How to shoot vintage Kodachrome 64

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by rebecca_skinner, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Yes, I know Kodachrome is dead. I'm actually quite sad, but as a photographer I can't resist letting a (potentially) good roll of film go to waste.

    So here is how I found this roll. I was cleaning out the closet and a camera bag fell on me, low and behold I found a Nikon F3 Huzzah! (The mirror springs don't work...) Inside the bag is an unexposed roll of Kodachrome 64 K-14. Now, I have absolutely no idea how this film was stored, so let's say room temperature, or how old it is, but I want to shoot it.

    I'm in love with the idea of expired film shots. They look so dreamy and surreal.

    So if the ISO is 64 and the film potentially 20 years old, how long should I expose it, if it's able to be exposed at all?

    And after that any tips on developing it in D-76? A quick look through here and the internet yielded some results but few had any consistent ideas.
  2. awr


    The biggest hurdle to processing K64 to a negative is the rem-jet removal. To minimize photon scatter, Kodak coated the back of the film (as opposed to the emulsion side) with opaque colloidal carbon, called "rem-jet backing". In the K14 process, it is softened with an alkaline bath, then blown off with a water spray. You can do it manually, but the trick is to get the fine carbon particles off the back of the film, without getting them on to the emulsion side, where they will produce ugly spots on your negative. I used a high grade photo sponge, wet with Photo-flo, after developing the film, and before drying. It can be done.
  3. If you don't know how the film was stored (or even how old it is) there is no way to guess how to expose it. I'd suggest bracketing at normal, +1, and +2.
    I have no first hand experience processing Kodachrome in B&W, but I recall recommendations for HC-110.
    I do have a little experience removing rem jet. It is hard to do cleanly. The best way is in a continuous processing machine that has a short dip in an alkaline solution followed by a spray wash and/or buffer rollers. I know of people who tape the film on a hard surface and wipe the back side with an alcohol soaked cloth. It takes some practice to do this cleanly in the dark. The other way is to ignore the rem jet until after processing and then wipe off the backing. This is the easiest way (since you can wipe in the light) but you have to be lucky to avoid transfer of the carbon to the emulsion surface.
  4. Never mind the Kodachrome -- get that F3 checked out!
    (it's a great camera!)
  5. My darkroom consists of a developing tank, can opener and scanner. Is it even possible to process this with what I have? Or should I just use it to test the F3's condition?
  6. I'm all for alternative processing ideas, and trying new and unusual things, so I once thought it'd be really cool to shoot expired film to get a dreamy and surreal look also. I even considered leaving a few rolls of the cheapest Kodak consumer-grade 200 speed color film on my car's dashboard for a year or two to get nice and warm.
    In reality, I found that shooting expired film just makes really crappy pictures. The color is off, but not in a dreamy or surreal way. The grain becomes exaggerated. In retrospect, maybe a better idea would be to shoot and process normal film, but then speed up the process of letting the color dyes fade by leaving the exposed film in the sun for a while. If you really want to try shooting exposed film for surreal/dream effects, try it with a normal easy-to-process c-41 film first. Or shoot Kodak Aerochrome (color infrared) and cross-process in e-6 if it's surreal you want! (But it's only available from this guy.)
  7. If you use & process this, what you're going to end up with, at best, is some B/W images which look nothing like Kodachrome (if only because they're B/W) and, more likely, nothing usable at all. Instead:
    1. Keep the roll in its box, it is an interesting thing to have (I have the boxes for the last two rolls of Kodachrome I shot).
    2. Buy some B/W film – Tri-X say, while you can – and shoot that. You'll get better pictures.
    If you want expired film look around for expired B/W – there must be lots around. If you want the whole this-is-the-last-time-you-will-be-able-to-do-this thing, then Ektachrome is still, just, available if you can find people who have it (I bought a few rolls recently), and in fact pretty much any E-6 film probably falls into that category now. Expired E-6 film is probably also easy to find (but, for any E-6, make sure there is someone who can process it, as I suspect they are going away pretty fast now).
    Note I'm not trying to be dismissive of what you're trying to do – no one is more romantic about Kodachrome than I, who responded to the discontinuation announcement by buying a hundred rolls, am – I just think that there are better ways to achieve that romance.
  8. Tom is right on the mark. I see these posts all the time about developing Kodachrome as B&W and I have to wonder what people are thinking. The point of Kodachrome was its beautiful color. As Tom says, if you develop it as B&W you not only get only B&W but second-rate (maybe third-rate) B&W at that.
    Only reason I could see to develop Kodachrome as B&W is if you find an old roll that grandpa shot and you just want to see what's on the film. To proactively go out and shoot Kodachrome knowing you will be going to a lot of trouble just to get sub-standard results doesn't make sense to me.
  9. Ummm...for the folks who ask why in the world you would want to shoot Kodachrome, I would say anyone who shoots film in this day and age without a specific purpose is (like I am myself) is a little around the bend. And that is just what makes life interesting. I am currently spending my days and nights fooling with film negatives from the 1960s and 1970s. Okay, I have Elvis, The Beatles, Groucho Marx and so on but it is film and it is old. So sue me.
    My loonieness does not stop at mere film. I just bought a digital camera with a whopping one megabite. I just want to see what I can do with a single MB. Again -- so sue me.
    As the poet said about one of his characters "oh, he knew what reality was. He was just looking for something better."
  10. It's your time. Waste it as you please.
  11. 60 rolls of the last batch still in the boxes are in my deep freeze. Maybe one day I can use them, in the meantime, I am not wasting them on some science experiment...:)
  12. Personally, I'd just keep it as a conversation piece at this point. My last roll of K64 is doing just that. I lost it behind a
    bookshelf and thought I used all my stock up...but I was actually glad this one roll survived unshot and undeveloped,
    because I just like having it around as a reminder. Instead, test that F3 out with some current film.

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