Kodachrome Film – Gutted I missed it! 🙁

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

35mm kodachrome film 36 EXP

September 2015

The more I learn about photography and specifically film photography, the more I am upset that I didn’t start my photography in the ‘good old days’ and before digital came along.  I had disposable film cameras and remember having an APS film camera but it was only to take friends and family snaps.  Our family used to send our film to TruPrint if I remember correctly and Dad had an Olympus Trip MD when we were kids (later years).


As I start to appreciate film photography and study both theory and images in my spare time I came across the discontinued film Kodachrome.  Before a few weeks ago I can put my hand up and hang my head in shame and say I didn’t know quite how special Eastman Kodachrome film was.  When I started to review the images and compare to the films we have now I am gutted I missed out on shooting with Kodachrome.  The Kodachrome colours are just amazing and to my eyes nothing currently on the market in 2015 can match it?

Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H

I shoot mostly black and white film as you may have seen but if am going to shoot colour I want the colour to add something to the image.  Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H give nice skin tones and all that but nothing really pops with these images.  Velvia 50 can produce amazing colours for landscapes but I have seen very few usable portraits using Velvia film.  Kodachrome film on the other hand captured the colours in portraits that just made the photo come alive.  Vivid blues and reds that just makes me wish a joint venture could salvage the old machines and get it back into production.  I guess similar to what the Impossible Project did with the Polaroid factory machines.

Question –

For those of you that used to shoot Kodachrome film (when it was still available and could be developed), can you tell me what film available today gives the nearest look and colours?

Agfa Vista or Ektar Film

Kodak Ektar is the only fine grain saturated film that can be used for portraits that springs to my mind?   I shot some family portraits recently on Agfa Vista 200 Plus and I was extremely impressed with the results and rich colours.  I would not hesitate to use Agfa Vista film again for none paying clients.

AGFA Vista 200 Plus

I would love to hear your thoughts!



13 thoughts on “Kodachrome Film”

  1. You are rightly gutted not to have shot on Kodachrome. It was an amazing film. While Ektar is the most beautiful of all colour film now available and probably superior to Kodachrome, K14 was a film that had that ‘je ne sais quoi’ quality. It was more than just the look of the image. There was of course the subtle glow of the colours with an intensity which held back from being vibrant like Velvia. However the visceral nature of a K14 slide didn’t stop there. As a result the colour layers were built up during the processing which produced an image which was actually in 3D on the film, like a map in relief. I shot loads of it when I knew of its impending demise but am guilty of not using it much before that for which I feel a huge loss as it is the best colour film I have ever used. RIP Kodachrome.

  2. Part of the good news however is: the sensor on the Leica M9 was developed by Leica and Kodak together to be as close as possible to Kodachrome 25, and since I began shooting Kodachrome 25 and Tri-X, I do think the M9 renders color like K25! Leica M9s can still be found new in case you already sold yours for the 240.

  3. I am in the same position. I wished I had started film (or revisited) photography say 10 years ago rather than 3. I often wonder why the film companies cannot do 1 batch a year, say, and somehow forward sell them like Kickstarter. Or they should license it out to a third party to take the financial risk.

    1. Thanks Kevin, with my positive outlook I would say it can only be a matter of time until someone sees the oppotunity in the growing film market and tries to produce a batch of similar film, perhaps that can be developed in C41 chemicals. Cheers

      1. Not sure thats possible, with C41 film the colour emultions are embedded in the film. With Kodachrome, there are no colour layers in the film, its all about the processing. Effectively the film is for example Exposed in Red light and then Developed with Cyan, re-exposure Blue light yellow developer etc. around 13 different steps. But in saying that someone like the UK Film Lab you use might offer it one day. Be darn expensive though.

  4. I’m right there with you. I got into film around 2009 but didn’t know anything about Kodachrome until it was already gone, and I’d say it’s the best color film I’ve seen. I never really shot Ektachrome either, and then that was gone too, but hopefully Kodak streamlining their processing to just black & white and color negative films will make the difference for them.

    I have started getting into slide films the last couple years, so I’d say just shoot some of what is available. Fuji Velvia 50&100 are great films for wild colors, Provia 100F is a good general all-purpose slide film, but even comparing Provia to Ektachrome, they look too different. And as far as replacements go, nothing replaces Kodachrome, it was unique.

    1. Thanks Joe. I have some expired Elitechrome to shoot at some stage and have shot a few rolls of expired Provia too. I love the colours of slide film. I have a roll of Velvia 100 at the lab at the moment so they may hit Flickr soon if develop OK. Cheerrs

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  6. I really hope that Kodak can reintroduce Kodachrome on a different scale that is economically viable. Not miles of film per week, but a smaller more efficient production line to cater to what seems like strong potential demand for that film.

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