Kodachrome No More

By  |  Monday, June 22, 2009 at 12:16 pm

KodakchromeFirst they take away our Polaroid film, and now this: Kodak is discontinuing Kodachrome, the legendary film that was introduced in 1935. (Kindly insert your own Paul Simon reference here, please.) The company’s rationale is the obvious one: Pretty much everyone is shooting digital these days.

My impulse when presented with death-of-an-icon news of this sort is moral outrage, even when the product is (like Kodachrome) one I’ve never actually purchased myself. But interest in Kodachrome is so low that a photofinishing company in Kansas is apparently the last one left on the planet that processes the stuff. Photographers have indeed spoken.

With Kodachrome gone, the big bombshells to come will involve news like Kodak discontinuing film production altogether and companies such as Canon and Nikon going all-digital. And it’ll all happen. Wonder how long it’ll be until film is as utterly dead as, say, 8-track is today?

(Photo borrowed from JohnnyGunn)

 
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Louise Says:

    I'm totally in mourning for Kodachrome, even though I haven't actually shot it for years- have many slides from many years filed away. Kodachrome was, for lack of any better words, beautiful, and a major technical advance when it was first released. One of the problems with much digital photography is that many images are never printed. If the hard drive crashes, are they gone forever? If they are on CD's, will there be CD readers? Is the lack of a physical object, produced with some degree of care, a loss? I have digital cameras, and massively backed up digital archives, and have been totally seduced by the ease of the process, but I haven't completely come to terms with all of the issues.

    As far as obsolescence, film, at least for black and white, might be a bit more persistent than 8 tracks in that it is essentially capable of being used in a large variety of low-tech equipment. We've done projects in which we built little cardboard boxes with pinholes, that we have used with 120 and 35 mm film and cute little film advance contrivances. The chemicals for processing black and white film are easily mixed (I have not tried the coffee and orange juice variations yet, but the developing agents are still available) and I know a number of artists who are still using conventional black and white materials. There's also a renewed interest in low-tech film cameras like the Lomo and Holga.

    Sorry, a longish comment.

  2. Dave Barnes Says:

    “Wonder how long it’ll be until film is as utterly dead as, say, 8-track is today?”

    3.2 years

  3. no Says:

    No big loss. I’m 32 years old and I’ve never used a camera that wasn’t digital in my entire life.

  4. Rufus T. Firefly Says:

    Kodachrome and I are much of an age, both having been born in 1935. It’s unnerving to see one’s contemporaries dying off, even when they are not as nice as Kodachrome.

    In 1950, I shot my first 35mm pictures on this film–mostly from the top of the Washington Monument. The last time I looked at them, several years ago, they looked new. I doubt there is a new archival technology that would beat just leaving them in a cool dry dark place.

    I suspect Kodak’s message is that no film is safe.

    RTF

  5. Tabatha Seidl Says:

    Why? This is the first word that I have uttered after reading this post. I think this was not a good move for Kodak. There are still photographers who use films.

  6. Darcy Clarkin Says:

    This is really a sad news for me. I have been using this for years and I just can't move on when this was announced.

  7. Paris Jada Says:

    I hope that they will replace something for this. I am a big fan of Kodak and my first camera is even Kodak.

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