Monday, June 22, 2009

Mama took our Kodachrome away.

"Kodachrome/ They give us those nice bright colors/ They give us the greens of summers/ Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah/ I got a Nikon camera/ I love to take a photograph/ So mama don't take my Kodachrome away"

Paul Simon - "Kodachrome"

(photo from Democrat and Chronicle - Gannett News Service)

An American institution has bit the dust, a victim of technology and the laws of supply and demand.

When I first learned how to shoot 35mm in high school, Kodachrome was what I learned on, in addition to Kodak Tri-X black and white. It's hard to imagine that Kodachrome will be no more, but today's article in our local paper confirms it. While time marches on, it is also another reflection of the hard times Kodak faces. Modern Rochester was more or less built around Kodak, and it has been downsizing steadily over the past 15-20 years. Once the number one employer, it is now number three, behind the University of Rochester, and Wegman's.

I have not shot 35mm for a while, and my revered Olympus OM-10 has sat unused for sometime, but I am thinking that it might be time to resurrect it. I have thought about saving and getting a good digital 35, but there is something about loading a film roll into a camera, hearing the click of the shutter and mirror that is, well, nostalgic and magic at the same time.

I know there are several photographers that follow my blog, and I'd like you to chime in on this. There is this argument that, as far as I can tell, still persists amongst pro photographers:

Which is better - digital media or film?

Digital media has come a long way in the past 10 years, but I have met photographers that still insists that it doesn't have the color saturation or crispness of a Kodachrome, or other professional film.

Let the argument begin! No throwing of film canisters please.


Sistertex said...

I have switched to Digital. Though I miss time in the darkroom now and creating 'my own' special effects, I mostly liked to do B&W as I just find it much more revealing personality wise when shooting live subjects. I love B&W.

THEN finally I broke down and went digital, now use a SLR 35mm. Photoshop and Image Ready educated but don't use them much, mostly in classes.

I *do* agree that prints from color film is more vivid than digital, but then you can enhance digitally and come up with colors every bit as vivid as prints from film. Still - I miss the darkroom.

VioletSky said...

I absolutely love my digital camera. BUT, I have not actually printed anything from it, so I can't really say about the quality.

I find that some people are tempted to play around too much with the effects (eg. oversaturation of colours, layering etc.) and I tend to not like those "fake" looking photos.
Having said that, I do enjoy B&W as well, and find it much easier to "create" B&W from colour without the added expense of almost obsolete film.

Kathleen said...

Well, I can't call myself a photographer (just never did master the whole light metering thing) but I sure did love my Minolta SLR which my uncle (who used Hasselblaht - sp?- and Leica cameras) gave me for starters.

I inherited his sweet little Leica but haven't used it yet. Now I'm wondering if I'll be able to buy film for it.

I've entered the digital age and have a Nikkon point and shoot, which I'm totally enjoying.

I guess I think it's really about composition and how well you understand light, in the end.

No canister throwing here!

RuneE said...

From my temporary hide-away ;-) :

Thank you for the info about Kodachrome. It is sad to see this icon of photography being retired. I have personally enjoyed it immensely, if only as a mediocre amateur. To me, nothing could ever beat it when it came to dynamics and reliability in colour. I'm glad I still have the slides that I shot in the 70's and 80's.

I now exclusively use digital (mostly a Canon 40D) and am very satisfied with that, but I have, like you, sometimes thought about resurrecting my old Mamiya for some black & white sessions. Time will show.

Thank you for this very interesting (if sad) tip - and have a nice summer.

Bina said...

My first ex had (STILL has, from when I first met him in '86) this beautiful Canon camera with this case full of lenses. One make the angle wide, or takes wide angles, I have no clue, one was this big 'ole lense that you could take close up pictures of things really far away, and two others in the case that I have no clue about. But, the pictures were just spectacular!

However, I'm not a photography and don't pretend to be one, so my digital is fine with me! LOL

Peter said...

I have a friend who works in digital imaging as a pro. He claims with the current +20 mega pixels sensors he can achieve anything, even a 100% convincing but fake Kodachrome effect.

I'm sad to see a part of my collective memories disappear with Kodak though: they could have grown into a major player in digital, and somehow I don't really know what shattered that ambition.