What was so special about Kodachrome?

There are several places in Utah (Among others) that are named after the film, Kodachrome Basin, Kodachrome Gap and Kodachrome State Park. Then, of course is the Paul Simon song.

So, what’s the deal? It’s not like there’s a 1080p park in Florida or something, was it really that revolutionary?

I joined the party late and Fuji Velvia/Provia was pretty much the gold standard.

There’s also Kodachrome Pass in Denali National Park. I think it’s just a catchy word that evokes color and panoramic views. It’s also American, unlike Fuji.

Wiki has a great quote: If you have good light and you’re at a fairly high shutter speed, it’s going to be a brilliant color photograph. It had a great color palette. It wasn’t too garish. Some films are like you’re on a drug or something. Velvia made everything so saturated and wildly over-the-top, too electric. Kodachrome had more poetry in it, a softness, an elegance. With digital photography, you gain many benefits [but] you have to put in post-production. [With Kodachrome,] you take it out of the box and the pictures are already brilliant.

For decades, Kodachrome was the go-to color slide film for photographers. It was a pain for developing, but you couldn’t beat the results. So any number of scenic areas get named for the film that captured their beauty.

At one time National Geographic photographers shot nothing but Kodachrome. And that’s back when it’s ASA/ISO speed was 10.

It gave us nice bright colors. It gave us the greens of summer.

Makes you think all the World’s a sunny day.

Fuji film and perception of being cheap Japanese imitations by a certain, and usually elderly segment of the population, was a factor. You’re too young to remember but there were vets and WW2 era folks that wouldn’t touch anything Japanese with a 10 foot chopstick through at least the 1980’s…based on my personal experience in northern california

Well, Nikon stopped making film cameras, and they took Kodachrome away. So much for that.

It was a non-substantive film which allowed it be sharper than standard substantive film, and it had good colour, and colour stability. It was slow which meant it wasn’t great for family snaps, but if you were trying for quality shots, in good light or with a tripod, it couldn’t be beat.

There was nothing like a Kodachrome red. (And nothing like a Fujichrome green, but that came later.)

Mainly it was from being the first widely distributed color film. But it didn’t hurt that it had such incredible color saturation when properly exposed.

In my youth, National Geographic’s credits actually told readers whether an image was originally Kodachrome or the (faster but bluer and less saturated) Ektachrome.

The color stability is where Kodachrome really shined. Ektachrome slides fade to a greenish/bluish hue after years but Kodachrome kept its brilliance and saturation. True, it was a rather slow film, making it less than ideal in some conditions. Back in the day when I was apprentice to a pro photographer we routinely “pushed” C-41 print film and Ektachrome to ridiculous extremes because we could. The Kodachrome process was proprietary, difficult to manage and “pushing” didn’t work, but when we had to have dead sharp images (especially for food shots) and lush color we did what we had to in order to use that wonderful slow film. I miss that stuff.
The website Shorpy runs some old Kodachromes now and then, and they still look astounding. Kodachrome was High Definition before it was cool.

I missed any mention that Kodachrome was the first successful, widely available and accurate color film for general use.

I miss in the discussion above any awareness that Kodachrome was the first widely available, accurate and sharp film for general use. As far as I know, all the others suggested came later.

Ok can anyone tell me why my first post disappeared; then when I repeated it the first version came back?

Sometimes the board takes you back to the thread “as it was when you clicked to reply”, that is, without your post or any simulposts; I’m not sure if it’s a server issue or a client issue. If you refresh, the post will appear. You can report the first dupe and ask for it to be removed.

Actually, I think they are still producing a small number of the F6. 35mm film cameras are a dieing breed to be sure, but a still clinging to the cliff by their fingernails.

You shot it on a color neg?

My Dad mostly shot Ektachrome. And yes it faded to blue-green after a few decades and when I scanned his slides these were much harder to color-correct in Photoshop than the Kodachromes, which tended to lose their blue-greens and fade to red-brown-yellow, but that palette was easier to color-correct.

My uncle used a lot of Agfachrome. Miserable slides. The color layer on the slide would flake off as they got old, causing huge cancer-like artifacts, big yellow blooms and empty clear spaces and badly faded colors. Example

In Canada Kodachrome was also unique in that the purchase price included developing by Kodak, and it came with a mailer for that purpose. Thus Kodachrome was different from all other films in that Kodak controlled the process both from the film manufacturing end and the developing and slide production end. This wasn’t the case in the US after 1954. The practice was deemed anti-competitive and Kodak had to make the special chemicals and complex proprietary processes available to other labs. Presumably you still had the option of sending it to Kodak.

It had to be sent off to be developed.