Posted by: travelrat | July 1, 2009

Goodbye, Kodachrome!

Kodak announced on Monday that the famous Kodachrome colour slide film will be discontinued after a 74-year run. The first commercially successful colour film has been eclipsed by the popularity of digital technology, the company said in a statement.


You can read the full story here, at ; there’s some excellent photos on there, too.

When Kodachrome was first introduced in 1937, photographers were able, for the first time, to shoot quality colour pictures with 35mm. cameras, rather that hauling around a bulky and heavy Speed Graphic or a Rolleiflex. Since then, most of the colour pictures in the National Geographic Magazine were shot on it.

Here, I have a confession to make. I very rarely used it! The Kodachrome film we got in the UK was process paid, and you had to send the film off in the provided mailer to have it processed. For some reason, I preferred Kodak Ektachrome (or its successors … it changed its name several times!), which you could take down to your local lab to be done. However, a few years ago, I switched to Fujichrome, before abandoning slide altogether.

To view slides, I had to set up the projector and screen; now, I just burn the pictures I want to show on a CD, and can have a slide show on my computer. Indeed, some DVD players will allow your picture CDs to be shown on a television screen.

I have Kodak to thank for that, too. In the 1990s, they introduced the Photo CD. You sent off your best slides, and they scanned them to a CD for you. You were supposed to buy a box, which would show your pictures on the television, but customers quickly took on board that they would work, and be manipulated on a computer just as well … so they quickly withdrew the box, and ceased their slide-scanning service, too.

But, by then, I could produce my own quality scans of slide or print, or, indeed, take publishable pictures with a digital camera … all things I thought, such a short time ago, would never be affordable in my lifetime.

I still have those early Kodak CDs … here’s one of my favourite pictures from one.

Abu Simbel


  1. That is a fantastic shot. Even in photo form you can still feel the majesty. Must have been breathtaking just to stand there and see it.

    Your new header looks great!

    • There’s a story behind that one. I was approached by an Egyptian gentleman who said, because I was using a tripod, I was a professional photographer, and must pay a fee for a permit.

      I gave him £5 Egyptian (about £1 sterling) and he gave me a badly-printed ticket; I found out later that he was just trying to make a bit on the side, and I needed no permit whatsoever.

      (However, the next day, I did manage to sneak a couple of interior shots of the temple, for which I did. officially, need a permit. So, I reckon we’re even!)

  2. I agree digital at times cannot exactly emulate how the film behaves but life goes on and the media evolves just like from vinyl record to MP3, from VHS tape to DVD. However film will always be remembered in the history as part of the media evolution that used to produce many great images of our world.

    • Yes … I kept one of my film cameras for the occasions when digital couldn’t cut it, but those occasions have got less and less … faster, I think, than anyone anticipated.

      That’s a good analogy with sounds! My personal CD player was only 2 years old, when my grandchildren declared it ‘so last century’ and bought me an MP3 player!

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