more Kodacolor history and questions

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by john_shriver, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. Well, I just got the Third Edition (1946) of the Kodak "Kodachrome and
    Kodacolor Films" databook. We've previously noted that the original
    Kodacolor (1942) was only 6 exposures per roll, and came with a
    pre-exposed "control strip" at the end of the roll. But, they make it
    clear that by 1946, they weren't doing that anymore. However, it was
    still 6 exposures per roll, because they film was much thicker than
    normal films.

    What is interesting, and raises questions on my part, is that at this
    point they had added a positive contrast mask to the film. It was the
    layer immediately under the yellow mask. The question is, how did
    they make this work in the processing? Normally one bleaches all the
    silver out of color film after the color development stage. Not only
    were they leaving some silver in the film (but only in this layer),
    but they were reversal processing it, requiring either chemical or
    optical re-exposure.

    An interesting comment is in the text: "The Kodacolor process
    reproduces colors with sufficient color fidelity to afford attractive
    color prints. It is not intended for the making of color records, or
    for matching or measuring colors."

    I wonder if this was due to limitations of the printing process. The
    printing process was clearly limited, as all prints were 2-7/8" wide,
    with length set by the aspect ratio of the negative. No enlargements.
    So it must have been a rather involved long process, done in long rolls.

    Of source, we really can't know now, except from memory. All the
    Kodacolor prints from that era have faded into horrible yellow now.
    Do some folks here have hands-on memory?

    Of course, maybe the above quote just reflects the reality that the
    color balance of a color print is ultimately a subjective decision on
    the part of the person making the print.

    I have some Kodacolor negatives from 1960, and I've found that they
    scan very nicely, and make very nice digital prints. They look much
    nicer than period prints, which always look rather contrived and
    pastey. The scans have very nice clear colors, especially gorgeous
    yellow, and a lovely sky. I suspect that the print paper was far
    worse than the film for quite a long time. But, of course this is
    C-22 film, which could well be much better than the original Kodacolor
  2. John;

    I have some negatives from the late 40s and they look quite good. These have the orange mask in them though, not the silver mask.

    The old process was quite cumbersome for both film and paper. They started as 68 deg processes and moved to 75 deg processes in the 50s. The processes used a quinone based bleach with sulfuric acid, and the developer was CD2. In the 50s they changed to CD3 and a ferricyanide bleach.

    That is about all I can tell you.

    Ron Mowrey
  3. I don't have all of the details on the Kodacolor mask process from the mid 40's nor could I find them in a quick Google search. I do know it was a very complicated process SOMETHING LIKE this:

    Color developer





    mask exposure (I'm guessing through the base)

    B&W developer







    I may have steps in the wrong order, but it was about this complicated. The process was simplified and the color much improved when Dr. Hansen invented masking couplers.

    I will post a question to the Photographic Historical Society to see if someone has more accurate details.
  4. I scanned some c.1960 Kodacolor negatives the other day, and was quite frankly amazed at how they looked. They most likely were taken by my Grandfather on a Rolleicord or Rolleiflex borrowed from work, as my it seems as though everyone else in my family was predisposed to the 6x9 format. I made no color corrections to them, and thought that they looked great. This is more than can be said of the Ektachromes I have from the same era, which have gone very yellow, and the 1970s Instamatic negatives I have, which scanned very green. I printed out a big stack of 5x5s and gave them out to several family members, all of whom were very impressed. I found the original to one of them, and the 5x5 from my cheap scanner and even cheaper printer combination looks a lot better.
  5. Here's the 1960 scan I had that struck me as nice color. I've touched up the color balance, and corrected the serious chromatic aberration of the lens.
  6. Doesn't this speak more of the quality and accuracy of current
    scanning devices as apposed to the reproduction capabilities
    during that time period?

    Back in the sixties I never saw any print that looked as good as
    the images posted above regardless of film stock and camera.
    Or maybe it was because I lived in the poverty stricken south
    where no one cared much about quality control.

    Surprisingly nice fidelity in the above images, though.
  7. I have a copy of a book entitled: "Kodachrome, and How to use it", copyright 1940. The film had a speed of ASA 8 !
  8. Tim: Yup, that's the second point I'm making. I think we didn't know how good Kodacolor film was. Kodak was doing their best with the machine-made prints in 1960, but the paper/chemistry wasn't up to today's capabilities.

    I have a couple of 1959 negatives with period prints, I should scan both for an A/B comparison.
  9. OK, here is a period print from 1959. Bleahh.
  10. But, there's a lot more color in that negative. I did a straight scan (Epson 2450), then did color balance in Picture Window Pro. Finally, I tweaked the blue curve, boosting it in the midtones to clear a yellowish cast. For you Boston baseball fans, yes, the Cities Service sign is the predecessor to the Citgo sign.
  11. Note to Ron Andrews;

    That process looks very close, but as you have it there, it would remove the silver mask. I'm still trying to recall it, and it seems that there is a non-rehal bleach in it before the B&W developer.

    That might fit in with the quinone - sulfuric acid bleach, as I think that bleach is non-rehal.

    Ron Mowrey
  12. Ron Mowrey,

    Good point. I don't have any more definitive information, but the silver mask must still be there to be effective. A non rehalogenating bleach (dichromate? permanganate?) between the color developer and B&W developer would work. The emulsion in the mask layer must be slower than the imaging layers. I would like to know how it was spectrally sensitized
  13. The 616 Kodacolor negatives from March of 1944 we have here were enlarged abit with the original Kodak Processing. There were not contact prints. Maybe enlargement was an option, or only done on a trial basis in some regions. A post far above seems to imply that the original Kodakcolor was just contact prints, this is opposite to what we have in an album at home here. <BR><BR>This 616 Kodacolor was shot the winter of 1943/1944, and porcessed on March 3 1944. The 616 negative has more detail than the slightly enlarged print, but has non uniform fading, due to non archival shoe box storage, with the negative peaking out of the envelope a tad. I scanned this on an Epson 2450, with the edges held up my some coins, using a homemade film holder for the Epson 2450, when it first came out. I did this long ago for a thread I started on "scanning old oddball sizes of old Kodacolor negatives with a flatbed". The thread got deleted in the MF forum because,(1) "it wasnt a question", (2)"Scanning of old Kodacolor has already been covered, (4) "flatbed scanning has already been covered" (3) "616 is NOT a MF format." <BR><BR>What is funny is that I prepaid a deposit and got an early model Epson 2450, and just wanted to show how one could suspend a large non standard negative, and get a scan that was sharp and with no Newton rings. 616 must be considered to be a bastard format today here, if one cannot post a thread in the MF or LF forums. There was no "classical camera forum" back then, So I assumed that posting a 616 negative in the MF forum was ok, and not an evil deed. <BR><BR>Here is the back of a 1944 Kodacolor print:<img src=""><BR><BR>Here is a negative scan, inverted. The dyes are mostly faded away. This was AFTER alot of pre curves were forced during the scan. <BR><BR><BR>Here is after pulling more of the "whats left of the faded dyes" out of the mud<BR><BR><img src=""><BR><BR><BR>Here is an enlargment; the non uniform fading still shows. it is abit too blue still in the white areas. One can fix this by using layers and locally adjusting each section, this is what I do for stuff for the public in our retouching services. <BR><BR><img src=""><BR><BR>OK what kind of camera is this? <BR><BR><img src="">
  14. Here is a negative scan, inverted. The dyes are mostly faded away. This was AFTER alot of pre curves were forced during the scan.<BR><BR><img src=""><BR><BR><BR>The negative sleeve says a Kodak Folder was used, thus one must remember that one was using an ASA 25; yes twenty five; for say an 1/50 second exposure at F8 or F11 for the shot. Here on has scale focusing, a rather slow shutter speed for a folder. Most folks shot slides in that era, Kodacolor was really rare in 1944, probably real expensive too.
  15. By "no enlargements", I meant that you couldn't get any Kodacolor prints wider than 2-7/8". They were all optical enlargements, but there was one fixed size per exposure format. So 127 came out 2-7/8 x 4-1/2", 120/620 (6x9 format) came out 2-7/8" x 3-3/16", and 116/616 came out 2-7/8" x 5".

    They did note that 6x6 format 120 film had the advantage that you could request a rectangular crop, so long as it was in one of the established ratios from some other exposure format.
  16. Amazing how we can make the past better in the future. I bet alot of the C-22 nrgative film will long out last the Ektachrome slides of that age. alot of mine from the 70's are already dead. But I still have a few GAF and Kodachromes that will outlast me.
  17. For the sake of comparison, here's an uncorrected Ektachrome from about 1968. Notice the strong yellow cast.

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