Break out the slide projector
September 26, 2018 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Ektachrome is back. Kodak's 2nd most popular color reversal (slide) film is available now in 35mm and will be available in Super 8 and 16mm motion formats later in the year.

Kodak has been teasing their "analog revolution" since announcing a new Super 8 camera at CES 2016 and the Ektachrome re-launch at the following show.

Kodak's podcast, The Kodakery, interviewed factory managers and discussed the logistics of bringing a complicated chemical product back to life after many of it's original formula components were no longer available.

Ektachrome is developed using the E-6 process which, unlike the beloved Kodachrome, is still available from photo processing labs and can even be done at home.
posted by hwyengr (72 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now I've got a Paul Simon earworm running through my head.

(I don't have a film camera myself, but I'm sure this move will be celebrated by many.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:20 PM on September 26, 2018


eeeeeeeeeeeee. I've been wanting an excuse to go back to film. Digital SLRs are great and I've loved mine, but it's also almost 8 years old and upgrading to a shiny new setup could easily cost as much as a used car or a down payment on a house depending on region. Plus, my grandfather who taught me how to compose decent shots as a tiny child, he loved the shit out of Ektachrome. I bet it'll feel great to play with it again in settings he would have loved.
posted by palomar at 2:29 PM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


My partner and I took a film camera on vacation a few years ago and shot on the still-available-but-dwindling-supplies Fujichrome Provia. The slides feel so magical for those memories since you're looking at the physical light that you captured in the moment.
posted by hwyengr at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Being of a certain age, palomar, I look at the current prices for the Nikon F4 and go squee! Because it's still one damned fine camera, and will work with every Nikon lens ever made! (well. AI bayonet mount, and not screw mount. but 50 years' worth of lenses.)
posted by aurelian at 3:02 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I started shooting film a few years ago, partially* because I got sick and tired of how pristine and soulless digital photos are.

I mean, using presets and careful tweaking in post you can—most of the time—coax the photos to look almost as good as color film.

But—Kodak has put decades and decades of research and development into their color film products, and all of that experience is baked into every roll of film. With digital, you have to try and recreate that look, from scratch, every single time.

* The other reason I started shooting film was because I needed to force myself to slow down and think more about my photographs.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:17 PM on September 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


> With digital, you have to try and recreate that look, from scratch, every single time.

FWIW I made an app for that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:29 PM on September 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


I'd be curious to see some examples from that app.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:40 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Am excited. Already ordered two rolls of 135 from the Film Photography Project. Now if it would only come out in 120 or even 4x5.

Kodak's timing is weird though because both of the biggest retailers, Adorama and BH are offline until next week when Succos is over. You'd think that Kodak would have thought of that.
posted by octothorpe at 3:50 PM on September 26, 2018


If you shoot digital but like the look of film, Fuji's cameras may be for you. They offer a variety of film simulation modes (Velvia, Provia, Astia, etc. Also "Classic Chrome" which is Kodachrome but they can't call it that because that's a Kodak trademark) which are quite highly regarded.

In fact, there are all sorts of apps, programs, plugins, etc. out there which mimic the look of film. Personally I feel like if I wanted that look I'd shoot film for real, but I've played around with some of the stuff Fuji has done in their cameras and it is indeed very nice-looking. If I were primarily a JPEG rather than a RAW shooter I'd likely gravitate toward Fuji just because the JPEG output from their cameras is so lovely.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:53 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I look at the current prices for the Nikon F4 and go squee!

I shoot on an F4 and an FE, and I gotta say, I love the FE. The F4 has autofocus and matrix metering, but 90% of the time I prefer the FE cause it's so small and light. Such an easy camera to carry around.

But my partner's eyesight is terrible, so she prefers the F4 because autofocus.

pro-tip: buy cameras on e-bay, used from Japan. Both my F4 and FE were basically new-in-box, and right now you can get a perfect condition FE + Nikon F1.4 lens for around $215. Then you'll have extra money to spend on film.

Either way, STOKED for ektachrome!!!!
posted by juice boo at 3:58 PM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


I was recently noticing how many high-end film cameras are on local buy-and-sell sites for practically no money, and thinking it would be fun to pick something up if only it were possible to find film.
posted by Orlop at 4:04 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm not as much excited about the fact that this specific emulsion is coming back, but that Kodak has the faith that the market will support it. I mean Emulsive just cataloged all 180 film brands that are currently on the worldwide market but as far as I know, only three companies produce color film stock Kodak, Agfa-Gevaert and FujiFilm. Black and White film is comparatively easy to formulate, it's been made in some form for almost two hundred years now but color is a complicated and expensive process to setup and run and if we lose that capacity, it's going to be hard to get back.
posted by octothorpe at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I personally hate the results from Fuji cameras and most other film simulators, as they inevitably end up with clipped shadows. Most of these tools don’t seem to grasp that film is a logarithmic medium, not linear. This is something the motion picture industry has grasped; I wish some of that knowledge would be transferred to still photography tools, so far it hasn’t.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:11 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


My recollection of Ektachrome is that it made everything look like a found snuff film. Weird colour casts that were impossible to correct for, overall greyishness in saturation and in contrast, high grain. It’s like it was an overcorrection of the warmth and liveliness of Kodachrome.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I love shooting slides and still have my N80 ready to go! Still haven't found a great AND economical way to convert slides to digital though, that would be my sticking point. I still havent scanned all the slides I shot in the 90s yet...
posted by fshgrl at 4:13 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


i have been head down on scanning my parents entire lifetime of slides, approximately 7000 exposures, for months now and expect to wrap between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't really recommend it as a family project; for example, we are currently energetically attempting to avoid heartfelt arguments about the Chilean coup in September 1973 because we lived in Chile in 1969, with limited success.

That said, even given the wobbly half-century color fidelity of the images I am working with, a) often I am able to recenter them and dramatically enhance them well beyond the actual delivered slide's acuity to non-photographically perceived color and light and b) even for slides that came out of the development process with challenging color and light balance issues, the slides have ASTOUNDING DETAIL.

My parents usually shot at half-frame, because it was cheaper, and their cameras sometimes were broken or improperly loaded and the film was sometimes poorly made or poorly developed. Over the years, the emulsion has failed in various ways and the slides have accumulated half-a-century of grime and grit that I should not remove by any other means than a blast of air. Even under these constraints, the images have incredible depth of acuity and detail. When the colors haven't shifted, it's literally incredible that something smaller than a postage stamp, using what is essentially a 19th century technology - refined, I will note, to the utmost - can produce and retain this data.

If I were not to scan these slides, all that data would be lost, as it were like tears in rain. As it is, I have a weird tragic awareness of how much data I am *throwing away* in my scanning process. I literally cannot capture all the information on these slides, either the visual photographic information, or the metadata carefully recorded on the margin, the cardboard slide carrier.

There is a real possibility I won't even get the imaging done in time - my father had a health setback a year ago that is permanent and increases his actuarial chances of mortality in the next N years dramatically. Not that I expect my folks to actually go through and annotate each one of these frame-caps before they die - I just wanted to be sure they had the chance to do so.

I think about my parents, and their absurd numbers of exposed and saved slides and images, and their relatively rigorous process of annotation and storage, and I think about that multiplied by the maybe billion people that had and used cameras to perform daily life and family documentation and how much of that information is, or will be, already destroyed and it's just depressing.

That said, I doubt I'll ever pay for developing a roll of film ever again in my life. When I had to, I took like three pictures a month. Now I take thousands.

I am still glad to hear film appears have a path to sustainability. Eventually digital may have the opportunity to match film's fidelity but at the moment, it cannot. I can produce a good-enough output and that is what I am working hard to maximize, But every single slide I scan I am aware that I am tossing away good data, and it pains me.

tl; dr: film is amazing, and objectively superior to digital. We are losing what I suspect is the most remarkable storehouse of cultural data ever created, and there is nothing we can do about it.
posted by mwhybark at 4:28 PM on September 26, 2018 [18 favorites]


My partner and I took a film camera on vacation a few years ago and shot on the still-available-but-dwindling-supplies Fujichrome Provia. The slides feel so magical for those memories since you're looking at the physical light that you captured in the moment.

The emotional connection you have I cannot argue with. But there is no sense in which you are "looking at the physical light that you captured" that isn't equally true for a digital photo. In each case, photons affected something and a bunch of processing steps resulted in you ending up with an image.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 4:32 PM on September 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


Slide film doesn’t have negatives, so the finished slide is the same piece of film that was behind the lens. That was the exactness sameness of the light I was thinking of.
posted by hwyengr at 4:43 PM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


I personally hate the results from Fuji cameras and most other film simulators, as they inevitably end up with clipped shadows.

This is just… not really true? Not in my experience, anyway. Clipped highlights, sure, but it still blows my mind what can be recovered from the shadow areas of a digital photograph.

Fuji's cameras (and some others) will even do a thing where they automatically underexpose to preserve highlights and then push the shadows to correct overall exposure. I do this all the time in post, but it's such a low-cost process in terms of image quality that many recent cameras will do it for you right in the JPEGs if you want.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


After KodakCoin I'm kind of amazed there's anything left of the company that actually does stuff and isn't a walking corpse.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:48 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is just… not really true? Not in my experience, anyway.

I see it all the time.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:27 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


So, I guess I'm the defender of digital today.

Eventually digital may have the opportunity to match film's fidelity but at the moment, it cannot.

This is also not really true. It's a bit of a fool's errand to try and figure out how many megapixels' worth of image data 35mm film can capture, but if we're talking about high-quality ISO 100 color film with a resolution of 100 lines/mm, you're looking at something very roughly equivalent to 20 megapixels. The best current 35mm-sensor digital cameras have a resolution of about 50 megapixels—high enough that if you're using an older lens (and here we're talking like 10 years old or more, not ancient glass by any means) it probably will be your limiting factor because it was never made to resolve that kind of detail.

There's also dynamic range. Film typically has a dynamic range of about 13 stops, whereas the best full-frame digital cameras today have a dynamic range of about 15 stops—four times as wide.

That's not to say that film isn't a great medium for recording images! Heck, I shoot digital and my camera is only good for 20 megapixels and 12.6 stops of dynamic range—about the same as film! Plus there are characteristics inherent to film's analog nature that mean that even if the images it produces aren't necessarily better than digital (in terms of fidelity) they are at least qualitatively different. Film has grain rather than noise, it lacks pixels, its images never exhibit moiré, and it is much more forgiving of blown highlights whereas digital (as I mentioned earlier) is terrible at blown highlights but does very well at shadow recovery. And all of that is aside from the fact that it's just a much more tactile, more deliberate, more physical medium than digital.

Film is lovely, but it's not magical.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:37 PM on September 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


So, I guess I'm the defender of digital today.

I don't think that digital capture needs anyone to defend it. Some of us just prefer film, it's as simple as that.
posted by octothorpe at 5:53 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I see [clipped shadows] all the time.

OK, so the images you linked to are ones where the shadows were very obviously and deliberately "crushed" to black. That's a very popular processing choice these days (to the point of being frankly overused) and one that I use myself with some regularity. Obviously I don't have access to the RAWs for those images, but if you work in digital it's pretty darn clear that that's what was done there. Those shadows are probably true, clipped black on Flickr—but definitely not in the original images, or at least not to anywhere near that extent.

Here's an example of the opposite technique, digital shadow recovery, using one of my own recent shots:

In the first image, you see the photo (some coral fungus hanging from a log) as originally exposed. This is actually a deliberate underexposure, as I was
going for a black background and also wanted to make sure I didn't blow out the highlights and destroy all that detail in the white fungus. As you can see, the background does appear pretty black.

Now, in the second image, I've done an extremely quick-and-dirty shadow push and nothing else. As you can see, that apparently-black background from the first image actually had quite a lot of recoverable detail in it! And I should mention that as I'm working from my phone right now, I actually only have access to the JPEG of this image. If I were on a proper computer with access to the RAW, I could get even more out of it.

And that's just a straight-up shadow push; if I wanted to go further I could apply a response curve, or increase the overall exposure while dropping the highlights, or any number of other things. I could also have elected to expose higher at the time of shooting (plenty of leeway in those highlights, they're nowhere close to blown) or even shot an exposure bracket and then blended it together automatically in post. This is just a super-quick demo that doesn't even come close to the limits of shadow recovery in digital photography.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:57 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've gone back to film in the past year. The local camera shop has been carrying more varieties of film and I missed using film cameras. According to the guy at the camera shop, there has been an enormous increase in the amount of film they have been selling lately.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:08 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I started shooting on slide film when I was living in Japan. When I came back to Canada I was a broke student and didn't shoot much of anything and then got a DSLR. So for me slide film is tied to my life in Japan. Over the years I've made half-assed attempts to properly scan my pictures but they never look as good as the slides. I always worry about a fire destroying them because I can't back them up like I can my digital photos. I lost one roll a couple of weeks after shooting it - I'm pretty sure it was thrown away by accident - and I still remember some of those pictures all these years later even though I'll never be able to see them again.

I loved Kodak's slide film, particularly their E100VS, and I had probably half-dozen rolls or so in my fridge until maybe 2 years ago when I threw them away because I'd never use them and couldn't think of anyone else who would either. I'm glad Kodak is bringing back Ektachrome and hope that there's a receptive audience for it but I don't see myself going back to it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's OK to prefer film! Film is great! It's very different from digital, and even moreso in terms of the process than the product. (Product-wise, it's perfectly possible to get utterly gorgeous-looking photos with either medium.) People just have some funny ideas sometimes about film being superior to digital in terms of image fidelity, which used to be true but generally isn't anymore. Maximum fidelity is rarely what makes a great photo great, and it certainly isn't what makes photography an enjoyable pastime! But it's a fact that in terms of quantity of image data captured per shot, digital passed film a while back both in resolution and in dynamic range.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:30 PM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


I remember hours in the chemistry department darkroom at Washington State back in 1977 and '78, developing Ektachrome. Good times, especially when I managed to wind the film on the reel correctly.

I don't miss film. Yes, there is magic looking at these little rectangles of color. But I don't miss having to carry a camera around with me all the time (spoiler: I didn't). I don't miss having to scrape up the money for film and processing and throwing half of the pictures away. I don't miss the waiting to see how the pictures turn out.

I'm very glad Kodak is still around and is going to make Ektachrome available again. It's just not for me anymore.
posted by lhauser at 6:46 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


And I’m not saying that digital has less fidelity than film; I’m saying that plugins and presets that simulate film for digital pictures tend to be naive and require a lot of manual adjustments in order to look good, which is something you kind of just demonstated.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:46 PM on September 26, 2018


Well, I guess I would have to play around more with Fuji's Acros simulation mode to know what you're talking about, then. (I don't really do black and white, I like color too much.) I'm still pretty sure that in the photos you linked that I saw (e.g. the ones by Flickr user Bananocrate) the crushed blacks were a generally deliberate post-processing choice rather than the result of using the Acros mode (Fuji's only black & white mode that simulates a specific film type) per se. I'm not even sure most of them were shot in Acros mode at all; the photography group you linked is just for X-Pro users shooting in black & white in general.

Check out this article on shooting with Acros simulation . Many of the photos feature dark blacks, but if you look closely only one of them has actually clipped blacks. In all the others, if you zoom, you'll see detail or at least texture. The photos in this article are meant to showcase the default look of Fuji's black & white film simulation.

Of course, even in that article they say right near the beginning that as much as they like Acros, it's not the same as shooting with actual
film Acros. Just that if you like the look of Acros but shoot digital, you might enjoy simulated Acros.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:22 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


FWIW I have about 20 years of professional experience as a photographer and person with an interest in scanning and image capture, with the majority of my professional income from the two categories coming via digital photography. I have always been a proponent of digital and while I have mastery of analog-to-digital scanning it has never been my first choice as a result of the increased cost. The sustained exposure to my parents' slides has shifted my perception. I am scanning at an average of 3800 dpi, about 14 megapixels for the whole-frame image. I have a subset of scans executed at 5000 dpi, about 25 megapixels. In examining the accidentally-executed higher-res scans, it was clear to me that I was tossing data out. The project was not intended to be a best-of-class event and scanning at 3800 was good enough, and using old and balky scanners was another accepted cost, or really, out of pocket cashflow conservation measure: old scanners are hard to set up but cost less on ebay. So while sure, pro DSLR CCDs can exceed the data capture I can get with the scanners I am using, I am by no means convinced that 20mp CCDs are matching consumer-grade 35mm film from the seventies, based on my careful visual examination of several hundred exposures that I believe I am technically qualified to evaluate.
posted by mwhybark at 7:49 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I like color too much

Can you really like color too much? "What's with all this color?? I'm tired of color! Could you tone down the color just a bit? Sepia - now that I like."
(/Seinfeld)
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:49 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


(a side effect of swimming round all this seventies tech is how interestingly simple, ingenious, and maintainable it is, it's mind blowing.)
posted by mwhybark at 7:55 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have about ten years of work developing digital simulations of analog film and can talk for hours about it and do you know what really matters? Whether the photographer can produce the image they want. Nothing else.

If you’d like to hear all the gory details about how it works, buy me a cider or two, but this text box is just too small otherwise.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:00 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Another way you can develop E-6 film at home is with the Caffinol-C process, which uses instant coffee and vitamin C tablets to develop as black and white.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


(a side effect of swimming round all this seventies tech is how interestingly simple, ingenious, and maintainable it is, it's mind blowing.)

One of the main reasons I love film is that the tech is just so cool on old cameras. I picked up a little Yashica MG-1 rangefinder from the early seventies and it's just a marvel of analog technology. It's aperture priority only but it nails the exposure almost every time 1973 era circuitry.
posted by octothorpe at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nice. I switched to Fuji Velvia after Kodachrome’s demise, but will need to do some comparisons. Choice is good.

I am by no means convinced that 20mp CCDs are matching consumer-grade 35mm film from the seventies, based on my careful visual examination of several hundred exposures that I believe I am technically qualified to evaluate.

I took the exact same exposure side by side with Velvia in my 35 mm Zeiss & with my D80 ( which is an old camera now, of ocurse-10 mp) and the 4000 dpi scan of the slide film in the 60-year-old fixed-lens point and shoot was clearly crisper, with more detail & better dynamic range than the D80. Digital is convenient, but I’m far from convinced that it’s superior.

That said, I will take my digital in caves because it’s so much easier to compose multi-strobe shots when you’ve got the camera back to look at for instant feedback, & with film you have to make educated guesses & pray. Still though, my favorite cave shots were all shot on Kodachrome or Velvia. With film, you come out with 1 or 2 excellent shots, & with digital, you come out with a whole array of acceptable shots that then need to be jacked all around in Lightroom & Photoshop to push them into the”good” territory.

I want a D71000 or 7200 whenever I can find a good price on a used one, but my zeiss & my Canon AE 1 will continue to go everywhere with me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't know what you guys are scanning these slides on but I've never had much luck doing it at home. I can slide film fine but all my slides look like shit: grainy and blurry and weird colors. I've even tried an old dedicated slide scanner. Tips? I'm about to send about 500 slides off to a lab because the test results I got back were approx 10,000 times better than my efforts. Also accepting tips on the best lab at a reasonable price.

As far as clarity, the sensors without an anti-alias filter, especially the foveons can clearly resolve more than most flim stock ever could. But sure, if you look closely enough at a digital file you'll find pixels, which you won't on film. (and yes I know about grain, it's different though).
posted by fshgrl at 8:54 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


When I'm back from my trip I'm going to dig out my Canon 1014XL-S super-8 camera and have some fun.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:11 PM on September 26, 2018


"20MP CCD"?

I work in motion pictures, and 20MP for a sensor the same frame size as a 35mm still frame is really low for today's standards. A 35mm still frame (what we in motion pictures call "VistaVision") is 36x24mm, so something like the Nikon D750, which has a 24MP sensor, 6016 x 4016 photosites, gives you about 167 photosites per mm of sensor.

We just finished post on a TV series ("Un Extraño Enemigo", look for it on Amazon Prime Video in October!) shot on the Red Helium camera, which has a 35MP sensor (8192x4320) at motion picture 35mm width, that is, 30.7x15.8mm, which gives you 266 photosites per mm. It's also good for over 17 stops of dynamic range.

Even the now aging and never particularly highly speced Arri Alexa series of cameras, which still use the same sensor technology as when they were first introduced in 2010, has 121 photosites per mm, and 14.5 stops of dynamic range. It's one of the prefered digital cine cameras even today because it has an extremely film-like look that's easy to handle under different lighting conditions.

Basically, there's no way photochemical film is even close to the best modern digital. Kodak Vision 3 500T motion picture negative film, which is one of the most modern emulsions in existence, at 50% contrast response, is about 40 line pairs per mm, equivalent to 80 photosites per mm in digital, and digital would have more than 50% contrast response, even after debayer. As mentioned above, even the lower resolution digital cameras today have almost twice that.

As for dynamic range, Kodak plots Vision 3 500T's dynamic range over 16 stops in the charts, but the bottom two stops and the highest one are so compressed that they're hardly usable, so the real dynamic range is probably about 13-14 stops, again, quite a bit less than modern digital sensors.

Film is great if you like the look, but it's hard to work with, heavy, runs out, needs processing and lots of work to get dailies, needs digital cleaning to achieve a clean image for the final print, is really expensive, and no, it's not superior to digital in resolution or dynamic range.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:21 PM on September 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I have 2 Nikon Coolscan V’s. Made specifically for 35 mm slide. 4000 dpi. They focus on the film. A slide in a flatbed is gonna be about 2 mm out of focus, depending on the thickness of the slide mount. The Coolscan have good bundles softwre too, but they’re slow as hell & only run on PPC Macs. I keep a G4 PowerBook around so I can run the Nikon software. Vuescan & Silverfast work on intel with the Vuescans, but I hate the interfaces, & the results aren’t as good. They don’t have a Kodachrome setting, & they don’t have th Digital ICE, ROC & GEM, which are indispensable to me. I’m really sad Kodak shelved that technology 10 years ago. When this PowerBook dies, I’ll probably buy silver fast & see how it does. If I can’t grt it to work like the Kodak software, I’ll probably buy Silverfast & get over myself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:21 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


(editing closed on comment above, mods delete plese and thanks)

I have spent a significant (like, more than if we'd oursourced it) monetary amount on superannuated scanners on eBay. Nikon CoolScans are the most expensive, haven't scored one of those. Next after that are one of several badged variants of a Tawainese line most commonly sold in the US as Pacific Imaging Powerslide Xnnn. Their current model is the Powerslide X at about a grand. I would very definitely not reccommend these scanners to, for instance, my dad, but given appropriate patience and experience, they can produce acceptable results. The CoolScan line and the PIE PS line both incorporate a two-pass imaging process that helps to automate the removal of surface debris from the slide surface, somewhat, called ICE. Each frame takes three minutes of mechanical exposure time.

There are a range of low-capacity scanners with slide-and-transparency imaging capacity, some with the infrared debris removal capacity, some not, but mostly with a batch capacity of four frames. These may be acceptable. I have a four-frame non-ICE scanner with a lower resolution than the 3800dpi standard I settled on and it flat out sucks. Resale for it is about $50 on ebay.

ICE, the infrared cleaning thing, is the cost differentiator.

If you have the choice, send your photography archives to a third party provider.
posted by mwhybark at 9:24 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ugh, edit window.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


there's no way photochemical film is even close to the best modern digital

fair enough, but I don't think the frame of reference was the absolute high end in 2019 vs. my parents' blurry, poorly exposed half-frames from 1963. I mean, we mighta been using that frame of reference. But my attention span shortens with each passing year, so I could be totes wrong. I can say I am sure that the scans I am producing are tossing out data and I feel bad about it, as I did upthread.
posted by mwhybark at 9:32 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Film is great if you like the look, but it's hard to work with, heavy, runs out....

Film is great if you like physical objects. Prints you can hold in your hand. Waiting a bit between doing something and getting the reward. There's a zen quality to film, but also anti-zen, because it is fundamentally material.

Film is the shoebox you grab when your house is on fire.

Digital is the hard drive in the second drawer, to which you may have lost the power supply.
posted by juice boo at 9:33 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


In 2015, I decided to pull out my not very used Nikon FM3a and order every 35mm film still available while taking a photo a day*. I am still working through the film stock that I have stored in my mom and brother's garage freezers.

As 1970s Antihero said above, I have enjoyed slowing down with film and thinking a lot more about the whole process of shooting with a manual camera.

My love of photography is in in the shooting. I am not a fan of digital processing. I have huge back loads of my DSLR and camera phone photos waiting for me to import them into Lightroom, add metadata, rate them and process the photos.

I have several good film labs near me (thanks Samys and Fromex) that will for a reasonable price develop, make prints, and digital scans for me - less than a tank of gas or 4-5 Starbucks caffeine sugar bombs. Then I can add my scanned photos to my various online spaces and send the prints out as postcards to friends.

Yes, it is slow. Yes, it is old school. But I am having fun and folks appreciate a real printed photo in the mail.

Now friends & relatives are giving me old film cameras that they find in a back closet. Best of all is the Kodak Compur-Retina from 1948 that was a great-grandma's beloved camera. After a trip to get it cleaned and repaired, it now has a roll of Cinestill bwXX in it.

And thanks for reminding me, I just took today's photo with the Retina.

I look forward to trying out the new/old Ektachrome.



* I have yet to get my hands on a roll of Film Ferrania's P30. Hopefully, I will be able to purchase a roll this fall when their store comes back.
posted by msjen at 9:35 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Basically, there's no way photochemical film is even close to the best modern digital.

Yep! Some required reading. I remember speaking to Mark Power a few years ago who had moved to using a digital back with his 4x5 setup and stiching the frames, as there was "absoutely no comparison" with film on the resolution, dynamic range, convenience, etc. Whenever I give my printer a 4x5 negative, which he scans with an Imacon, he jokes that it has so much detail it's like working with digital.

Film is an absolute PITA. I continue to use it because: large format for camera movements, medium format to get a balance of portability with the benefits of a larger format (actual 6x6, not the "medium format" digital that is barely larger than 35mm which Fuji and Hasselblad are pushing in their new bodies), and unique cameras like the xpan. All the other technicalities, resolution, dynamic range, blah, blah, blah, are not a concern because really what kind of photos are you trying to shoot? I wrote about this recently.

It is nice that Kodak are bringing back some E-6 emulsions, as Fuji are getting out of that market, at least if all the 4x5 Velvia 50 i've been stocking up on is anything to go by - the "new" stock is dated to expire early 2019, so I suspect they're actually selling off the last of their frozen stock from the final batch and will kill off Velvia next year.
posted by lawrencium at 12:45 AM on September 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I started shooting film a few years ago, partially* because I got sick and tired of how pristine and soulless digital photos are.

I picked up an East German Praktica 35mm camera a number of years ago, for this very reason. I ended up shooting six rolls of film before coming to the conclusion that it's a lot more expense for generally worse results than with digital. The camera has sat unused on a shelf for the past few years.
posted by acb at 3:44 AM on September 27, 2018


But there is no sense in which you are "looking at the physical light that you captured" that isn't equally true for a digital photo.

That's true. But, when holding the negative or transparency, you are holding something that was in the same room/physical space with whatever is depicted in the frame.

Straight out of college when I was trying to figure out how to become a photographer, I interned at an agency called Black Star in what used to be called the Photo District in Midtown Manhattan. I say "used to" because when I was there in 2005, there was Black Star...a couple blocks away was Magnum...Aperture was nearby I think...and maybe that was it. The magazine/organization PDN (Photo District News) still exists in 2018, but the Photo District definitely was a thing of the past in 2005.

Anyway, Black Star was a storied agency, run by Howard Chapnick, and which still had in its archive a lot of great Vietnam War coverage, many important civil rights images, the early UPI archives (I think), a lot of the Turnley brothers' apartheid work and the rest of their archives. Most of my job as an intern was going through the two floors of floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets of negatives and slides to decide what should be digitized before getting sent back to photographers, in some cases, or to university collections that had purchased portions of the collection.

There were a lot of copy negs, which were copies of copies of copies of negatives made years ago by a diligent intern or staffer, and those weren't great quality. In the pre-digital age, they allowed a picture to be filed under, for instance, "helicopters" and "vietnam" and "war" and "soldiers." The archive was a total mess, but you could still find some originals among the stacks and my goal was to ferret out some of the most interesting and historically valuable originals I could find. A really good day meant finding an original Charles Moore negative. Among the millions of photos in that building, his photos of the civil rights movement were likely the most historically and financially valuable. You've definitely seen many of his photos.

Let me tell you, it's an intense and powerful feeling to hold between your fingers those tiny 35mm pieces of silver-flecked acetate that were physically, quite literally, just a few feet away from Martin Luther King, Jr., as he was getting arrested or the protesters withstanding the firehoses and dogs attacking them or the white men wielding their clubs in excitement for the violence that would ensue. I still get chills thinking about it.
posted by msbrauer at 6:50 AM on September 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


For me, anyway, all this talk about resolution and dynamic range and fidelity is kind of besides the point. I shoot film exactly because it looks worse than digital. Film is an analog media, and it when you push it past its limitations, it fails in interesting ways, unlike digital which mostly just falls off a cliff.

I don't want to shoot film, I want to abuse film like a cheap amplifier.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:55 AM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite things about film shooting is that I can shoot in medium and large format which is either hugely expensive or impossible with digital. There's no substitute for the geometries of the optics of a 4x5 setup and even my Bronica 6x45 can do things that you can't duplicate digitally unless you spend $30k on a body.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on September 27, 2018


I love my Hasselblad 500 EL/M. I’ve been shooting film since I was 13 but only this year did I make the jump to 120. It’s been great, and I hope someday I can quit my corporate job and work in a nice photo place surrounded by stuff I enjoy.

Lately I’ve been checking out people who make their own film, specifically this person, “Japan Camera Hunter”, who came out with their own film: JCH Street Pan. Some of the results I’ve seen from it look incredible. It’d be super cool to make your own film. Eventually I want to make my own camera.
posted by gucci mane at 9:59 AM on September 27, 2018


Why this had to turn into a film vs. digital debate is beyond me — we're celebrating the (re)release of a slide film, right? Everyone's got their photographic process(es) and each sensor type has its advantages. Whether those advantages are valuable to you is your own calculation. Stop needing to justify your particular practice.

It seems to me like the distinction in outcome between color negative and color slide film is mostly gone. Color darkrooms (in NYC) are almost extinct and color enlarging paper is down to one or two options, so I imagine all color film will switch permanently to scanning and digital printing any minute now. I would say that's already the case, but ICP's color darkroom won't close until they move downtown in the summer and Bushwick Community Darkroom still has one as far as I know. As an aside, I really think real estate prices are one of the biggest killers of urban darkrooms. Film shooters in less crazy real estate markets, are there color darkrooms anywhere in your area?

So film shooters are left only with the aesthetic choice: the vivid color and pop of slide film, or the dynamic range and smoother gradation (in general! in my opinion!) of color negative film. In that sense, we're lucky to have both C-41 and E-6 processes, however diminished, today. It would make total economic sense to eliminate one process and put all the resources and effort into the survivor. I would think slide film is actually more suited to the modern market, since darkroom color printing is on the wane and inverting and color-correcting negative film is a pain compared to postprocessing slide film. If any of the manufacturers could come up with a slide film that approached the look of color negative, with the scanning convenience of using positives instead of negatives, I'd switch in a heartbeat.

I'd be interested to read about how Kodak views the future of the color film market in general, especially given their existing product offerings at 100iso (ektar), 400iso (portra), and 800iso (portra). Assuming new Ektachrome's success, would they bring back any of the 64iso, 200iso, 320iso, or 400iso variants?
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also re: Kodak's bitcoin fiasco, the Kodak brand is split among several different owners. The bitcoin thing was not created by the same company that is producing Ektachrome and all the other film products.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:40 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would love to see more E-6... it's just so much more expensive than C-41, and I think that's because it's more "specialized". In Portland, there are 5-6 labs that can process C-41, but I think only 1 of them can do E-6, so it ends up costing the cost to develop. And of course, getting prints made are by definition digital.

Portland does have at least 1 lab that does optical color printing from C-41, but that's expensive. Like, $20 a roll print and develop. Even though it's digital prints, I go to the lab that's $7 a roll print and develop because $7!
posted by juice boo at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I was in college, High Speed Ektachrome (ASA 160) pushed to 400 was the goto color film for interior work without flash. The grain was prominent but it was really the only game in town for a long time.
posted by tommasz at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2018


Grimp0teuthis: "Also re: Kodak's bitcoin fiasco, the Kodak brand is split among several different owners. The bitcoin thing was not created by the same company that is producing Ektachrome and all the other film products."

Yeah Kodak Alaris, the company that makes consumer film, is actually a UK company now and largely owned by the UK Kodak Pension Plan.
posted by octothorpe at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well, there's good news for film lovers in that shooting film is enjoying a bit of a resurgence—hence why Ektachrome has beem revived in the first place. It's a good thing too, because I think analog photography is an artform that deserves to keep going for centuries to come—but the tools and the media are beyond the reach of most individual artists
to create, so there need to be enough people who want it to make it worth producing.

Now, if you want to get real old, it's possible to do it all yourself. People are out there making their own collodion and pinhole cameras and all that, doing their own development and printing. It's not for the faint of heart (well, pinhole cameras are actually pretty easy) but if you have the time and inclination it seems pretty cool.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:22 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


lhauser: "I don't miss having to scrape up the money for film and processing and throwing half of the pictures away."

Film (at the 35mm level anyways) is crazy expensive compared to digital. I'm still using my ancient D80 and have a couple N6000 sitting on the shelf for if/when but every time I glance in their direction I think of the $15-20 it's going to cost all in to get results back and grab the D80 instead.

And digital enables work I just couldn't manage with film. Like I shoot a lot of single camera stereo and those never worked out with film for me.

I will say though that I miss the ability film had to handle long exposures. I've got some gorgeous 3-5 minute C-41 exposures that I haven't been able to come close to with digital (though that may be my inadequate equipment).
posted by Mitheral at 8:16 PM on September 27, 2018


Film (at the 35mm level anyways) is crazy expensive compared to digital.

I think it kinda depends? Digital is cheap if you buy used gear and then just stick with it, but it can definitely get expensive fast if you fall prey to Gear Aquisition Syndrome. One can easily spend $1,000 a pop on lenses alone. Analog gear is comparatively cheap.

Also, have you looked into noise averaging techniques for those long exposures? Astrophotographers get some very clean images in very poor lighting, that way.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:23 AM on September 28, 2018


I big reason decided to take up film again was when one of my kids pointed my almost brand new and expensive waterproof digital camera at the sun. That burned a spot in the sensor which shows up as a dark spot in all photos. Meanwhile I had a bunch of nice film cameras sitting around collecting dust, and I could buy a lot of film and developing for the cost of replacing the camera my kids wrecked. I still use digital cameras, but I always take film shots as well.

I think the biggest problem I have with digital photography is that I just end up with a hard drive full of photo files that never get looked at or printed out. It is nice to have physical photos again, even if there are always a few bad shots on a roll.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:53 AM on September 28, 2018


@juice boo: In Portland, there are 5-6 labs that can process C-41, but I think only 1 of them can do E-6, so it ends up costing the cost to develop. And of course, getting prints made are by definition digital.

Portland does have at least 1 lab that does optical color printing from C-41, but that's expensive. Like, $20 a roll print and develop. Even though it's digital prints, I go to the lab that's $7 a roll print and develop because $7!


If you’re talking about Portland, OR (and if you are then you probably already know this, but just in case you don’t!) then Citizen’s Photo can do E-6. And I imagine you’re talking about Blue Moon Camera in the second paragraph just because I know they do that off the top of my head. Those are the only two camera development places I’ll go to in the city, because their people have done nothing but an incredible job with my photos and have been so extremely friendly and nice to me for YEARS. I went to a place in NW one time and they treated me like a moron when I asked some typical question and so I never went back because I’m petty ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and if you’re not in Portland, OR then just forget I posted this lol
posted by gucci mane at 3:25 PM on September 29, 2018


It is clear that everyone on this thread knows way more than me about photography. However, even if current digital tech can support more "photosites" per unit area than film (new term for me: have to use it in conversation this week), it is trivial (roughly meaning: "costs less than a thousand dollars") to increase the film size to something that blows digital away. Drawbacks: you have to hump a view camera, tripod, film holders, and--what do I know?--maybe that thing with the flash powder that goes **WHOMPH** and sends up a little mushroom cloud. Come to think of it, that last one isn't really a drawback.

Anyway, I have a friend that uses view cameras with mostly black and white film and does his own platinum prints and I am always amazed at how he can choose a tiny little part of the frame and print the most amazing picture from it, but I think lately he's become kind of tired of the humping and does more digital.

Thanks to everyone for all the info.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:28 PM on September 29, 2018


Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: "I think it kinda depends? Digital is cheap if you buy used gear and then just stick with it, but it can definitely get expensive fast if you fall prey to Gear Aquisition Syndrome"

I've never spent a $1000 on anything photo related. But yes, I was talking about on a per image basis because for me that far outweighs the marginal increase in the price of used digital equipment vs 35mm. Though I shoot Nikon so with the exception of most bodies all the film era stuff is still usable with digital workflows and therefor hasn't deprecated the way abandoned film systems like Canon pre-autofocus or old Minolta have.

It is so artistically freeing to be able to try a dozen different exposures/exact framing/strobe ratios etc. Back in the 35mm days I could easily crank through 2-3 rolls a week but still be constrained by the expense of something I wasn't making money with. Now I can take hundreds of pictures a day of things like bees and be able to pick out the ones where all the uncontrollable variables came together.

And some times it allows pure chance to strike like this capture of a spider I didn't see until examining the photos later while taking pictures of flowers. I might have made that same fortuitous capture in the film days but I greatly increased my chances by taking an order of magnitude more pictures with digital. Or even try to get pictures of dragonflies in flight.

fimbulvetr: "I think the biggest problem I have with digital photography is that I just end up with a hard drive full of photo files that never get looked at or printed out."

I really turned this around when I started my daily 365 project a few years ago. All the images I select out to feature on my tumblr go into a single folder that my screen saver pulls from so I see a selection of my best shots taken on any given day every time I log in.
posted by Mitheral at 6:49 PM on September 29, 2018


I look at the current prices for the Nikon F4 and go squee! Because it's still one damned fine camera, and will work with every Nikon lens ever made! (well. AI bayonet mount, and not screw mount. but 50 years' worth of lenses.)

F4 fan here too: I went a bit eBay mad when I realised how cheap some of my dream film cameras had become and found myself with an FE, F100, F4 and an EOS 3. They're all pretty lovely (that eye-AF on the EOS 3 is still stellar), but it's the F4 I keep coming back to.

I also think the "better than digital" argument is a bit of an apples/oranges. It's similar to how CDs are really unarguably "better" than vinyl at capturing sound in high fidelity, but people persist in preferring how vinyl albums make them feel.

35mm is like that for me, too. I got the cameras because I realised I had filled hard drives with pictures of my infant son, but had printed out maybe 8 of them and had nothing for him to discover in a box in his 50s. Film fixed that fast, and now I have multiple albums. And some of the absolute greatest shots of him yet.

It's damn expensive though: my local developer has closed, so now I'm looking at £15 a film for print and scan. That's probably unsustainable for me, sadly.
posted by bonaldi at 4:24 AM on September 30, 2018


It is trivial (roughly meaning: "costs less than a thousand dollars") to increase the film size to something that blows digital away. Drawbacks: you have to hump a view camera, tripod, film holders, and--what do I know?

And a lens, a loupe, a dark cloth, a spirit level, possibly some filters, a cable release (or two), a light meter.

If you're going to jump into large format to take advantage of the increase in resolution (which is really *not* a reason to shoot large format BTW, but whatever) you're looking at roughly double your estimate of $1,000 as the tripod will need to be heavy, the view camera will need to be solid, the lenses should be of reasonable quality, you *will* need a loupe, and so on.

Oh yeah, and each frame of film you shoot is going to cost you $5 minimum, even if you self develop. Closer to $10 if you're shooting colour. Of course, you usually only shoot one or two frames of a scene, but you're still spending $ each time you do.
posted by lawrencium at 1:34 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Photography in the 21st century is fast-changing and multifaceted, and we are moving beyond the “digital versus film” debate. Artists didn't stop painting in oil when photography became possible in the early 1800s, and there is no reason to think that film and digital photography can't coexist. Although a photographer's work may be influenced by his choice of tools, the vision of the artist behind the lens will always be the most important factor.

While there are many high-quality print publications that focus on digital techniques and tools in photography, the number that focus on film-based photography is extremely low. The resurgence of film has spawned the need for easily accessible information on a multitude of subjects that were, for a time, thought to be obsolete. Currently available film cameras and material, light metering, darkroom techniques, the latest news about products in production... the list could go on and on.
From the PhotoKlassik International magazine.
posted by gucci mane at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2018


Of equal interest to me, but probably nobody else the way this conversation has gone, but the Super 8 stock went on sale today. Kodak's new Super 8 camera is what sparked my interest in film again. I've mentioned it before, but in 2016 my partner and I took a grand touring vacation for a milestone birthday of hers. With her being afraid to fly, we built an itinerary that took us to and through Europe using only trains and ocean liners. What started as a joke about being an "old-timey" vacation turned into a theme. No phones (lasted as long as hitting the dock in Southampton when we couldn't find the train station), and film photography only (that one stuck).

I emailed with a Kodak PR guy to see if they were going to have their camera ready by our trip, but sadly it wasn't going to even be close. I got an old Canon 310 on ebay. At that time, the only color reversal Super 8 stock was a small run of a rebranded Agfa. I later asked the Kodak guy if they were planning on re-releasing an E-6 Super 8, and he just said no.

I loved shooting with that camera, my girlfriend laughs at my habit of always panning from right to left to capture a wide scene, and my test roll was of our little dachshund who didn't have much longer with us. But after the Agfa sold out, I figured that little blip of happiness was done. You could still shoot Super 8, but you'd have to send the negatives out for scanning instead of setting up the projector. Which is almost as fun as shooting!

It's godawful expensive, Kodak is charging $40 for a 50' roll, which lasts about 3 minutes. But I'm still glad its back.
posted by hwyengr at 1:33 PM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Listings are up on B&H and Adorama. Thirteen bucks a roll before processing.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:03 AM on October 4, 2018


(Exactly the same as they're charging for Provia)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:04 AM on October 4, 2018


and therefor hasn't deprecated the way abandoned film systems like Canon pre-autofocus or old Minolta have.


Except you can adapt those old lenses to most mirrorless systems and now they are going for crazy prices on eBay.

If anyone is interested in more film like digital check out the Sigma cameras with the Foveon sensors. Appallingly designed as cameras and they keep changing mounts (why???) but the pictures look like film. They are beautiful. And it's a film like experience shooting most of them. One day I will buy one.
posted by fshgrl at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2018


Oh yeah, and each frame of film you shoot is going to cost you $5 minimum, even if you self develop. Closer to $10 if you're shooting colour. Of course, you usually only shoot one or two frames of a scene, but you're still spending $ each time you do.

Your numbers seem pretty high. Arista.edu 4x5 is about a dollar a sheet for boxes of 50 and I develop myself using HC-110 which costs about a dollar for a 6 sheet batch using the MOD45 holder in a 1 liter tank. So each shot of B&W is about $1.16 a shot. I also do my own scanning so that's "free" if you don't count how much the scanner cost.
posted by octothorpe at 3:58 PM on October 8, 2018


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