Kodachrome Color Saturation Myth Revisited

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by randrew1, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. In 1971, Paul Simon wrote the song "Kodachrome" that included the lyrics: "Gives you the greens of summer, makes you think all the world's a sunny day". In 1971, Kodachrome II probably had more saturated colors than any other color film available. A lot has changed since then, but the myth still endures. In 1974, Kodachrome II was replaced by Kodachrome 25 that had roughly equivalent saturation, but not equivalent in all colors. In 1975, E-64 was introduced and Kodachrome lost the saturation crown. In 1984 Fujichrome R-50 and R-100 knocked Kodachrome down to 4th place. Subsequent films like Velvia and E-100 VS make Kodachrome colors looked subdued by comparison.
    All this was brought to mind when my Google news alert popped up another reference to Kodachrome:
    "In Los Angeles, the morning of November 1, 2009 was a living advertisement for the rich color saturation characteristic of Kodachrome film – or it would have been if you could still buy that type of film – because there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it seemed like a perfect summer day was beginning. "
    What I want to know is: If Paul Simon hadn't written the song, would there still be a myth of Kodachrome color saturation?
     
  2. I believe Kodachrome II was replaced but Kodachrome-X, then by Kodachrome 64.
    About to shoot my last ever roll of the 64. Sigh! I've always loved the true skin colour it
    gave me.
    Best regards,
    /Clay
     
  3. It was not just the saturation, but the sharpness, crispness, and lack of grain. My favorite was either the original ASA 10 or the Kodachrome II (first ASA 25) manifestions. I'd still shoot them if I could get them.
    You could look at the slides with considerable magnification with no grain, and they looked like little engraved gems on the back.
    This was one of the shots on the first roll of Kodachrome II I shot. Many of the shots had a faint "purple" cast to them, although that may just be California, who knows?
    (and I do know how to spell relief , something that has become more important as I get older, but we can't edit captions.)
    00UuM5-186275584.jpg
     
  4. K-X was an extension of the line. The Instamatic (126 format) cameras were all built around 64 speed film. K-II and K-X were both sold for a dozen years. They were both replaced by their Process K-14 equivalents K-25 and K-64, in 1974.
     
  5. Thanks for clearing that up. Around 1974 I never knew what Kodachrome my camera store
    would have in stock on any day. Sometimes K-II, sometimes K-64. Have tried them from the
    old ASA 10 (I think) , 25, X, 64. Have never tried K-200 though.
    Best regards,
    /Clay
     
  6. This was bought to my mind the other day after seeing a lot of "how do I get the look of 10 ASA Kodachrome" questions in various places, and coincidentally messing around with a few Ektar shots in GIMP. While trying to do something else completely, I accidentally managed to hit on a 'look' that had a little of the feel of early Kodachrome - or more of the feel than I've seen in some other attempts. This was after desaturating considerably, applying a slight overall yellow layer to bring down blue tones, and playing with curves.
    Kodachrome can make for beautiful blue skies under some conditions, but it seems that its particular response to blue (or lack of it) is often key to the 'look', as well as its rendition of shadows and highlights. The 'intense' reds are, I guess, largely perceived as so intense due to the muted blues and greens.
     
  7. The original 10 ASA Kodachrome had a much too steep contrast - Kodachrome II was definitely an improvement. I have scanned Kodachrome slides from 1959 exposed for the mid-tones with blown-out highlights. When I compare today's slide films with K 25, I wonder how poor the competitors' products may have performed around 1970 - Agfa CT18 was not that bad especially in medium format.
     
  8. Kadachrome II from early 60's
    exactly as scaned, looks the same when projected.
    Super color saturation
    [​IMG]
     

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