The Late Kodachrome Rumor

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by r-s, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. r-s

    r-s Member

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    No, that's not a typo -- I didn't mean to say "Latest."

    Here it is, fresh off this morning's edition of the Kodachrome list (I withheld the poster's name for reasons of his privacy. It's no secret, he posted it to a public list, and anyone can go look at the web archives, but still, I don't want to publish his name. Call me old fashioned.) Here is is, form your own opinions. I've already formed mine (I'm smelling the "Tech Pan Playbook" all over again), and I'm none too happy this morning:

     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kodachrome is coated once a year now. Last I heard it was scheduled for November 2006. This is down from being coated 24/7/365 and the trend downward started long before digital.

    I'll see if I can get more information.

    It is the most difficult product to coat and the most difficult to process.

    PE
     
  3. r-s

    r-s Member

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    Was that 64 or 200, Pro or Consumer? Do they coat all four types per year? Or do they alternate on a four-year staggered queue?

    Why would a Kodak exec say what that exec told the poster? (If you'll nose through the Kodachrome list archives, I think you will conclude that the poster is not prone to coming up creative oddments.)
     
  4. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Kodachrome is the film that has died a thousand deaths.

    I held my Last Rites for it this past Autumn when I shot my last few rolls taking "leaf peeper" shots.

    Whether you can still get it or not - it has the dimmest future of all Kodak film types so I won't bother buying it anymore.
     
  5. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Hmmmm, what is the address for the Kodachrome list? I might be interested in that. Thanks. :smile:
     
  6. r-s

    r-s Member

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    I don't buy any film (although I do get the occasional NFR samples from Kodak).

    As far as I'm concerned, film will always be available. (Unless we get hit with a supernova somewhere that puts out enough of a blast of cosmic rays to ruin the lifetime supply in my freezer, in which case I think we'll all have other things to worry about.)

    No, I'm not personally worried the availability of film. (Now ask me about the availability of processing. I can, if worse comes to worst, make C41 and E6 from scratch, but as far as K14 goes, it's now IMO a race to the bottom -- to see if I can get to the bottom of my stack of Kodachrome before Dwayne's sends out a "That's all, folks!" notice.)
     
  7. r-s

    r-s Member

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  8. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Thanks, I just subscribed. :smile:
     
  9. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I am just going to keep shooting with it until I can't buy Kodachrome anymore.

    Bill
     
  10. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Can you actually formulate your own CD3 and/or CD4? (and don't ask me how in the world I know about those.) :smile: :smile: :smile:

    I and a co-worker were talking about this a while ago. We phoned Dwayne's and they convincingly assured us that there are no plans to discontinue K14 processing in the forseeable future. They said if and when it does happen there will be considerable notice.
     
  11. r-s

    r-s Member

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    If I started hearing hoofbeats in the ground, I'd quickly dust off my ear, and place an order for some color developing agents at Formulary.

    Can Dwayne's make their own CD6? :smile:
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    To a considerable extent Kodachrome can be considered a "test case" regarding film as a niche market. While it's usage has dwindled considerably from its hey day - it retains a small, loyal following that apparently generates enough demand to convince Kodak to keep making it. Which in turn creates demand for Dwayne's to keep processing it.

    Still, much as I loved it once, and still think its a great film, I've moved onto other products. I now favor Velvia for chromes and also shoot much more print film than I ever did before. But I'll always retain a fondness for K-chrome! :wink:
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The developing agents CD3 and CD4 can be purchased commercially. CD6 cannot be purchased except through Kodak or an associated company AFAIK. The big problem would be getting the couplers. They are very rare and only made by/for Kodak.

    See the patent, # posted elsewhere by Bent and Mowrey for Kodachrome.

    And, BTW, Kodak vacated the patent, thereby donating it to the public.

    PE
     
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  15. dmr

    dmr Member

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    What I meant was, could a capable kitchen chemist, or even somebody with access to, say, a college chem lab, cook these from scratch? I understand that the CD3/CD4 are the real magic potions in the color developers. I've looked at some of the recipes, and this is really the only thing exotic in there.

    I'm not a wet darkroom expert, but I know you can make a passable B&W developer from a number of things, Tylenol, coffee (soda? beer?) :smile: and it seems like most of the ingredients of color chemicals are common, except for the CD3/CD4.

    I assume Fuji makes their own. Do they?

    Oh really? Kodachrome in the public domain, huh? :smile:

    I just remembered a conversation from maybe a year or so ago on one of the boards, could have even been here, where they were talking about one of those old film processors, probably Rocky Mountain, maybe Film Rescue, trying to re-formulate the color developers and dyes for K12 so they could actually get color from that film again. I never heard if they were successful or not.
     
  16. r-s

    r-s Member

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    I'd think most if not all of the pertinent patents have long since lapsed. K14 is 1970s technology. Those patents have got to be at least 30 years old by now.

    There was recent discussion on the Kodachrome list, about a machine that Kodak owns the patent filing (I believe it's the "dry process" scanner they purchased from ASF, and then dropped all development on it).

    This machine will allow the full color scanning of Kodachrome, using only a B&W developer.

    It scans the three B&W negative layers, and builds a color image file from that data.

    It uses a three dimensional scanning technique, so that it can scan each layer separately.

    Since the process uses no color development at all, it can work with any kodachrome -- K14, K12, K10, and earlier -- in any format.

    Unfortunately it appears that this machine has been buried, never to come to market (presuming it's the same ASF technology that was reported thusly shortly after Kodak's acquisition of the stuff).

    I'd known about the machine, and I'd read the reports that said they would not be bringing it to market, but I had no idea of the Kodachrome implications, until I saw the patent info (the Kodachrome list archives should have the links if you're curious). The patent specifically mentions that it could be used for Kodachrome.

    WRT Rocky Mountain, I read somewhere that they have their KLAB up for sale, for something like $45 grand.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

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    Two answers here.

    1. CD3, CD4 and CD6 can be made by a competent organic chemist or even by an ordinary person with the right starting materials and the right procedures. IIRC, CD6 is made from CD4, but it has been 30+ years since I worked on it.

    2. Making a 3D scan of a B&W Kodachrome is dependant on having developed it in the proper B&W developer to get a good balance of curves in the imaging layers. It also will not properly represent the grain or sharpness, and lastly, its digital.

    PE
     
  18. r-s

    r-s Member

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    Wouldn't you think that the technology would improve with continued R&D?

    Yes, but it's also Kodachrome -- which means that there'd suddenly be a much larger market for Kodachrome. As I recall from the original articles about the ASF machine, it only took up a couple of square feet of floor space, and didn't need a water supply or drain. It used a goop-style developer similar to the stuff in the Polaroid pods (as I recall), and the film was scanned as the image formed, and then, the film was spooled up (each roll spliced to the previous), to be collected for recycling (silver recovery) when the machine was serviced every so often.

    The customer would put his roll of film into the machine, which would then process and scan it, and then give him his images on CD and/or prints.

    The intended market was people who needed their stuff fast, and it could be deployed to locations that could not support a minilab (no technician needed, etc.)

    A machine like this, with the ability to turn every camera into a defacto "digital camera" (a digital camera with a very wide variety of "sensor upgrades" available to the user), could have extended the life cycle of silver photography indefinitely.

    I think it made perfect marketing sense for an "all-digital" company to buy the rights to that sort of disruptive technology and ensure that it did not come to market. That's what I would have done if I was on a mission to supplant traditional photography with an "all-digital" replacement.
     
  19. r-s

    r-s Member

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    Additional comment -- I don't see why this scanner could not have been used in a scenario in which the customer's film was not "eaten by the machine". Some advantages would be the ability to archive the actual film somewhere, and, the ability to rescan it later on, as the technology improved.

    Naturally, this would require a complete (B&W) develop-fix-wash cycle (rather than develop-scan-recover silver), but I don't see that as a major obstacle.

    Eventually, such a machine could be built at a price affordable to consumers (look at what the original CD drives cost!), making the home-processing of Kodachrome a reality for "the masses"!
     
  20. Photo Engineer

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    And, the automobile companies/oil companies/ insert favorite bad company are sitting on a gasoline additive/carburetor/insert other device that will give you 500 mpg.

    Maybe the machine was a bust. IDK. Maybe it was too slow. Maybe there was no market? Kodachrome is not selling. Stocks are probably spoiling in the warehouse right as we speak. IDK.

    Fuji used to make their version of Kodachrome. They stopped in the 80s when overall Kodachrome sales began to fall rapidly. They were smart, I guess.

    Dynachrome made their version of Kodachrome. It was a very large plant not far from my home, and in spite of the fact that they made ISO 10 Kodachrome (the original) that everyone said they would prefer, they lost sales to the new Kodachrome 25. And, BTW this was not fake Kodachrome, it was real, made by real Kodak engineers with lots of know-how and backing. The promised customers didn't stick with them too long after the ISO 25 product came out.

    No one can say until the dust settles, least of all us here.

    PE
     
  21. Photo Engineer

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    Well, as an afterthought, IIRC, this machine was for C41 films primarily and the film was developed and then fixed or 'stabilzed'. The background unwanted image was ignored by the scanner which scanned the real color image.

    PE
     
  22. r-s

    r-s Member

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    It may have been aimed at the C41 market primarily, but the patent filing definitely did say it would work with Kodachrome. I read it with my own eyes.
     
  23. r-s

    r-s Member

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    I know about Dynachrome -- I used it. Seems like I recall another Kodachrome-type film too, Myracolor or Mirrorcolor or something like that. Maybe private-labeled Dynachrome?

    But, I've never heard of Fuji having made a Kodachrome-type film. I do know that there was a Japanese manufacturer -- Sakura, I believe -- that made Kodachrome-type film in the postwar era, but quit when Kodak decided to/was allowed to start exporting Kodachrome to Japan.

    Do you have some documentation on that Fuji stuff? I think you may be confusing it with the Sakura product, which was from an earlier era.

    I don't have any numbers, but I'd always heard that Kodachrome was quite popular in Japan, moreso than here in the USA. That would be consistent with Horiuchi investing in one or more KLAB machines and doing domestic processing (and I think there was a Kodak K14 lab in Tokyo too). This was in the 90s, as I recall (until quite recently!)

    If the bottom fell out of the Kodachrome market in Japan, why would Horiuchi spend that kind of money investing in the KLAB stuff to process it?

    Everything that I have heard on the situation in Japan was that demand was always high -- even in the immediate post-war era -- which was why they struggled to make their own version. And, the reason that their version stopped selling was not due to any drop in demand, but rather, to the availability of "real" Kodachrome. In other words, sales didn't drop, they just moved over from Sakura to Kodak. At least, that's how I've always understood it to have happened back in the '50s.

    But this stuff about Fuji, in the '80s, this is something I've never heard of -- and I was selling plenty of Fuji film back in the 1980s, so I think my rep might have mentioned something about it.
     
  24. braxus

    braxus Member

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    According to a thread on Photo.net, its K200 thats been discontinued. K64 is still here for now.
     
  25. Photo Engineer

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    r-s;

    The machine in question was aimed at all films but primarily at C41 for rapid minilab printing. AFAIK, it never worked well. And, customers wanted their film.

    The Kodachrome patents have indeed expired, but even during their life, Kodak abandoned the patent due to lack of interest. This note is appended to the patent if you look at a scan of the original document on-line.

    Both Fuji and Sakura have produced Kodachrome type films. I have many many slides taken using both materials and I have visited the processing plant in Tokyo. It used the same Kodachrome process as Kodak used, as those patents had expired. Fuji abandoned the process/film when they introduced Fujichrome for E6 in about 1990. These products are characterized by the same high stability as Kodachrome itself, but being natively produced sold for far less.

    Since Kodachrome is a B&W film with a color process, it was easier for them to engineer. They abandoned the new films due to the higher difficulty coating them and the new patents among other things. They also began using the multilayer coating process with Kodak style couplers then.

    PE
     
  26. momonga

    momonga Member

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    Old news perhaps, but Kodak will stop selling Kodachrome in Japan this March (or sooner, if stock runs out), and stop processing it by the end of the year. Thereafter it goes to the States.

    P-E, do you remember the names of the Sakura and Fuji Kodachrome films? I used Fuji R100 in the mid 70s but I always thought that was E-6.

    When I first got interested in photography back in the early 60s I used Kodachrome II because it was the cheapest color slide film, but I longed for the glamor of High Speed Ektachrome. Today, those K-II slides still look perfect, everything else has almost completely faded away. Thank god Kodachrome was popular and cheap.