Late 1950s Kodak Safety Film 32833

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by lex_jenkins, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Anyone familiar with the late 1950s Kodak Safety Film 32833, presumably an early version of Kodacolor? Googling turned up nothing specific, but my best guess is it's an ISO 32 film, Type #833, which may indicate it's an ordinary daylight film.
    Background: After my dad died last week I prowled through our archive of family photos and found a very rare batch of negatives. While my granddad was meticulous about noting the backs of prints with names, dates, places, etc., he rarely kept negatives. So this is a particularly interesting find for me. The photos appear to be from 1958 or '59, judging from my apparent age (a year or so) and my dad's pre-university crewcut. By the early 1960s he was sporting a fashionable beatnik hairstyle and beard.
    The film appears to be 127 format, measuring around 4x6.5cm, with eight frames in total. No idea which camera, but judging from the decent center clarity and noticeable edge and corner softness and light falloff, it was probably a folder or inexpensive box camera. (The only photo I have *of* a family member holding a camera was my dad's Brownie Hawkeye years earlier.) By the time my grandparents had died the only cameras I found in their home were a Pentax 110 SLR (which I kept); a broken Instamatic with the spring loaded auto winder; a couple of non-functional Polaroids; and a very old Kodak box camera, from early 1900s. Presumably the latter was a shelf decorator bought by my grandparents after they retired. I know they used the Instamatic and Polaroids extensively, which is why they were pretty much worn out. I have literally thousands of snapshots they took over the years. No idea about the 127 camera, though.
    I'll attach a closeup of the negative edge strip with markings, and the full frame from which it came. That's my dad in the buzz cut. That's me on the hood of the car, as always sporting a hat. I still almost always wear a hat outside, mostly a boonie hat nowadays. Now idea what I'm holding - probably a stick, although it might be a flute or some other noisy toy.
    It scanned easily on the Epson 3170. I should get the ANR holders for better results, but for these family snaps the stock holder is good enough. The negatives are in pretty good shape, despite some light leaks. I have one or two old prints from this set, but most of these prints were missing. Subjectively speaking, Kodak prints from the late 1950s-'60s seem to have held up really well. Any fading and color shifting is fairly subtle, with a creamy warmth that would make a hipster's faux retro nostalgia-by-proxy dreams come true. Can't say the same for the 1970s prints from other labs, or the peel-apart Polaroids, most of which have faded or color shifted badly, and not in a way that makes me nostalgic.
    *Closeup of rebate markings.
    *Nearly full frame of same negative (some of rightmost edge cropped)
  2. There was only one Kodak color negative film in 127 size in 1958-1959, which was Kodacolor. By then it was C-22 process.
    While Ektacolor S (the C-22 professional portrait film) was also available by that era, it would only be available in sheet film, 120, 620, long roll, and 35mm sizes.
    The color palette of that shot is also the classic Kodacolor look, which held from Kodacolor through Kodacolor-X to Kodacolor-II.
    You should be able to narrow down the year by the license plate. Even if you can't read the date on the plate, the color schemes changed every year. Search eBay for plate from that state in the years in question.
    Camera could well of been a Vest Pocket Kodak -- by far the most common full-frame 127 camera.
  3. Sorry about your Dad.
    Nice photo-enhanced memories, though. Suburban ranch-style with Chevrolets in a different age. Looks like a nice place to be from.
  4. Looks to be a 1959 Virginia license plate. Given how beat up the plate is, maybe late in the year.
    The dot between the S and A of SAFETY means the film was manufactured in Rochester.
    The square between SAFETY and FILM could well indicate a 1957 manufacturing date for the film, if they were using the same code markings on still film and motion picture film.
    32833 is presumably a production lot number.
    By 1959, Kodacolor prints didn't fade too badly (earlier ones were terribly unstable), but they weren't nearly as good as a modern scan. See this post for Kodacolor print versus negative.
  5. Good eye, John. It is indeed a 1959 Virginia
    plate. The detail was partially obscured by the
    odd clumping sometimes caused by dust and grain
    reduction. I'll need to rescan with those
    options disabled.

    No idea whose car that was. Possibly a visiting
    relative. This was in Texas and all the other
    cars visible in other frames had Texas plates.

    The lot number may explain the 32833.

    That 2006 thread does match my observations too.
    The film colors scan beautifully. I scanned a
    couple other frames last night and the colors
    really pop, with a palette I can't easily match
    with most digital snaps - although the Ricoh GRD4
    vivid color mode comes very close.

    But I also rather like the look of the lower
    contrast/saturation prints of that era. No idea
    what they looked like when new. I've tried to
    emulate this creamy, faded look in Lightroom and
    can't quite nail it.

    In some ways the anti trust suit that ended
    Kodak's bundled film/processing deal may not have
    been such a good thing. Few of our later color
    snapshots processed and printed by other labs
    were as good over time.

    I'll post a few more samples later. It's been a
    pleasant surprise during a difficult couple of
    weeks to discover a rare set of negatives among
    these family photos.
  6. Yes, the independent labs used color papers that were even less stable than Kodak's papers. Not that Kodak papers were all that amazing in color stability, but there were some really dreadful Agfa papers.
    I have some original Vericolor S and some Kodacolor-II, and they still provide that look. Must have been well-stored.
  7. Here are a couple more samples from those 127 format Kodacolor photos.
    The first is of my granddad camping - probably 1959-'60, as it's at the end of the same roll in which the vehicles with 1959 license plates appear. This is a scan of the negative. I haven't found an original print of this photo:
    Scan of Kodacolor 127 negative.
    The second example is scanned from 1963 prints (front of one print, rear of duplicate print), of my dad's Mercedes 170s with Willys Jeep engine. Looks cool but he sold it after a long drive to Purdue - said it was a terrible road car with that engine. A 170s cabriolet in that condition would fetch a pretty penny nowadays. Back then it was a bargain vehicle for a broke college student, cobbled together from WWII surplus parts:
    Scan of original set of 1963 Kodak prints from Kodacolor negatives.
  8. Nice color... My Kodacolor and Agfacolor negatives from that time (1959-1965±) haven't held up nearly so well.
  9. Nice series. My first experience with Kodacolor (ISO 80 Kodacolor-X) was around 1967 or so using a Sears (Imperial) Cubex camera that took 127 film. Still have some negatives somewhere that I should scan. The prints don't look too bad (not that great to start with). My dad mostly shot Kodachrome (35mm) but would occasionally shot a roll of Ektacolor in his Mamiya C33. As I recall he would send the Ektacolor to Sparkletone Color Labs in Colorado for processing. Still got some prints in the lab envelope.

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