Observations of Koda, Ansco, Agra, Ekta chromes, archivalness or not

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Paul Verizzo, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    Just last night I finally found the stash of family slides I've been searching for. A few frames of 35mm Kodachrome with shots of my Dad and a girlfriend in an aluminum canister, ca. 1940 to other materials up to about 1970.

    The real heart stoppers were 4x5 Kodachromes of Boston, and my beautiful mother and her beloved first born child (guess who, ha ha.....), 1942 to 1947. Ironically found simultaneously almost to the day with the end of Kodachrome processing, eh? Stunning color, beautiful as the day they were processed.

    Starting in the late forties or early fifties my father started shooting slides with his 1944 Leica M2. Mostly Ektachrome, but also some Agfa and Ansco.

    As expected, they have faded badly. One of the other brands, I can't recall which, did not fade to Ektachrome's magenta, but green, IIRC. I sampled different slides up to about 1964, then all of a sudden, the colors were still "very very good!" It's as if a whole new generation of film and/or processing came into being. I don't know enough about these histories, some one here surely does.

    Since the latter generation of chromes is now about 45 years old with no special care in storage, maybe "they" really have gotten the archival thing down. Especially since we know that a lot more work has been done to that end since then. I looked at lots of our drugstore prints from the 70's and their condition is, I would say, "good" to "very good." Impressive for cheap.

    Maybe things aren't as bad as we want to believe.
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I hope you're right. I think it's true to say that our slides/negs won't deteriorate nearly as bad as Ektachrome and the like from the 50's, 60's.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I am currently going through my Dad's old slides as well: 1958 - mid 1970s. There are a few Kodachromes (still perfect), but he basically bought whatever was sold at the drugstore. Many of the older ones are very purple, but it varies. The ones from the 70s, for the most part, seem pretty good.
     
  4. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    All my Kodachromes dating back to 1974 are looking great, of course, as are my grandfather's from the mid-fifties. My E-4 films show fading-Ektachrome and Fujichrome. My E-6 Fujichromes from as late as the early 80's have lost a lot of their green-I think it's mainly yellow dye fading. My E-6 Ektachromes have faded some, but it looks like maybe the magenta is what is going first. Agfachromes are supposed to fade a lot, but mine from the mid-and late-70's look excellent, and as always, the most like Kodachrome.
     
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  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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  6. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    Nice catch and a lot of luck, bdial!

    OK, so it is sounding like something changed in the mid-sixties, at least in the Kodak offerings. Was that the change from E-4 to E-6 films and processing? Something else?
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Each generation of the Ektachrome and Kodacolor - Ektacolor family has seen improvements in image stability. The same is true of Agfa, Fuji and Konica color films. We kept charts of product vs image stability in standard units of hours vs foot candles of exposure or temperature and humidity.

    The first generation of color films were couplers in solvents, then UV absorbers were added, then Oxygen scavengers were added, then changes to the couplers and developers were made to make the dyes less aligned... etc. Each of these improved the films.

    Kodachrome uses a technique called micro-crystallization or high glass transition temperature for the formation of the dye clouds. This is one of the methods used in today's E6 and C41 films, but it took a while to get there with incorporated couplers.

    PE
     
  8. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    Thanks, PE! I knew that if anyone had some good insight, you would.

    In the mean time, I found this on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ektachrome The year change, 1966, from E-2 to E-3 coincides, seemingly, with the improved color stability I saw.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    It still depends on the intended use of a film is designed for: one well-known manufacturer advises to store a certain film in refridgeration for storing after processing. This film is not typically used for archival work.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, that is very true. For example, ECP (Eastman Color Print) film used for motion picture projection, is considered a throw away film with a short lifetime. This is due to its transient use, and the expectation that if a show is reintroduced to theaters, the original negative will be reprinted. The archiving of color films is usually done by using separation B&W negatives.

    No dye is permanent. I can go further and say nothing man-made is permanent.

    PE
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    A lot seems to depend on both the care in processing and the storage. I have some E-1 Ektachromes from about 1956 (the film was outdated even then) that are still pleasant to view, although there has been some noticeable shift. I have some E-2 and E-3 Ektachromes and Anscochromes (including High Speed Anscochrome) from before 1960 that are still good, with little change. I also have many that have shifted too much to be useful.
     
  12. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    nworth's experience would tend to indicate that maybe it's all a crapshoot, especially since families were not thinking fifty years down the road. Our stash was in a closet up against the NW side of the house that gets real hot in the summer. That might explain the demise of so many of the slides, yet those post-1965 ot do ones are fine.

    Or we can just shoot Kodachrome, right? Oh, wait......
     
  13. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    Ektachrome up to E-3 was pretty wildly unstable, but E-4 was respectable under good storage, and E-6 products have gotten very stable. The "professional" Ektachrome films remained E-3 long after the consumer films (Ektachrome-X and High-Speed Ektachrome) were the more stable E-4 process.

    Note that temperature is really tough on Ektachrome. So the break point in fading may also have to do with when the slides started being stored someplace with air-conditional.

    ASF's Digital ICE3 ROC can work wonders on restoring faded Ektachromes.
     
  14. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    John;

    After looking at some slides, I have to concur that E1 - E2 were pretty bad, E3 varied a lot. Too much to figure things out, and E4 was a lot better. E6 is quite good, but then there is less keeping on these slides.

    My Anscochromes look pretty good, but then they were ugly to start with. Anscochrome and Super Anscochrome from the 50s was pretty bad to start with. My Fujichromes are good and have stayed good, but my Agfachromes are both good and bad.

    PE
     
  15. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    The time point, about 1965, that the slides stopped losing color was at the same time E-3 replaced E-2, so not even that far along.

    I also thought of the air conditioning angle, our house did not get it until 1970. And even then, with the closet doors closed and not terribly effective cooling in this bedroom, I don't think that was the reason for improvement.

    I saw a web page for a "develop anything" service and they showed a severely faded slide that was restored beautifully into B&W! Neat idea.