Casual Photofile: Looking Back at Kodachrome – Kodak’s Most Famous Film and Why It’s So Special – COMMENTARY

“As the song says, everything looks worse in black and white, and if there’s only one color film that could make “all the world a sunny day,” it was Kodachrome. Or so it seems. Like many film shooters today, I was born into an era in which Kodachrome was nothing more than an old, expensive film, slow to process and cumbersome to display (what’s a slide projector?). So any time I hear photo geeks of a certain age wax poetic on Kodachrome, I have to wonder, was it really so good?…”


Kodachrome was good but it certainly was not the bee’s knees or the answer to everything.

Sometimes Kodachrome almost drove me mad with its less than stellar rendition of blues and greens and its too-reddish rendering of skin.

Kodachrome was the very first colour film that I used and I used it for years until there were too many problems with buying it and having it processed in Australia.

Kodachrome intimately shaped my way of seeing and of photographing for decades and I would do well to remember the many lessons about limits and constraints that it taught me.

Limited Kodachrome was, especially due to its high contrast that threw shadows into almost pure black, but limitations can be beneficial when creating an original style and they were so for me.

When Kodachrome became impossible to use, I switched over to Fujifilm products and my vision and photographic style altered accordingly.

Nowadays I rely on some of the many excellent image editing software products like Alien Skin Exposure, Capture One Pro with third party presets and styles, DxO FilmPack with DxO OpticsPro and a number of commercial presets for Adobe Camera Raw to achieve looks not unlike Kodachrome in its many iterations and versions over time.

Doing that is not the same thing as visualizing in Kodachrome, shooting with Kodachrome, scanning Kodachrome and printing for exhibition from Kodachrome.

But then, I am glad that I no longer have to work in analog photography given that its environmentally destructive photochemicals eventually wrecked my health and ruined my photographic career.