48 year old Kodachrome and Ektachrome

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by bdial, Oct 28, 2008.

  1. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    My wife bought some slide boxes at a thrift shop today, complete with a collection of slides.
    Included are some Kodachromes and Ektachromes from someone's vacation, and by luck there were two of roughly the same scene.

    In general, the Ektachromes look faded and off-color compared to the Kodachromes which look near to perfect. Red has survived pretty well in the Ektachromes, but the green and blues have certainly suffered.

    It illustrates what many of us know already, which is the incredible longevity of Kodachrome.

    The mounts on both are embossed with the month and year, Jan '60.
    No color adjustments in scanning or PS.
     

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  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    What an amazing find. Do you know the location? Hawaii maybe? California coast?

    I gather they weren't exactly stored in a climate-controlled cave somewhere--the Kodachrome looks great. Damn shame it's slowly--or rapidly--following the dodo into extinction.

    I wish I could still get it in 120. It's about the only reason I'd still shoot 35mm film.
     
  3. sam0831

    sam0831 Member

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    MikeSeb

    Mike,

    Right you are, it's unfortunate Kodak has lost its cash cow. However, I think they are going to loose more milk than before, with the glut of digital point-and-shoots and their D-SLR sensor designs being challenged away every 2-5 years. I would like photography to be only one thing to everyone, composition. The mechanics will only hurt us.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Nice find! Certainly better than doing your own test and then waiting around for 50 years!
     
  5. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    This might not be a fair comparison. In 1960, Kodachrome was the established process and E-6 was the newcomer. By then the film, chemicals and processing for Kodachrome were perfect. Not so for Ektachrome. I have nothing quite that old, but some of my Ektachromes from the 80's look as good as when they were shot. And of course, my dad's Kodachromes from the 50's still look good.
     
  6. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    Sorry, there wasn't any E6 in 1960-- I believe it was called E2 and was a rather altogether different Ektachrome process.

    Ektachrome seemed pathetic through 70's and well into the 80's. Will admit that a percentage of my late 70's stuff started bleeding almost immediately, but probably due to reacting to the PVC (vinyl) slide protector pages commonly found back in those days. Yet my Kodachromes of the same era were curiously unaffected by this.

    E6 films themselves, and the E6 process had both matured and improved dramatically by the watershed moment of Velvia's launch in 1990. (Vinyl protector pages had already died a swift and ignominious death). Most modern testing comparisons indicate that at least the slow to medium speed Ektachrome and Fujichrome emulsions now have dark storage archiving that's no longer shamed by a severe trouncing from Kodachrome anymore. Too, most all E6 films have projector-cycle/ bright storage lifetimes exceeding Kodachrome projection/bright storage life-- some by a substantial margin.
     
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  7. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The point isn't so much to criticize Ektachrome of 1960, but more to illustrate how good Kodachrome is. The chance to see a side by side comparison of the same subject is kind of rare.

    Certainly this says nothing at all about the longevity of Ektachrome that one can buy today. As Pupfish points out, Kodak, and Fuji are quite serious about the longevity of the materials they make and, have the benefit of 60+ years of learning. The oldest Ektachrome slides I shot are from the late 60's and 70's, and the last time I looked through them they were clearly degrading, though they still retain most of their original look. My Ektachrome shot from the 80's on look good. Aside from not using PVC my storage is far from archival.

    As for Mike's question, "Buck island trip" is penciled on some of the mounts, according to Google maps, it's in Bermuda.
    And yes, if I could shoot some Kodachrome in 120, I'd consider my life complete.

    These were purchased in a metal slide cabinet, and the slides themselves are in Yankee plastic projector trays, probably made from Bakelite, but I've not looked at the trays closely. Other than that, I think it's safe to assume that the storage conditions were anything but archival.

    I'll post more examples, if people are interested.
     
  8. Radioiron

    Radioiron Member

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    That Ektachrome looks absolutely wonderful compared to a few that I have. They've gone entirely orange on me! Those must have been stored in a climate controlled room compared to mine.
    Does it say Ektachrome on the mount? It looks similar to some Anscocolor slides I have, they have faded, but there is very little color shift, only a loss of density over all.

    Taken a second look, definitly strikes me as an Anscocolor, the shift is not as bad as E-2 and appears to be faded over all.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Yes, they say "Ektachrome transparency" in blue lettering on the mount, and "Kodachrome transparency" in red.

    Except for attics, temperatures here are pretty moderate. Indoor air is pretty dry due to heating, summers are humid, but not anything close to that of the south U.S.
    Air conditioning is not common. Things like this often get stuffed into basements, which would be a pretty constant 50 - 70 degrees (F) and moderate humidity.
    But I'm only guessing at the conditions these slides enjoyed.
     
  10. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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    I came across some 1950's Kodachromes a couple of years back, they were stored in a plastic bag but the colours were still really good.
    [​IMG]
    The image from 1957 looks like it was made yesterday.
    The oldest Kodachrome I've seen was a 1947 one of a mountain pass in Switzerland with a spit window VW Beetle parked by the side of the road, the colours were great.
    Mark
     
  11. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    I have some Ektachromes older than me (50 yers) that look fine. But they must have been kept cool. Just one summer in a hot attic, and pre-E-6 Ektachrome is pink mush.
     
  12. kdanks

    kdanks Member

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    Rather than start a new thread, I thought I would add my question to this one. I've bought a couple of collections of Kodachromes on eBay, both from the very early 1960's. In one collection the slides have the month and year printed on one corner, Jul 63 and Jul 64 in this case. In the other collection there are no dates on the slides and the only dating evidence I've found is one picture of the Queen visiting Naples, which Google tells me was in May 1961. So my question is, did Kodachrome slides start to have the dates printed on them some time between 1961 and 1963? These were processed in England, if that makes a difference.

    My other question is about Kodachromes in grey cardboard mounts with a red border. I have 4 like that in the first collection I mentioned, and I guess they are earlier than the ones in white mounts with the red and yellow Kodak graphic in the corner. What year did that change?

    Many thanks

    Kevin
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I have a bunch from the '50s with dates printed on them.
     
  14. kdanks

    kdanks Member

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    Ah, so much for that theory. Back then I imagine there were lots of places you could get Kodachrome processed, and some of them must have had slide mounting machines that printed the date and some didn't.

    By the way, I've got some from 1962 in white cardboard mounts with a blue border, printed with Kodak Ready-Mount. Does anyone know if those are likely to be Ektachrome?

    Kevin
     
  15. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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  16. StorminMatt

    StorminMatt Member

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    Then again, Kodachrome was a pretty new thing back in the 40s. Yet, unlike Ektachromes from the 60s and 70s, Kodachromes from the 40s still look good.

    Fuji doesn't seem to feel so confident about the longevity of their E6. In fact, they recommend refrigerated storage for anything beyond 25 years. As for projection lifetime, I have really seen no proof of the superiority of E6 vs K14. And until I do, I consider this to be nothing more than rumor.
     
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  17. kdanks

    kdanks Member

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    Very useful, thank you. The slides I mentioned say they were processed by Kodak and are just like the ones shown on that page from 1955 to '58. Most of my undated collection is made up of the white/yellow/red types and they are Kodachrome, not Kodachrome II (which I understand was introduced in 1961), so that ties up with the royal visit to Naples in '61.

    If anyone is interested, here is one of those on Flickr, dining at sea on board the MV Fair Sea, and here is the Queen in her Rolls.



    Kevin
     
  18. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    IIRC, Kodachrome slides used to (maybe still) in processing have a lacquer overcoating as a final step, which would seal the film against environmental vapors contacting the emulsion. No Ektachrome has this. I think, from my own Ektachrome processing from the mid-1960's to the present, that with Ektachrome Process E-4, the films started exhibiting more stable dyes. I have many images made on Ektachrome E-4 films that are just fine, but I never put them in slide pages that had problems.
     
  19. accozzaglia

    accozzaglia Member

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    /me clears her throat:

    Kodachrome. FTW. \m/