Not a miracle in days, oh yeah


The longest-lived of camera films has just ended its 75-year history. The only laboratory that still processed Kodachrome, the first commercially available colour slide film, stopped doing so at the end of last year. Kodak progressively withdrew the film from sale between 2002 and 2009, though many photographers loved it enough to buy large stocks to keep in their freezers. Amateurs cannot develop Kodachrome, which requires a large number of carefully controlled treatments, so, with the end of laboratory processing, the film is finished.

Kodachrome is made up of layers of black and white film, each of which responds differently to coloured light, and a series of filters. Only during processing are the appropriate dyes added to each layer to produce a colour transparency. Compared to other colour films, at least up until 1990 when Fuji introduced the garish Velvia, Kodachrome had unique advantages: its colours were rich and naturalistic, its blacks did not have the greyish cast of so many colour films, it had remarkable contrast, its greys were subtle, and the lack of colour couplers between its layers (which tend to diffuse light) gave the film extraordinary sharpness.

{ London Review of Books | Continue reading }

photo { Arnaud Pyvka }