1938 Kodachrome

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by nickc|1, May 2, 2010.

  1. I have just been given some family pictures including some 16mm film taken by my Grandfather before WWII. As Kodachrome is soon to be no more it interested me to see these images from the early years. This film cost 22/6 for 50ft (process paid) - about $7 and is marked best before July 1938.
  2. My father who is sitting in the middle deckchair was about 10 at the time (He is nearly 83 now) Here is the box.
  3. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Rather expensive film actually. $7.00 in 1938 had about the same buying power as $104.98 in 2010. Annual inflation over this period was about 3.83%.
  4. "Safety Film" means it wasn't a nitrate based film.
  5. My 1938 Wards catalog shows a price of $4.28 with prepaid processing. I guess we got a break on pricing.
    The catalog shows prices of between $31.50 and $105 for a 16mm movie camera. Projectors were slightly above this in price.
  6. Les and the group;

    non "safety film" can be sometime Nitrate based; which created some horrible fire issues. It was dropped in 35mm movie film roughly about say 1950.

    Generally no 8mm or 16mm was made in Nitrate base; but often 35mm was.

    The first roll films from Kodak were Nitrate based; so be carefull if you scan some real old stuff; they can be unstable and very flammable.

    An old rule of thumb is be use caution and check with pre ww2 stuff.
    A sliver off a nitrate negative if taken outside where smokers hang out burns like all get out; like flash powder of a ping pong ball sometimes; other times not so quick.
    The first Kodak roll films are Nitrate based; and may not be marked; regards.
  7. 1938 is before Kodak solved the Kodachrome fading problem in 1939.
  8. The selective re-exposure process replaced the dye bleach process in 1938. If this film was marked "best before July 1938", it was probably the older variety. I've seen many examples of Kodachrome from 1938 on, but this is the first one I've seen the probably dates from before the process change. This doesn't look faded. The edge area is solid black. It looks monochrome.
    Nick, Is this reproduction a fair representation of what the film looks like? Thank you for posting this.
  9. On the cost issue, I have a copy of a magazine ad from 1923 introducing the first cine Kodak (later called model A). This was the first amateur movie system. The camera and projector sold for $235. Not exactly a mass market item.
  10. Nitrate films were never available in the smaller formats, only in 35MM until around 1952. A coil of nitrate film will flare up into a huge flame if ignited. Acetate base safety films are not flammable.
    Kodachrome for still cameras in 1940 had an ASA rating of "8". I suspect the movie version wasn't much faster. This made it a sunny day proposition only.
  11. Yes. The projection booths in movie theaters often had a massive concrete wall suspended by ropes. If the film caught fire
    and spread beyond the projector, the ropes would burn and allow the wall to fall and seal off the projection room from the
    rest of the theater.
  12. RE:"This made it a sunny day proposition only."
    Well back in the 1950's one had Kodachrome at asa 10; and a type A 3400 Kelvin variant maybe about 12.
    A Kodak 16mm magazine cine camera had a 25mm F1.9 Ektar.
    For indoor stuff one brought out the Kodak/Kodachrome light bar that had a handle and 4 Edison sockets where one screwed in say RFL? bulbs that where focused reflector types and one mights have 1000 watts aimed at the kids Birthday cake. I once say a wayward squirt gun hit a bulb and the went all over the food; ie cake. For 8mm cine Bolex had the 13mm F0.9 lens; I have one of these.

    With a 180 degree typical shutter; 16 frames per second gave 1/32 second exposure. Some cameras had 190 degree shutters and thus one got about 1/30 second on each frame. A lower end 1930's 16mm camera had about a F3.5 lens; a higher end one might have an F2 lens or better is F1.9. This all means to shoot at asa 8 to 12 at 1/30 second at F2 means one has to have a decent amount of tungsten light; and that is what folks did for some rare indoor stuff; you bought out the movie bar lamp; 1000 watts! a smaller bar had two lamps; say only 500 watts.
    Here I have the first 8mm cine camera of Kodak and the box too
  13. See it burn.
  14. One other thing I should point out before you burn any nitrate film if you get that dumb idea. It CAN NOT BE PUT OUT once it is on fire. Even if you toss it in a swimming poll it will continue to burn under water. As as you may have guessed from the previous video the smoke is very toxic.
  15. http://www.dawe.us/BijouFire.html
  16. I got a library book out showing WWII photos in Kodachrome. The author said that the film was aimed at the amateur market and so not much official stuff is in any formal archive. Photojournalists did not have the time nor inclination to shoot chromes, at least not much anyway. He, the author, herded a bunch of private collectors to loan him their images from the war. All were gorgeous. Our parents were gorgeous. Even the war was gorgeous in color. Its an old book by now, but it shows the wonder of the film, scrounged by wives and sent overseas and the preservative value of the process. I have some I took a long time ago and boy does it hold up vis a vis early E-6 stuff. I admit, ASA 25 was a bitch at times, but we managed...just a little personal perspective on the glory days of the stuff. Velvia anyone?
  17. These old films can be very valuable. Are you going to have it restored ?
    Esa Kivivuori
  18. "The projection booths in movie theaters often had a massive concrete wall suspended by ropes. If the film caught fire and spread beyond the projector, the ropes would burn and allow the wall to fall and seal off the projection room from the rest of the theater." You've got the right idea, but not exactly. The walls could be concrete but the "fire shutters" that would drop were metal sheets that covered the projection and viewing ports from the booth that allowed the projector to shine onto the screen and the projectionist to see the screen. I suppose rope might have been used but I think the metal panels were more often on wires, with a "fusible link" just above the projectors that would melt and let them drop in the case of fire. I'm familiar with this because I learned to run projectors in my grandfather's theater, which was equipped for nitrate (even though nitrate was long gone by the time I was there in the 70s). Projectors also had film magazines that enclosed the upper and lower reels, covers on both the picture head and sound head, and "fire rollers" where film passed from the magazines into the heads and back again. This was all so that a fire would be contained within the projector, or better yet within one magazine or the other, or even just the foot or two of film within the heads. I've handled nitrate before and it certainly can burn and is very dangerous. But in reality there were very few disaster level nitrate fires in theaters, largely because of all the special equipment and handling. Remember, all or almost all commercial movie film in commercial theaters for half a century was nitrate, so anybody who went to a theater before the 50s watched nitrate and most of us lived to tell about it. :)
  19. Regarding the cost of this film, please remember that pre WWII there was a fixed exchange rate of $6 to the pound - hence my conversion of the price. With today's floating exchange rate things are very different. As a collector of Argus cameras in the UK I know that trying to compare prices then in the US to today in the UK is a minefield. Comparing to factory workers weekly wage is no easier as there were far more blue collar workers then, and no minimum wage, and far far more skilled craftsmen as well, so the wages paid were not driven by the same forces either. In this particular case, my Grandfather was THE consultant pathologist to the two general hospitals in Nottingham and Mansfield UK - Today these would each have fully staffed Path labs, so trying to compute his equivalent income today is a non starter.
    The issue of the version of Kodachrome is also open to question. The sticker partially visable on the box says 'NOTICE The film in this package is faster than that heretofore supplied. Read enclosed instructions before exposing' To me this , particulaly being on a sticker, suggests that it was made just after some kind of update, whether this was the major change in 1938 or not I could not say. The emulsion number, if it helps anyone, is 9202-27E.
    Ron - Yes this deep magenta look is what the film looks like.
  20. Another thought regarding the equipment - I dion't know what kind of camera(s) my Grandfather used - he passed away in 1950, before I was born. His 16mm projector used to be in the family - it was a Bolex, needing a resistance to run in the UK, and qualitywise a bit above the usual. The camera had been lost as it had been 'sent away for servicing and they lost it!!!'
    I remember my father using his mother's old still camera, a Newman and Gardia Rollfilm Baby Sibyl - probably one of the best 127 rollfilm cameras available pre war. This suggests that Grandfather had some interest and taste in things photographic.
  21. Mr Clarke...
    Thank you for sharing your find. There is some color in the film. I tried Kodak's ROC, usually a good product, but it failed. I then tried to do it by hand in Paint Shop Pro and got some results.
    A. T. Burke
  22. I suspect this is a dye bleach Kodachrome, pre-1938. This film had severe image stability issues. After 10 years the imaging dye would nearly totally be faded. There is a recovery technique that was used that resulted in a brownish image such as is seen here. The film is treated with a permanganate solution. The color is not restored but a brownish image is far better than no image.
    I am interested in comments on this. I hope someone could give a small piece to the George Eastman House.
    Bob Shanebrook

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