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back to article Kodak retiring iconic Kodachrome film

Eastman Kodak is retiring Kodachrome this year, as digital photography winds the once-iconic color film into obscurity. Kodachrome is widely recognized as the world's first commercially successful color film, offered in Kodak's portfolio for the past 74 years. But nowadays, Kodak gets about 70 per cent of revenues from its …

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Silver badge

This can help us clear something up

Take a look at that gallery. Good? OK - those pictures were taken by a camera. That pinhole in the back of your cellphone? NOT a camera!

I hope we've all learned something here today.

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Silver badge

Why not just increase the price?

I mean seriously. As long as there are people there wanting that film, it's just sane to produce and sell it to them. I mean those few people would probably just pay any price so charge it from them and you have a profitable product.

Some idiotic business-people just want to stop products. For example I know of a german company which had a machine to produce high quality antenna plugs. Plugs of higher quality than the chineese ones they got, at a lower price. They stopped using that machine.

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Bronze badge

hammer and chisel?

Last time I was at the hardware store they had them.

The slideshow manages to suggest that most Kodachrome use took place in southern and eastern Asia, and curiously that most women photographed were in something not much more revealing than a boorkah.

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Unhappy

Accellerated sales?

With most films (Example: Polaroid 600 series, for which "Shop stock" has pretty much totally disappeared) you expect the lovers of the film to "clear the shelves".

I doubt we'll see the same with Kodachrome. Because of the specialist process which only Dwaynes offer (IE to process my kodachrome, i need to ship it to Switzerland, who then forward it to America, who then post it back to me), the film is utterly useless the moment they shut down production. (And can't be cross processed, you might manage a black and white image out of it).

Shelf stock might run out, but there is LOADS of this stuff around and about (Small camera dealers, peoples film draws at home - both the still used and long forgotten variety). I forsee a mountain of the unprocessable film come 2011.

Shame to see it go. BECAUSE of my IT background I still shoot film. I sit in front of a computer all day, no need for me to sit behind another one when I go out to take some pictures. I love film, but this is an obvious one to kill off, the process is really quite complex and its a month before you see your slides back. I doubt many people will give up shooting film all together, they'll simply move to a more standard slide process, which can be processed everywhere and is made by more manufacturers (Actually, only 2 thinking about it)

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Unhappy

Retirement

Yup, time to retire along with the Canon A1, Olypmus OM2 and Nikon F3.

Kodak could have leveraged their brand and worked hard. Just like Microsoft, who dismissed the internet, Kodak misread the market.

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J 3
Dead Vulture

Sad...

But life goes on...

I wonder how long I'll be able to keep shooting with my K1000. My color pictures are all digital now, but I like to do B&W and my own big enlargements with fun darkroom effects, for which film and paper are still needed.

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Coat

It's a shame

that Kodak didn't secure the Afgan Girl Picture for their gallery, it's truely one the more famous.

The others are particularly stunning though.

Checking my coat for undeveloped film before the labs stop taking it.

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Heart

Photoshop actions...

There are some neat photoshop action macros that recreate the qualities of much of the old film stock & processing techniques. Hours of fun to be had fixing up vanilla digi-camera shots to achieve an authentic retro treatment then posting into the various enthusiast pools on flickr.

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Bronze badge

Don't forget Kodachrome's price

One of the reasons that Kodachrome became less popular was because of its price. $11 per 35mm roll, vs $7 for E100G. Kodak is a business, not a charity. Expect them to follow the money.

As for film's demise, "The report of my death is an exaggeration," said Samuel Clemens. I don't seriously see film disappearing altogether.

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Dead Vulture

@Christian Berger

The big problem with Kodachrome is that it's an old-time film that requires pretty much an old-time process to develop. Only one facility in the world does it, and it's not a job for amateurs (look up Process K-14M to learn why). And since film's worth squat unless it's developed... To be frank, Kodachrome is showing its age. And since pros are already switching to digital SLR photography, which is still improving and providing notable advantages over film, Kodak is simply listening to its customers. Don't hate Kodak for this.

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wim

@ David W

look here for some cellphone made pictures

http://www.flickr.com/photos/40851237@N00/

here for some Iphone made pictures

http://www.chasejarvis.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=5&a=0&at=0

and here for en explanation why it does not matter what camera you use.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/notcamera.htm

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@disgruntled yank

"The slideshow manages to suggest that most Kodachrome use took place in southern and eastern Asia"

Perhaps because that's where those photographers decided that that was where they'd taken their best images; those photographs in the gallery aren't snaps taken by locals in S and E Asia.

The reality is that Kodak gave up on Kodachrome a long time ago. A few years ago a friend of mine shot his last (in-date) roll of K25 and shipped it off to Switzerland to be processed. The results were atrocious. Whether this was down to a bad batch of film or poor processing (which is notoriously difficult to do), we couldn't say, but for an emulsion which I had huge enjoyment out of using, it was heartbreaking. A good roll of Kodachrome processed properly is a joy to behold, and digital will never be able to replicate the tonality nor depth of colours in my slides. And I write this as someone who gets excellent results out of a Nikon D200, which has an Ektachrome look to it.

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Kodak giving up the fight

Everyone predicted the death of the vinyl and turntables when CDs came out. Look what's happening now - would you believe turntables are available at my local supermarket alongside CD players and the usual home electronics.

Film will simply become another tool in the photographer's arsenal and for Kodak to drop Kodachrome just means they are giving up the fight for market share. Other manufacturers will just move in to fill the gap. Most consumers will think it's a mistake but you can be pretty sure Kodak's bean counters would have had something to do with the decision.

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Dead Vulture

Black armbands at the ready…

… as I stock up the fridge with a bulk order.

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Flame

Thanks Mr. Perez for the Death of Kodak

When Antonio Perez came to Kodak, he had an agenda. That agenda was to rape, pillage, slash and burn until Kodak as we knew it was gone. All for the sake of the "stockholders".

Mr. Perez learned the trade of Barbarian at the feet of another infamous pirate, Carley Fiorino; while he was at Hewlett Packard.

His agenda is pandemic across many large corporations who don't understand that "Corporate Pirates" should be keelhauled, drawn and quartered, then burnt to ashes. Stockholders don't know the first thing about running a company. They don't understand the innate value of the so called "Intellectual Property" of a corporation is held in the minds of it's employees as well as it's data files.

The only thing that "stockholders" understand is "earnings". The trouble is, most of the large stockholders never earned even one day of their lives. Greed is NOT good.......IT is the root of all evil.

Perez sold the technology to make film to the Chinese. Perez sold off the intellectual property of Kodak to the collective enemy of the working man trying to make a living. They closed down almost all of the research and development laboratories at Kodak. We will never know what could have become of years of research at Kodak because they threw away the lifes work of tens of thousand of hardworking employees for the sake of a few bucks and some "stock".

What do you say to "market share" now? Who would have thought that digital cameras would become a commodity? Har-dee-har-har you short sighted fool.

We have Kodak employees to thank for innovations besides camera film. OLED technology was in part invented at Kodak. Research into films and coatings brought about technology that later became the Diabetes test strip and other similar medical testing technology.

Over 40% of what was once Kodak Park has been demolished. Kodak's stock is a joke now.

Perez got millions and thousands of employees who made more meaningful contribution to Kodak than he ever will, simply got the boot.

Kodak lost it's way when it forgot that Film Photography is almost immortal. Digital media is a fad changing on a whim. Do you think you'll still be able to look at your digital media 100 years from now? You won't even be able to find a device to playback the media you have now in another 20 years. I can always enjoy a photo, however faded it may have become.

All Kodak had to do to stem the tide of "digital" was bring actual film processing to the consumer, just like a printer. But no, that might cut into the commercial processors business so that idea died an ugly death.

Good bye Kodak, we have fond memories of the people and the product. It's management should rot in Hell.

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Dead Vulture

sad but not unexpected

This is sad, but only from a nostalgic point of view; I would never plan to shoot Kodachrome again out of choice.

I used to love Kodachrome when I first started semi-serious photography in the early 90's. In the golden light there was little to rival it, and the archival quality was excellent so long as not projected for too long (not so for processed Ektachrome which went mouldy at the drop of a hat in our damp conditions).

Eventually though, I got tired of the sometimes 'muddy' colours of Kodachrome any time outside of sunrise/sunset, and converted to Velvia then Provia between '93 and '96 to pull a bit more colour out of the Australian landscape, which is frequently on the brownish side to start with. Like some others on this thread, I also had some dodgy processed batches. At the time there were a couple of labs in the country which processed Kodachrome, but one had no control over which lab the mailed off films went to. I also had a couple of rolls that were mis-cut and mounted following multiple exposure shots or mid-roll changes, which was _very_ disappointing. In the end, I found shooting Provia and using the local pro-lab gave more consistently high-quality results, as well as being faster, offering custom processing (e.g. push/pull, partial roll and test clips, cross processing), and was still price competitive...

Since 2005, digital has now been of good enough quality that the trade-off in convenience and versatility has outweighed remaining advantages of film (highlight preservation, colour rendition) for my purposes. Perhaps the main advantage is that I no longer need to lug two SLR film bodies plus a compact out into the wilds or when travelling, just to switch between print, transparency and b&w.

RIP Kodachrome - like a much loved elderly relative you will be missed, but you had a long and fruitful life, and in the end it was a peaceful passing.

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So long, as you ride into the sunset

At an air show recently I shot 3,400 pictures on my digital camera. Maybe 10% I'll use, but when an F-18 is flying overhead at nearly Mach 1, all that stuff about composing and metering flies out the window as you hit burst mode. Some people will doubtless say I should have used more restraint and only gone for the best shots, but why? I looked at it as I didn't waste any opportunities, and all it cost me was battery power and time.

On 35mm the same feat would have cost me 94 rolls of film and who knows how many batteries. And that's before developing. And if you're "green" then you look at all the chemicals involved in developing.

Also, my entire history of film shooting over 15 years--granted as a casual amateur, amounted to less then 1,000 pictures. Film adds up in cost quickly, and even though I have a shelf of film cameras I honestly doubt I'll use them again.

The only real advantage film has had for some time is it doesn't clip highlights, where bright areas hit a threshold and suddenly blow out. However, digital has gotten around that in software where the camera samples values above and below the metered settings and more or less fits it in.

Film will be around for years, but in the same role that people still ride horses and use blacksmiths today. The enthusiasts can go on and on about the dept and feel and tonal qualities, but it's mostly subjective. I've found the DLSR's of the past 2-3 years are so good they could compete with medium format film and likely win. (And Richard45, the D200 is good, I had one, but you ought to try a D700 like mine, the difference is amazing).

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@Mountford D

The thing is, most photographers are moving away from film--it's too inconvenient, especially when you need a print in a hurry. Kodak knows this, especially since (as the article itself states) Kodachrome accounts for less than 1% of their entire business. Sounds to me like they've already switched gears towards digital cameras and digital photo laboratories and accessories. Kodachrome DOES produce some amazing colors (in response to the article about the camera not making a difference, what about the FILM?). But after all is said and done, will all that color be accurate reproduced on your photo paper or magazine print? Probably not. Like a chain, that photo's only as good as the weakest link. And that's assuming the roll gets processed right.

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IT Angle

@Wim

Never quote Ken Rockwell in a photography discussion...just don't. I totally get the point of composition mattering more than technology, but Ken is a very divisive figure that you either love or hate. Certainly NOT the last word in anything.

Kodachrome will be missed, greatly, but to be honest the use of film in small formats like 35mm is rapidly declining, and Kodak never really offered it where it could still have a market, in large format photography. And tbh, most large format photography these days is black and white, because of the need to self-process the negatives and then scan. If Kodak were to offer a viable large format Kodachrome...well, we'll never know. I will morn it's passing, but I will admit that I have never used it either...

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Anonymous Coward

@ Richard 45

"digital will never be able to replicate the tonality nor depth of colours in my slides"

Much as no human would be able to withstand the forces generated by travelling at the sort of velocities an early steam locomotive, nor climb to the highest peaks of the world, nor reach its poles, nor survive in space, nor stand on the surface of the Moon.

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Unhappy

I love my Kodachrome 64

Awwwwwwwwwww!

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Giving up the fight

No, shitwit. It means they're discontinuing *one* product range, not all of their film. The article did say Kodachrome only accounted for part of 1% of their still film sales, which pretty clearly shows they have other forms of still film. And as stated since they have only one lab in the world to process it, this makes it pretty pointless.

No doubt they'll still keep making other ranges of film, so long as people are willing to buy it.

RTFA (read the f***ing article)

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So?

I've been using cheap Chinese and East-european B/W film for the last year or so, and frankly can't be bothered to miss the Kodak 'twice around the world' service...

Digital taking over for Film?

HAH!

I'd like to see ANY digital solution that can take a non-distorted 120degree panoramic picture in one click. (My got-it-cheaply-on-ebay Zenit Horizon 202 does just that. )

Taking lots of digital snaps and 'piecing them together' into one panoramic picture takes longer than processing a 135 roll, and I get 19 finished panoramics on that roll. My tank can take two rolls at one time... (Hoping that a larger tank shows up on QXL soon... )

As for those who consider Olympus OM to be obsolete...

How come those are more compact and lighter than most digital SLRs today?

(Weight matters if you like to take nature photos. It matters a lot if the spot is an hour or two's walk away, through mountainous terrain... )

Now, if I could actually manage to learn to compose the pictures...

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Boffin

@ J 3

"I wonder how long I'll be able to keep shooting with my K1000. My color pictures are all digital now, but I like to do B&W and my own big enlargements with fun darkroom effects, for which film and paper are still needed."

I used to work with a real darkroom, and have hoped to restart the hobby, when time and space permits again. But now it seems getting materials might become hard! We have to hope B/W film, paper and chemicals will stay around at least as specialist artists' materials, the same way photography did not kill the making of oil paints and relater accessories...

In a pinch, many materials can be home-made from raw ingredients (see any really old photography book for the how-to). But making film would be hard.

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Not the death of film by any means

IIRC, Kodak have simply been updating their product lines, and tricksy film like Kodachrome is simply too archaic to survive. If they concentrate on E6 process films, then the film can be processed in many, many labs across the world - and not with a four week wait either (In my case, I mail my E6 film out on a Monday morning and get it back - processed and mounted - on the Wednesday).

Of course E6 film is cheaper on the shelf - it can be supplied with processing not included!

I must admit that I've only ever shot Kodachrome on Super 8 - and I shot that until the format's death (but I just bought three rolls of K64 so I'll be shooting that soon). But again, Kodak introduced Ektachrome 64T in Super 8 as a 'replacement' stock. Surprise surprise - It's an E6 process film. Ok, it's not Kodachrome, but then it wasn't "The Death Of Super 8" either.

This is not "The Death Of Film". Not by a long way...

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@Wim

I don't really follow the argument you are making here. Sure, you can take nice photos with a mobile phone if you have enough light and are not worried about the noise and the stripes and are happy to view them at half size.

But someone with the skill to compose a nice photo will achieve more by not using the crappy excuse for a camera built into their phone. This is especially true since the phone manufacturers insist on increasing the pixel count, when a simple low noise 1.3MP sensor would make a hell of a lot more sense.

A previous Nokia mobile with 1.3MP used to take nice grain free photos in a variety of lighting conditions. My current 2MP sensor produces stripy grainy images almost all the time.

Besides, a large part of producing decent photos is knowing when to override the default exposure settings – good luck doing that on your average mobile.

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Anonymous Coward

@wim

Looking trough the iPhotoes of Chase you can clearly see that there is lag of focus and detail that a better camara would have picked up on. The Sentence the best camara is the one you have with you is missused the meaning of it is that its better to have a crap camara than none at all. NOT as its used here as meaning that it dosent matter which camara you use.

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Unhappy

RIP KX

My first colour slides were on Kodachrome 25, but I soon graduated to really fast colour film - AGFA 50 ASA - and 125 ASA FP4 B&W film.

I seem to remember dabbling with 6x6 Kodachrome in a TLR, but maybe it was Ektachrome if Kodachrome only came in 35mm, as someone said.

Before I switched to digital a few years ago, I was using various Kodak and Fufi slide and negative films and scanning directly from film, but I never seemed to be able to get the quality a direct digital SLR image gave, even though the pixel count was higher and both scanner and software were well rated..

So, although I am sorry that Kodachrome is going, I can't say that I will miss it too much.

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Shame

I'm sorry to hear this, but more for what it represents (as Dan Paul points out above) than for the film itself. There are plenty of decent E6 slide films (including Ektachrome) that are easy to process and should be around from some time. There is a certain pleasure in holding the freshly washed roll up to the light, in the same way that placing the needle on a vinyl record still feels good sometimes...

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Unhappy

Sad

A sad day indeed. And that's coming from someone whose photography needs are mostly catered for by a combination of phone camera and DSLR.

But El Reg, please don't mention iconic images without showing them to us, or (assuming copyright issues) at least providing a link: -

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2002/04/afghan-girl/index-text

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Anyone wanting film?

Try www.lomographic.com

(Lots of weird cameras, expired film, new film, stuff... )

www.fomafilm.com

(They make OK film and paper)

Now, if only someone had a pointer to someone making PanChromatic paper...

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Thumb Down

Oh no!

Not the Lomographic Society!! Ok if you have money to burn... but materials can be bought much more cheaply - 7dayshop.com and silverprint.co.uk spring to mind. Silverprint distribute the foma stocks amongst others...

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Unhappy

Kodak Online Gallery

Is this the best that Kodak can show for 70+ years and billions of slides?

19 slides by Steve McCurry who took the photo of the Afgan girl reproduced on page 33 of THE TIMES newspaper this morning.

12 slides by Eric Meola and 10 slides by Peter Guttman.

I get the impression that Kodak wants Kodachrome to slip away unnoticed without a fuss.

Goodbye KM25, KR64 and KL200 you will be sorely missed by an amateur.

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Flame

@ Anonymous Coward re: @ Richard 45

""digital will never be able to replicate the tonality nor depth of colours in my slides"

Much as no human would be able to withstand the forces generated by travelling at the sort of velocities an early steam locomotive, nor climb to the highest peaks of the world, nor reach its poles, nor survive in space, nor stand on the surface of the Moon."

Correct but....

Colours are subjective and so are colour films etc. Modern monitors--especially LCD--have pretty pathetic colour gamuts and since the demise of the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor things have gotten worse. Colour television (especially its cousin digital photography) are not capable of reproducing, either on photographic paper or on a monitor screen, the subtle changes in gamut that many films have. This is not because the gamut of the digital photographic system is less but has more to do with the precise colour coordinates of the reproducing phosphors (photographic paper etc.)--even the system additive or subtractive colour [as here respectfully] makes a difference.

Let me give you an example, get any ancient photo that has a patina on the silver halide part and has gone sepia colour with age. I defy you to scan/reproduce this image in any way you wish on any digital system to wish to try it on and not notice how bad the reproduction of the patina is and how 'yellow' or 'red' or whatever colour the sepia has become--the sepia is no longer a subtle colour. This is typical of gamut limitation even though the overall range of the electronic system is better than the original photograph--perhaps considerably more so.

I don't have the time here to elaborate in detail about the intricacies of colour systems etc. but I do understand what Richard 45 is trying to say. Here's another example which may illustrate the point: you get a good-to-excellent Kodachrome slide and project it onto a good screen with good optics then scan the same slide at 48 bit--even use a drum scanner if you wish--then display it on a monitor, and I'll bet that--even if you are very familiar with the 'Kodachrome look' (which is unique in my opinion)--in a double-blind test you'll fail miserably to detect the Kodachrome slide on a digital monitor in any consistent manner. Why? Some intangible quality of the picture is missing--and it's missing because of limitations, primarily but not exclusively, in the display monitor.

Let me prove the point:

If you are not familiar with Cineraria then have as look at this flickr photo (no it's not mine).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36916122@N03/3430574665/

Now go to any large conservatory (usually in some botanical garden etc.) where you can see thousands of these lovely little flowers growing. Seeing one is not sufficient--you must see many of them to appreciate the very subtle variations in the blue colour that different flowers can produce.

Cineraria are absolutely fabulous for this test: not only do they produce a vast range of blues but those blues gradually fade on a continuum into brilliant white at the end of the petal--so good this white you can use it as a reference. Picture in your mind this huge range of blues then compare a photograph of the same flowers with any photographic reproduction system at your disposal.

So devastating this test, the first reaction of many photographers is that they want to throw away their cameras. Thousands of shades of blue just morph into one or perhaps two shades of a much less vibrant blue.

The point is that colour display technology is essentially pathetic in its colour gamut when compared with a pair of good human non-colour-blind eyes. As good as colour systems are today, they still can't measure up with the colour discrimination of our eyes---especially so in the blue region of the spectrum.

Thus, when an observer, familiar with a specific colour dye (with its unique distinctive colour spectral response), is disappointed by the reproduction of its colour after it has passed though and been reproduced by some other colour chain, that his reaction is not only unsurprising but also we ought to expect him to be disappointed with the change in colour.

___

BTW, the flower shown in the flickr photo is typical of what I'm talking about--there's very little variation in the blues after the colour has been reproduced by an electronic (or photographic) system--as here, but the subtle gamma possible in some films often give them the edge over electronic ones.

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IT Angle

Digital didn't kill Kodachrome... Fujichrome VELVIA did!

I've heard a lot of people stating thet Kodachrome is dead due to digital switchover... this is simply not true. The fact is that Kodachrome lost a lot of market share to Velvia and other modern E6 films (hell, the update to "afghan girl" picture was E6 as well).

Yeah, Kodak gave up on it... but a lot of time before digital came knocking.

Anyway, Fuji has behaved much better than Kodak WRT to film.

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