Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome – A Film Simulation Showdown

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I have two very similar film simulation recipes that both produce results quite close to their namesake slide films: Kodachrome II and Ektachrome 100SW. Even though the settings are nearly the same, the looks that they produce are quite different. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the old “Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome” debate from the days of film. There were people who preferred one over the other for various reasons. Kodachrome was more iconic. Ektachrome had more variations. Despite the fact that they were both color transparencies made by the same company, I could probably write a long article about the differences between the two films, but this blog is about Fujifilm X cameras and not Kodak film stocks.

What I wanted to do here is compare the two film simulation recipes side by side. I will show them both, and you can decide which is best for you. It’s kind of a revival of the old debate, but with a modern twist. Kodachrome or Ektachrome? You get to decide which is the better film simulation recipe!

Take a look at the pictures below:

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Welcome to Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Winter Mountain – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Kodachrome II”

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Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 “Kodachrome II”

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View From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

What I like about the Kodachrome II recipe is that it produces a vintage color look that reminds me of the images found on the pages of old magazines, such as National Geographic and Arizona Highways. As I look through my grandparent’s old slide collection (which I have at home), I can see this look in their old photographs from 50 or so years ago. It’s such a fantastic recipe for Fujifilm X cameras, and I just love it!

What I like about the Ektachrome 100SW recipe is that it produces a color look that reminds me of some images that I have captured with the actual film. The film was good for western landscapes or any situation where you needed some color saturation with a warm color cast. It wasn’t around for very long because it was only marginally commercially successful, but it was one of the better variations of Ektachrome film in my opinion.

What do you think, Kodachrome or Ektachrome? Let me know in the comments which film simulation recipe you like best!

Fujifilm Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipes

Classic Chrome is one of the most popular film simulations available on Fujifilm X-Trans cameras. It produces a look similar to quintessential Kodak color transparency films like Kodachrome and Ektachrome, which graced the pages of publications like National Geographic and Arizona Highways for many years. With all things vintage being in style, there is a huge draw to the analog-esque results produced by the Classic Chrome film simulation.

I love Classic Chrome and I have used it as the base for a bunch of different film simulation recipes. It’s possible to achieve a number of different interesting looks straight out of camera by adjusting the settings. Honestly, I think that I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I plan to create even more film simulation recipes using Classic Chrome in the coming months. As I do, I will add them to this article.

Below you will find all of my different film simulation recipes that I have created that use Classic Chrome. If you haven’t tried them all, I personally invite you to do so and see which are your favorites! My personal favorite is Kodachrome II, but they each have their own usefulness and charm. Let me know in the comments which recipe you like most!

Even though the different recipes say X100F, X-Pro2, and X-T20, they are completely compatible with any Fujifilm X-Trans III or IV camera. For example, you don’t have to use the X100F recipes exclusively on the X100F. You can use any of my recipes on any X-Trans III camera.

My original Classic Chrome recipe.

My dramatic Classic Chrome recipe.

My Vintage Kodachrome recipe.

My Kodachrome II recipe.

My Vintage Agfacolor recipe.

My Kodak Portra recipe.

See also:

My Classic Chrome recipe for Fujifilm Bayer and X-Trans II.

If you like these recipes, be sure to follow Fuji X Weekly so that you don’t miss out when I publish a new one! Feel free to comment, as I appreciate your feedback. Please share on social media this article or any other that you found useful so that others might find it, too.

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 5 – Oklahoma in Color

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Small Green Hill – McAlester, OK – Fuji X-Pro2 & 60mm – Indian Nation TPKE / US HWY 69

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma In B&W  Wyoming

When we were planning our summer road trip, the one state that I was least interested in was Oklahoma. I’d been to Oklahoma a couple times, and nothing I saw was particularly memorable. But I had never traveled through the eastern part of the state, which is where my family and I drove through, and I was quite impressed with what I saw. Oklahoma blew my expectations out of the water!

I captured a whole lot of photographs while there, mostly in and around the town of Pawhuska. We stayed the night there, so the images were taken over a span of two days. I used my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for the color pictures, utilizing my Kodachrome II film simulation recipe. If Pawhuska sound familiar to you, it’s because Ree Drummond (“The Pioneer Woman”) lives there. She has a gift store and restaurant in the town. The best food we ate on the entire trip was in Pawhuska, hands down!

We drove down many miles of rural highways in Oklahoma, and saw some surprisingly beautiful scenery along the way. We passed through several quaint towns and experienced firsthand some great hospitality. I hope to one day return, but I’m grateful for the time I spent there, even if it was short.

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Foal Shy – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Open Window Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Buckin’ Flamingo – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Locked Door – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Oklahoma Flag – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Brick – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Window Grill – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Pawhuska Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Contemplation – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Paint Ladder – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Backwards Gear – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Window Seat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Rural Sunset – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – OK HWY 99

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Sunset Through The Branches – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – OK HWY 99

My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Kodachrome II Film Simulation Recipe

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

I was asked by a couple different Fuji X Weekly readers if I could create some film simulation recipes that mimic the look of renown photographers Ernst Haas, Luigi Ghirri and William Eggleston, each of which are known for their unique style. As I was contemplating how to go about this, I learned that all three of them used Kodachrome film. Although none of them used Kodachrome exclusively, they all used it extensively at one time. If I could make a Kodachrome recipe, I would have something that covers Haas, Ghirri and Eggleston. To copy their look using this recipe, simply find color and light in the same manor as those famous photographers did (easy, right?).

You might be thinking, doesn’t Classic Chrome already look like Kodachrome? No, it actually resembles Ektachrome more than Kodachrome, but it is a good starting point since it has a general Kodak aesthetic. What about the Kodachrome recipe I already made? Actually, that mimics an earlier version of the film, which has a little different look than what I was going for here. You could use that, as I’m certain that some of Haas’ early color work was shot on that era of Kodachrome. Primarily, the Kodachrome that Haas, Ghirri and Eggleston used was Kodachrome II and Kodachrome-X.

In 1961 Kodak replaced the original Kodachrome with a new and improved version called Kodachrome II and a higher-ISO sibling called Kodachrome-X. These films had more accurate color, finer grain and faster ISOs (ISO 25 and 64, respectively, compared to ISO 10 of the original) than the previous version. It was a big leap forward for color photography, and so it is no surprise that the innovators of color photography in the 1960’s and 1970’s relied heavily on it. It’s also the version that Paul Simon sang, “They give us the greens of summer, makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”

Kodachrome II and Kodachrome-X produced a very similar look to each other. The main differences were in grain, contrast and saturation, but overall the variations were quite minor. Kodachrome-X was slightly more bold while Kodachrome II was slightly more clean. Even so, comparing slides, it’s tough to distinguish one from the other (conveniently, I have my grandparents old slides at my home). Even though I have named this film simulation recipe “Kodachrome II” I think it more closely resembles Kodachrome-X, but I find it to be a reasonable match for both.

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Chair Shadow – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

Because of the toxic chemicals used in the development of this era of Kodachrome, plus the complexity of the process, Kodak changed from K-12 development to K-14 development, which ushered in new Kodachrome in 1974, called Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome 64. This version of the film is the one that I have personally used. Interestingly enough, even though this version wasn’t all that much aesthetically different than the previous, there was a big outcry among photographers, and a large group who used Kodachrome II and Kodachrome-X did not appreciate the change.

I believe that Haas, Ghirri and Eggleston continued to use Kodachrome even beyond 1974 when the new version came out, but it seems they used it less extensively, especially Eggleston, who became known for his work with color negatives. Still, each of these three photographers captured some of their most recognizable images on the second era of Kodachrome. And that’s the look that the film simulation recipe below is based on.

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

Example photos, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X-Pro2 Kodachrome II Film Simulation recipe:

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Roof & Sky – Wichita, KS – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Small Green Hill – McAlester, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Ranch View – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Foal Shy – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Blackberry Lemonade – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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McDiner – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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McTaos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Pawhuska Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Open Window Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Kitchen Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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White Water Lily – Princeton, TX – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Park Boys – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Rural Sunset – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

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Weed At Sunset – Montrose, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm “Kodachrome II”

See also: My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Vintage Agfacolor Film Simulation Recipe

My Fujifilm X100F Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation Recipe

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Kodak Colors – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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 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.

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

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.

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 nearly identical. The biggest change was going from the K-12 to the K-14 development process (which was a little less complex, but still 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.

I personally have shot plenty of Kodachrome, mostly Kodachrome 64. It was a good general use film that produced sharp images and pleasing colors. I haven’t used it in more than a decade. Its days are gone. Even if you can find an old roll of the film, there are no labs in the world that will develop it.

Plenty of people have attempted to mimic the Kodachrome look with their digital images. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Alien Skin Exposure software has what is likely the best one-size-fits-all Kodachrome presets, but I don’t think they’re exactly right because the results vary from camera to camera.

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L.A. Trolley – Perris, CA – Nikon D3300, Alien Skin Exposure 1935-1960 Kodachrome preset.

Besides, it all depends on exactly what Kodachrome look you are after. There are different versions, including about a dozen that I didn’t mention above, each with their own slightly varied look. Perhaps filters were used in conjunction with the film (which was more common in the film era than the digital era). How it was viewed, whether projected, light table, printed or scanned, also effected the appearance. Kodachrome has a long shelf life if stored in a dark, cool space, but if not stored properly it can fade or become damaged, and maybe you prefer one of those looks over the other. It’s really tough to pin down exactly what Kodachrome looks like because there are so many variables.

Fujifilm X cameras, such as the X100F that I own, have different Film Simulation options. One of those is called Classic Chrome, which is supposed to mimic the general look of Kodak color transparency film. Some have suggested that Classic Chrome imitates Kodachrome, but I think it more closely resembles Ektachrome.

A couple of days ago I accidentally discovered a vintage Kodachrome recipe for my Fujifilm X100F, based on Classic Chrome. By “accidentally” I mean that I had no intentions of creating a Kodachrome look. I captured a RAW image and played around with it in the camera’s built-in RAW editor. I was trying to see what crazy looks I could get if I really messed around with the settings. One of the versions that I created reminded me of vintage Kodachrome.

I dug out my old Kodachrome slides, plus my grandparent’s really old Kodachrome slides (which I happen to have at my house), looked at some vintage magazines and did some internet searches, and studied what real Kodachrome looks like. Relying strictly on my fading memory isn’t always the best idea, so having actual samples to compare was useful. Thankfully I found plenty of old Kodachrome pictures from many different eras to examine.

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Rubber Boots – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F, original “Vintage Kodachrome” image.

The original picture (above) that I thought looked like vintage Kodachrome was somewhat close to the 1935-1960 version of Kodachrome, but it needed some adjustments. I played around a little more and I think that I have created a pretty good Film Simulation recipe for that generation of the film. Some images seem more convincing than others, but overall I believe it is surprisingly accurate.

One thing that I’m not completely thrilled about with the recipe is the film grain. I think that strong is too strong and weak is too weak. I wish that there was a medium option, but there’s not. On real Kodachrome the grain is not uniform and tends to clump, and so the grain looks much different than Fujifilm’s more regular faux grain. Beginning with Kodachrome II the grain was more fine, and so I definitely wouldn’t pick strong grain if I was trying to simulate a later version. The reason that I chose strong instead of weak is because it furthers the impression of vintage, despite the inaccuracy.

A characteristic of the 1935-1960 Kodachrome is the color shift. Blues veered toward cyan, reds were a bit darker, and skin tones had more of a bronze/orange look. It wasn’t as true-to-life as later versions of the film, but for its time it was considered very accurate.

I think my Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation recipe is a great way to create in-camera retro-styled images. The example photographs in this post are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. It’s pretty darn close to that first era of Kodachrome slide film, and while not 100% accurate, it definitely has the right aesthetic to be convincing.

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

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Books On A Mantel – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Two Thirds – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Pumpkin – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Leaves In The Grass – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Leaves Around A Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Bicycle Trail – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Through The Fall Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Autumn In The Woods – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Golden Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Changing Leaves – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Changing Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Red Autumn Leaf – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Seeds of Gold – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Boy Unsure – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Respect – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Autumn Canopy – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Weber River Autumn – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Log Above The Riverbank – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Weber River In October – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

See also:
My Fujifilm X100F Acros Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Velvia Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe