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10-08-2010, 11:52 AM   #1
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Rantings of a Disappointed Kodachrome Shooter

Until this summer, I'd pretty much only every shot black and white negative film. I had some experience with color negatives, but not too much, and they are easy to scan. I'd also shot some black and white C-41 film, but that's also easy to scan. Traditional black and white film is less easy to scan, but it's fine, and I can print it in a darkroom.

However, slide film is a horse of a different color, and Kodachrome is the most different. I bought a few cheap rolls of Kodachrome to shoot this summer before Dwayne's stopped processing it. I wanted to see what all the nostalgia was about, and I (wrongly) believed that scanning wouldn't be too much of an issue.

The slides came back from Dwayne's and looked pretty good, for the most part. I think I went overboard on the "meter for the highlights" recommendations and so a lot of them are quite dark. Even so, they looked pretty good in a projector, in a viewer, and on a light table. However, maybe because I didn't grow up with the kodachrome look, I really can't see much that is different or special about the color.

I began scanning my kodachrome slides in the first week of September, and there are only about 150 ones decent enough to even bother scanning, so I figured I'd get it all done pretty quickly. I plugged the Nikon Coolscan 5000 in my university's library into my Macbook Pro and fired up NikonScan.

They looked terrible, and after two hours long sessions fighting with the scans and trying to fix them in Photoshop, I gave in and bought Vuescan. I can get decent results with it, really usable scans, especially after color tweaking in Photoshop and Lightroom, but even so, I've only just scanned the last slide, eight 3-hour scanning sessions later. Slides needed rescanning, I needed to decipher the mysteries of Vuescan, I needed to figure out whether to use infrared cleaning or not (the answer is no, even with the Coolscan 5000).

I can firmly say that I will never shoot slide film again. You pay lots of money (film+processing+shipping), you waste tons of time (scanning+spotting dust that Vuescan can't clean without visibly harming the image+fixing color), and, in the end, my results aren't all that special. Some people here have done wonders with Velvia, and maybe I could try that, but since I don't own or often use a projector, it's probably beside the point.

So, it's back to good old Tri-X for me. I can print it in a darkroom and it loks beautiful. If I need color, I think the best option these days really would be a DSLR [dreams of graduation presents]. I'm going to scan many of my parents' old kodachromes next, but archival of times past makes sense; this kind of effort for new images just seems a waste to me.

</rant>

If you want some of my leftover kodachrome for cheap, check out my marketplace thread here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/117499-sale-5...ll-frozen.html


Last edited by jzietman; 10-08-2010 at 12:06 PM.
10-08-2010, 12:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your rant. It was well written and I enjoyed it.
10-08-2010, 12:19 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear that you had bad luck with the Kodachrome. Things might have gone better if you had just simply accepted the camera's meter reading or used a gray card. I shot Kodachrome for years simply trusting the camera meter.

Your scanner experience puzzles me. I have the Nikon 5000 ED and have had pretty good luck scanning Kodachrome using Nikon Scan 4.0.2 for Windows. Digital ICE is reasonably effective for dust, especially for slides fresh from the lab and color is manageable when using Kodachrome as the film type. There are a few slides that I have had to spend extra time with where the scanned colors were off when compared the original, but over all I am happy with the results.

That aside, I tend to echo your sentiments regarding shooting transparencies. Current color negative films yield excellent results at a fraction of the price of transparency films. Do I need to mention that they are easy to scan too? When I finish the last 1/2 roll of Kodachrome in the KX, I will likely not shoot slides again unless I have have a particular need or get some free film.


Steve
10-08-2010, 02:40 PM   #4
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Slight underexposure increases color saturation so I usually set my cameras built-in exposure meter to ~ EI 80.
Most turn out fine but I must admit that at least once per roll I miss so badly I can't make heads or tails of a slide.
I can't speak to the difficulties of scanning but a well-exposed Kodachrome slide projected is truly a sight to behold.

Chris

10-08-2010, 04:44 PM   #5
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On the well-exposed ones, the colors really are lovely, but sadly, the way I shot, these are few and far between. I fine the tones to be slightly muted, and I took a lot of shots on overcast and cloudy days, which only emphasized this. I've some nice silhouette shots by happy accident. It remains to be seen on how today's scanning session turned out, since I've 75 120MB files to dust spot in Photoshop before I can load them into Lightroom for tweaking, and my computer's not the brightest star in the sky. I hoping that, now that the infrared cleaning was turned off, I'll not have all the ugly artifacting it was giving me before.

Steve, I did use NikonScan for a while, but I found the interface very difficult to use and the program was unstable on my computer. Now that I've read the manual, I find Vuescan quite usable now, and it lets me save with ProPhoto RGB, which can actually fit most of the colors from the scan into the file.

I'll be glad to go back to scanning negatives, I have to say. Frankly, I'll be glad to call it quits with color film and stick with the darkroom and a hypothetical dslr. Scanning isn't fun, and with slides, especially, things happen just quickly enough that I can't do other work at the same time.
10-08-2010, 06:32 PM   #6
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If you have access to a DSLR it might be worth cobbling together a slide copying rig just to see how the results compare to what you are getting from the slides using the scanner. Shooting in RAW should give a good range of adjustment possibilities with a much smaller file size than what the scanner gives you.

Most of my scanning has been negatives or prints on a flatbed; I haven't attacked my Dad's stacks of Kodachrome slides yet.
10-08-2010, 07:32 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steinback Quote
If you have access to a DSLR it might be worth cobbling together a slide copying rig just to see how the results compare to what you are getting from the slides using the scanner. Shooting in RAW should give a good range of adjustment possibilities with a much smaller file size than what the scanner gives you.

Most of my scanning has been negatives or prints on a flatbed; I haven't attacked my Dad's stacks of Kodachrome slides yet.
I agree with Steinbeck. I shot almost exclusively slide film for 6 or 7 years, hand loaded from bulk rolls. Mostly Velvia. When I converted to digital I rigged up a copy system using my best lens and a bunch of extension tubes. Put the slides on a light box with the camera on a tripod above. It worked out pretty well actually.

And it was much faster and I got much nicer results than my (admittedly bad) scanner could do. Plus the scanner took about 4 minutes per scan. I remember after a few hours of scanning and tweaking I'd only have 20 or so files done... *sigh*
10-08-2010, 08:02 PM   #8
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i find in shooting kodachrome it seems to like being underexposed.say asa64 i shoot at 80 or 100. the colors are amazing.well saturated to say the least.

10-09-2010, 01:12 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steinback Quote
If you have access to a DSLR it might be worth cobbling together a slide copying rig just to see how the results compare to what you are getting from the slides using the scanner. Shooting in RAW should give a good range of adjustment possibilities with a much smaller file size than what the scanner gives you.
This is what I've done. I got a Pentax bellows and slide copier, and I digitize my best slides using it. It works very well and goes quite quickly.
10-09-2010, 05:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Votesh Quote
This is what I've done. I got a Pentax bellows and slide copier, and I digitize my best slides using it. It works very well and goes quite quickly.
I have a bellows kit and a fixed camera-mount slide copier but I don't have a slide copier attachment for my bellows kit. Can you somehow get a crop-factor DSLR shot of an entire slide image using the bellows kit copier setup for decreasing magnification? That would be a major step forward for me.
10-09-2010, 07:33 AM   #11
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Re: Rantings of a Disappointed Kodachrome Shooter

I've never used Kodachrome, but I am an avid Velvia shooter. I must be that statistical outlier that finds it easier to scan E-6 than C-41. I tried a few rolls of color neg film--you may recall I was very excited about the new Ektar when it became available in 120--but I had a hard time with the scanning and so went right back to Velvia & Provia. Am I the only one with this experience?
10-09-2010, 08:06 AM   #12
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@Buffy, I have the same opinion. Slides are easier to scan and get the colours right with. Colour neg is a pain if you ask me. Also a Velvia guy by the way...


With Vuescan and a Coolscan 5000 you really should be able to get good scans of the Kodachrome. I have, as you, found that ICE is no good with Kodachrome but if you're going to scan a lot of it I would say using light ICE is the way to go, hardly noticeable for most applications. And then rescanning without ICE if you need the pic for something special.
10-09-2010, 08:37 AM   #13
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I'm in the camp with Steve, and I also feel the OP's pain. In the film days, for color, I shot about 75% Kodachrome, with the rest Fuji 50 and a smattering of negs and other films. I've been scanning them for a couple of years, now, and underexposed Kodachrome is a bear. K64 that is underexposed by a stop projects all right, but goes digital only with an awful lot of work.
10-09-2010, 09:33 AM   #14
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I don’t own a scanner but have had good results getting my Kodachrome slides scanned.
I’ve had low res ones done at the time of processing by Dwayne’s and they are acceptable. I have also had med/high res scans done at a local lab and they have been very good. They have five scanners, so I’m not sure which one they used.

I’ve also had good results getting other Kodak & Fuji slide film scanned. The type of film that my local lab seemed to have the hardest time scanning was B&W slide film, processed by dr5Chrome.

Phil.
10-09-2010, 11:02 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
I donít own a scanner but have had good results getting my Kodachrome slides scanned.
Iíve had low res ones done at the time of processing by Dwayneís and they are acceptable. I have also had med/high res scans done at a local lab and they have been very good. They have five scanners, so Iím not sure which one they used.

Iíve also had good results getting other Kodak & Fuji slide film scanned. The type of film that my local lab seemed to have the hardest time scanning was B&W slide film, processed by dr5Chrome.

Phil.
If Kodachrome is exposed right, it scans fine. Also, old K25 seems to scan more easily than K64. It is the shadow areas that take some attention to bring up. The old trick of underexposing to saturate the color makes Kodachrome scans more difficult, though it does not seem to be such a problem for Fuji.
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