Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kodak To Bring Back Ektachrome & Maybe Kodachrome

Kodak Transparencies - South Weber, Utah 
Kodak made a surprising announcement five days ago: Ektachrome color transparency film is coming back! Specifically, and initially, it will be 35mm Ektachrome E100 available in 36 exposures. Kodak discontinued the film in 2012. 

It used to be that Ektachrome, which has been around in one form or another since the 1940's, could be purchased in many different formats and there were also different varieties available. My personal favorite was Ektachrome E100VS, which was Kodak's best imitation of Fuji Velvia film. I shot quite a few rolls of Ektachrome back in the day.

Yesterday Kodak made another surprise announcement: they are "investigating" the possibility of bringing back Kodachrome! This is Kodak's original color transparency film, introduced in the 1930's. It's actually a black-and-white film and color is introduced in development--it's a complicated process. Kodak discontinued the film in 2009 and discontinued the development of the film in 2010. 
Kodachrome - Stallion Springs, California
Kodachrome was a very popular film, and Paul Simon even sang about it. Ansel Adams shot his color photographs on it. For a while National Geographic insisted that Kodachrome be used by photographers working on assignment for them. It was a big deal when it was discontinued, and many saw it as the final nail in film's coffin.

However, much like the false reports of Mark Twain's death in 1897, the news of film's death has been greatly exaggerated. Film has actually been becoming more popular. It is a rise in demand that has brought back Ektachrome and might just bring back Kodachrome.

It's quite surprising just how many different films are available now. It seems like a couple new films are introduced every year. And it seems that every year has seen some film "rescued" from the chopping block. New companies have emerged, and even Kodak isn't really Kodak, but Kodak Alaris, an entirely different company. Even though film is old, in 2017 it's actually new and fresh, and the outlook is good. It's a great time to be a film photographer.

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