Kodak has announced the re-release of one its 35mm colour reversal films, Kodak Professional Ektachrome. Or, as Kodak insist on labelling it on their press release, EKTACHROME – in capital letters, which one assumes is a branding thing.
This is good news for those who want to use slide projections to bore family and friends with holiday photos, or for cool retro art projects.For those of us who still shoot photographic film, this is quite major news, as it means that Kodak will once again have a transparency (or slide, reversal or positive) film product on its books. Fuji still have a couple, including Fujifilm Fujichrome Provia and a couple of ISO speeds of Fujichrome Velvia.
This is also good news for those who still use, or want to get into, slide projection – one of the traditional uses of still transparency films, either to bore family and friends with holiday photos, or for cool retro art projects. For those who love vibrant colours and have access to good scanning equipment, this may also be good news.
Using transparency film with point and shoot film cameras?
Exciting as this news is, from a point and shoot film camera point of view, how many of us will use transparency film? As Kodak’s naming implies, transparency films generally require quite a high level of professional skill to expose correctly. Unlike, for example, black and white negative films – which have a degree of latitude – correct exposure is much more critical with reversal film. Much like digital cameras, it is easier to unintentionally overexpose and blow highlights with slide films. As users of compact film cameras, how confident are we about our little cameras’ exposure meters? Even those which claim to have spot metering? That said, the fact that Kodak are releasing Ektachrome as the 100 ISO film version means that, in theory, it should work fine with pretty much any system which uses the automatic ISO DX code system.
There are also cost and practically issues. Reversal films tend to be expensive to buy (the Fuji ones are currently over US$10 a roll on B&H) and the development costs are even more. And this brings us to, in my opinion, the biggest potential obstacle – scarcity of photographic development labs. More specifically, for those that don’t develop their own films, labs that are able to develop films using the E6 process, are probably the hardest to locate. That said, the Kodak Alaris press release claims that their film app will be updated to include Professional Labs where E6 processing is available. And, if this is a trend, then perhaps more labs will offer the E6 option?
Overall, this probably has to be welcomed as great news for the film photography industry and for point and shoot film camera photographers.