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Kodak Ektachrome & The Resurrection of Analog Film

January 6th 2017 9:55 AM

Kodak Ektachrome was discontinued in 2012, part of a long and steady decline of film stocks over the last decade. As an avid film photographer, even I had my moments accepting that at the very least, color negative film stock’s days where numbered, doomed to join the painful list of defunct analog films.

But just like with vinyl records, in the medium’s darkest hour the most diehard enthusiasts and many professionals have not only kept analog film relevant but have ignited film’s most important manufacturer, Kodak, to reintroduce a beloved chrome film: Ektachrome.

What’s amazing and important about Kodak’s announcement is that this wasn’t a touchy feely farewell moment to appease Kodak film enthusiasts; it didn’t require a huge film pre-purchase backed by Hollywood heavy weights like Nolan and Tarantino. Nope, it was a pure and simple business decision based on demand for analog film.

From the Kodak announcement:

Sales of professional photographic films have been steadily rising over the last few years, with professionals and enthusiasts rediscovering the artistic control offered by manual processes and the creative satisfaction of a physical end product. The reintroduction of one of the most iconic films is supported by the growing popularity of analog photography and a resurgence in shooting film. Resurgence in the popularity of analog photography has created demand for new and old film products alike.

If you think the revival starts and stops at Kodak you’d be mistaken; the resurgence of film stocks started a rebirth not long after Ektachrome was first discontinued. A massively kickstarter backed ‘Ferrania‘ is set to launch a revival of its chrome and black and white stocks in late 2017, and for several years we’ve enjoyed Cinestill, the C41 processable Kodak 500T/50D films, led by film evangelist Brothers Wright. Oh, and last year, blogger Japan Camera Hunter, rebranded and re-released an old discontinued surveillance film that was original made by AGFA, as JCH Street Pan.

[RELATED: Shoot Expired Color Negative Film With Confidence]

For the photographers who love film, who want to see it flourish and survive for future generations, the best way to say “thank you” and show appreciation for analog film is to buy film, shoot film, and teach others about analog film photography. Don’t make it about film vs. digital. Instead enjoy both and realize that losing an important medium to make pictures would be a profound loss for us all.

Marlon is a South Florida-based wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and interactive designer. Involved in photography since the 90’s, his background began with repairing film cameras from a master Vietnam veteran, followed by years of assisting professional photographers then before starting his own business in 2006. Marlon at his heart is a tinkerer that has love for and adept in every medium of photography.

When not working Marlon is all about spending time with his wife, Naomi and two boys, Taze and Brassaï.

http://www.marlonrichardson.com

Comments [2]

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    Yea! I have two film SLR cameras; one is loaded with B&W and the other with color.

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  2. Josh Leavitt

    Everyone likes a comeback, but my opinion is a few more things need to happen if film is going to stick around in photography:

    1) New film cameras: I’m not talking about cheap Polaroids or Instax cameras either, I’m talking about new model medium format film cameras. Bring back new versions of the Contax 645, Mamiya 645, Fuji 690, Pentax 67, etc. Give professionals a reason to use film on a regular basis. The Contax 645 still produces legendary portraits when paired with the Zeiss 80mm F2.0. Give these old school SLRs modern autofocus systems and image stability, and I’m pretty sure they’ll fly off the shelves – assuming that the following point is also met.

    2) Miniaturize and optimize film processing and printing: Sorry guys, but no significant market share will return to film if it means paying an arm and a leg for processing and printing, and waiting weeks for it to happen. Canon, Epson, HP, and other printer manufacturers need to attempt to design office sized printers that can accurately process 120/220 film rolls into negatives, which then can be scanned at high-res and produce large format prints. Whether or not this can all be done by one machine is a question of engineering and economics, but the point is it needs to be possible to accomplish this in home, or in the studio without the need for a dark room. Which brings me to my final point.

    3) Make it affordable: Whether it be the film, the cameras, or the processing printers, professionals need to see this type of photography with the same economic feasibility as the digital full frame systems. So the acquisition of a modernized medium format film camera, 120/220 film stock, and processor/scanner, and printer should run the same price as a top-tier DSLR, SDXC cards, and printer.

    Personally, I’d love to see a comeback of medium format film in the world of photography. But I don’t see it happening in any capacity beyond a niche market unless the three points I mentioned above are realized.

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