Discontinued Types of Slide Film

With a Look to the Future


  2014 September 2    Film   How-To & Miscellaneous




Elite Chrome Extra Color 100


photographed on Elite Chrome 100;
"scanned" with this.

all photos Copyright 2014


Background

We're going to look at some discontinued types of slide film. 

Some of these films are still around on the secondary market, mostly from other photographers' stashes.   Several of the Kodak slide films were still being made through 2012.

I'm also going to talk about shooting expired slide film.

For currently-made slide film, see this article.


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In This Article:


Kodachrome

Ektachrome

Elite Chrome

Elite Chrome Extra Color

Astia

Provia 400X

Other Discontinued Films

Shooting Expired Slide Film

Conclusion





Kodachrome


Kodak's famous Kodachrome was actually a black and white film.  That may sound hard to believe, but yes:  it was intrinsically black and white.  The special processing, known as K-14, imparted the colors later. 

The K-14 color process is no more, but there are still places that will process Kodachrome as a black & white slide film.

I haven't sat and pored over the tech documents and patents, but Kodachrome was almost certainly inspired by the old Trichrome photo process.  A camera was used to take three black-and-white photos of the same subject.  Each photo used a different color filter, which emphasized various tones.   Projecting these through the same red, green, and blue filters, superimposing the images on a wall, made a full-color picture.  Ingenious!

There were trichrome photos as far back as 1902 or '03.   The best-known of the early pioneers was Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. 

The early color photos actually had to be projected onto a wall, using special equipment. 

Kodachrome offered something completely unheard-of: 
combining the colors into one transparency.   No special viewer was required, just an ordinary white-light projector.

This famous color slide film was introduced in 1935 and was still being made and processed until 2010.   Now it's history. 




Ektachrome

After Kodachrome there were attempts to create a simplified process for color slides.

This required new and different films.  There was a series of now-defunct processes, beginning in the Forties with E-2, then going through E-3 and E-4.

The best-known is E-6, a process we still have today.  The reason E-6 took off so well was its very low toxicity and its relative simplicity. 

The original E-6 film was Kodak Ektachrome.  There were and still are others, but it was Kodak that introduced the process.

As much as Kodachrome was iconic and all that, Ektachrome was really just as significant.  E-6 was introduced in the late Seventies;  by the early Eighties many photographers had already switched to Ektachrome. 

A few years ago it didn't seem like such a big deal to shoot Ektachrome, until Kodak discontinued it in 2012. 

Now, looking back, it feels as if we were somehow part of this historical golden age of photography.  (But thanks to Fuji and perhaps one or two other companies, slide film is still current.)

Toward the end of Kodak Ektachrome, there were two versions:  E100G and E100VS

E100G was the ordinary, neutral slide film.  It was a very good film, but I never shot enough E100G.  That's probably because Elite Chrome (see below) was almost as good and cost less.

E100VS was Kodak's answer to Velvia.   The VS stood for "Very Saturated".   E100VS was pretty great stuff.   I liked Elite Chrome Extra Color, but here I actually preferred the Ektachrome version.

At that point, Ektachrome was the "pro" film that was sold from the cooler, while Elite Chrome was the "consumer" film that sat on the regular shelves.   (Then again, some boxes of Elite Chrome said "Professional" on them.)




Elite Chrome

My favorite all-around 35mm slide film was actually Kodak Elite Chrome 100, also called EB100. 

Like Astia and Provia (from Fuji), Elite Chrome didn't max out on the saturation.  It instead went for a more neutral or realistic look.    That doesn't mean it wasn't colorful, though;  many of my favorite sky & sunset photos were taken with Elite Chrome 100.

Elite Chrome 100 was actually my go-to slide film most of the time.  That, or EBX100 (which we'll talk about soon).  Even though I've said it's better to start out with a high-saturation slide and turn down the sat later, I think what I liked so much about Elite Chrome was that it was cheap (and great).   It had really nice tones.



Kodak Elite Chrome 100
(EB100)
35mm


I still shoot Elite Chrome 100 (EB100) when I can find rolls that aren't far out of date.   EB100 offers a look similar to the best Nikon full-frame DSLR's, but I prefer the slide film's colors and tones.

Actually, these scans are kind of a poor representation of the slide film, because the flatbed scanner increased the contrast too much and lost quite a bit of the shadow range. One of these days I may update these with proper scans.




Elite Chrome 100


Once again, if the scans look a bit soft (and the shadows a bit dark), it's the scanner.  A V700 or V750 scanner
is a definite step up from what I was using.  If you use Windows / Mac only, I'd also look into the Plustek OpticFilm scanners.  Or, use this method.

The key thing to remember is that slides have the detail for when scanning technology improves.   And you don't need a computer to see what's on them!



Elite Chrome 100


Kodak stopped making the ISO 200 version of Elite Chrome (as of 2011 they were still making Elite Chrome 100), but I got a couple rolls of expired / old stock.  Old slide film can acquire color casts, but these can be fixed at scan time.   Magenta cast is the most common.  

Here's one that reminds me of Kodachrome.  This lot of Elite Chrome 200 had probably sat in the heat somewhere, so I had to turn down the magenta quite a bit:


Elite Chrome 200



These old lots of Elite Chrome 200, which are still on the market occasionally, can have that really "vacation-y" look because of the red cast.  (Just keep in mind that hard-expired slide film is dicey.  I had a roll of Ektachrome from like 1985 that was sitting in a desk drawer all this time, and when I got it back from the lab, the whole roll was clear. )

It's hard to convey the beauty of slides in a bunch of 600-pixel JPG scans for the web.  If you really want to know the best of photography, view some favorite slides on a light table or through a projector. 



Elite Chrome Extra Color


There was an improved version of Elite Chrome, called "Elite Chrome Extra Color" or EBX 100.  It was Kodak's answer to Fuji Velvia, and like Velvia, it had increased saturation.   I liked EBX 100 better than  Velvia for some things.   The color was amazing.   This was a professional film;   I'm pretty sure another name for it was "Elite Chrome Pro". 

Like most slide film, you'd get even better saturation by underexposing 1/3 of a stop. 



Elite Chrome 100 Extra Color
(EBX 100)


Choosing the right scenery could give you skies like the one shown above, without the need for alpha channel layering,  freehand selecting, thresholding, and other manipulations.  And, you have the slide for your archives.

Slide film may have less dynamic range than negative film, but it still handles bright areas much better than digital.  Sun in the frame looks so much more natural and smooth. 
Actually, I've found by doing DSLR slide capture that slides have more dynamic range than a DSLR does.   The slides look much better on a light table than they do in the scans.  The real slides have much more shadow detail than you see in most of these pictures.




Elite Chrome Extra Color
(EBX 100
)


I don't know what the odds are of someone bringing back the discontinued Kodak slide films, but the E-6 process is still around, and I think if people knew how good slides are, there would be the demand for it. 


Here's one I wouldn't even try with digital:  a shaded background with someone wearing white in the sun.   Lighting-wise, it's a lot like what you have in Camera versus Log.  That's a place digital doesn't like to go.

I didn't notice what the light meter was saying here, but the gentleman's shirt is obviously quite a few stops brighter than the background.  Although slide film has narrower range than negative film, the slide handled the range pretty well.  When the highlights do start to wash out, you get that smooth roll-off instead of a shelf-like blow-out.



Elite Chrome Extra Color
(EBX 100)






Elite Chrome 100 Extra Color
(EBX 100)

-1/3 stop


Astia


Fujichrome Astia was actually a better film than Provia, but unfortunately it wasn't different enough to be recognized as such.  Astia photos had more red-magenta in them, whereas Provia has more of that blue-green color balance. 

Nikon digital photos also tend to have a slight blue-green color balance.   Maybe some people like this better for landscapes; I don't know (I like film... and Canon). 

I think Fujifilm should have kept Astia instead of Provia.  However, they probably chose the one that was selling better.   Perhaps not enough people knew why Astia was different, or even that it was different.  Or, like I said, Provia may have been chosen simply because it looks more like what you get from a digital camera.

I've used Astia to photograph fireworks with a Holga.  Great stuff, and greatly to be missed.  But at least there's still Provia. 
And I guess if you want the Astia look, you can always warm up the scans a bit with your editing software.



Provia 400X

Until this film was officially discontinued in 2013, Provia 400X was the fastest slide film available.  It could be pushed to ISO 1600 or even 3200 with very little loss of quality. 

It's also good for daylight shots, but with the high prices of remaining 400X, it's probably better to save it for dim lighting situations where other slide films would require a tripod.  ISO 400 is also good for night sky photography with a wide-angle lens.



Ice Cooler

2014
Provia 400X
Nikkor 28-85 f/3.5-4.5


There are still "new" rolls of Provia 400X available.  (Please help support my site by getting yours through this link). 

These are just remaining stocks;  after they're gone, there won't be any more Provia 400X being made.   Time to enlarge that freezer stash of film!




Other Discontinued Slide Films

If you count re-branded slide films, there were actually quite a few. 

I'm not sure how many companies actually manufactured film.  There was at least Kodak, Fujifilm, Agfa, and Ferrania / 3M / Imation. 

3M / Imation had "Scotch Chrome".  ORWO and GAF also had their own slide films.  Even Polaroid had one or two offerings ("Polachrome"). 

Scotch Chrome may be making a comeback, courtesy of Ferrania.  (See below.)

Not too long ago there was Konica R100, a.k.a. Konicachrome.  I don't see this one very often;  the stuff that appears on the market seems to be from the late 90's and early 2000's.



Shooting Expired Slide Film


First, be aware that slide film doesn't have the shelf life of C-41 (color negative) film. 

Expired C-41 film from the mid to late Eighties can still produce pictures.   Extremely grainy, but still there.

Previously I mentioned what happened when I tried some Ektachrome from the same time period.  No pictures;  just clear, blank film.  This film had not been cold-stored.  It just sat in a desk drawer all those years.

I've heard that older E-6 film has a better chance of yielding images when cross-processed (C-41), but I haven't yet bothered to test this.

It's very important to store slide film in the cold.  At least use a refrigerator, but the freezer is better. 

Slide film in the freezer can last for at least ten or twenty years.  The only thing that affects it here is the natural background radiation.  There are high-energy protons and atomic nuclei from space.  There's also the scattered radation that's produced when these particles interact with other matter.  Some of it could be shielded, perhaps.  Most building and packaging materials also emit small amounts of natural radiation, so it's probably not possible to get 100% shielding.

Over many years, even cold-stored film is going to lose contrast.   It also becomes more grainy.  Most slide film is ISO 50 or 100, so this should last the longest.  Fast films have a shorter storage life.

Shooting recently-expired slide film is a great way to diversify your artistic palette.  However, most of my film shooting is with current-make slide film.  I believe in sending the message that there is still demand for modern slide films. 

And no matter how I try, I find that even the best digital cameras can't quite duplicate the look.   Even if full-frame DSLR's were less than $1,000, slide film would still offer qualities worth having.  I, for one, would still prefer it.
 
 

The Future

It's not strictly nostalgia here.  As of 2014, there are still slide films being made.

There's Fujichrome Velvia 50, Velvia 100, and Provia 100F.  There's also Agfa Precisa 100, Lomography Color Slide X-Pro 200, and Rollei Crossbird and Digibase. 

There's also a recent announcement that Ferrania will be making film again.   They are supposed to be starting with an ISO 100 slide film.  This is incredibly good news!




Conclusion

This has been a look at some discontinued slide films.   

As we've seen here and in the main slide film article, there are also slide films still being made.  

There have been a lot of people predicting the imminent demise of slide film since at least 2001.

Just about everyone who was going to "switch to digital" has already done so;  now, people are starting to get into film again.  

These are exciting times to be a film photographer.  If you haven't tried slide film yet, now's a great time to start.  Read my "Getting Started in Film" guide, and have yourself some fun.  That article also lists some pro labs that do E-6 process.

These days I purchase slide film through Amazon and Ebay Please help keep my site going by using these links to buy your stuff.  It doesn't cost you any extra, and it allows me to keep bringing you helpful articles like this one.

You can get Velvia 100 through this link.  (Individual rolls here.)  For low-light portraits and street photography, you might even still find some
Provia 400X.        

              




I don't care what "everybody" is saying, this is a great time to be a film photographer.

Long live film!

I hope you enjoyed this article.

Have a good one,






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