LiDF 2.0

So… I kinda gave up on this blog a while back. So its time to relaunch I think. Come back around soon, Thinks its time for fresh content.

This site will be changing quite a bit. I deleted almost all my posts, Ill make the old ones available as a pdf when eveything comes back. In the mean time, if things look weird do not worry. It’ll get better.

 

Michael

Rant: The Great Debate – Film vs Digital

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[Image scanned by ScanCafe from old, cheap 3M film shot on Minolta Maxxum 7000 ]

I really don’t know what triggered this, but it seems the great film vs digital debate has risen from the depths of Flickr groups and message boards and surfaced in the photo blogging community. In the past few weeks I have read pieces from all over focusing on film, and casting it in either a positive of negative light in comparison to digital. Frequently the comments below these posts have exploded into heated discussions from both sides of the aisle.

Film vs Digital seems to be the great argument in the photo community, and has been for a while. Much like the Windows vs Mac debate in the computer world and the right-wing vs left-wing squabbles in politics, film vs digital seems to never die out and occasionally rises to prominence. It seems to be a prominent discussion at the moment.

As a self-described hybrid photographer, using both digital and film in my work and even blending the two together, I fail to understand the need for this discussion. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and a reasonable person can see this. There are cost, creative and stylistic issues for both.

As you can plainly see from my work on LifeInDigitalFilm, from my film emulation presets, to discussion film and scanning, I love film. From my articles on X-Equals, it is plain to see I am just as devoted to digital. I feel as such, I can give a fairly balanced overview of the argument and show, in the basest terms, there really is not debate at all.

I could discuss this on a point by point basis, but that is asinine and could make this article drag on forever. So I am going to make this quick and do a quick pros and cons list for both digital and film photography. This is by no means a thorough listing, but the points that come to mind most frequently when I find myself in this discussion.

Digital Photography

Pros

  • Lower cost per shot. You pay for the camera up front and take virtually unlimited shots with no encumbrance of development and scanning costs.
  • Highly flexible. Digital allows you liberties with your images that film simply cannot offer. Shoot in Raw and the world is your oyster, you can do most anything your heart desires with Raw processing programs and graphics editors (Lightroom and Photoshop in particular).
  • Consistency. Once you understand your camera’s operation, you can consistently get great results, controlling almost all variables. Be it ISO, noise or even color … digital gives you consistent results from frame to frame and shot to shot. You normally know what you will get before you even push the shutter.
  • Virtually unlimited shots. With just a few memory cards, you can go out and shoot all day. Each card allows literally hundreds of shots with little to no down time while shooting. Aside from full buffers and the occasional change of card, you can shoot all day without interruption. No need to change film. Plus you get multiple renditions of any particular scene, allowing you the freedom to choose exactly the one you want.
  • Shoot now, process later. Digital does not force you to commit to a style beforehand. You can shoot away, in Raw format, and worry about stylistic decisions later. Make a black and white image, boost saturation, re frame shots via cropping. You are not locked in at all, the Raw format free you to make those decisions later.

Cons

  • Overabundant options. Nothing can stifle creativity more than unlimited processing options. Upon reviewing each photo, you have to consider your processing options. This process can be more time consuming than actually carrying out the process. This creates the photographer’s version of writer’s block, you don’t know what you want to create because there is little to constrain you. Constraints are challenges, and challenges encourage creativity to overcome them.
  • Virtually unlimited shots. Many of use frequently fall back to a “run and gun” mentality when shooting digital. When take countless photos of the same subject, at differing angles or exposures. A simple afternoon outing can translate into thousands of photos quickly. From this glut of images, you have to take time to find the images you really want. If you do not have self control, you can quickly overwhelm yourself when it comes to processing time.
  • No surprises. Consistency is a pro, but also a con. Frame after frame, upon import the images tend to have a similar feel, even from shoot to shoot. Your Raw files will have their own feel, unchanging until you start your processing workflow. Before, different films would give you different feels, and that would impact your shooting and change things up. Again, it is easy to fall into a rut without even realizing it.
  • Upfront costs. Now this is a bigger issue for some than others. Digital systems can get expensive, as good DSLRs get quickly up into the multi-thousand dollar range. Obviously you don’t have to stay on the cutting edge, but to maximize returns on digital photography, you still want to stay close to the blade. New models drop frequently, each with new desirable features, better noise handling, higher ISO and larger resolutions. And lets not forget the cost of the top-end lenses required to get the most out of these bodies, check the price on good Canon L glass lately? If the prices on those lenses don’t make your checkbook cringe, then this is not remotely an issue. However, for the average photographer it is an issue. And don’t forget flash units and other must-have accessories. I won’t even touch on Digital Medium Format
  • Development cycles. Tying into the cost scenario, the rapid development of DSLR technologies keeps bringing out better tech each year. Obviously no one is holding a gun to your head trying to make you let go of your D40, but you have to admit it is getting rather long in the tooth by today’s entry level technology. In the film era, the only real upgrade you had to worry about was new. better film. You rarely had to upgrade bodies, instead you simply changed film. To stay up on image quality in the digital era, you have to be ready to sacrifice some cash to the camera gods, as a DSLR is essentially one huge roll of film that only runs out when you replace your gear or it dies. You can just push your DSLR film speed further and easier than you could with film.

Film Photography

Pros

  • Incredible variety. In direct opposition to digital, where your sensor defines how the image you are shooting is rendered and cannot be changed, film photography allows you to change your film at your whim. This leads you to entirely different interpretations of the scene, each unique to the particular film emulsion and format you choose to shoot. Even today, in what many consider the waning days of film, there is still a wide variety of film stocks each providing their own unique rendition of the world on the other side of the lens.
  • Wider variety of equipment. As it appears we are in the waning days of film, it is surprising the bargains that can be had on great gear. From 35mm to Large Format, great deals can be found on great cameras and excellent lenses due to the rapid migration of many to strictly digital. I, for example, shoot Canon for digital and Minolta manual focus for film. I have a small selection of lenses for my Canon gear, primarily due to the cost of the equipment … I have just the lenses I need for weddings and portraits, and they ain’t “L” glass either. Now, for less than the price of a Canon Rebel, I have an extensive Minolta collection, anchored by an SRT and an X-700 with a wide variety of Rokkor lenses. These old lenses are every bit as good as most lenses on the market today, and some can put “L” lenses to shame with the right film behind them.
  • Simple limitations. As mentioned earlier, limitations can enhance creativity. Shooting film automatically limits you to the film you chose, and the film’s speed. If you are shooting black and white, you will never have a color image from those shots. If you shoot color negative, you will never get the same vivid colors slide film can provide. High-speed film produces some wicked grain, and virtually grain-free film are painfully slow (try shooting at ISO 6 – EI 6 for film purists). You know these limitations going into your shoot and create your images accordingly, sometimes having to get creative to express what you desire to be conveyed to the eventual viewer.
  • Forced deliberation. Film had no preview and rarely allows a second chance. To nail a shot you have to expose carefully and still you bracket your shots. The known limit of shots forces you to slow down and work more deliberately. Sure you can do this with digital, but temptation to chimp and delete bad images is overwhelming. Shooting film, you won’t know if you got it right until you develop your film or develop a large degree of faith in your photographic skills.
  • Freedom from post. If you sent your film out for development, scanning and prints; your post processing ends at dropping the film off at the lab. What you get is what you get. Now this benefit does not apply to me, as I develop, scan and print my own images from film. This is why I shoot digital for weddings, I would hate to have to develop and scan 25 rolls myself. If you are not going to do any of the developing or scanning yourself you are done. This can be liberating and the excitement of seeing your images for the first time is beyond description.

Cons

  • Backside costs. You can easily put yourself in the poor house buying film and paying for development, scans and prints. This cost can be mitigated by going develop only and scanning for yourself or even go all out and start souping your own negatives. However the money saved is offset by time lost. If you shoot a lot and are not restrained in your snapping, you will quickly abandon the thought of film photography and seek sensible refuge in the low cost per shot world of digital.
  • Film lock in. Unless you want to get into the rather advanced techniques (although quite simple really) allowing you to change out film mid-roll, you are locked into one ISO and one color rendition for anywhere between 12 and 36 shots. You lose a lot of flexibility by going the film route.
  • Technique. Film photography really requires a lot more technical skill to get consistent quality results. Quite a few older cameras have no light meter, so you have to use a handheld meter, use the “Sunny 16″ rule or get good as guessing exposure. Then you have to account for your film’s reciprocity and it’s inherent reciprocity failure, exposure based color shifting and compensating for light temperature by using filters and flash gels. None of this is remotely a concern in the digital world, and these rules and techniques can slow a shooting pace to a crawl until you warp you brain around them. Although understanding these quirks can improve your digital skills, not knowing them will not hamper your abilities as a spectacular digital photographer. And I didn’t even mention the cocepts of pushing and pulling film.
  • Filters, filters everywhere. And keep in mind, you will need a lot of different filters for film photography that are simply not needed for digital. In digital photography, all you really need are a few Neutral Density filters and a good Circular Polarizer. For film, you will want split ND’s, color correcting filters, ND’s, Polarizers, Circle Polarizers just to get started. Delve into black and white and you will want a variety of color filters, ranging from reds to blues. I guess you really don’t need these, as you can just shoot straight on, but for advanced techniques you will be wanting them. That said, once scanned you can simulate many of these effects in Photoshop, much like you would with digital, but the desired effect is rarely as good as if you shot with the filter or faked it with a digital image.
  • Freedom from Post. Lets not kid ourselves, Photoshop and Lightroom are great tools and can really make an image sing. If you take the hands off approach to photography, you are precluding yourself from utilizing these tools to their fullest ability. Albeit it is freeing to drop off a roll and wait for the final results, you loose a lot of control over you images. Again, you can go the scanning or self-development routes. But again, those methods require an investment of time. While rewarding and giving a great feeling of accomplishment, the do it yourself methods are painfully slow compared to the all-digital methods.

So there, a fairly balanced list of pros and cons for each. There is no right answer for the question of film or digital, so I compromised and use both. For work shots I shoot about 80% digital and 20% film. For personal work its about 80% film and 20% digital, so more or less I am 50/50. When shooting film, I develop myself and then scan in myself, digitizing my film early in the process and working up the images as I would any shot from a DSLR. I still step in the darkroom once and a while and make some optical prints, but I have also been known to make a transparency print from an inverted digital shot and make contact prints on photo paper from my digital work. I blend both photography techniques together on a regular basis, working towards what I envision my final product to be, not limiting myself to a chemical or digital workflow at any time. I do what works best. There is no film vs digital debate in my book.

One other benefit of film I forgot to mention is resolution vs cost. I can much more affordably shoot medium format or large format film and scan in for a high resolution image than invest in a digital medium format system. a $300 dollar camera and a $6 roll of medium format film can easily be scanned into a 40+ megapixel image at home on a consumer grade photo scanner. To get comparable results in the digital world would require an prohibitively expensive setup. Sure, comparing 35mm film to digital is one thing, digital has won that war years ago. But comparing Medium Format and larger film to digital is another situation entirely. When I know I need to go large, I still shoot larger format film.

From my point of view, film and digital where equivalent in resolution around the 10 megapixel mark in DSLRs. Now this is a generalization, as maximum resolution in film really depends on the film used. I would still put 35mm Velvia up against any Pro level DSLR today. Velvia’s resolving power and resolution is still insane to this day, but the DSLR will still win out in the end, especially if you include color accuracy in your rating matrix. I shoot a lot of 35mm film still, but the argument really leans in digital’s favor in this film format. I still love the unique look of each film available, and I love using the inexpensive, high quality gear at my disposal, so I still shoot 35mm film. But as I just alluded to, digital will not be displacing my Mamiya gear any time soon.

So, those are my arguments both ways, take them for what they are. I love both methods and use each every day. I see no need to debate film vs digital, as in my consideration photography is both film and digital. With proper technique, even 35mm can compete with digital any day of the week, and like it or not there is a certain feel to film that digital does not have. Same as records vs CD’s, there is a certain warmth to film.

Now let me know your thoughts on the matter. Fire off your thoughts in the comments below. I would also love to run a series on why you use film still today, so if you would be interested in writing up a piece telling why you still love film, email me at michael@lifeindigitalfilm.com and let me know, I’ll get your opinion up for the world to see, along with some of your work if you would like.

That’s it for now.

Michael

Scanning 101: Part 1 – Configuring Your Scan Software and Using DNG

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Hey all, today marks the first in an on-going series on LifeInDigitalFilm focusing on the art and science of scanning film. Unlike most scanning resources on the web, I am going to focus on scanning for a RAW workflow, targeting Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw in particular. Today is a short introductory piece, but for those adventurous souls out there, this may get you a quick jumpstart into scanning for RAW-style processing.

Normally when most people scan film, they are doing so to simply produce an output JPEG or TIFF, and most recommend scanning in at the resolution and color depth required for desired output. However, after shooting digital and discovering RAW, it seems an absolute shame to throw away perfectly good data but scanning at a lower quality than is capable by your scanner. So, my recommendation is to max out on the settings in your scan software before you start scanning. You can always throw away unneeded detail when processing, but you cannot magically bring back detail you chose not to scan in the first place.

So let’s look at some basic settings that you should pay attention to at time of scanning. Most scanning software will allow you to use these suggestions and most all modern scanners are capable of using these settings. If you find your scanning software lacking, I highly recommend you check out Hamrick’s VueScan. It is high-quality software at an extremely affordable price, and will most likely work with any scanner you own.

Color or Black and White

This seems obvious; if you are scanning color, choose a color scan mode. Scanning black and white, select a monochrome scan mode. However, I don’t see things so cut and dry. When you are scanning color negatives or slides, obviously you want to configure your scanner to scan color … scanning color as monochrome is borderline insane. On the other hand, when scanning black and white film, I say scan in color mode anyways. Let the disagreements flow.

Here is why I propose scanning black and white negatives as color images … more data. Scanning monochrome images records only one color channel, black (and in direct opposition white).  However, most all black and white negatives will have a certain amount of stain in the negative. It may be almost unnoticeable to the eye, but it is there.

I have not exactly figured out why, but scanning in this stain, and its affect on the actual image leads to an improvement in image quality in the end. I believe the stain makes it easier for the scanner to pull out fine tone, but I could be wrong. Either way I get better results in a RAW workflow by scanning my B&W negs in as color images. Plus, the stain itself can often contribute to an even more intriguing image, kind of a built in image toning.

Color Depth / Bit Depth

Depending on what software you utilize, this setting can be referred to as either Color Depth or Bit Depth. This refers to how many bits of data are assigned to each pixel for each color channel. Scanning software tends to refer to the bit depth in terms of the combined bits for all color channels, Photoshop (and most other software) refers to bit depth in terms of the amount assigned to a single channel. In other words to create a 16-bit image in Photoshop you must set your scanner up to scan at 48-bit (16-bit/channel  x 3 color channels = 48-bits). Traditionally, most recommended to scan negatives or slides in at a 24-bit color depth to result in an 8-bit JPEG, however that removes way too much data to properly adjust your scans in Lightroom.

Even if you do not feel you image requires the additional leg room a higher bit-depth provides, Lightroom craves that extra data. The extra color data that can be stored in a 48-bit file allows more available colors in your image and finer gradations, both of which are vital to treating your linear TIFF image like you would a RAW file in Lightroom or ACR. Don’t cripple yourself by scanning at a lower bit-depth to save on file size … storage is cheap and time is money, save on time editing by using more disk space.

Color Space

Now this is dependent on your scanning software, VueScan Professional and SilverFast both can allow you to define your output color space. Lesser software may limit you to outputting in sRGB but if you can you want to create your final output in ProPhoto RGB. This is a shame, as your scanner is most likely able to scan in many colors that fall outside of the sRGB color space, and you are throwing away that color data, even if you are scanning to a 48-bit file.

So, if you are able to, be sure to set you output color space to ProPhoto RGB and if that is not an option, Adobe RGB at the very least. Most modern scanners internal color space will fall between those two color spaces, with only the high-end scanners able to reproduce colors filling or exceeding the ProPhoto RGB gamut. You simply do not want to waste that data if you can avoid it, Lightroom will eat it up if you can serve it up.

Another argument for ProPhoto RGB, Lightroom’s native color space Melissa RGB is based off ProPhoto RGB. Therefore it is the logical best choice. Read more on Color Spaces in my piece from the X-Equals+Digest.

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Resolution

This gets tricky, as it is different for every scanner, as each has its own optimum resolution, which is what you should use. I will cover this more in depth in the actual series, but if you are able to scrounge up your scanner’s native resolution on the internet, that is the most likely resolution that you would want to scan to. A scanner’s native resolution is the highest resolution the machine can produce without interpolation ( i.e. uprezzing). You simply do not want to have your scanner resizing your image with interpolated pixels when you can do a far superior job yourself with Photoshop or Genuine Fractals. You will get sup-par results.

For me, using my Epson V500 of Plustek OpticFilm 7200, I find the optimum resolution for scanning 35mm film to be 3000-3600 DPI. Although VueScan offers me much higher resolution options, the image quality starts to fall off past this point for both scanners. Scanner manufacturers advertise their Maximum resolution, not their Native resolution, so check to see what the masses recommend for your scanner, or run a series of tests to see what looks best to you at 100% zoom in Photoshop.

File Format

Next, there is only one option for you to even consider for you output format for your scans … TIFF. TIFF is capable of handling your 48-bit scans without losing an ounce of data. TIFF can handle and color space you can throw at it, including ProPhoto RGB, which needs to have a 48-bit file to be effective. TIFF is superior in almost every way to JPEG. JPEG can only handle 24-bit scans, as it is an 8-bit format. It would be dumb to scan in at 48-bit only to save as a 24-bit file.

You will need to make sure that you set the TIFF bit-depth to 48-bit (will sometimes be listed as 16-bit), otherwise you may inadvertently save your image to a 24-bit file anyways.

Another plus, TIFF wraps up nicely in the DNG format.

So, to generate the best results from your scans when using Lightroom as your primary editor make sure to set, scan and save files with the settings discussed.

  • Scan Mode – Color
  • Color/Bit Depth – 48-bit
  • Color Space – ProPhoto RGB
  • Resolution – Your scanner’s native or optimum resolution
  • File Format – 48-bit TIFF

The next section is optional but highly recommended.

After scanning your images in with these settings, import them into Lightroom. When importing, make sure you choose the import option Copy photos as Digital Negative (DNG) and add to catalog. This will wrap your TIFF files and compress them into the Adobe DNG format. This adds a few layers of convenience and security to your workflow.

Most will ask, why convert TIFFs to DNG, its not like the magically become RAW files? That is true, they are still simply TIFF files, just wrapped in all the metadata goodness of the DNG format. Here is my list of reasons for converting to DNG on import.

  • Your original scans will stand out from regular images.
  • You cannot accidentally overwrite you TIFF when wrapped in DNG. The TIFF stays just the way you scanned it, only metadata changes.
  • Metadata edits in Lightroom or ACR can be saved right to the DNG file, not stuck in a sidecar XMP file.
  • DNG has some dang good compression, squeezing down those huge TIFF files a bit, in a lossless manner.
  • Did I mention that DNG will differentiate you original scans from other TIFF files, making them stand out to you?
  • In a way, although these are rendered images, these scans are the equivalent of RAW data …  they are the starting point from which you will make further edits, give them worthy recognition.
  • It is another excuse to use DNG in your workflow.
  • Plus, you can call the above specs for a TIFF scan wrapped in DNG Film DNG or fDNG (I would call it RealRaw, but that might piss off Ken Rockwell).

I always convert my scans to DNG before further editing. It protects the vital data in the scan from the rigors of Photoshop editing. Even if I accidentally open a scan DNG in Photoshop, it will fire up ACR before allowing me to edit. Without the DNG wrapper, I could accidentally make edits and save, overwriting the TIFF file. DNG prevents that.

In general I like DNG and it works well in my workflow to use it for my scans as well as my DSLR RAW files. And if you use VueScan, you can avoid the Lightroom conversion and save directly to DNG from VueScan.

Although not the deepest article on scanning, I think that this may help many of you get started in scanning for Lightroom editing. All this will be covered more in depth, with a variety of scanning software, as this series continues culminating in my ebook on scanning. Stay tuned for more, and hopefully this gets you thinking about your scanning workflow.

Later,

Michael

Scanning, an Art Unto Itself

Ektar Review Images (5 of 13)
Photography is an art of many facets, it always has been. In the early days of photography one would have to become proficient at exposure and composition to make the initial image on film and then master the art of development followed up by darkroom printing. I won’t even touch on the extending arts of framing and presentation. A master photographer had to be a master of many arts, it was never as simple as pointing a camera and releasing a shutter.

As technology pressed forth, photography has changed. Not that any of the traditional techniques have died, I do them all still. However, the traditional film techniques have become niche, with digital taking the lime light in the photographic world. With the need for exposure, even those still devoted to film must digitize their images, so they must scan. For a modern film photographer scanning is the modern equivalent to printing in the darkroom. You take your original slide or negative and generate a digital image to manipulate.

Many photographer have the idea that scanning is simply a process needed to digitize their work. Some view it as a simple process, others as a necessary evil. I agree with neither concept, I believe that scanning is an art in its own right. Much like the initial capture and the post processing, scanning requires knowledge, flexibility and an eye for quality. It is insane to over look this aspect of a modern film workflow as a simple process. Proper preparation and practice will help you make the most of the digitization process and will increase the quality of you final image and require less work in post-processing.

So over the coming months, I will be adding articles, reviews and tutorials regarding the art of Scanning. I have a litany of topics to cover; from reviews of the scanners I use every day, to post-processing techniques for scanned images and even Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions to aide you in the processing of scanned images. With today’s post a new category has been added to the sidebar of LIDF, entitled Scanning. All articles pertaining to this arcane art will be filed under this header.

This is part of my effort to diversify LifeInDigitalFilm, and to more accurately reflect my interests in photography. I will still be having articles on Digital techniques and workflow and I will still be the source of film emulation presets for Lightroom. But film is coming back, slowly but surely, and setting up a firm niche in the photographic community. I am a part of that niche and my work here will reflect that.

No matter where you are in the film world, I will have articles of interest for you.

  • Looking for a scanner? I’ll fill you in on the ones I possess and use daily, as well as some I have used and loved.
  • Don’t want to scan yourself? Let me tell you about ScanCafe, they are the next best thing to doing scanning yourself.
  • Don’t like your scanning software? We’ll look at you options together… you will choose VueScan though.
  • Quality Issues? I’ll share my scanning workflow with you, perhaps you will find it works for you as well.
  • Post Processing problems? We will get you going in Lightroom, Photoshop or the GIMP, its all about how you set up the scanning software.

In the mean time, if you are want to see a bit about scanning now, I have a two part article on X-Equals coving the topic. The posts are Lightroom-centric, scanning using OEM software, but it can get you going while you await my future articles.

+Film to Digital – Scanning Essentials 101 – Part 1 of 2 – coving the scanning process

+Film to Digital – Scanning Essentials 101 – Part 2 of 2 – covering processing of scans in Lightroom

Hopefully this gets you interested in the upcoming articles on LIDF, it is time for me to expand a bit and get into some new subject matter here.

If you don’t already, please consider shooting some film. There are still advantages to film digital has not quite reached. In turn digital has advantages that film can’t touch. But you can make an HDR from a single frame of negative film, with a exposure spread of 5 stops on a well expoed frame. You can only pull about 2 stops of useable dynamic range from a RAW file. Just food for thought!

Don’t forget the X-Equals+Digest. Issue two comes out in 4 days! Get signed up now before you miss an issue of this great resource for photographers.

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Later,

Michael

Rant: Mama, they took my Kodachrome away!

If there has ever been a sad day in film photography for me, today is it. Kodak officially announced their discontinuation of the Kodachrome line of slide film after 74 years of production in one incarnation or another. The announcement comes as no surprise, due to the complexity of the emulsion and the extremely complex development process. Any film that is so difficult to develop that it is only processed in one location in the world had it’s days numbered in the modern, digital world.

I have shot 15 rolls of Kodachrome 64 in the past year, with 6 more in the freezer. If you have some, or decide to buy some, I recommend you get out and shoot it soon, as Dewayne’s, the only K-14 processor in the world, announced continued support only through 2010. Once they close up the K-14 line, it’s all over. If you have any left, your only option will be cross processing in B&W chemistry.

Kodachrome was and is the defacto standard when it comes to archival quality slides. Although they fade rather rapidly under the light of a projector, in dark storage, they colors stay true to the day they were shot. A quick search of the US National Archives will bring you scans of Kodachromes shot in the late 1930’s that look as crisp and colorful as if they were shot yesterday. That longevity will be missed.

What will furthermore be missed will be Kodachrome’s magical appearance. I can’t describe the nuance that is Kodachrome, it it too subtle to define in words. Only a projection from a Kodachrome slide will ever do it justice. Kodachrome is difficult to scan, expensive to process and now scarce to get. But it is a film worth the expense and hassle, and I am glad to have gotten back into film photography to enjoy Kodachromes waning days.

In Kodak’s press release, they recommend two excellent replacement films for the Kodachrome lover. The first is KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME E100G, which is a beautiful film in it’s own right. Not to disparage it, it lacks the subtlety of Kodachrome. However, I will concur it is the closest option you will get in an E-6 film (also try Fuji Astia if you shoot a lot of people, as I feel it renders better skin tones than E100G.) Kodak’s second recommendation is their new EKTAR 100 negative film. Which is a wonderful option, as it has it’s own special nuance that no other film comes close to (I will be posting an in-depth review of the film in the coming weeks). However EKTAR poses two problems. First, it is a negative film, not a slide film. As fine grained as it is, EKTAR still cannot capture the feel of a slide. Secondly, EKTAR is special in it’s own right, with a great feeling to the colors, giving me a feel of the seventies in 2009. However it does not convey the timeless Kodachrome does. In short, there is no replacement for Kodachrome.

What I hope Kodak does, is spend some R&D money and produce us a new E-6 film that will carry the Kodachrome name and emulate the feel. A lot of Kodachrome’s magic is in the K-14 process itself, but if Kodak can give us a film as nuanced as EKTAR or as beautiful as PORTRA VC they can bring us an E-6 film that can capture some of the true-to-life nature of Kodachrome. Ektachrome is great, but it doesn’t bring the bang like Kodachrome.

For now, go out and get some Kodachrome and shoot a roll or two. Kodak estimates current stock will last through Fall 2009, however I am going to guess it will get scarce in the next month or so. If you don’t shoot fil anymore, but want a feel of Kodachrome, try my two Lighroom/ACR Presets I have on the site. Try my current Kodachrome 64 and my Kodachrome 25. They will get you close, but they won’t get you there. I have two emulation test rolls shot awaiting development currently of Kodachrome 64. Once I get them back I will do a fresh emulation and a Camera Profile for the results. That will be a while however.

In the end, today feels a bit like the day the music died. My heart sunk a little when I saw the news on Twitter. But we move on. There are great films still available and will continue to be, and out digital cameras and Adobe’s magical tools will provide us with the means to bring us a little closer to the magic again. To me, today is a day i will remember for quite a while. It came as no surprise, the writing was on the wall and i was stocking up to complete a personal project. The finality of it still hits home.

Have a great day,

Michael W Gray