Kodachrome is dead: consumers are the real losers

Kodak has ceased production of Kodachrome film after 74 years of production. So the digital revolution has won. Thanks to brain-dead consumers and slick marketing, we are now in a situation where people are lured into buying a new digital camera every two years to keep up the megapixel count.

The cost of processing film is obviously more expensive than a camera memory card. But unlike digital image capture where quality is determined at the time the photograph is taken, film is pretty much future-proof. A state-of-the-art film scanner can create a 35mm film scan with more megapixels and higher quality than the very best pro digital SLRs available today, like the £6000+ Nikon D3x.

In September Warner Bros is releasing the 70th anniversay edition of The Wizard of Oz on BluRay. Digital didn’t exist in 1939. But we’ll be able to experience the best version of the Wizard of Oz to date, thanks to the fact that it was made on 35mm Technicolor, which uses three back and white negative film strips  to create red, green and blue colour frames. These film strips have been rescanned and remastered 70 years later using the latest technology to produce a BlueRay print.

Basically, digital is a compromise. Once a photograph is taken, it cannot be resampled to produce a higher quality image in the future. Digital has won, but ultimately, I think the consumer has lost out.

e13.jpgI recently switched from digital back to film and purchased Kodak’s excellent Ektar 100 film. I encourage anyone who thinks film is inferior to digital to buy a roll, dig out their old 35mm film camera (or buy one on eBay), and take some pictures. Choose the best shots and get them scanned in professionally as TIF files. Now you have digital images like the ones that come out of your digital camera, only far better. You can now PhotoShop them to your heart’s content and print massive enlargements. You’ll be suprised at how good the prints from Kodak Ektar 100 look.