Introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935 and discontinued in 2010, Kodachrome film became the go-to film for many professional and aspiring photographers alike for its vivid and vibrant color rendition that has forever influenced our view of mid-century America.
A unique color positive film manufactured by Eastman Kodak in all formats (110, 35mm, 120, 620, 4x5, 8x10, Regular 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm) its legend lives on, and many contemporary photographers are eager to replicate its unique look. And who wouldn’t, with the iconic packaging a constant on Instagram and Facebook? In fact, so iconic was this color film that Netflix made a feature about it starring Ed Harris.
above: "Kodachrome" on Netflix. Directed by Mark Raso (no relation)
But while lots of expired Kodachrome of all formats keep popping up for sale on ebay, don’t be lured into shooting Kodachrome in 2020 and expecting vibrantly colored photos after processing. Unfortunately, the only known chemical process for Kodachrome was discontinued over ten years ago.
But if you have purchased old Kodachrome stock on ebay because the sellers did not mention the discontinuation of the developing process, you have a couple options: you can always use it to test your vintage camera, or you can have it developed BW. If you do opt to shoot it for BW processing, shoot at a much lower ISO. For example, I recommend shooting Kodachrome 40 at ISO 3. And, if you have shot a roll of Kodachrome or have found family movie film that has yet to be processed, the film can be developed as BW film by the FPP. But do be aware that results are typically poor as demonstrated in our video.
While there is no contemporary film that can replicate the look of Kodachrome, there are options for achieving vibrantly colored images with fresh film in today’s market. I can recommend two:
For still photographers, Kodak Ektar 100 may suit your needs. Featuring an ISO of 100, high saturation and ultra-vivid color Ektar 100 offers the finest, smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.
And for those of you who would like to achieve rich vibrant colors in your movies, Kodak Vision3 50D offers a fine grain and uniquely saturated color scheme – and it’s available in regular 8, super 8 and 16mm.
Above: Rich, vibrant colors in 2020 and beyond? Kodak Vision3 50D Color
And, if you’re into projecting film (or scanning), you’re modern option is Kodak Ektachrome with its moderately enhanced color saturation, accurate flesh reproduction and exceptional sharpness.
For those who home process, here's Leslie Lazenby's recipe for developing Kodachrome as BW. Note that Kodachrome has a black "remjet" layer that will need to be removed by hand.
Kodachrome in HC-110
Step 1. Prewet in 20°C water for 2 minutes with agitation.
Step 2. Develop in HC-110, Dilution B for 10 minutes @ 20c or 68 F degrees -Agitated the solution during the first minute, and then 5 seconds of the remaining 30-second intervals.
Step 3. 1 Minute of water wash or Stop Bath, same temp as developer.
Step 4. Fix for 10 minutes with rapid fix or 15 with regular fix.
Step 5 Final wash and archival treatment as normal.
Microfiber or finger squeegee to remove final remjet.
Please check out our entire movie film / scan section at the Film Photography Project Store On-Line!
I hope this was helpful in addressing any questions or concerns you have regarding expired Kodachrome and processing – Happy Shooting!
About Michael Raso - Michael founded the Film Photography Project in 2009 as resource for both new and experienced film shooters. Through the popular Film Photography Podcast, FPP Workshops, blogs and instructional FPP YouTube videos Michael provides useful and easy to digest tips, tutorials and reviews of new and existing film formats, cameras and gear. In 2020 Michael and the FPP are bringing back Regular 8mm home movie film and (along with fellow FPP staffers) test and release new 35mm film for your still camera.