A Highly Unlikely Kodachromic Experiment

If you have ever perused the entries of  this blog, it is readily apparent that I have a huge reverence for Kodachrome film.  And this reverence is particularly strong for the first stable emulsion that was produced between 1938 and 1962.  The colors rendered by this "Red Border Kodachrome" tend to really favor the often nostalgic settings they are used to portray.

At times, I have gone through various efforts to replicate this look, either through attempts of digital manipulation or through carefully selecting my subject matter to try to exclude as many tell-tale modern anachronisms as I can.  The results have shown hints of promise, but were largely lacking to me, and as a result, I tended to shelve the efforts.

My conclusions of my first attempts were that the best starting point to replicate this nostalgic look was a film image taken on a vintage film camera.  However, my attempts on the few other transparency films left did not render a palette close to the Kodachrome hues that I'd seen.  In fact, I'd only seen one current film that gave me a hint of a Kodachrome look.

A little while back, I tested a new camera which, despite its operational quirks, did deliver a very retro looking vignetting in its results, while still giving off a sharp central image.  I was at least impressed with this aspect of the camera, and wondered where else I might use this to my advantage.

Which leads me to this - another completely blind stab at replicating the look of Kodachrome using the following as my ingredients:
  • A film not made by Eastman Kodak
  • A film that is not even a transparency film
  • A camera using a format for which Kodachrome was never made.
  • A significant amount of foolhardy faith. 
  • A limited amount of digital intervention in case the above doesn't pan out.
My film for this experiment is Fuji Pro 400H, the last color negative film made by Fuji in the 120 format, and one pretty well known for its rendering of nice green tones.  In my usual oddball way, I'm not even using it in the 120 format.  Rather, I am cutting this film down to 127 format instead.  The traditionalist in me would have cut this down to 828 instead since it was technically the first format for which the early Kodachrome was made.  However, since this is a 400 speed film instead of a 10-12 speed film like the original Kodachrome, I need to use a camera with adequate enough of a top shutter speed to accomodate such a fast film.

And just which camera might that be?  Why the Foth Derby of course, somewhat appropriate for the course since it was in production when Kodachrome was first released in the late 1930's.  The 1/500 top speed will allow this fast speed film to be used in full sun with the camera stopped down to f/16, something that would not have been possible on a Bantam. Besides, since the Foth is a half-frame 127 camera, it has a 30x40mm image size nearly identical to the 28x40mm image size of the Bantam 828 format.

A couple of lovely days over the Fathers Day Weekend in 2016 delivered some picture perfect weather, so I brought out this classic camera with its unusual film choice to see if I could get results that resembled the Kodachrome of decades past.  Here are some of the better results:


Lots to Come

I realize that posts have gotten to be erratic, but I can assure you that my enthusiasm hasn't waned, or that I'm not working on material.

In fact, I'm in the process of one of my most ambitious projects: namely that to develop color negative film myself, and it requires a lot of shooting, batching of rolls and processes to make as cost effective as I want.

The good news is that my initial attempts at it have met with success, and once I finish up this mega batch of film, I'll be able to give quite a bit more dimension to camera reviews, film reviews, and I've got a nice bit of truly quirky stuff up my sleeve that this project will help me in as well.  

For now, a sample result of self-processed film, taken on the Argus Argoflex Forty on Ektar 100.  

Stay Tuned!