Monday, June 22, 2009

Another one bites the dust: RIP Kodak Kodachrome

kodachromeKodak has announced today the discontinuation of Kodachrome slide film, first launched in 1935.  This is sad but not at all surprising news.  Kodachrome was unique from the more modern E6 process slide films and required special equipment to process-- currently, only one lab in the United States still processes it.

Read more in this Associated Press article.

I've never shot a roll of Kodachrome 64 (which is the last version still available), but I did use the 200 variety in the last ten years.  Ironically, I distinctly remember purchasing several rolls in a Walgreens, which just shows how quickly digital photography has transformed the industry.  In less than a decade a once iconic film has gone from being available in a drug store, to obscurity, and soon into the history books.

What I liked most about Kodachrome was the 3D quality of the slides themselves.  There is no way to accurately show this on a two dimensional computer screen, but if you hold a Kodachrome slide in the air and tilt it sideways, on the layer side is a visible relief of the image.  That is, the bright areas of the slide are very thin, where as the darker areas are thick.  I'm not sure if this makes for a better image, but it certainly made Kodachrome unique.

According to Kodak, Kodachrome will be available until the current stock runs out, likely sometime in the fall.  Buy it while you can.

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