Ektachrome Returns!

I followed with interest the hype surrounding the re-release by Kodak Alaris of Ektachrome 100 slide film, announced in early 2017, after having been completely phased out by 2013. Honestly, initially I wasn’t that interested, but as time wore on I become more intrigued as to what the slide film might offer. When the long-awaited and long-delayed release finally happened on September 25, 2018, I was ready, having pre-ordered from Freestyle Photo.

Quite possibly the first rebooted Ektachrome to arrive in Madagascar. Oct 26, 2018.

Unlike many photographers out there who have reviewed the film, I suffer from logistical delays. My film shipped on September 26, and arrived weeks later. But this film wasn’t cheap, so I waited for the right opportunity to shoot it, over the course of December. And then shipped it off to Blue Moon Camera in Portland, because E6 chemicals only appear to be available in liquid form, meaning I can’t get it in Madagascar.

I grew up in the 70s, and I remember adults shooting slide film. I remember the jokes about being invited to look at others’ vacation slides. But I never shot slide film myself. So I was curious what was so special about it – other than the fact that it’s positive film, not negative.

Condemned
A condemned storefront in New Orleans, Louisiana
W Hotel
The W Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans

When the film arrived in late January, neatly framed in slide frames just like I had seen growing up, holding the slides up to the light, I was impressed by the bright colors. None of the faded colors I sometimes see with underexposed negative film – I always feel like I need to process the scans with software to make them “pop” – in the case of these slides, every single photo was as bright and as vibrant as I remembered from the day I had taken the photos.

Nightlife
New Orleans’ French Quarter at night, Christmas 2018
Blur
Jazz Club in New Orleans

I was especially impressed with the night shots – even the ones that were blurred because the shutter was forced to stay open too long. Blacks were black, neon was bright and crisp, not blown out – and there was none of the noise and grain that so often disappoints when I shoot color (or black and white) film at night and I think, “it seems like there’s probably enough light, I’ll just risk it.” And firing the flash did the trick – no blur, and none of the overdone highlights like I often get with negative film.

Dancers
Same scene as above, but with flash

I chuckle as I think of folks from my parent’s generation, who have been trying for years to figure out what to do with their slides, and wishing there were a cheap service to convert them all to digital. Because now I have two 36-exposure rolls of slides, neatly mounted in frames and stored in transparent sheets. And unlike the previous generation, I have no projector for them, no idea where to get one, and even if I did, I can’t imagine the reaction I’d get if I invited friends to come and “look at our vacation slides.”

Preferred Candidate
Rajoelina supporters just ahead of Madagascar’s 2018 election
Two Girls
Malagasy Girls

So what should we look forward to from the Ektachrome re-release? Can we expect a resurgence of slide projectors (currently only available from eBay and other vintage resellers)? What are people going to do with their slides?

Storm
My dog Storm
Rock

One thing is for sure – the consistent, bright colors offered by Ektachrome aren’t offered by any other film on the market today. Unfortunately, it costs over $12 per roll, and then there’s the development cost if you haven’t invested in the chemicals. And you end up with a product that takes up space but has to be scanned back to digital if you want to share it.

Shop

So what’s the point?

I don’t know – there are a lot of “cons” – but regardless, Kodak Alaris is gearing up to release Ektachrome in medium and large format sizes. And I have no idea what I’md do with it once developed, but I’m looking forward to ordering some as soon as it is!

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4 Responses to Ektachrome Returns!

  1. mgmlvks says:

    Tom – once again fascinating photos with a story – thanks so much. Glad the slide film is back – such solid colors! Yes it is costly – maybe will come down, but doubt it. As for projecting – yes – you should have friends over and project them – it was essentially a requirement at our house growing that we do this after trips, even when we were out of the house as (young) adults. I have some advice on projectors to buy/use if interested.

  2. Tom (Admin) says:

    I guess my contemporary version of this is making videos and blogging! I can’t imagine having folks over to look at slides – it’s such a cliche! I did see a few projectors online (read the fine print: no lens) but they range wildly in cost. Not sure it’s worthwhile for the 2 rolls just yet but I’m happy for any recommendations!

  3. Jim Grey says:

    Interesting points here. What *is* the point of slide film if we all scan our film anyway? I think your results here are part of the answer: stunning, spot-on color.

  4. Tom (Admin) says:

    I wonder what other folks are doing with their slides?

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