The demise of another film was pronounced by none other than Kodak on June 22, 2009. Kodak has to totally stop the production of the world famous Kodachrome which was preferred by most of the professional photographers during in its heyday. It is has been 75 years of rich history since its inception. It was a sad day for film aficionados but I fully understand the position Kodak is in as a commercial company. It is all about demand and supply. In fact before Kodak discontinued the Kodachrome its sale represented merely a fraction of 1% of the total Kodak’s sale according to Kodak.
For those who started photography straight from digital they would never know how to handle film, how film behaves and the unique characteristics of any particular film. I also do not think they are patient enough to wait for the resulting image a few days later instead of “chimping” to see the result imeediately in digital photography. I consider myself lucky because I started photography with film although I admit my romantic affair with film was just brief – more or less about five years before I converted fully to digital.
I have never tried Kodachrome though. Kodachrome is such a special slide film that can only be processed by Kodak in a special lab with Kodak own chemicals unlike any other slide film which can be processed by any photo lab with E6 chemicals. Since the number of lab is limited and I was told if we in Malaysia want to process Kodachrome we have to send our slides all the way to Melbourne, Australia which takes more than 2 weeks before we get back the slides, it is normally used by professionals especially in the US and perhaps in Europe as well.
However when reading comments in the Kodak blog, most of the Kodachrome users who expressed their regret over the discontinuation of this great film claimed that those slides in their possession still look as if they were only taken yesterday when they were actually taken 30 years ago! Wow! There must be something so special about this slide film. No wonder so many photographers who once used this film lamented its demise.
Although I have never used Kodachrome I have used quite a variety of other slide films such as Kodak Elitechrome 100 Extra Colour and Kodak Ektachrome 100, Fujichrome Velvia 50 (ironically we were advised to rate it at ISO 40) it was actually Fujifilm’s answer to Kodachrome and it gathered many followers as well BUT it still cannot match Kodachrome when it comes to shooting portraiture and its archival quality since Fujichrome Velvia is processed with common E6 chemicals just like any other slide film. Besides Fujichrome Velvia 50 I have also shot on Fujichrome Velvia 100F, Fujichrome Provia 100F which was reputed to be the sharpest slide film as well as Fujichrome Sensia 100F and 400.
The very first time I got the result from the processed slide film I was so thrilled and so impressed by its colours and contrast. It was so real and vibrant when viewed on the lightbox. It was truly love at first sight, literally! Since then I mostly shot on slides until its price has skyrocketted and the price for processing has also ridiculously increased. This again is all about demand and supply.
I am pleased to share some of my favourite photos shot on slide film whose brand I can still remember vividly. You have to believe me anyway since there is no such thing as EXIF file in film photography and I cannot provide you any proof either (some of the pictures may have EXIF file generated by the scanner instead).
Some useful links related to the discontinuation of Kodachrome:
- Josh Root of photo.net
- Stephen Schaub of Figital Revolution
- Daniel Bayer of The Kodachrome Project
- CY Leow’s Blog
I welcome any comment especially on your experience in shooting on slide film.