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Started by benhutcherson, December 30, 2010, 02:01:22 PM

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Kodachrome was the first commercially-available color film, being introduced in 1935.

Today marks the last day of processing, after production was discontinued last year.

Although e6 slide films are in pretty much every way superior, Kodachrome has a certain charm that can't be beat.



I read this article too.

When I was a teenager, I developed a roll of Kodak slide film. I can't remember if it was Kodachrome, but it was tough to put the film in the developing canister with no lights at all.


Dennis Markham

Jorge, it was probably Ectachrome which could be processed at home using an E6 process.  The Kodachrome was much more difficult and had to be done professionally.  There was a special about this on the CBS Sunday Morning show this past Sunday.  I checked their web site yesterday to see if the video of that segment was available but all that was there was an article.

I disagree that that Ectachrome was superior to Kodachrome.  But it's each individual's preference I suppose.  Kodachrome had an ASA (I think they call it ISO now or perhaps it's changed again) rating of either 64 or 25. That is a very low grain, high quality image.  I read once that properly stored, Kodachrome slides/transparencies (the image quality) can last up to 100 years.  I have some slides that were taken by my relatives in the 50's that still look like they were taken recently.  I used to take a lot of photos in the 80's.  I have about 6,000 slides with most of those being Kodachrome.  I prefer the color they provided much more than Ectachrome.  It's too bad that it's an end of an era, but I can't remember the last time I bought film.  Neither is anyone else...much.



Do you have any plans to get your slides converted to digital? My wife and I were talking about that just this morning. I too have thousands of slides that I took from about 1977 (when I got my Canon AE-1) until about 1986 (when I got my Sony 8MM camcorder). I took something like 2000 slides on a 3 month trip through Europe in 1983 and then a whole bunch more on a 10 week car trip circling the USA in 1984. I used to know what it was like to travel, then came kids!

I think I need to buy a converter or scanner and considering how many I need to convert, I would like to find a decent unit even if it costs some $$$. Anyone out there in rotary phone land have any experience in this area?


Dennis Markham

Terry, I just recently was loaned a device that was designed to scan negatives and slides.  I have only done a handful of them.  It's relatively inexpensive and there may be something better out there.  It's called "imagelab".  I believe it came from Costco or Sam's Club and was in the $55 range.  It can scan only three slides at a time.  It is time-consuming work.  Three slides are placed in a tray, the tray is inserted in to the device with a notch/stop for each slide.  You push a button, it scans, then the tray is moved to the next notch and it's done again. 

The problem that I have encountered is that it has a bright light inside that seems to draw dust.  So the images are dust covered.  I started this "project" (imaging doing thousands of slides one at a time) before Christmas and put it on hold.  I thought I'd try and use a vacuum to remove dust from inside the unit which is pretty much sealed.  Or, try using compressed air to blow out the dust but since it's sealed it's just going to blow around inside. 

So perhaps there are better units out there.  This is a 5 megapixel, 3600 dpi unit.  I'm sure there are some with better image quality.

I am attaching one of the scans to illustrate what I'm not talking about with the dust.  This is really not acceptable.  This slide is of my older brother lifting me up, probably in the summer of 1956.



E-6(Ektachrome) films have come a long, long way even in the past 20 years.

Today's ISO 100 E-6 films-like Kodak E100G or Fuji Astia 100F-have a much tighter grain structure than even the ISO25 Kodachrome(which hasn't been made in about 10 years). This is thanks mostly to modern technology in grain structure, which allows higher sensitivity in a smaller grain. Kodak's E100G, in particular, has what is probably the tightest grain of any film currently on the market.

As for color-Kodachrome colors do have a certain look about them. It's a high contrast film(which makes it difficult to shoot well). The contrast tends to give it a certain "pop" but the colors themselves are not overly saturated and tend to block up pretty badly.

Fuji Astia is something of a benchmark for being color faithful, and Kodak E100G is not far behind. In the Fuji line-up, Provia give nice, saturated colors and Velvia gives over-the-top "Disney" colors. Incidentally, Velvia is my favorite for landscapes.

As far as archival-the old E3 and E4 process films were pretty much universally bad and were lucky to last 20 years. Modern E6 process films are great, and are at least the equal of Kodachrome. The rated life of Velvia is given as greater than 80 years.

Whatever the case, though, Kodachrome has a look that's hard to replicate, and I hate to see it go for no other reason than it means less film available(yes, I still shoot a lot of film).


I have a Canon flat-bed scanner that's about 4 years old which I use to scan both negatives and slides. Mine has a top light to allow reverse illumination of the film. It can handle 4 35mm slides, or two 6-frame strips of 35mm film. It can also handle a strip of medium format-equal in length to 4 frames of 645, 3 frames of 6x6, or two frames of 6x7.

At the time I bought mine, I wish that I'd bought an Epson, as they were considered the best for flatbeds. The current models are the V500 and V700, both of which are several years old now(I don't think scanners have advanced much) but are still well regarded. The V700 has a full width top light which allows 32 frames of 35mm, 8 slides, or 2 strips of medium format at a time. The V500 is smaller and has the same scanning area as my Canon above.

If you're just handling 35mm, a dedicated film scanner is a good option. Nikon is thought to make the best of these, although they're pricey. Most of these can handle 4 slides or a 6 frame strip of 35mm at a time.

Whatever you get, make sure it has Digital ICE, or the equivalent. This is an infrared system which takes care of dust on your slides. It doesn't work well with Kodachrome or black and white film, but works great with color prints or Ektachrome. It can't work miracles, though, so it's still a good idea to clean your slides before scanning-I like to use one of the anti-static dust brushes that contain Polonium-210. These are available from camera shops.

I've seen a lot of single-frame film or slide scanners for sale at department stores and places like that for around $50-100-most of these are pretty bad(from what I've seen) and I would personally suggest that you avoid them.(I see Dennis snuck in and mentioned this while I was typing).

One of these days, I'm going to experiment with using my old Canon FD mount slide copying apparatus(that fits on the front of the macro bellows) with a dSLR. I think that has the potential of getting decent quality and being a lot quicker than using the scanner.

Dennis Markham

Thank you, Ben for all that good information.  My reference to Ectachrome certainly has no sound foundation other than some of my personal experiences and what I read many years ago.  You did say that it improved over the past 20 years and it's been all of that since I last used it.

I do agree that the slide copying equipment I mentioned is not adequate.  I was lucky enough to know someone that bought it and offered to let me try it out.  I would much rather pay more for a good device, such as the flatbed scanner to convert my images to digital.  I was into photography quite heavily in my younger days and have tons of negatives, including black and white.  I used to process my own stuff, some color prints too using a Unicolor drum which really made nice photos.  Some 8X10's that I processed in the early 80's are still looking good.  Although they've been in a binder all these years and not exposed to sunlight.

I have many large format negatives that my parents took in the 40's, long before I was around.  Most of those are the old 620 size film, some 127 and then 35mm that I took.  I never got into the 110 format which as you know is very small.  But I'd like to be able to scan all my negatives, in various sizes, not just the 35mm slides and negatives.


Back in those days I used a Canon A1 which had aperture or shutter priority. My cousin gave me a Visioneer scanner that is a dinosaur by today's standards. But it did the trick on slides or film strips but it was slow doing only one at a time. But I couldn't complain about the price. I had the same problem as Dennis did with the dust. The next time I get back to it I'll try one of those brushes. Here is a film chart from Advanced Camera Techniques from Kodak.


Well this thread took a left turn at the first intersection along the route. Sorry about that Ben but then again, these topics fit well together.

Dennis & Other-Doug: Thanks for the revue of the inexpensive device. The dust looks more like a blue sharpie exploded while you were scanning Dennis.

Ben: I have a flat bed scanner (an all in one printer actually), an Epson Stylus CX4800 but of course it doesn't have the lighting on top. Presumably we are talking about a special purpose scanner for slides/negatives? I have heard of a model that has one corner with considerably higher resolution to scan slides/negatives.

Thanks for all the info everyone.




It sounds like a flatbed is definitely a good choice for you.

The V700 will allow you to scan two 4x5 negatives or transparencies at a time, and comes with a custom holder that will allow you to configure it for any size up to 8x10.

The V700 is a bit pricey at around $600 new, although those who have it love it. The V500 is less expensive, and does great with medium format(120/620). I don't know of any scanner that comes off the shelf with a holder for 127-I'd like to know, as I have several old family negatives in 127 also.

For less money but still able to scan 4x5s, the Epson 4990, which immediately proceeded the V700, would be a good choice. I've never heard anything but great things about them, and I see that they're selling in the $200-300 range on Ebay today.


The scanners that I'm talking are typically stand-alone flatbed scanners, and for all intents and purposes can be used as a standard flatbed. In fact, my Canon mentioned above has had a good workout lately with scanning homework assignments for electronic submission, and it works great for that. Most flatbeds have a fluorescent light next to the image sensor that provided reflective light off of the document being scanned.

The scanners I'm talking about(including my own) have an extra light in the lid of the scanner. When used in "transparency" mode, the bottom light is turned off and the top light turns on. This illuminates the negative or slide from the back-as it was meant to be viewed-and allows them to be scanned as they were intended to be viewed.

I'll post some example scans later.


Quote from: benhutcherson on December 30, 2010, 07:28:48 PM
The scanners that I'm talking are typically stand-alone flatbed scanners, and for all intents and purposes can be used as a standard flatbed.

The scanners I'm talking about(including my own) have an extra light in the lid of the scanner. When used in "transparency" mode, the bottom light is turned off and the top light turns on.

So basically they are at the upper end of the "flatbed scanner for home use" range rather than a bargain basement scanner. And I'm sure that you can get something way better in the $2000 plus range which is out of the "typical home use" category.

If they can be used as a regular scanner having at least a 8.5 x 11 inch scan area, why do they only do 4 or 6 slides at a time? I'd  have 20 or more slides on the scanner all at once. Is there just a portion of the scan area that can step up the DPI to a high enough level or is it to do with the slide/negative holder that comes with the scanner?




That's a good question.

On my scanner, the top light is only about 3 inches wide. A mounted slide is 2"x2", which means that it's only it's only possible to fit one row of slides. The scan area is only 11" long, which, allowing for the structure of the holder for the slides, only practically allows 4 slides in a row down the center. I'll take photos of my scanner in a little while to illustrate what I'm talking about.

The higher end scanners(like the V700 or 4990) have a top light that's a full 8 inches wide and allows more than one width of slides. For whatever reason, the holder that comes with them only allows two rows of slides, although more are theoretically possible.


I sent my 3 rolls of Kodachrome off to the processor and I hope they got there on time. I have scanned Kodachromes taken as early as 1937. The earlier  years from the late 30s did not seem to hold up as well as the ones from 1939.Some of the Ektrachromes from the 50s faded badly ,Anscochrome was bad also
i will miss it but will the digital stuff be here 50 years from now?


So why is a holder needed? I would think that the in focus area is directly on the glass of the scanner. Of course a slide is held away from the glass a little by the slide mount but a 35mm negative would sit directly against the glass.

Nice picture Robby!



Great picture Robby.
Terry, I think the holder acts as a mask too. Think of what it would look like if you scanned a post card on a regular scanner with the lid open.