Kodachrome - gloomy greens?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by Ian Rance, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. I have been using Kodachrome much more recently - like many I suspect to help keep the process going.
    However, it is all going a bit wrong. I sent my Mum off on holiday with her compact camera loaded with some and have been using it myself, however when projected, the greens of plants look dark grey green in colour. They don't have any life or vibrance. The reds, yellows and blues look passable, but green is horrible. Now I am getting complaints at the slide showings and my Mum refuses to use it any more.
    Any ideas what may be wrong?
  2. Well, Kodachrome greens are more subdued than in basically any other slide film. I find it realistic and pleasant to look at, others are bothered by it, especially those used to Fujichrome or digital. I was loading a roll of Kodachrome in my camera; a friend (also a photographer) saw it and asked "Why is the cassette yellow and red? Is it because it can't do green?"
    But if it really looks as horrible as you say, and more grey than green, I'd suspect that something is wrong either with the film (was it outdated or stored incorrectly?), in the processing (unlikely) or in the exposure (unlikely if the pictures otherwise seem well exposed). How do the greens compare to those from your other Kodachrome rolls?
  3. Is it possible that the compact camera cannot recognise ISO 64 on the DX coding and exposed it at EI 100 instead?
    I have known of compacts which only work at 100 and 400.
  4. I got a few rolls of K64 to try before it goes extinct, and my impressions of the colors were the same; the greens are muted and sometimes a bit gray, the reds and oranges look good, and the blues are rather peculiar. Unless you are really after a '70s color palette for some sort of artistic effect, I'm afraid I don't see the reason for using it (the longevity over E6 isn't a compelling reason for me).
  5. Fredrik - my previous rolls have not had much green in them and where I did have green leaves, the sun was shining through them making them brighter. On my latest rolls I took some photos of poppies and roses in subdued light and the (admittedly already) darker rose leaves came out very muted - almost blended together.
    Steve, I set the camera to 64 - it does not have DX coding, but it still did not help.
    Jerry, I agree about the reds, oranges (and yellows). They really jump out. I don't like overdone colours, but as my projector is only 100 Watts, any reduction in colour soon shows as you can imagine.
    Perhaps I need to use the film for more specific applications - not just general photography. I may also try it at 50 ASA.
  6. I've shot many rolls of Kodachrome 64 over the years, and I've never seen bad greens (or any other color for that matter). It's an outstanding film when properly exposed.
  7. Greens and blues are subdued in Kodachrome - it is not a "colorful" film unlike many E6 films - it is either a point in its favor or against it depending on your view. It is a high contrast film, but with neutral colors.
  8. Perhaps the song about it making the 'world a sunny' day was misleading to me.
  9. I've shot at least 4 rolls this year of PKR. Two rolls (April 09) were in Seattle and various areas in King County and the other two rolls (May 09) were in various areas in Los Angeles County.
    The two rolls that I shot in Washington were amazing. So when I took a trip to California, I took along two more rolls of PKR and one Roll of E100VS, along with my 5D.
    Results: PKR and E100VS were both shipped to Dwayne's in the same package. The PKR was so lifeless, very grainy and very flat. The E100VS had life to it. Yes, a bit of grain, but that's E100VS but the colors were vivid, images where sharp.
  10. What are you comparing it to? Or, to put it another way: are there current slide films, other than Kodachrome, which are not enormously over-saturated?
  11. I'd say Fuji Astia is not over-saturated and is a natural looking moderate contrast portrait film. I also use it for landscape and long exposure night photography. It's also quite fine grained. These attributes make it easier to shoot and scan than Kodachrome so anyone frustrated with Kodachrome might give it a try. For a cheaper film try Sensia 100.
  12. from my experience with Kodachrome 64, if it's fresh, the greens should be green maybe just a bit subdued. see example bellow. however, recently i stumbled on this store on amazon and they sold 5 rolls for $25 that expired in mid 2007. so i bought some and the colors in general were a bit less vivid but greens in particular were muted. is it possible your film was old?
  13. You're using Kodachrome--that's what's wrong. This revisits the reason pro nature/wildlife shooters abandoned Kodachrome in the early 90s for Fuji Velvia. Sentimentality/nostalgia aside, they and their clients liked the pumped saturation and vivid green palette that made Kodachrome 25/64/200 look washed out by comparison on the editorial light table. Unless Kodachrome processing is somehow easier to access than a good E6 line, I'd skip it in favor of any Kodak or Fuji ISO100 slide film.
  14. I just did a roll of flowers for a camera club assignment and the greens were great. Occasionally, I do notice that greens in thing such as grass come out dark, but not all of the time.
  15. Like I've said, Kodachromes' green foilages/plants can be blah compared to the "high-sat." films such as Velvia or Ektachrome GX. The Big K needs to be shot at or near 90degrees to the sun with a good polarizer to bring out its best characteristics. I coudn't imagine wasting a roll in a compact camera with no filter.
  16. Thank you for the replies - very informative.
    The only other slide film I have used is Boots own, but the greens on that were sickly and puce coloured, so now I use the legendary Kodachrome. I want so badly to like it, but I am struggling. Kostya, your greens are fine, but they are bordering on what I see. Imagine trying to record dark greens and then everything just goes muddy. The blues on your photo are like my blues. My film is in date - August 2009 expiry.
    Actually, I have just been given some rolls of 100 speed Fuji Sensia with which I have taken photos of the wild orchids. I will see how those compare.
    I am still learning for sure - up until recently I only ever used print film.
  17. "You're using Kodachrome--that's what's wrong. This revisits the reason pro nature/wildlife shooters abandoned Kodachrome in the early 90s for Fuji Velvia."
    Ah, yes. Velvia. That's a film that I loath beause of the nuclear colors. But that's because I prefer the natural pallet of Fuji Astia.
  18. Grens are not very snappy and vibrant with Kodachrome, but the murky grey green you refer to is cuased by underexposure. I have encountered it myself before. Her compact is probably shoot the 64 at 100 - that is what most compact will defualt too when haced with a 64 iso or 160 iso, or other "odd" iso's.
    Note that the Olympus Stylus Epic will shoot it at 50, and looks great. You cant even see the slight over exposure.
    Either get her a Stylus Epic, or use an iso 100 slide film in her current compact.
  19. I don't really understand the problem. Are you guys still using Kodak Carousel projectors to show your work?
    I ask because as soon as an image is in a digital form the hue and saturation of each color is enirely determined by your taste.
    This was shot on Kodachrome 64 about 35 years ago:
  20. And this one was shot about 15 years ago:
  21. Thanks again. Randall, those look nice - I feel 'generous' exposure does help with the greens from what I see here. Greg, those are nice too - but as I project my slides in a little projector tweaks are not possible sadly.
  22. I'm sorry, I didn't take notice of the phrase "...when projected...".
    But as I recall, most slide projectors use bulbs that burn at about 2800 degrees Kelvin. That's pretty far to the red end of the color spectrum and is thus is sure to muddy up greens and, to a lesser extent, blues.
    I don't know what can be done about it short of putting a light blue gel in front of the projector lens.
  23. Darker colors in Kodachrome can lack purity. It's not an accurate film, it's a look you either like or don't. I find it best in bright sunny weather, any grayness, and it can get pretty lifeless.
    Just checked some scanned Kodachrome 25, and even there the greens can be muted.
  24. Don't recall you mentioning it, Ian, but do you own an incident light meter? Shooting slides can be way more satisfying if you do.
  25. Looks to me that the time of day you shot wasn't all that great for getting good color.
    I'd say a late afternoon shot in ideal lighting would be the best test.
  26. Gary, I do have a Weston EuroMaster - perhaps I should use it more.
    Looking at these comments, what strikes me is that there are some hard rules concerning use of Kodachrome. Perhaps they could be summed up to help newcomers to the emulsion avioid initial dissapointment (which may turn them off using it again).
    How does this sound?
    For best results:
    1. Makes sure film has been stored correctly and is in date.
    2. Ensure camera can be set to 64 ASA.
    3. If possible, use an incident light meter to check readings.
    4. Shoot at 90 degrees to the sun with a polariser.
    5. Ideally, have the end result scanned to allow final tweaks.
    I have got 5 more rolls. I will use them, but with more thought and only for certain subjects - not dark plants anyway.
  27. Kodachrome is still in production?
  28. Ian,
    The most important rule with Kodachrome is to expose it correctly, it has less latitude than E6 films so the exposure has to be bang on. What speed you set for your meter depends on the camera and the way you meter. I use it at 50, but I know some who rate it as 80. Personally, I prefer the image lighter rather than darker.
    The polarizer rule is a general one for all color films as that is where polarized light will be coming from, it's not unique to Kodachrome.
    With slide films (including K64) the general rule it to expose for the highlights you are want to see in the final image. Incident metering might well get you there, but is not infallible.
    Personally I would not pick Kodachrome if you want to scan the film. I (and many others) find it among the hardest of films to scan - grain is accentuated and shadows are noisy-and dust reduction software often does not work.
  29. I have about 50 rolls of Kodachrome 25 left. When I use it, I rate it at 40, and have it developed at 40 by Dwaynes. I have never had a problem with muted greens; as a matter of fact, the greens are extremely vibrant. The reds and blues are a bit funky, but they can be toned down when scanned.
    I scan with a Nikon 9000 and vuescan. I like the vibrant colors but it seems that Vuescan doesn't do the job for Kodachrome 25. I have the Lasersoft software with the Kodachrome target, but I can't seem to get the hang of Lasersoft though.
    The attaches shot was taken in the late afternoon in Coral Gables, FL, purposely shot into the sun for effect. I toned down the reds just a bit.
    Sorry for not resizing the image for posting but I don't have decent software on the office computer.
  30. "Personally I would not pick Kodachrome if you want to scan the film. I (and many others) find it among the hardest of films to scan - grain is accentuated and shadows are noisy-and dust reduction software often does not work."
    I think it scans very nicely... at least on my Epson V500.
  31. If the only two slide films you've used are Kodachrome and an unknown house brand then I strongly suggest you buy a roll of Provia, Velvia, and Astia.
    I've read quite a few posts here from new Kodachrome users who wonder why we don't all shoot Kodachrome. They think we're missing something. The reality is that many of us have shot thousands of Kodachrome slides and willingly abandoned it for other films like Velvia.
    If you have multiple cameras try taking the same shot with the same lens using each of the films. Have them developed and compare side by side. Do the same with Kodachrome if you want to, through in 100VS and any other Kodak slide film you want. It will cost you $30-100 but to me that is money well spent so you can compare them with your own eyes instead of listening to people on the Internet. I did it years ago and it was one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. I had no more questions, I had the answers right in front of me.
    There is nothing wrong with shooting Kodachrome and loving it but if you haven't shot other films then you are really missing out. There's also nothing wrong with loving or hating Velvia.
  32. Doug,
    Yes, Kodachrome 64 is still in production. New emulsion numbers are being released.
  33. > I have about 50 rolls of Kodachrome 25 left. When I use it, I rate it at 40, and have it developed at 40 by Dwaynes.
    You push process K25 by 2/3 stop? Why?
  34. I completely agree with Walt, above. K64 is a nice film and I used it for 20 years, but I switched to Astia after wanting to scan film and liking the fact that it is a stop faster, has finer grain and more forgiving in exposure and, although neutral, is better with greens and blues. There is no negative to using E6 films these days. Try them and see.
  35. One of the difficulties processing Kodachrome is the possibility of forming the wrong color image dye in the wrong layer of the emulsion. This is because each color dye is processed in its own color developer (C, M, Y). If any of the color developers is off specification, or if the re-exposure printers (for image reversal) are out of calibration, then the dye might be formed in the next developer step. For example, if the cyan developer is off spec, then the under-developed image (cyan to red axis) might get developed in the magenta developer (magenta to green axis). This causes poor color reproduction, the "muddiness" and lack of accuracy that others have mentioned.
    When processed well, Kodachrome greens should be OK. But they are definitely less saturated and less "lime green" than most of today's E-6 films. Velvia 50 is the opposite end of the saturation and accuracy scale, with fluorescent looking bright green leaf colors. I would say that Kodachrome 64 will reproduce more subtle shades of green than many other slide films. I see more blue-greens in Kodachrome, particularly in plants like tulip leaves, spruce trees, cactus, etc. Nice for botanical studies and catalogs, but it may not have the wow factor of E-6 saturation.
  36. For the most part, Kodachrome 64 represents colors as they are in the light one is working with. For example, when I started shooting a lot of Kodachrome again, I started to relate to the color palette on those terms and I would easily pick up with my eye when a scene was subject to too much cyan / UV. So as I have said before, with the exception of warmly lit reds / oranges, Kodachrome is not going to sugar coat your subject falsely like other films. You have to work at it and become very sensitive to light.
    Furthermore, the scanning issues with Kodachrome are there until you get a decent CCD scanner with good software. Lasersoft imaging makes an IT8 target and when that is combined with Silverfast Ai, there is virtually no color cast removal needed, mine are spot on.
    Kodachrome is a piece of cake to scan with a good scanner like a Nikon 5000 ED / 9000 ED so saying that scanning Kodchrome is hard is like saying pounding a nail into a piece of wood with the butt of a screwdriver is hard.
  37. Green is by far my favorite color.
    What do you think of the greens in this shot? This was Kodachrome 200.

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