RIP Kodachrome

Picture: Red rocks at Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

Kodachrome Basin

Today, the Kodak Company announced that it was retiring Kodachrome, its flagship slide film that it been producing for well over half a century. Take a look at any National Geographic Magazine circa the early 1990’s or earlier, and that’s all you’ll see; images shot on Kodachrome. When I first started shooting slide film after getting a job working for Galen Rowell, it was at the very cusp of the “velvia revolution”. Since Velvia was still so new, the default was to shoot the “industry standard” Kodachrome. It was certainly a wonderful film emulsion with a very natural palette. But for the richly saturated dramatic landscapes, it couldn’t hold a candle to what Fuji had developed. It was then, long before the advent of digital, that the grandfather of all slide films started its long slow decline toward retirement. The announcement today by Kodak just puts the final nail in the coffin of what was now, truly, an end of an era.

I can’t help but think of the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Kodachrome”, which today seems to be echoing inside the barren hallways of my cranium. I have to wonder how soon it will be before people hearing that song, or visiting the Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah are asking themselves, “what was a kodachrome?”

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3 Comments on “RIP Kodachrome”

  1. Aaron B. Hockley Says:

    At least with digital we don’t have to worry about our images turning out differently depending on the brand of flash memory that was used…

  2. Richard Wong Says:

    I’m going to order a stash of Kodachrome. The 5D MKII was a waste of money. 🙂

  3. Paul Dymond Says:

    I remember my first big overseas trip. Nine months in Africa with 145 rolls of Kodachrome in my backpack. There was only one place in Melbourne (Australia) that I could get it processed so I put all the finished film canisters into a big backpack and took them on the train into town. The next day (it was that quick!) I went back with my backpack and came home with 145 little yellow boxes that got sorted on my parents’ loungeroom floor. And they still look pretty good today. 🙂

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