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Eastman Kodak to discontinue Kodachrome

Sales of the film known for its rich, vibrant tones have plunged as photographers gravitated to digital cameras and newer film.

June 23, 2009|Tiffany Hsu

Paul Simon can kiss his Kodachrome goodbye: Eastman Kodak Co. is discontinuing the storied 74-year-old color film.

As photographers gravitated to digital cameras and newer film, Kodachrome sales plunged to less than 1% of Kodak's total film sales. About 70% of the company's revenue now comes from digital sales.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Kodachrome: An article in Business on Tuesday about the discontinuation of Kodachrome film misspelled the last name of one of the creators, Leopold Mannes, as Maines.

Kodachrome labs worldwide have dwindled to just one, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., which will offer the service through 2010.

Supplies of the film, known for its rich, vibrant tones, are expected to last until early fall.

The move comes as Kodak tries to focus its business. In January, the company said it would cut up to 4,500 jobs, or 18% of its workforce. Kodak shares fell 23 cents to $2.62; a year earlier the stock sold for $12.34.

Created in the 1930s by musicians Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Maines, who timed their experiments with a metronome, Kodachrome is often referred to as being "made by God and Man," according to a Kodak spokesman.

In 1973, Simon immortalized the film's "nice bright colors" in his song "Kodachrome." Even the scenic Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah was named after the film.

Photographer Steve McCurry used the film in 1985 for his famous National Geographic photo of an Afghan girl with piercing green eyes. McCurry has since abandoned Kodachrome, but he will shoot one of the last rolls of film before Kodak donates them to the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y., the company's hometown.

Most regulars at Tuttle Cameras in Long Beach who used Kodachrome are "between the ages of 50 and 150," manager Bernie Baltazar said. Nowadays, Baltazar's only interaction with Kodachrome is when customers bring in old slides, asking for them to be scanned and made into prints, he said.

"A lot of the old guys have rolled with the times," he said. "They all got out of Kodachrome a while ago."

As a young photographer, Baltazar, 41, used Kodachrome but drifted away as processing became more difficult and allegations grew that the chemicals used were harmful to the environment.

"I can shoot using any of my digital cameras and make the photo look like Kodachrome," he said.

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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