ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY :: RETURN OF KODACHROME?

ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY :: RETURN OF KODACHROME?

January 12, 2020 100 By Peter Engel


what is up everybody welcome back to the show in this video we’re going to talk about analog photography as a topic and it is friday therefore it is a Q&A day and yesterday I put a video on the facebook page and asked you guys for questions and as always they were extremely good and I haven’t really talked about film and the whole analog process in a while and i think it’s probably about time we come back around to some of that so I thought it would kick this off a little bit with a Q&A episode today so let’s get right to it our first question today comes to us from David who writes why do you think people get into this mindset that it’s film versus digital I’ve read a few posts either on facebook or youtube lately where people have dissed film because it’s old and antiquated or hated on digital because its soulless and won’t last when the MP hits etc I watched Matt Day’s take on this a few weeks ago and really liked the takeaway message that was shoot what gets you motivated what gets you out there a great photo is a great photo regardless of what is used to take it they’re complimentary but somehow there are still people who take it as some kind of black or white choice what do you think that is? ah the age-old question film versus digital this is kinda up there with Mac versus PC this is something you used to hear quite a bit more often and fortunately it’s died down in recent years and I don’t ever think it will totally go away because there is a large population of photographers whose the more time arguing things on the internet than they do actually making things and there’s nothing wrong with that but see for me and I will always say this that photography is a creative endeavor you are coming to some kind of creative conclusion at the end which is personified in a photograph that is the most important part of any process what is the photograph in the end it has less to do with the materials you use to make that photograph and so me personally i shoot film and i shoot digital – i probably shoot digital more because of the speed and immediacy of it i still love film but when it comes down to actually creating and making something I think that you should choose what is most appropriate what you are willing to work with and then use that is a tool to arrive at a solution so to say that digital is cold or film is warm or its antiquated – these are just ridiculous arguments I think it really comes down to what are you making with them and neither one replaces the other simple as that in this digital age why would we still shoot film is shooting digital just for convenience sake I’ve never owned a digital camera before and I’m contemplating on whether to quote-unquote upgrade but i have just have film tugging at my heartstrings all the time while my head is saying digital is the way to go i am lost like I said in the last question i think that if you’re going to shoot on film or digital that choice is up to you and it depends on what you want in terms of a look in terms of what is going to be the final product i know people like to say that digital is fast or digital is immediate and yes it is because you don’t have the processing involved in the middle but for me sometimes when i shoot film that process in the middle is exactly what i love about film i love that it’s a physical thing there’s an emulsion that is on a base and you’re going to expose that and it’s something that you do with your hands and it’s a part of making it it does have a look to it and I think that’s wonderful too but again I think just picking the material based on some reason to use that material other than your own creative vision is the mistake if you’re happy shooting film stay with film if there’s a reason you want to shoot digital then move to digital simple what do you see as the future of analog photography is it going to be a fad like vinyl cycling back to popularity often enough to support a stunted industry or more like tube microphones in the music business some artists will just always use them and therefore drive a segment of the industry first of all I would hesitate to use the word fad because fad implies that is something that’s very popular right now but it’s going to go away one day and I don’t think that’s what we’re looking at and I think you mentioned the music industry I think that’s proven that even though music is recorded digitally and it’s distributed digitally we consume it either by downloading an mp3 or having something steamed to this that there is still an audience of people that want their music on vinyl or that will use tube microphones and i think that the photo industry is very similar the world is largely gone digital but there is still a very strong group of people that are willing to support film they want to shoot film i think it like that it was last year with Fuji was like the number one product sold for the year on amazon was fuji instant film for photography – that’s amazing and there is still a strong interest and enthusiasm for shooting film now it’s a little bit tricky because it’s not being produced in the quantities that it used to and that kind of leads me into this next question do you think that the renewed interest in film photography is going to have sustainability in the long run say enough to support the reintroduction of ektachrome etc or will the costs associated with the process cull a lot of the newfound interest in the format when now see that is the question and if companies can find a way to produce to meet the demand of the niche market and still make a profit it will happen unfortunately that’s what it comes down to and I think as photographers we lose sight of that sometimes because what we do is creative and there are certain things that I will do with photography that I do out of passion I don’t need to turn a profit on it things that i do just because I love it and you can’t expect corporations to think like that because their bottom line is staying in business so it has to be profitable and I think that you’ve already seen this happen obviously ilford has done very well fuji has done very well i think it was a last year on amazon fuji the number-one photography product sold for the year with fuji instant film they’ve done very well and so some of the other companies though have changed over the years Kodak for instance some companies have gone away like Polaroid and so it really depends now to over simplify this most of us don’t understand the process of what it takes to make film and what those challenges are because that’s really not shared with us but to over simplify it for you let’s say we have a machine here and this is going to make the film so what we do is we take some cow bones and some horse hooves and we feed them into one end we pour chemicals in the top we hit the start button and then this pops out the other side that’s essentially how it’s done and that’s usually all we know and that’s our the end of our perception of how film is made but what you have to understand is there’s two things that make this very challenging one is the machinery used to do this and two is the human element so in terms of machinery you’re dealing with machines that it’s not like somebody’s out there you know making film machines so you have these machines that you’re using that are very old and it a part breaks it’s not like you can just order another one you’re going to have to have it machined or figure work around so is that’s a huge challenge because these machines are largely setup for producing film in mass quantities the old way and so what you’re trying to do is do this in a lot less of a quantity keep the consistency high so machinery is definitely a challenge another challenge in here and this is just a fact of life with not just film but I think mechanical cameras too is that sure there are chemical engineers that come out of school but how many of them specialize in making film that’s not taught anymore and a lot of the engineers that are really good and legendary and have that that high demand of themselves of a quality standard and really know what they’re doing a lot of those guys are getting older and they’re either retiring or they’re not in the business anymore so it’s a craft that goes into it that is hard to maintain both the machinery aspect and the human aspect so those are the challenges that are involved with it and even if you did can you hire enough people to sustain that so anyway these are all things that film companies are presented with and most people don’t understand like you know even Kodak – Kodak doesn’t make film anymore that’s just the Rochester plant down years ago Kodak Alaris is a sub company of Kodak that actually makes the film and that’s why you’ve heard a lot of noise lately about like the Super 8 stuff that they’re going to produce the Ektachrome that’s going to be coming out this year and there’s even been rumblings about Kodachrome but they’re feeling the market out for what’s going to be possible and i would love to see Kodak succeed on this i want to them to find a way to do it i want Ilford to continue to succeed i want all these companies to do well because I love shooting film but those are the challenges that people are faced with now if you were interested in learning more on this i’m going to point you to a friend of mine my buddy Dave Bias who actually was in the video yesterday when i was in New York the one and only Dave Bias who I’ve had on the show before and we’re going to talk business later and soon there will be new right? Soon there will be news Dave is probably one of the smartest people that I know I met Dave years ago when there was a group of us that were all on flickr and particularly group of us that were interested in scanning film and sharing that and Dave was part of that group and I’ve kept up with Dave over the years I’ve had him on this show before he works for Ferrania now and we’ve missed each other a few times in New York and by missed each other he reached out and I was just too busy and so we we finally had like what an hour the other day to get together and talk shop a little bit and Dave is just – he’s a fountain of information on this stuff mainly from working with Ferrania and all the challenges that they’ve faced that they’ve had overcome with this but he’s just I mean he’s so interested in this stuff post all the time at the APUG forms and he has a website I’ll link it up in the show description – check Dave out follow him on twitter he is he’s the man as far as all the stuff goes and he understands it on a level that’s way beyond what I can comprehend in terms of like here with the other day we were talking about when the base just the sheet that the chemicals go on when you make film is fed in the machine how much waste is cut off of either side and why and it’s just it’s fascinating and anyway check Dave out he is the man – on a scale from one to ten what are the chances of a manufacturer – nikon canon olympus fuji makes a brand-new top-of-the-line full analog camera? Zero – the companies that you mentioned are not in the film business anymore all of their product is digital all their manufacturing digital and I don’t think that they’re going to see the profit margin there to ever produce a high-end camera plus even if one of them did let’s say nikon decided hey we’re going to do another film camera we’ll do an F7 – well you can still get an f5 or an f6 and is what you’re going to be paying for an f7 going to be worth them competing against the used market on the old cameras they used to make so I just don’t see it happening any time soon you might see instant cameras coming out i think there has been a proven track record the last year so on resurgence of instant film but in terms of having a high-end camera we’re going to have advanced metering and stuff just don’t see it happening in the near future – I often read people saying that Kodachrome could never be brought back that the equipment and the chemicals used to make it are gone – is this entirely true i mean a lot of happened in the field of chemistry and how to make films since Kodachrome came to life – it has very little to do with the possibilities of chemistry of could it be done it has everything to do with the possibilities is can it be done to supply a niche market and still be profitable that really is what it comes down to and there have been rumblings lately about Kodachrome making a resurgence and I think if anything Kodak is kind of testing the waters to see if there’s any excitement about it i will be perfectly honest with you I would be shocked to see Kodachrome come back in the next few years if ever at all i just don’t see it happening and the reason why is Kodachrome is a specific process it’s its own thing so when you look at film types you have c41 which is a color negative film and you have e6 which is a color positive film Kodachrome was what was known as k14 and it was a dye process – it also was a positive film but it was much more involved in complicated than e6 was so you have several challenges with that you gotta bring it back at a point where the company can make money doing it meaning Kodak and you also have to have a way to have it processed because not every lab can just do k14 in fact no labs do k14 Dwayne’s in Kansas City was the last lab to do it and Dwayne’s are awesome and I remember when they had the cutoff date and I used to shoot Kodachrome and I hadn’t shot on in a long time and so I took all my Kodachrome out of the freezer and I went shot on it all week and then I had it into fedex by five o’clock at the deadline and a couple weeks later I got my slides back and i hadn’t used it in awhile and one thing that was very frustrating first of all Kodachrome is also very slow i had 32 and 64 and it’s not 3200 – that’s 32 iso and 64 iso and I felt like it was very grainy considering how slow film it was the colors are beautiful in Kodachrome but it was also of a different era and here i am taking my slides and scanning them and then that presented another challenge there’s a red cast and it was just kind of hard to work with and of course you can work around all those things but what it’s going to come down to is not could it be done of course it can be done anything can be done it was done we could start it up again but is there any money to be made doing that and it’s a very involved process and does it have a significant edge over something like e6 as a transparency film – now what I would like to see at some point all the companies right now are kind of taking this nostalgic approach to looking at “bringing back” particularly Kodak bringing back ektachrome what if we went a new direction and developed a film for the modern age that has maybe some of the highlights of the Kodachrome look to it or some of the subtleties now Kodachrome i mean that was an icon of an era there’s a real specific look to Kodachrome and obviously Paul Simon wrote a song – it was very popular but what could we do this of our time now i think is more interesting anyway what do you think about digital film like VSCO or dxo film pack are they any good compared to the true film look I have not used dxo film pack but i have used VisCo or VSCO or visual supply company or however you want to say it their stuff is very nice i think it’s kind of pricey for what it is considering it’s just lightroom presets they’re fairly accurate I’ve seen side-by-side comparisons and they are a little different they’re not exactly what the original film was but they’re very close at least to the point where you might be able to tweak it a little bit but I think more importantly I mean it’s a lightroom preset so you load them in and you just click on the preset and go and they have variations and things you can do to tweak those but I think they’re more concerned of like giving you the look of Ektachrome or giving you the look of whatever it is you’re trying to reproduce and I think they’re great but honestly i would rather just shoot film if I want the film look but that’s just me your mileage could vary i think they’re awesome for what they do – Art of Photography processing videos from two to three years ago were and are a great resource it’s what demystified the analog process for me any plans to create a similar series on darkroom printing Tony thank you for the kind words on that I’m glad those videos were useful i did a series of videos and it’s been a long time like several years now the fact that may be older than 2 or 3 years and I talked about processing film and some of the technical aspects of analog photography and I moved a year ago and since then my darkroom – my minimalist art room has been in pieces and there’s a lot of clutter in there i finally have it setup and I’m actually excited about it and so I actually am planning on doing some segments on analog photography in coming videos so now is your chance if there’s something you guys would like to see me do leave me a comment and let me know and i’m kinda excited about this i mean i haven’t revisited those videos or expanded on my mainly because I’ve already done them but I don’t make videos the way i did back when I did those and so it might be kind of interesting to do a new take on or even talk about some new stuff if you guys are interested in that so leave me a comment and let me know and anyway that’s all the questions I can get to in this video today there were more than I could handle in there and that’s awesome let me do a part two on this and if you guys would like to be in on this make sure you head over to facebook like the page i’ll put the URL in here and go set your display preferences so you’ll be alerted and once a week or so i put out a call for questions in there and so you’ll know when that is and as always – if you guys have enjoyed this video please remember to like it share it and subscribe to the art of photography for more videos and until the next we’ll see you guys then later