Change in Kodacolor in the 70s???

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by nyoung, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Looking through my parent's photo albums I've noticed a marked change in the quality of the color prints from the 1970s.
    Briefly, the prints from the 50s and 60s on Kodacolor film shot in the old bakelite Brownie Hawkeye are still crisp and clear with great contrast and very good color saturation.
    Then the prints from the 70s - really the switch to the 126 Instamatic and Kodacolor II - are faded and lacking saturation as though they had been lying out in the sun for years.
    All of the prints in question are mounted by photo corners on acid free paper in albums that are opened - at most - once a year.
    Its not the difference in film size but in the actual rendering of the color.
    Anybody got an idea why the difference?
    I know many people think everything - cars,TV, movies etc - sucked in the 70s.
    Was it just that Kodak sucked as well?
     
  2. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Do you still have the negatives? How are they?
     
  3. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Yes, I have the negatives and they all look "normal" to eyeball inspection. Don't have the means to try to print them just now. What I'm asking really is was there a change in the materials that makes them not last as long? We're talking about many rolls of film over a period of years and several different processors so I don't think its a process issue.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2011
  4. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I have been scanning lots of my sister's negatives from the late 60's to mid 70's

    I have noticed that the rare sets that were processed and printed by Kodak themselves have held up tremendously. But the majority were done at whatever corner drugstore was available and they are in sad shape.

    The prints are visibly different as well.

    My bet is different processing labs and paper.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Most peoples experiences are the other way around, with the introduction of the C41 process prints and negative became more stable. Apart from the odd films poorly processed in the first place I've seen no noticeable deterioration of colour prints.

    On the other hand all the prints offC22 negatives are fading, colours poor, washed out, they were rarely good in the first place. Older Kodachrome slides are no better, stability really came in with Kodachrome II.

    I preferred Agfacolor prior to the introduction of Kodacolor II but the switch to C41 and E6 brought about a huge improvement in print and slide quality from all the manufacturers.

    Ian
     
  6. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    There were massive changes in both the film (C-22 Kodacolor-X going to C-41 Kodacolor II and later Ektar) and paper (the original Type C going to Ektacolor) during this period. There were actually many significant changes to the materials and the processes, not all of them well publicized. As a result, results vary. Some materials and processes were better than others, and sometimes labs didn't get the word on how to handle things, or just ignored the new instructions. There were also a number of non-Kodak proprietary processing solutions that might or might not produce stable results. I have a lot of material from this period, both C-22 and C-41. Most of it is still in good shape, but some has faded too badly to use. Anything shot of Vericolor II is gone. My guess is that this film, beautiful as it was for its time, was just not stable. Many things processed with non-Kodak materials are gone or going.
     
  7. GeorgK

    GeorgK Member

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    Up to the sixties also color was printed on fibre-based (baryta) paper.

    Georg
     
  8. Brac

    Brac Member

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    I've had the same experienced with albums where some of the prints are perfect, but others have changed to a brown/reddish colour. There were a lot of labs competing for business in those days and probably some cut corners and used stale chemicals or didn't wash long enough or fix properly. But equally suspect were the papers - there were more manufacturers around then, and some of the papers possibly had very unstable dyes etc that have failed to stand up to the test of time. Unfortunately colour negatives can change over time as well. It might be possible to scan the prints which have changed and use a photo editing program to make the colours more realistic. I have had some success with that, on the few that I have so far worked on.