[rollei_list] Re: Kodachrome - the truth

  • From: Thor Legvold <tlegvold@xxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 20:04:15 +0200

Hi Peter,

for what it's worth, I've shot truckloads of Velvia and really love it for certain things, especially landscapes where I live (Norway) where the light isn't always the greatest, and there's a lot of green (think Ireland.....). Velvia really makes things look great here, saturated, intense, and shows all the subtle variations in hues due to it's larger-than-life rendition. It's my standard 120 format emulsion, for lack of anything else that I can find that I like. It's one of the reasons I'm shooting more and more B&W.

However, it looks nothing at all like real life, and is horrible for portraits, IMHO.

I had the good fortune to shoot both Kodachrome and Velvia while in Egypt some years ago (6x6 format, both in 120 roll film), and I like both image sets. Same camera, lenses and subjects shot at the same time. The Kodachrome ones however have a certain quality that I really like, that suits the atmosphere, the light, the people, everything. And yes, there are kids and women with purple (and blue, green, red, etc) clothing and shawls and it's all there. Velvia is a bit "over the top" in many situations, and kind of hits you over the head and screams "look at me". That's great for an art director looking for a catchy snap for a spread, but the Kodachrome has some quality I'm at a loss to describe that just makes it more lifelike, even though it's not (initially) as "exciting". YMMV, it's quite subjective.

The revised formulations of Velvia might be better in these regards, but the more I use KR the more I like it. I'm only sorry I discovered it so late. Well, I'm also sorry that it's been discontinued in 120 or I'd be shooting truckloads of it instead of Velvia the last 10-15 years (KR in 120 was discontinued 10 years ago IIRC). I've tried the new Ectachromes, and while they're more neutral in colour rendition than Velvia, they don't have that 3-dimensional quality I get with Kodachrome (and with Velvia, but in a different way). Seems like all modern films are aiming for that super-saturated look. Maybe people won't look at anything else anymore, since we've become accustomed to that look. In my opinion there is room for low-contrast low/medium saturation natural-looking emulsions. But I guess for most people that's just "boring".

As for processing, here in Europe everything goes to Switzerland. And I'll keep sending it to them as long as I can get a hold of it. In our society it seems that everything is supposed to go faster and faster, sp much that people forget the value of waiting, of spending time, yes even the week it takes (two here) to send in the mailer and get your chromes back ;-). I'm not sure that's a good development in the long run.

Film (movie) still uses Kodachrome, as well as other emulsions, all of them look much better than video and HD (I've seen direct comparisons, have a director-friend who shoots super-16 as well as DV and HD), I hope as long as Kodak delivers to the film industry they can take the effort to load those tiny canisters for us 35mm shooters :-).


On 13. okt. 2005, at 17.42, Peter K. wrote:

The biggest issue with Kodachrome is the limited places you can have it processed. I believe there are two left in the US. Qualex in NJ and Dwayne's in Kansas.
Putting that aside, the other issue with Kodachrome is that it cannot accurately reproduce the color purple. Instead any purple or lanvender coloring blue.
The best display of this was in the late Galen Rowell's book the Art of Adventure. He shows the same flower photographed with Kodachrome and again with Velvia. Velvia showed the flower correctly as being purple. Kodachrome rendered the flower blue. I tried this myself and it is true.
As Erwin states, no film will yield absolutely faithful coloring as ones sees in the original, but for me E100 and Fujicrhome do a better job than Kodachrome.
Peter K

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