Skip to comments.For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas
Posted on 12/30/2010 4:04:06 AM PST by Second Amendment First
PARSONS, Kan. An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwaynes Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful color film and still the most beloved.
That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography is scheduled to come to an end on Thursday when the last processing machine is shut down here to be sold for scrap.
In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here, transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.
In the span of minutes this week, two such visitors arrived. The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop. The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kan., on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.
The artist, Aliceson Carter, 42, was incredulous as she watched the railroad worker, Jim DeNike, 53, loading a dozen boxes that contained nearly 50,000 slides into his old maroon Pontiac. He explained that every picture inside was of railroad trains and that he had borrowed money from his fathers retirement account to pay for developing them.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I still have two of the old metal ones taped to my Canon AE-1 camera strap. Oops, telling my age.
Willie, is that you?
I, too, have a roll in my Pentax. What to do?
The aluminum ones, or the older yellow paint?
And what to do with the camera and lenses? It used to be every shot was framed and calculated, now with digital I mostly shoot video and take snapshots off it. Saves me the frustration of the “shutter” delay.
That’s where he’s been for the last few months.
I had a lot my digital photos stored on CDs. The disks have gone bad, and the computer can no longer read the files, so I have lost several years worth of photos.
I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat, but they don’t know it yet. The best way to save photos is to print them out. There is no guarantee that digitally stored files will be readable in the future, as I have found from sad peraonal experience.
On the other hand, we don’t have a long track record on photos printed by ink jet printers. Will they still be of good quality 20 years from now? It may be that 20 years from now, we will wish we still had Kodachrome. We know that pictures taken using that technology will last.
Yea, I got lenses for Canon SLR’s that won’t work on my AF body. And my Élan 7E was a great body. Whisper quiet shutter/motor drive, and an eye sensor in the viewfinder that would focus the exposure sensor where you were looking. I had that body about 2 years before I got my EOS 20D. It’s weird, the shutter system on the digital is noisier than the 7E. I can’t fathom why.
The lesson here is that redundancy is key. 1TB USB hard disk drives are under $75 nowadays, and you can easily store all of your CD media on a disk that size with plenty of room to spare.
Hard disk drives have MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) ratings measured up to 10 years, and if you keep on top of it, you can continue to migrate those pictures to newer disks in the future.
That being said, I agree that printed pictures are more valuable. Sad that Kodachrome is going the way of the dodo, but the writing was on the wall a while ago. I developed my last roll of film back in the late 90s and have been digital ever since.
RIP old reliable.
I hate to interrupt all the quicky-posty Freepers who will invariably rush to announce that they still have their K1000s and AE1s etc. but this paragraph, at the end, struck me as very odd:
“In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwaynes wearing shirts with the epitaph: The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.
Why did it take three tries to find an SLR that “worked”?
In any case, if it is possible to fall in love with a photographic apparatus, Kodachrome and the Nikon F3 were my first and last.
I (we) cheated - we went digital, we abandoned depth for speed and efficiency - and so she left us with bright, saturated, stunning, fading memories.
Maybe I am crazy, but is it not a fitting allegory, and a fitting end?
I use multiple backups, both usb and HD; the more redundancy the better. I doubt the inkjet prints will last very long. Perhaps a return to tintype is the solution.
Kodachrome may be gone but we will always have that great Simon & Garfunkel song to remember it by.
With digital you need to follow the 3, 2, 1 rule for archiving.
Three copies on two different types of medium, with one copy stored off site. I go a little beyond and keep one copy on an external hard disk, then use two different brands and types of DVDs, finally back up the important photos using Jungledisk to web storage on Amazon’s S3 service.
I also have many photos printed on real photo paper, rather than use ink jets. Most Walgreens have Fuji Frontier photo processing machines that will take jpegs and make real prints that look great.
The makers of diabetic test strips provide a film can sized canister that has an attached snap on lid that is equal to or better than the film canisters.
Find a diabetic friend and have him save them for you
Here in Rochester, NY the bulldozer is busy with Kodak property to reduce their tax base.
I had wondered about that also. Especially in a photo shop.
We’ve migrated from a society of sentimentality and keepsakes to a society of disposal and short-term use. My children won’t see nearly as much of me as they will of my parents and those before them since most of my photos are on password-protected disk drives with high-level encryption.
It’s a hassle to continuously migrate your pictures to new devices, but continuously backing them up will ensure that they last forever.
There are also optical disks out there with a guaranteed 30-year life span, and some high-level backup systems use DVDs with protective cases that are guaranteed for 50 years. They’re available to the public, but be prepared to pay the price for archival. Disk drives are better IMO.
Get yourself a couple 1TB external USB drives to store your images and files on.
It all depends on how you manage your digital media. BTW: I think you meant to respond to another poster.
Re: lifetime of inkjet prints
I saw some beautiful (and expensive) prints of artist paintings and asked a gallery employee how they were made. He said with a large inkjet printer.
The lifetime of a print depends on the ink and paper, not the method of putting the ink onto the paper.
(at least I still have all my beautiful slides)
I liked K200
The song was banned in England.
Kodachrome was a brand name and banned because it sounded like a commercial.
One of my favorite songs. I remember diggin’ to it on the radio when I was a kid. The melody is just infectious, and it captures the glorious feeling of summer just perfectly.
Sad to see the film age come to an end. I’ve been into photography ever since my Parents bought me a Polaroid instant camera, you know, the one where you pulled the picture out of the front of the camera and had to wait a minute or so for it to develop before you pulled the paper off of it. I have a Canon T2i now, but I do miss the old cameras.
At least there’s still E-6.
Yieks. One of the most disturbing films I have watched.
Ink is ...well, INK.
It isn’t silver emulsion & will never achieve the depth of that medium.
I can still use my enlarger if I can covert the digital medium to film, but again, ink is just ink
The best job I ever had was working in the film processing biz back in the 80’s.
I worked at a plant on the left coast that did all the film that was dropped off at Targets across the nation. What a fun gig!
I never thought I’d see the day.
I have about a dozen rolls of film that I never had developed, I was wondering the same thing...What do I do?
Some of the new Digital SLRs can use the old lenses. Do a search on the internet and see if you're lenses can be used. Unfortunately for me, Minolta lenses aren't one of them. I have a couple of thousand dollars invested in Minolta equipment that's practically useless now.
I heard about CD rot about a decade ago. Luckily, I transferred everything to a hard drive, I now have my pictures saved 3 times on 3 hard drives, the newest being purchased 1 year ago, I figure if I buy a new hard drive every 5 years or so, retiring the oldest drive as I go, I hava a shot of keeping my photos.
I still have some aluminum and maybe some yellow. If i remember from my child hood that Kodachrome had a black lid, PlusX, a brown lid and SuperX a green lid on the yellow cans.
A tearful bump for reference.
Archival inkjet printing uses pigment based ink, I know this is a fact for black and I think they have color pigments now.
A pigment based ink should last longer than traditional color photography.
I love old school photography.
I love Kodachrome. But taking money out of
your retirement funds to pay for processing is
The song Kodachrome was a Paul Simon solo effort.
Garfunkel is not on the record. I once heard a radio
station in Youngstown, Ohio play it four times in an
hour during a live remote broadcast (guess they left
most of their records back in the studio)
I know a place that can probably recalibrate your Minolta’s meter to the new batteries. (I have two SRT’s that were so modified) Freepmail me if interested.
At least they entrusted the last roll of Kodachrome produced to one of the best photographers in the world. A fitting end for Kodachrome.
The really sad thing is that Paul Simon declined to be photographed on the last roll of Kodachrome. It would have been one of the most fitting possible photographs, and he blew it.
Better quality USB flash drives might be an answer. I ran one of mine through the washer and dryer and still could access the photos I had stored on it. I also have an external hard drive, but that has the same potential for failure as do any hard drive inside your computer. I am now copying my photos from my external hard drive to flash drives which I will store in my safety deposit box at the bank. Another possible solution is "cloud based" storage backing up your photos to a remote server via the Internet. There are various services available for about $60 per year.
Another problem is the "jpg" digital photo format itself. The "jpg" format is a "lossy" compression that reduces the massive file size generated by your digital camera to a more manageable size. However this compression is done by selectively tossing out data. "jpg" files re-compress every time they are closed and eventually start to loose enough data that the photos degrade in quality. Newer formats like "jpg 2000" are non lossy, but would require you to convert every one of your photos to this format. To avoid the re-compression problem make your archive copy immediately when downloading the photos from your camera and keep these archive files in a safe place and unopened.
Eventually the "jpg" photo format will be changed to something else so it will in the future likely be necessary to migrate your digital files to some new format just like we have to move our 8mm movies to digital format. However given the popularity of "jpg" photos I expect that format to be around quite a while.
Bring back punched paper tape for archival! ;-)
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