The Kodachrome name has been used for many different films over the years. The first Kodachrome product was a two-glass-plate color negative that was introduced in 1915. Like all other color photography methods of its time, the results weren’t particularly good and the product not especially successful.
In 1935, Kodak released its next Kodachrome product: a positive color transparency film. This Kodachrome was the first film that produced reasonably accurate colors, and, because of that, was the first commercially successful color film. It became the standard film for color photography for a couple decades, and was even Ansel Adams’ preferred choice for color work. The December 1946 issue of Arizona Highways, which was the first all-color magazine in the world, featured Barry Goldwater’s Kodachrome images. While the most popular Kodachrome during this time was ISO 10, Kodak also produced an ISO 8 version, as well as a Tungsten option in the 1940s.
Kodak made significant improvements to Kodachrome, and in 1961 released Kodachrome II. This film boasted more accurate colors, sharper images, finer grain, and a faster ISO of 25. While it was still somewhat similar to the previous Kodachrome, it was better in pretty much every way. A year later Kodachrome-X was introduced, which had an ISO of 64, and produced more saturation and increased contrast, but was grainier.
In 1974, because Kodak created a less-toxic development process, Kodachrome II was replaced by Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome-X was replaced by Kodachrome 64. This generation of Kodachrome is what most people think of when they picture (pun intended) the film, gracing the pages of magazines like National Geographic. Due to Kodachrome’s sharpness, grain, color, contrast, and archival characteristics, it was a great all-around option that worked well in most circumstance. Steve McCurry, who is perhaps the best-known photographer to extensively use this era of Kodachrome, said of the film, “It has almost a poetic look with beautiful colors that were vibrant and true to what you were shooting.”
This film simulation recipe is intended to mimic Kodachrome 25 color transparency film. I was fortunate to shoot a few rolls of Kodachrome 25. It was a beautiful film, and probably the sharpest color film ever made, but its low ISO made it difficult to use. Kodachrome 64, which was still a low-ISO film, was about 1 2/3 stops faster. The major differences between the two Kodachrome emulsions is that the ISO 25 version was sharper and less grainy, while the ISO 64 version was more contrasty, vibrant and a hair warmer. Both were very similar, though, and it would be hard to spot the differences without a close inspection. Some people preferred the slightly more subtle tones and finer detail of Kodachrome 25, and some preferred the faintly punchier pictures rendered on Kodachrome 64. I liked Kodachrome 64 a little more, and so that’s what I most often used.
Below are a couple examples of this Kodachrome 25 recipe compared to my Kodachrome 64 recipe:
In the example below, I made massive crops so that you could more easily see the subtle differences in sharpness and grain between the two Kodachrome recipes. The differences in warmth are also more obvious. If the Kodachrome 25 recipe could have a .25 adjustment warmer, and if the Kodachrome 64 recipe could have a .25 adjustment cooler, it would likely be more accurate, but alas we’re limited by what Fujifilm gives us. In the case of this recipe, a Color Chrome FX Blue Medium would be a nice option, but it doesn’t exist.
When Kodak discontinued Kodachrome in 2009, it shocked the photographic community; however, the deeper blow was that Kodak discontinued the chemicals required to develop it. Even if you had an old roll of the film (which I did), you couldn’t develop it, except as a black-and-white film from a specialty lab. By the end of 2010, the Kodachrome era was officially over for good. Fortunately, if you have a Fujifilm camera, the spirit of Kodachrome still lives.
This Kodachrome 25 recipe is only compatible with the Fujifilm X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. You can modify this for the X-Pro3 and X100V by setting Highlight to 0 and Shadow to -1 instead of what it calls for—I don’t like it quite as much, but it’s pretty similar.
Dynamic Range: DR400
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain Effect: Off
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 1600
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +2/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this new Kodachrome 25 film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-E4:
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