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 ...
Photo processors made a boatload of money off of me over the years. I love the flexibility of digital, but my Nikon is nowhere near as simple as my old Minolta XG-1.
Question: Do any of the digital cameras offer the instant shutter of my old Minolta SLR? This delay is one of the most annoying things ever.
Would SD cards also be acceptable? I am in the process of scanning old family photos and was thinking of using SD cards for storage.
Like many, many people, I have a box of family photos passed down several generations to me.
Each generation seems to have added to the collection and passed it on. They will go to my son in a few years, then to his son.
Some of the photos are over one hundred years old. The quality of some of them is quite amazing, considering their age.
Through the generations they were looked at, returned to the box and left on a closet shelf or in a drawer for years - no maintenance required.
This quaint tradition will probably end with the phasing out of film and the move to digital. A small photo is a stand-alone document - easily viewed, easily stored, easily transported. No external power or equipment is required.
A CD or other digital record requires specific, complex equipment to read the record, to view it and to create a hard copy. None of it easily stored in a cigar box to be passed down decade after decade.
Further - Not only do digitally stored records deteriorate over time, but as technology advances the ablity to easily read records stored on old technology is lost.
Digital has the advantage of being convenient at the beginning of the process. After the image is captured it losses that advantage.
A couple months ago I sent them a roll of K64 from an old Argus I found on eBay, having no idea what might be on it.
Sadly, they sent it back saying it was too damaged, presumably through age, to process. I suspect that some of the sprocket holes were torn out.
Maybe I should send it to a cryogenic storage facility (alog with my head).
I shoot film and digital these days. A good compromise for people who still like to use the old cameras is to get a scanner that scans film and get your film developed at Wal Mart, tell them “develop only”, scan in your negatives yurself. You can send the images you want printed off to wallies for printing, you have a film original and they only charge $2 or so for doing the film.
For those with a lot of glass that doesn’t get as much use these days in a digital world, look into getting a micro 4/3 camera from Olympus or Panasonic. Available on eaby for cheap are adapters that will allow the use of almost every lens on the micro 4/3 gear. I got myself an Olympus Pen EP1 for Christmas and it works amazingly well with my old Zuiko, Zeiss or other screwmounts, and Minolta MD lenses.
I haavent seen any, but I haven’t looked. Maybe some Pro models. If not action shots must be off a video. The delay while the digital hithes himself before the shutter trips, lead be to think a balk and would make it unsuitable for action shots. Also do tthey make a digital back for some mid-size real camera?
Canon went all out to make the shutter, mirror, and film drive on the Elan II and 7E quiet. For example, they eliminated much of the noise in the film transport by replacing most of the gears with an elastomeric toothed belt.
Digital SLRs have the same issues with the shutter and mirror (although not, of course, the film drive) as film SLRs. And the vertical travelling shutter that all makers use now is very similar to the ones used on the last generations of film cameras like the Elans.
Current Canon DSLRs have shutter/mirror mechanisms with various noise levels. It’s a function of how fast they decide to make the blades move (which determines the maximum flash sync speed), how long-lived they intend the shutter to be, and how quickly they decide the particular camera model should respond to the shutter press and return to reflex viewing.
Some Canon digital EOSes are quieter than others, and it’s hard to predict it on the basis price or intended level of user. If they haven’t pulled the shutter/mirror quieting tricks they did on the later Elan models, I’m not sure why.
It is true that they have incorporated certain features that can be used, or are intended, for special situations requiring quiet operation, such as live view and delayed mirror drop.
[[Canon FX,FTBn -> Olympus 2n’s -> Canon EOS Rebel XT, EOS 3 -> Canon EOS Rebel XT -> Canon EOS 50D]]
There’s tons of stuff on virtually unplayable media. Video from the 50’s, 8-tracks, 5 1/4” floppies, punch cards, etc.
Danger of digital is it could all go bye-bye with a flip of the switch, or the censor’s keystroke.
A number of things go wrong on a camera if it has been sitting unused for a number of years, especially if it was in an unfavorable environment.
Shutter and winder mechanisms go bad due to lubricants evaporating or gumming up, rust forming on shutter or diaphragm blades; plastics warp or become brittle and break; foam rubber (e.g. mirror dampers and light baffles) turn into sticky goo. Meter cells corrode, and mercury types are NLA (some adapters to modern types are available though); lenses and viewfinders cloud up from mildew.
Did your Polaroid film come with the little brush in a tube that smelt of vinegar (or was it elderberries—I forget)?
Holy crap! You just made my week. Please tell me more, here or in freepmail. Thank you!
A colleague of mine worked at a fairly big lab in the Chicago area. They employed blind folks to do the unloading of the film cassettes (in a darkroom, of course) and taping the film into large rolls for the processing machines. Makes sense, no?
One night, a (sighted) employee left the light on in the film unloading room. Next morning, the lab was opened by one of the blind workers and he began his duties. Hilarity ensued.
Heck already! Assuming the stuff isn’t broken, you can still take pics with it!
I don’t have an Kodachome film, but do have a half dozen mailers in an old camera bag.
Minolta is out of business. I can’t get batteries for it and it needs a good cleaning and adjustment. It cost me more to have it cleaned than the camera body costs new.
There was a big stink about the impermanence of the color from the prints from the first generation or two of Epson Photo inkjet printers. Users (such as myself) noticed prints going yellow with age. Some of them documented their experience and eventually Epson took notice of the bad press and set about to solve the problem. They commissioned an independent testing lab to test their old and newer inks, and began to publish results on the permanence of the prints from their newer inks and papers. Various theories on the degradation mechanism have been propounded, including UV (the classic mechanism for all color materials) and Ozone.
There is a distinction between the two basic types of inkjet inks: One is dye-based, and the other is pigment-based. Pigment based inks are more color stable, it is said, but are more expensive and difficult to accommodate in an inkjet system; until recently, they tended to exhibit a slightly smaller color gamut also. If you look at the current Epson line, you can see a distinct price division between the dye-based and pigment-based inkjet photo printers.
**Thats where hes been for the last few months.**
If yuou are talking about Willie Green, he has been banned.
He did not take JR’s warnings.
“Everyting I’ve placed on CDs in the last 10 years is gone.”
Further on, rarestia added:
“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. Theyre available to the public, but be prepared to pay the price for archival. Disk drives are better IMO.”
The problem with CDR’s vis-a-vis “commercially pressed” CD’s is that CDR’s use dyes to register the “1’s” and “0’s” on the disc, instead of having them physically “pressed” as commercial CD’s do.
I believe that what happens over time is that the dyes can fade, making it impossible for the computer to ascertain whether a specific bit is “on” or “off” — hence, errors and unreadability. Also, the reflective coating on the upper portion of the disc can get corroded, again, interfering with the proper decoding of the data.
If you’re burning to CDR’s, you’ve got to use the best “blanks” available and I suggest that you also burn at low speeds, no greater than 4x. Once burned, store them in “mini jewel cases” (I prefer the ones with “black backs” to further limit “light intrusion”), and keep them away from direct sunlight.
For “regular” (consumer-priced) media, I’ve found Verbatim blanks to be the best. Buy them in 100-disc spindles from a place like newegg.com (no financial interest). DON’T buy “the cheap no-name or house CDR’s” just because you can get them at a better price.
You can also get “gold plated” blanks such as these:
Of course, they cost more but these are “archival grade” blanks — the gold actually enhances the longevity of the discs.
I have several thousand homemade CD’s, mostly music CD’s starting from 2003, and have yet to pick an older one from storage that was unplayable.
When I first experimented with burning CD’s back around 1997 or so, I made a few copies of my system software CDs and just set them down on the corner of my desk. There they have lain, totally unprotected (no slip cases) for 13 years (sometimes I’m slow to put stuff away, grin). I just took one of them and put it in my DVD/CD drive on this Mac. The disk “mounted right up” in the Finder, and anything I tried to open and check looked just fine!
For archiving to hard drive media, here’s a gadget that makes things easy:
These are cheap and easy to use. There are even some “dual docks” that mount two hard drives at once.
For those who need speeds faster than USB, there is a firewire800/eSATA version called the “Voyager” from Other World Computing.
Get a dock and a few hard drives of your choice, and it’s easy to create and access multiple copies of data. Going to the “dock paradigm” frees you from being tied to external drives each in its own enclosure. There is always the possibility that the enclosure (and not the drive inside) can go bad on you. By “breaking this link” between drive and enclosure (hence, the “dock”), you have more options and it’s easier to overcome problems. If a drive goes bad, get a new drive. If the _dock_ goes bad, just get another dock. Store the bare drives in anti-static bags or other containers. You can even store them offsite.
Umm, what do you mean by instant?
Also, I presume you’re talking about a manual focus camera.
Part of the delay you see in DSLRs is from the autofocus process, which in most modes must finalize the focus after you do the (initial stage of) the button press.
If you switch to manual focus, the two generations of camera come closer to parity.
There is still the matter of autoexposure, and this does add a little extra time to the response.
The more expensive DSLRs (such as the EOS-1 series) pull every mechanical and electronic trick in the book to minimize the exposure delay. Go to a camera shop and play with one of these for a minute. Also, switch off autofocus to make it a fair test.
How old is your Minolta? The SRTx0x series had a horizontal travelling focal plane shutter that is easily beaten by the vertical-travelling shutters of SLRs of the past 20 years or so. You can tell this by looking up the maximum electronic flash sync speed. If it’s 1/60 or less, it’s a horizontal travelling shutter. If it’s 1/90, it might be either. If it’s over 1/90, it’s a vertical travelling shutter.
By the way, an amusing artifact of the focal plane shutter is sometimes called “motion distortion.” Old sheet-film cameras often had slow-moving vertical-travel focal plane shutters whose horizontal slits would travel from bottom to top. The exposure of any part of the film frame could be short by making the slit betweeen leading and trailing curtains be narrow, but the overall time for completion of the shot would be large, perhaps 1/20 second. Therefore, a picture of a race car in motion might be sharp; but it would make the car, and especially its wheels, appear to be leaning forward.
I was a slow convert to digital. The shutter delay is an avoidable issue on digital SLRs in the last five years. If you are partially depressed and focused, there is no delay more than any other auto film camera of recent vintage.
The real trial is the low light levels of the view finders due to the chips being sized smaller and giving the 1.5 lens factor in most cameras. If money was no object, for that issue alone I would buy a full frame camera in digital like a Nikon FX series for the light gathering of the viewfinder alone.
Not sure that Kodachrome was the “first successful” color film, as I think color negative had already appeared. Kodachrome — like all “chrome” films — was reversal film: the negative that comes out of the camera is chemically processed to become a high-contrast positive print. The main difference between Kodachrome and other reversal films was that the color dyes — volatile and very sensitive to temperature — were kept separate from the film itself, in the processing lab, where they could be carefully temperature controlled. That’s why the colors in Kodachrome were always so saturated and brilliant.
Color negative film yields a far less brilliant print, but the advantage was that you had a template — the negative — from which you could continue to make a number of prints before wearing out the negative completely. However, in terms of industry standards, pretty much all “high end” photography — commercial table-top photography, fashion photography, etc. — were all shot with Kodachrome. Low-end shoots whose clients would want to make multiple copies — weddings, birthdays, actor headshots, etc. — were usually shot with negative.
Wow! Digital photography and image manipulation applications like Photoshop have changed everything!
Same basic technology. You have to guess which kind of interface (USB vs. SD card slot) will be around longer.
See all those big white lenses at sporting events around the world? They all have Canon EOS-1D's hung on their hind ends.
Sure do. But not for action photograpy. And they run from $10K for a back up to $30K+ for an entire camera.
No noticeable delay between press and click.
Part of the delay you see in DSLRs is from the autofocus process
The camera is a first-generation Minolta Maxxum. I'm used to the half-press for autofocus, but the final press (or full press in manual mode) still results in an instant shutter release.
I think I'll have to go play if you say there are digitals out there like this.
[I had a lot my digital photos stored on CDs. The disks have gone bad,]
I rotate my backups onto portable hard disk drives. With 2TB drives presently <$90 it’s cheaper than using writable DVD’s and a whole lot faster too.
Haven’t lost an image since going digital in 2002.
Aw, maaaaaaa. Why'dja do that?
lyrics by Paul Simon
It looks like Willie picked a fight with the wrong guy...
Yup, and Willie had the gall to put his opus on his about page. It was something to the effect that his views of conservation were not welcomed here anymore.
It's worth about $35..now, if that! Ha!!
I burnt a lot of film thru that baby...Always clicked when you pressed the button.
Digital so much easier....but I'm gonna miss KodaChrome 64
I bet some of those pic's are still around!!
I have told people for years not to do what you did.
What is worse? Putting all the photos on CD’s & then DESTROYING all the originals.
I have photos of my father- who would have been 102 this year & his father, etc, which are priceless to me.
i would NEVER destroy them, even if I did spend the time to put them on CD’s.
When people realize that their wedding photos & first born kid photos are deteriorating, they will be very angry.,
I still have those ‘one time use’ cameras & I have photos in them that need developing.
Are you telling me that I now cannot get them developed???
Please advise. IMMEDIATELY!!
I have also lost many years of digital photos too. The ones from earlier on that were taken with a film camera are still around. I have a feeling that because we are in a digital age, knowledge and history will lost because the data will be corrupt or become unreadable. The end of the motion picture Escape from LA comes to mind.
I still have those ‘one time use’ cameras & I have photos in them that need developing.
Are you telling me that I now cannot get them developed???
Please advise. IMMEDIATELY!!
I still have CDs that are as old as the technology that read fine. I have other newer CDs that are unreadable because I didn't take proper care of them. If printed photos are treated the way some people treat their CDs they would not last long either.
I also have all my photo files existing on my computer, on a backup disk and on my pocket drive. Each time my operating system is updated, I ensure fresh copies are made.
They did not say 35mm film only the kodak Slide Film. 35mm can still be processed.
So you can tell the photo has been taken. My little Samsung Digimax L60 allows you to turn the shutter sound off. There is no NEED for a shutter, and no actual sound, they just put it there so people wouldn't gripe about not being able to tell when their photo had been captured.
Bit of trivia: for years, SLR’s weren't allowed in courtrooms. You had to have something no louder than the shutter on Leica’s rangefinder cameras to avoid disturbing the court.
There is a need for a shutter on these digital bodies...
Really depends on the type of digital camera and its use. All of my DSLR bodies have shutters, even though you can open the shutter and use live view or video mode on my newer bodies. There are a couple of good reasons for the shutter - one is to protect the sensor from very bright lights (the sun through a telephoto lens will cook a sensor in very short order). It also serves as a dust cover, and provides very precise timing for exposure. Yes, digital cameras can perform "shutter speed" electronically, but I'm not aware of any that can shoot at 1/4000 or 1/8000 of a second without the shutter mechanism.
Nikon's got some speed demons as well. Actually, even my 5DII, judged to be sluggish by today's DSLR standards, is pretty doggone fast. And my 7D comes very close to the speed of those 1-series Canons. It can also be seen with a big white lens attached from time to time. :-)
I got my first Polaroid camera in the mid ‘60s. It was B&W only. Each picture was developed with a little roll shaped brush that put a layer of pink gelatin developer on the photo. I still have the photos and they are in very good shape. They look like little tintypes.
For anyone who wants to have a permanent portrait of themselves for posterity, I would recommend having a B&W photo shot on film and then printed on archival paper. I have an original photo of my 2 times great-grandfather (he was born in 1799) taken around 1855 or so that is still in near perfect condition.
No, those are a different kind of film than Kodachrome (which is slide film, process K-14), the disposables are loaded with color PRINT film (negatives, process C-41).
It's only one type of SLIDE film, Kodachrome, that we will no longer be able to get developed. And the other types of slide films, Ektachrome and all the other process E-6 films will still have developing available. Just no more K-14.
But you SHOULD get your C-41 print/negative film stuff developed soon, it does deteriorate and color shift with age when shot and not developed. About three years ago, I found several rolls of print film that had sat in a box undeveloped for over seventeen years. Upon processing, they were DRASTICALLY grainier and fuzzier than they would have been if I'd had them developed promptly. (It WAS worth developing them, despite the degraded images, in case you're wondering.)
I have just spent every spare moment of the last 5-6 weeks digging through uncounted boxes of my stuff in storage, looking for any undeveloped rolls of Kodachrome I might have. I finally quit last night when it was too late to make the final Fed Ex shipment to Dwaynes. I found around two dozen scattered rolls of unprocessed print film (including, to my horror, the only roll I shot of Halley's Comet in 1986! Shot on Kodacolor 1000, notorious even back then for fogging if left undeveloped beyond its expiration date--wonder if there's even any point 24 years later?), but no Kodachrome... but I STRONGLY suspect that several rolls I shot of a couple of bands back in 1990 WERE on Kodachrome. The rolls from those gigs never turned up during my search, some day they WILL surface, and there will be no way to get them developed. Lost forever...
RIP, Kodachrome, you were THE reference point for everything photographic....
I saved the metal ones for years - yellow tops and green (Tri-X) tops - as well as plain ones. My wife uses them for seed containers in our little greenhouse. I shot a lot of that stuff in Vietnam, mostly Tri-X and Kodacolor-X.
No, not really. A Lens Cap serves as a lens cap. You can burn through the shutter of a film SLR with a telephoto lens pointed at the sun, too. Especially on the focal plane shutters most film SLRs used. It was rubberized cloth. The later ones had metal focal plane shutters, but even those could be damaged that way, and the hot spot on the shutter can't much good for your film, either. I suspect that would be true on a digital camera, as well, having spent some time as an electronics tech.
“It also serves as a dust cover, and provides very precise timing for exposure.”
Can't argue with that, as I got out of the photo business back when digital cameras were in the $10K range. I still have my Canon A1, but it is dying, and too expensive to fix right now. Either the mirror pivots are worn out, or some other problem has happened to cause the mirror to move VERY slowly when the shutter is released. I've also got an Elan 7E, but not gotten to play with it much. Film cameras have gotten to expensive to play with. The A1 has had over 10,000 rolls of film through it; I used it professionally from 1980 to 1985, working as an Air Force photographer.
BTW, are you a John D. MacDonald/Travis McGee fan?
That’s typically not a problem on a DSLR as you still get the mirror response when the shutter trips. And since you no longer have film advance, it should be quieter.