Seeing Things, Saying Things

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Feeling Good About the Return of Kodak Slide Film if Only for a Few Fleeting Moments

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It almost sounds too good to be true, but there is hope that Kodak Alaris might bring back Kodachrome slide film.

kodachromeReports have surfaced on photography websites that Kodak is considering resurrecting what is, arguably, one of its most famous products.

In the wake of an announcement made earlier this month that Ektachrome would return to the market later this year, Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Steve Overman responded to questions about whether Kodachrome might be  next.

“We get asked all the time by filmmakers and photographers alike, ‘are you gonna bring back some of these iconic film stocks like Kodachrome . . . , ” Overman said earlier this month during CES, a global consumer electronics and technology show. “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.”

Aside from Ektachrome, Kodak is also bringing back the Super 8 camera.

Some would argue quite strenuously that its rich colors made Kodachrome the best color film. Period.

But it was also a complex film to process and the cost of doing that was a major contributor to the film’s demise in 2011 when the last lab in the country to process Kodachrome processed its last roll. Kodak had ceased manufacturing Kodachrome in 2009.

There was a time when Kodachrome and Ektachrome were a major part of my photography life. I was particularly fond of Kodachrome 200 because I had a slow lens on my Canon Rebel G film camera. After it went away, I began shooting a lot of Ektachrome 200 although I also frequently bought Fuji slide film, most notably Velvia and Provia.

Sometimes the film I bought depended on what the camera store that I patronized had in stock when I came in to buy film.

Film has its advantages, but cost is not one of them. Many who have posted on photography sites about the return of Ektachrome spoke about the high cost of buying and processing film, which can average around a dollar a slide.

If you want to show your slides to the world, you just about have to digitize them because there are few opportunities to see slides projected on a screen or wall. Social media is a digital world.

Aside from the fond memories of thousands — and maybe millions — of photographers who used Kodachrome, there are some who still have rolls of Kodachrome film, some of it exposed but never processed, stashed away on shelves or in freezers.

If Kodachrome does make a comeback, look for a lot of film cameras to come out of the closet as the novelty factor kicks in.

Kodak said there has been increasing interest in analog photography and sales of film products are on the rise. I get the impression, though, that film remains a niche market heavily populated by professionals and serious amateurs who are invested in digital and film alike.

Although I grew up in a film world and most of my photography career has been in film, I sold my Rebel G a year after going digital in July 2011 and there is a zero chance that I’ll go back to film. The advantages of digital photography are just too many.

Emotional attachment and reaction is at the heart of photography. The return of Ektachrome and the potential return of Kodachrome is like hearing from a friend you haven’t been in touch with for several years who was once a big part of your life.

Even if the renewal of the friendship is fleeting, it feels good to know that he is alive and well even if living a diminished life.


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