and film is going away.

Meanwhile, a major battle is shaping up for the hearts and minds of digital snapshooters. Where do they print these pictures? Do they use an online service (Snapfly, Shutterfish, or Kodak), go to Costco, or buy a home printer. I think the home photo printer comes out ahead slightly just on convenience. But the real winner is digital to digital: mostly I want to put my digital photos up on Flickr and share them digitally. To heck with having these bits and pieces of papers and prints around! So yesterday! So horse and buggy. When someone finally comes up with a decent wireless photo album that synchs with services like Flickr then the companies offering photo processing and photo printers can finally die (as they ought to).

[Note: this is a reposting of a story originally published in May 2005. My opinions today may vary.]

This entry was posted in Photography.

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