Goodbye Kodachrome [Updated]
Posted By: Scott Harrison
Posted On: 12:23 p.m. December 30, 2010
Kodachrome is not going away quietly. The iconic color transparency film was first released by Kodak in 1935 and as of Thursday can no longer be processed. The last Kodachrome processing lab worldwide, Dwayne’s Photo, stopped accepting film Thursday.
But Dwayne’s Photo was not able to simply turn off the machines and walk away. As reported in this New York Times story, Dwayne’s Photo has been crushed by thousands of rolls of Kodachrome film. One man brought in 1,580 rolls and paid over $15,000 for the processing.
Twitter traffic under the search term “Kodachrome” has gone off the charts during the last 24 hours.
Eighteen months ago, as reported in this Los Angeles Times story, Kodak announced the end of Kodachrome film. National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry shot the last roll manufactured by Kodak and traveled to Dwayne’s Photo to have it processed.
The first mention of Kodachrome in the Los Angeles Times was in this March 15, 1936, May Company ad. A 100-foot roll of 16mm Kodachrome film, regular price of $9, was on sale for $6.98. After adjusting for inflation, the 1936 sales price would be $107 today.
[Updated: A J.C. Robinson department store ad in the Aug. 13, 1936, Los Angeles Times listed 18 -- yes 18 -- exposure rolls of Kodachrome 35 mm film for $3.50 each, including processing. The 2010 inflation-adjusted price is $54.]
The first editorial mention was in this 1938 Camera Corner column by Times staff writer Harold Mendelsohn:
by Harold Mendelsohn
Oct. 23, 1938
Want to experiment with natural color film?
You can do it now. Even if you haven’t a miniature camera.
The popular Kodachrome film, formerly available only for “mini” or motion picture equipment, has just been placed on the market in almost every camera size.
Exposures are made in a manner similar to this for black and white pictures, but processing of the film must be done at the manufacturing laboratories in the East.
HIGHER IN PRICE
If you’re not too impatient, such an arrangement should prove satisfactory because it insures skilled workmanship in development of the negatives.
However, there’s one drawback. The price is about six times that of ordinary film. But the initial cost includes the processing.
The amateur’s common complaint against Kodachrome is that it generally must be viewed as a transparency through a projector.
NEW COLOR PRINTS
However, Kodachrome negatives are now being used for the making of prints through a technical process known as wash-off relief. But here again the cost is comparatively high. The initial print will cost from $10 to $20, depending on size. Each additional copy is about $3 more.
What was interesting from this column, in 1938 photographers used the term “negative” for Kodachrome. The idea of a “positive” transparency was not in the photo lingo then.
After a 75-year run, Kodachrome is no more. And thanks to singer Paul Simon, I can say, “They took my Kodachrome away.”