The oldest color camera film ever made will fade into the history books on December 30th as the last laboratory in the world that processes the film runs out of the chemicals to develop it. The film has been used to capture many of the most iconic color images of the twentieth century. When Abraham Zapruder filmed the Kennedy Assassination, he used Kodachrome.
Kodachrome was the first commercially successful color film, and has been in production for 74 years. Kodak will not be producing any more as they consider it to be no longer viable. Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, the last laboratory, still processes 700 rolls each day, but will grind to a halt abruptly this week. “The real difference between Kodachrome and all the other colour films is that the dyes that make up the image you see in the film, in Kodachrome, don’t get incorporated into the film until it is actually developed,” said Grant Steinie, who runs the laboratory.
Kodachrome was appreciated by professionals for its vibrant colors and accuracy as well as its storage longevity. The final roll of Kodachrome manufactured was used by photographer Steve McCurry of National Geographic fame and processed in July. You can track the countdown to the end of Kodachrome at the Kodachrome Blog at kodachromeproject.org, a site for Kodachrome enthusiasts.
We have a box of kodachrome slides sitting here that we plan to someday get around to cleaning and running through a slide scanner. And while the age of digital photography is here, there is something to be said about what can be capture on traditional film, even if subsequently digitized…something that is lost now.
Rest in Peace, Kodachrome – 1935-2010 – Paul Simon Sang About It, a State Park was named after It, National Geographic Shot Their Most Famous Photos On It, and now they have taken our Kodachrome away.
- Photography show ‘Last Kodachrome’ end of an era (sfgate.com)
- Kodachrome: The Legendary Film’s Last Days (cbsnews.com)