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  1. #1

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    48 year old Kodachrome and Ektachrome

    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.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Kodachrome.jpg   Ektachrome.jpg  

  2. #2
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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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.
    Michael Sebastian
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  3. #3

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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. #4

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    Nice find! Certainly better than doing your own test and then waiting around for 50 years!
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  5. #5

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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.
    In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.

  6. #6

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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.
    Last edited by Pupfish; 10-29-2008 at 01:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7

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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. #8
    Radioiron's Avatar
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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. #9

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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. #10
    Mark Antony's Avatar
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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.

    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

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