What to do if you still have rolls of Kodachrome in your refrigerator or freezer? Shoot it and process the film as Black and White. Since Kodachrome film cannot be processed in any existing color chemistry, the only option is Black and White. This is exactly what I decided to do.
As I’m not currently set-up to process the film myself, I sent my roll to Film Photogarphy Podcast listener Spencer Eklund at Sharp Photo in Eau Claire, Wisconsin USA. Since Kodachrome film is unlike any other film, we didn’t know what to expect or if BW processing would even work. Spencer and the Sharp Photo guys were up for the task and below is Spencer’s report.
“For starters, I think (the film developed as BW) came out pretty well. The breakdown of the (processing) steps is this…
Pre-wash in 20°C water for two minutes, thirty seconds. (Note that LOTS of crap was removed from the film when we poured this pre-wash out.)
Develop in Kodak T_Max developer 1-to-4 at 20°C for six minutes thirty seconds with constant agitation for the first three minutes – then agitation for ten seconds every 45 seconds until completion.
Stop Bath and Extra Rinse
Kodak Kodafix Solution for eight minutes with constant agitation for the first one minute thirty seconds with ten second agitation every minute til completion. Extra long rinse in 20°C water (15 minutes)
Squeegee the remaining “black goop” off of the film. Rinse an additional 3–5 minutes.
Finally, use Photoflow for the final 2 minutes and then, into the film drier.
The Result and Experimentation
We could see the exposures on the roll but only when viewed in direct light on an angle. I spoke to my dad (the “Big Cheese” at Sharp) and Steve (our film guru). We decided to try using a C-41 Bleach Solution. We did a bleach rinse for 1 minute 45 seconds followed by a heavy rinse and photoflow rinse. Then, back in the drier. Once the film dried, the negs were much more satisfactory.
In the future, we will tweak a few things and smooth out the process. Bottom line—send us your Kodachrome film for BW development.
So there you have it. Kodachrome developed as Black and White. A big thanks to Spencer and the Sharp Photo guys.
Do you have your own formula for developing Kodachrome as Black and White? We’d love for you to share your story and/or formula.