The Eastman Kodak company introduced Kodachrome in 1935 and it became one of the most iconic pieces of film ever to run through a camera. The color is rich, the grain is barely visible at large image sizes, and the stability of the processed slides is remarkable. But the processing is the problem – it’s a proprietary methodology that’s complex and expensive. As digital photography has all but stamped out film, there has been little justification for keeping alive a product with such a small niche that may very well have been unprofitable.
So today Kodak formally announced an end to production. I’m not upset with the company for this – they sure seem committed to continuing film production with their other stock (I mean, they recently reformulated TMax 400 and introduced Ektar, a totally new print film, so, c’mon) – but this surely signals the end of an era.
I’ve not yet had the opportunity to shoot Kodachrome, but I ordered three rolls today before it’s too late. While Kodak believes their stock will last through Fall 2009, I’m less optimistic since I think film buffs and holdouts will try to hoard it before it’s too late.
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away
Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” from his 1973 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon