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Monday, June 22, 2009 10:49 PM


Mama Takes Kodachrome Away


The Wall Street Journal is reporting Kodak to Take Kodachrome Away.

Kodachrome, the storied camera film that has documented historic events and everyday lives since the Great Depression, is about to fade into oblivion.

Amid a long-running shift to digital photography, Eastman Kodak Co. said Monday that because of plunging sales, it is ending production of the film it first introduced in 1935. The company said the final batch of the slide film, known for its rich colors and clarity, is being manufactured now in Mexico and that supplies should probably last until the fall.

The Rochester, N.Y., company said the film accounted for less than 1% of its traditional film business, whose sales totaled $503 million in the first quarter. Kodak has been cutting back its film business in a wrenching transformation to digital products that has wiped out tens of thousands of jobs and resulted in billions of dollars in losses.

Kodachrome, the first successful color film, was used to document many historic events of the last century, including the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg and the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the 1950s, climber Edmund Hillary used Kodachrome to take photographs atop Mount Everest.

Mary Jane Hellyar, president of Kodak's film, photofinishing and entertainment group, said in a statement that it was a difficult decision to "retire" Kodachrome because of its history. "However," she added, "the majority of today's photographers have voiced their preference to capture images with newer technology -- both film and digital."
I am a photographer with over 80 magazine and book cover credits. I switched from Kodachrome to Fuji Velvia at inception, almost two decades ago. Indeed Velvia quickly displaced Kodachrome as THE film of choice among professionals. However, Kodachrome hung on and on and on. It should have died many years ago.

All film is headed for the ash heap of history, even my favorite Velvia.
Velvia is a brand of daylight-balanced color reversal film produced by the Japanese company Fujifilm. The name is a contraction of "Velvet Media", a reference to its smooth image structure. The original incarnation of the film was called "Velvia for Professionals", known as RVP, a classification code meaning "Reversal/Velvia/Professional series".

Velvia was introduced in 1990 and quickly replaced Kodachrome 25 as the industry standard in high-definition color film. It has brighter and generally more accurate color reproduction, finer grain, twice the speed, and a more convenient process (E-6). Kodachrome 25 fell out of popularity a few years after Velvia was introduced, and Kodachrome 64 and 200 have followed more slowly. Many photographers credit Velvia with ending the Kodachrome era.

Velvia has very saturated colors under daylight, high contrast, and exceptional sharpness. These characteristics make it the slide film of choice for many nature photographers, including such respected artists as Rodney Lough Jr., John Shaw, Steve Parish, Peter Lik, and the late Galen Rowell.
You can see some of my images at MichaelShedlock.Com, most taken on Fuji Velvia. By the way, I am aware of numerous typos on that site, but it has not been updated itself for quite some time.

Times change. Film is out digital is in. Mama, at long last, takes Kodachrome away.

Kodachrome Lyrics By Paul Simon
Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they'd never match
my sweet imagination
everything looks WORSE in black and white

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away
By the way, Velvia green (initially unbelievable vs. Kodachrome) was the primary reason for the professional's switch from Kodachrome. In addition, it took a $200,000 machine to process Kodachrome, but one could process ektachrome in one's kitchen sink. Fuji Velvia is an ektachrome process.

Kodachrome was invented by Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes, two classical musicians and amateur photographers. I salute both.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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