Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Anyone expecting some great new regarding cameras must have been disappointed of the CES show in Las Vegas.  But photography wasn’t totally left out in left field.  Kodak did announce that they are bringing back Ektachrome film, most likely toward the latter part of 2017.  That news was generally very much welcomed.  But among the excitement of this news, another bit of possibly even more importance almost got lost.

According to Kodak CMO Steven Overman, Kodachrome might come back next.  He was talking with three other Kodak officials about the planned Kodak Super 8 camera. Toward the end of his presentation, he switched topics and talked about bringing back some of the old Kodak films.

The original 18 exposure Kodachrome

“We get asked all the time by filmmakers and photographers alike, ‘are you gonna bring back some of these iconic film stocks like Kodachrome [and] Ektachrome,'” says Overman. “I will say, we are investigating Kodachrome, looking at what it would take to bring that back […] Ektachrome is a lot easier and faster to bring back to market […] but people love Kodak’s heritage products and I feel, personally, that we have a responsibility to deliver on that love.”

The key issue is that Kodachrome was a very complicated film to process.  It required very sophisticated processing machinery which is the very reason why there were hardly any labs outside of Kodak’s own that did process Kodachrome film.  I remember two ads from several years ago.  One was looking to hire a person in a conventional film processing lab, staing  “no experience necessary, will train.”  In the same publication was an ad by the Kodak processing lab in Chicago, looking specifically for someone to work in the Kodachrome processing lab.  One of the requirements was a degree in chemistry.

The Kodachrome K14 processing steps:

  1. Backing removal: An alkaline bath softens the cellulose acetate phthalate binder. A spray wash and buffer removes the rem-jet anti-halation backing.
  2. First Developer: All exposed silver halide crystals are developed to metallic silver via a PQ developer. The yellow filter layer becomes opaque because it has a combination of Lippmann emulsion (very tiny grains) and Carey Lea silver (metallic silver particles that are small enough that they are yellow rather than gray.)
  3. Wash
  4. Red light re-exposure through the base: This makes the remaining undeveloped silver halide in the cyan layers developable.
  5. Cyan developer: The solution contains a color developer and a cyan coupler. These are colorless in solution. After the color developer develops the silver, the oxidized developer reacts with the cyan coupler to form cyan dye. The dye is much less soluble than either the developer or the coupler so it stays in the red layer of the film.
  6. Wash
  7. Blue light re-exposure from the top: This makes the remaining undeveloped grains in the blue sensitive layer (the yellow layer) developable. The now opaque yellow filter layers prevents the blue light from exposing the magenta layer (the green sensitive layer, which is also sensitive to blue light). It is important to avoid stray printing light exposing the film base of film.
  8. Yellow developer: Analogous to the cyan developer.
  9. Wash
  10. Magenta developer: This contains a chemical fogging agent that makes all of the remaining undeveloped silver developable. If everything has worked correctly, nearly all of this silver is in the magenta layers. The developer and magenta coupler work just like the cyan and yellow developers to produce magenta dye that is insoluble and stays in the film.
  11. Wash
  12. Conditioner: Prepares the metallic silver for the bleach step.
  13. Bleach: (Iron EDTA) Oxidises the metallic silver to silver halide. The bleach must be aerated. The former ferricyanide bleach did not require aeration and did not require a conditioner.
  14. Fix: Converts the silver halide to soluble compounds which are then dissolved and washed from the film
  15. Wash: Washes the fixer out of the film.
  16. Rinse: Contains a wetting agent to reduce water spots.
  17. Dry

That brings up the question if there is really enough demand for Kodachrome to warrant setting up a lab (or several) to cater to its needs.  Another question is which of the Kodachromes would be reintroduced, Kodachrome 25 or Kodachrome 64.  I don’t think that the not very successful Kodachrome 200 is part of these considerations.  One thing is for sure, the majority of Kodachrome users would have to send their exposed films by mail to a processing lab and wait several days to get it back.  Ektachrome, on the other hand, is a standard E6 processed film for which still many labs exist in many locations.  In most cases the film can be processed within a couple of hours.

As exciting this news is, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  It might take quite a while before we see it, if ever.  But this could give Paul Simon reason for another song about Kodachrome.


To comment or to read comments please scroll past the ads below.
All ads present items of interest to Leica owners.

www.classicconnection.com                                     www.oberwerth.com



 www.lenstab.com                                                                   http://www.tamarkin.com/

 http://www.tamarkinauctions.com/            http://www.tamarkin.com/leicagallery/upcoming-shows


Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment