January 5, 2017
CES 2017

Kodak Brings Ektachrome Film Stock Back from the Dead

buffalo 66
Kodak announced today that it will bring back one of its most iconic film stocks.

At CES in Las Vegas today, the Eastman Kodak company announced that it will resume production on the Ektachrome film stock, beloved for its extremely fast reversal, rich color, fine grain, and high-quality contrast.

Initially developed in the 1940s, Ektachrome rose to fame when it was used extensively by National Geographic Magazine photographers who sought faster settings than those provided by the stock's alternative, Kodachrome. Ektachrome can take photos at shutter speeds of 1/10,000 of a second without filters.

"We are proud to help bring back this classic."

To the chagrin of  many cinematographers, Kodak discontinued Ektachrome in 2012 due to a reported decline in sales. Kodak Alaris attributes the newfound interest in Ektachrome to the "growing popularity of analog photography and a resurgence in shooting film," which the company believes professionals prefer for the artistic control offered by manual processes.

"It is such a privilege to reintroduce Kodak Ektachrome Film to the cinematography community," said Steven Overman, Kodak’s chief marketing officer and president of the Consumer and Film Division. "Kodak is committed to continuing to manufacture film as an irreplaceable medium for image creators to capture their artistic vision. We are proud to help bring back this classic."

Credit: Kodak

Unfortunately, only a handful of major feature films have been shot on the film stock. Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66 remains the most high-profile Ektachrome print. "It is, to this day, the most beautiful print I have ever seen," Grace Sloan, a former projectionist at New York's Anthology Film Archives who is now a filmmaker, told us. 

"I can shoot, develop, and watch the print all in the same day."

Unlike the Kodak color negative film stock available today, Ektachrome generates a positive slide image that can be viewed or projected once it is exposed and processed. "I personally like it because I can develop color reversal at home, so I can shoot, develop, and watch the print all in the same day," Sloan said. Compared to color negative, color positive Ektachrome promises a middle ground for filmmakers who prefer the film look but like the instant gratification digital filmmaking provides.

Early last year, we spoke with Kodak President Steve Bellamy, who told us that the company "was bankrupt three years ago, and now we're kind of a start-up. But we're the most mature start-up in the history of business." 

Kodak will produce Ektachrome at its film factory in Rochester, N.Y. It will be available in Super 8mm and 35mm and hit stores in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Now, if only Kodak would bring back Kodachrome.      

Featured image from 'Buffalo 66,' directed by Vincent Gallo, shot on 35 mm Eastman Ektachrome 160T 5239.

Charles Haine also contributed to this article.

Your Comment

12 Comments

How cool that in an age of 8K cameras, there is actually enough increase in demand for Kodak to resurrect a discontinued film. It's a great time to be an image maker.

January 5, 2017 at 5:31PM

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BD
249

8K isn't everything. And 35mm 8 perf film could be scanned at 8K. 6x7 film frames have about 36k of resolution. Film is still better than digital in different ways.

January 6, 2017 at 2:24AM

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It's just too bad that once it's projected from an "analog" projector, most of that resolution is lost...

January 6, 2017 at 4:25PM

16
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hence why most filmmakers make digital 4k prints of their films. Everyone else is just a movie maker.

January 7, 2017 at 12:48AM

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I was so hoping for 16mm!!!

January 5, 2017 at 10:23PM, Edited January 5, 10:22PM

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Wait, I thought it was only photograph film they were introducing like rolls of 36 rather than 400 or 1000ft rolls? Are they talking about 8mm and 35mm for photographs

January 6, 2017 at 2:29AM

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Wait until you see how expensive it is... And if never processed processed film before, the chemicals. Temps, mixing, processing times, disposal problems. For a while they sold mini E6 processing machines so the DIY crowd could get consisant results because doing it by hand was really tricky. Far more so than b&w which i have done. No thanks. You have no idea what you are missing. Kodachrome is a completely different process that's very complicated and tricky and can only be done on a machine processing system and even more nasty chemicals. It is gone forever. in case you forget film is environmentally nasty to process

January 6, 2017 at 10:08AM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
354

I've shot tons of Kodachrome and Ektachrome in my day. Amazing that this is happening. Makes me happy even though I won't be using any of it probably.

I'd shoot my job, run the film to the lab (which, there were many) ask for a snip test, come back in 2 hours, evaluate snip, specify processing instructions, usually a half or, maybe, full stop push. Wait another 2 hours then, go back to pick up that beautiful, shiny, slippery strip of wonder and amazement. Life was good.

Might even still have some rolls of Ektachrome lying around. Hmmm...

January 6, 2017 at 3:44PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
795

At one time, Eastman Kodak was one of the top 10 polluters in the United States. Kodak making more film isn't great news, and anyway don't forget - content is king.

January 6, 2017 at 3:56PM, Edited January 6, 3:57PM

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Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
135

Though I love the look of film and got all excited about kodak's renewed life, this is a valid point. my grandmother, a painter (oils) and photographer/filmmaker in the 70s, gave these up, as the chemicals contradicted her work as an environmentalist.

January 6, 2017 at 9:28PM

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kj
75

I started out with film, dark rooms, etc. and I don't miss it at all. Kodak will go out kicking and screaming but film is mostly a hipsters medium now.

January 6, 2017 at 11:52PM, Edited January 6, 11:52PM

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Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
135

You think one film stock is going to pollute the earth? lol. Shoot some film and you'll immediately feel and see the difference.

January 7, 2017 at 12:47AM

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