History & Poetry of Kodachrome

Note: This article originally was a part of Why I Never Shoot RAW — FujiFilm Simulations, Recipes, and More! published by Moment on September 6th, 2021.

In 1973, Paul Simon famously put to song,

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summer
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day

Kodachrome is probably the most iconic photographic film ever made. It was legendary, and many people saw the world through its colors. Kodak produced Kodachrome film from 1935 through 2009, when, to the dismay of photographers around the world, it was suddenly discontinued.

     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. Kodachrome for cinema had an ISO of 40, and would continue to be ISO 40 until 2009 when Kodak discontinued Kodachrome.

Captured using the Kodachrome II film simulation recipe on a Fujifilm X-T20

     There was a movement in the early-1970s to end Kodachrome because the process to develop it was very toxic. Kodachrome is actually a black-and-white film with color added during development, which you can imagine isn’t a simple procedure. Instead of discontinuing their most popular color film, Kodak made a new version that required a less-toxic (but still toxic) and less complicated (but still complicated) development process. This appeased those who wanted the film gone, but the new version of Kodachrome was not initially well received by all photographers, some of whom liked the old version better. William Eggleston, for example, who used Kodachrome extensively in his early career, wasn’t a fan of the new version, and used other films instead.

     In 1974, because of the new less-toxic development process, Kodachrome II was replaced by Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome-X was replaced by Kodachrome 64. They also introduced Kodachrome 200, a high-ISO version. 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.”

     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.

Captured using real Kodachrome 64 35mm color transparency film on a Canon AE-1.

     I shot many rolls of Kodachrome 64, and a few rolls of Kodachrome 25. My favorite was Kodachrome 64 because it had more contrast and more saturated colors—while it was a little less true-to-life, it produced bolder pictures more like Paul Simon’s description. It was a sad day for me when Kodak discontinued it. At that time, I was just getting into digital photography; in retrospect I wish that I had paused on digital and exposed a few more rolls of Kodachrome, just for the joy of it.

     Paul Simon shot his Kodachrome on a Nikon camera, and I shot mine on a well-used Canon AE-1. Even though the film is long gone, I now shoot “Kodachrome” on a Fujifilm X100V and an X-E4. Yes, Kodachrome lives, thanks to Fujifilm’s great JPEG output! I’ve created film simulation recipes that mimic Kodachrome 64. While they’re not a 100% perfect match, considering the limited options and parameters that are available in-camera, they’re surprisingly accurate to the film. They certainly attain the “memory color” that Fujifilm’s managers often talk about. Ah, the irony of achieving a Kodachrome look on a Fujifilm camera is not lost on me!

     I’ve actually published over 150 recipes (which you can fin on the Fuji X Weekly app) for Fujifilm cameras, many of which are based on film stocks. Using film simulation recipes, no matter the Fujifilm camera you have, allows you to get straight-out-of-camera pictures that appear as if they were post-processed—or, even better, shot on film instead of digital. This is obviously a big time-saver, but can also be more fun.

Captured using the Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe on a Fujifilm X100V

     Whenever I go out to photograph, I always have at least one Fujifilm camera with me, loaded with seven film simulation recipes. My favorite color recipe is Kodak Portra 400 v2, and my favorite black-and-white recipe is Kodak Tri-X 400. Some recipes aren’t modeled after specific films, but produce an analog aesthetic anyway, such as my Xpro ’62 recipe, which has a vintage cross-processed look, and my Positive Film recipe, which is intended to mimic Saul Leiter’s style. I like to load a few of my favorite recipes into my camera before going out, and the remaining presets are often experimental recipes that I’m working on, as I’m always creating new ones.

     Kodachrome 64 is one of those recipes that I find myself often programing into my camera—that is, if it isn’t already a C1-C7 preset from my last outing! It has the right amount of nostalgia, delivering those “nice bright colors” and “greens of summer” that “makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.” I can’t help but think, if Paul Simon picked up a Fujifilm camera today to take a photograph, the Kodachrome 64 recipe would be his favorite, and perhaps he’d even write a song about it.

Find these film simulation recipes on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

The Kodachrome 64 Moment!

Moment published an article, Why I Never Shoot RAW—Fujifilm Simulations, Recipes, and More!, that includes many of my photographs and even some of my words! I encourage you to check it out! Moment, you might remember, had partnered with me to give away CineBloom filters. I’m extraordinarily honored for the opportunity to collaborate with them on these projects, and I hope that we can work together even more in the future!

There is a mistake in the article that I’d like to point out. Check out the image below:

Caption reads: “Using Kodachrome 64 Recipe.”
This picture was captured using real Kodachrome 64 film.

The picture above was supposed to be an example photograph of the actual film, which I captured over 20 years ago using real Kodachrome 64 film shot on a Canon AE-1 camera. So it is film, and not a film simulation. A couple other mistakes are found in the recipe itself: Dynamic Range should be DR200, and Noise Reduction should be -4. But, you know, it’s always alright to “season to taste” a recipe, so maybe that is how they prefer those settings.

I’m super happy to have been included in this writeup! I’m stoked that Moment found this recipe to be a valuable resource to the photography community—so valuable, in fact, that they were eager to share it with their customers on their website. Honestly, I’m flattered. Thank you, Moment!

Why I Never Shoot RAW—Fujifilm Simulations, Recipes, and More!

Fujifilm X-Pro1 (X-Trans I) Film Simulation Recipe: Kodachrome I

Not Filed – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome I”

This Kodachrome I film simulation recipe is an adaption of my Vintage Kodachrome recipe for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras. Of course, those two cameras don’t have Classic Chrome, which makes recreating a Kodachrome look nearly impossible; however, Thomas Schwab figured it out! Thank you, Thomas! You might remember, he also figured out how to recreate Kodachrome II using the PRO Neg. Std film simulation. While this recipe isn’t quite as close of a match to the original recipe as Kodachrome II, it does manage to capture the feel of Vintage Kodachrome, and is as close as you’ll get to that aesthetic on X-Trans I. Because it doesn’t have PRO Neg. Std, this is not compatible with the X-M1.

You might recall that the Vintage Kodachrome recipe is mimicked after the first era of Kodachrome, which was from 1935 to 1960. 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.

Green Oak Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome 1”

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +2 (Hard)
Shadow: -2 (Soft)
Color: +2 (High)
Sharpness: +1 (Medium-Hard)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: Auto, 0 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: -1/3 to -1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Kodachrome I” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-Pro1:

Green Lake – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Backlit Forest Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Joshua – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Chicken Soup for the Soul – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Books in a Pew – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Church Pew Near a Window – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Red Carpet Stairs – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Window Light on Floor – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Old Window – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Arched Window – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Steeple View – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Brick Chimney – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1

Find these film simulation recipes and many more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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SOOC Episode 02 (and Episode 03!)

Despite a little technical trouble, Episode 02 of SOOC was a great success! I appreciate everyone who tuned in, and for everyone who participated. You guys are great! And it was wonderful to see your Kodachrome II pictures! Here’s the link to submit your Fujicolor C200 photographs: click here. I hope there was something in the broadcast that you found helpful or interesting, and that it was worth your time. It was supposed to be 45 minutes, but it ended up doubling that! If you missed it, you can watch it above.

The technical difficulty that I had on my end is this: my Fujifilm X-E4 that I was using for this broadcast kept overheating. In my review of the camera, I stated that I thought a similar overheating issue to the X100V was possible. Up until this video, which was being recorded live, I had not experienced it. Well, now you and I know: the X-E4 is prone to overheating if left on too long. I’ll use a different camera for future episodes.

I don’t believe the Fuji X Weekly App 12-month Patron giveaway winner has stepped forward yet. Adnan Omanovic was randomly selected from those who submitted pictures. Adnan, if you read this, leave a comment or send me a message so that I can get you your prize.

Episode 03 is already scheduled! If you click on the video where it says “Watch on YouTube” you can then “set a reminder” so you don’t miss it. Otherwise, mark your calendar for September 9th. I hope to see you then!

Fujifilm X-Trans I (X-Pro1 + X-E1) Film Simulation Recipe: Kodachrome II

Storm Building Over Mountain Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome II”

Kodachrome is probably the most iconic photographic film ever made. It was legendary, and many people saw the world through its colors. Kodak produced Kodachrome film from 1935 through 2009, when it was suddenly discontinued.

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, which was a color transparency film with an ISO of 10. This Kodachrome was the first color film that produced reasonably accurate colors and 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.

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 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.

Neighborhood Flag – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome II”

Another generation of Kodachrome, which came out in 1974, saw Kodachrome II replaced by Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome-X replaced by Kodachrome 64. The differences between this version and the previous weren’t huge and image quality was very similar. The biggest change was going from the K-12 to the K-14 development process (which was a little less toxic and complex, but still toxic and complex). 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.

While I’ve published a number of recipes with the Kodachrome name, I’ve never made one for X-Trans I because Classic Chrome is necessary to replicate the look, and X-Trans I doesn’t have Classic Chrome. Well, Thomas Schwab got himself a Fujifilm X-E1, and he figured out a pretty phenomenal Kodachrome facsimile using PRO Neg. Std! Unbelievable! It’s amazing how good this recipe looks considering that it doesn’t use Classic Chrome. The X-M1 doesn’t have PRO Neg. Std, so this recipe isn’t compatible with that camera, but if you have an X-E1 or X-Pro1, this one is sure to become an instant favorite! Thank you, Thomas, for creating and sharing this recipe!

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +1 (Medium-High)
Shadow: +2 (High)
Color: -2 (Low)
Sharpness: +2 (Hard)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: Auto, +1 Red & -2 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Kodachrome II” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-Pro1:

Cloud Building Behind Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Grass & Flowers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Berry Bush – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Reddish Berries – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Sons for Mayor – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Top Stop – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Restroom Closed – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Interstate 84 West – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Power Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Five Buckets – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1

Find these film simulation recipes and many more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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My Fujifilm X100V Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe

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Evening at a Pond – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V “Kodachrome 64”

The Fujifilm X100V has some new features, including Clarity and Color Chrome Effect Blue, that my X-T30 doesn’t have, despite sharing the same sensor. The more JPEG options that I have, the more accurately I can create in-camera looks. My hope is to revisit some of my film simulation recipes, and create what I hope are more accurate versions using the new features. The first one that I revamped is my Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe.

Many people love my Kodachrome 64 recipe, but not everyone. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard about it is that the reds aren’t vibrant enough. I don’t disagree with that, but there are always compromises when recreating looks in-camera because the tools available to me are limited. Of course, what Kodachrome 64 looks like depends on how you’re viewing it, whether projector, light table, scan, print, and how so. You can find some vastly different looking pictures that were captured on Kodachrome 64. For this revamped recipe, I spent some time studying the Kodachrome slides that I captured many years ago.

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Red Lights & Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V “Kodachrome 64”

While I feel that this is an improved Kodachrome 64 recipe, it’s still not perfect. Those who disliked how reds were rendered on the old recipe will certainly like this one better, but is it 100% exactly like the film? No. I think +2 Color might be too much, but +1 Color doesn’t render reds and yellows vibrant enough. If you prefer +1 Color, feel free to do that instead. There’s a little less contrast with this new version. Both of the Color Chrome Effects, the lower Dynamic Range setting, and Clarity add contrast, so I changed Highlight and Shadow to compensate. The X-T4 has .5 Highlight and Shadow adjustments, and I would set Shadow to +0.5 if I were using these settings on that camera (I hope that Fujifilm updates the X100V and X-Pro3 to allow this, too). I think it would be acceptable to use +1 Shadow, but I felt that was a tad too much, so I set it to 0. Despite not being perfect, I do feel that this version is a little more accurate to actual Kodachrome 64 film.

If you have an X100V, X-Pro3 or X-T4, I invite you to try this new-and-improved Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe. Be sure to let me know what you think! Here are a couple pictures comparing the two versions of this recipes:

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Original Kodachrome 64 recipe.

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New Kodachrome 64 Recipe.

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Original Kodachrome 64 recipe.

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New Kodachrome 64 recipe.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: 0
Shadow: 0
Color: +2
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: +1
Clarity: +3
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -5 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +2/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this new Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:

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White Horse by a Stream – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Horses in the Grass – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Curious Horse – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Country Tires – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Yellow Flowers, Blue Sky – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wishful Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Beer & Board – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Road Bicycling – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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All the World’s a Sunny Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Orders & Pickup – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red, White & Blue Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Flag Up Close – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Reeds by the Water – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Evening Reeds – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Landscape Flowers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Handlebar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Kodak Colors – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Half of an Orange – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Ground Beans – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Pallets – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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IHOP – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Cupcake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Sitting on Concrete – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Spring Snow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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