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Kodachrome 25 - Expired

I received a few rolls of expired 35mm film cartridges in a box from a stranger in Lewes, Delaware. In the box were a few 35mm cartridges of Kodachrome 25 that had expired in 1988.

Kodak Kodachrome 25 was a popular 35mm colour reversal film produced by Kodak from 1935 until it was discontinued in 2009. Dwayne's Photo processed the last roll of Kodachrome film in Parsons, Kansas, on December 30, 2010. They officially closed their doors in December 2011, marking the end of an era for this iconic film stock. Despite the discontinuation of Kodachrome film, its legacy inspires photographers and fans worldwide. Its iconic look continues to be sought after by those who appreciate its unique colour palette and nostalgic feel. The last roll of Kodachrome manufactured was given to renowned National Geographic photojournalist Steve McCurry.

Kodachrome is so iconic, so famous, that Hollywood made a fictionalised movie about the last roll of Kodachrome.

Heck, Paul Simon wrote a song about Kodachrome. Kodachrome is the most famous film product ever.

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s
A sunny day, oh yeah

I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

I received a few rolls of expired 35mm film cartridges in a box from a family friend in Lewes, Delaware. In the box were several 35mm cartridges of Kodachrome 25 that had expired in 1988. Coincidentally in 1989 I exposed a single roll of Kodachrome 64, the only Kodachrome film roll I have ever used. At least, it's the only Kodachrome slides I found in a box of my old images.

When exposed, an expired roll of Kodachrome 25 film will have decreased sensitivity to light, often resulting in underexposure when exposed at native ISO. The film's colour dyes will have also degraded over time, leading to colour balance and saturation shifts. Exposing an expired roll of 35mm film will result in unpredictable results, as the film's sensitivity to light will have degraded over time. Expired film will be more prone to graininess and other anomalies. I read on the Internet that to ensure the best possible outcome, it is recommended to overexpose the film by 1 to 2 stops to compensate for its decreased sensitivity.

Despite these potential challenges, I wanted to expose the expired Kodachrome 25 film cartridge. Perhaps I would enjoy whatever result I would get. I set realistic expectations and was open to the possibility of unexpected results.

Kodachrome was known for its vibrant, saturated colours and fine-grain structure. Kodachrome 25 had an ISO rating of 25, making it well-suited for bright, outdoor shooting conditions. I waited for a sunny summer day to ensure I had opportunities to test the film in various lighting and see how it performed. I grabbed my camera, set the ISO to ASA 12, inserted a roll of Kodachrome 25, grabbed my tripod and drove to Princeton University. I did my best to take notes, but I expected the worst. I exposed most of the frames during a visit to my favourite tavern.

Since Kodachrome can no longer be developed as a colour reversal film, I searched the Internet for answers about what to do with my exposed roll of film. I stumbled upon a few references to developing the film as black and white. My internet search suggested that the most recommended place to process my expired roll of Kodakcgrome 25 in black and white seemed to be Film Rescue International. I also found out about Kelly-Shane Fuller, who had found a way to develop Kodachrome into a colour negative. His work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions, and he won numerous awards for his photography. He has created a process to develop Kodachrome into a colour negative. I also contacted Boutique Film Lab, the lab I have used for almost all my film development over the last few years. Boutique Film Lab confirmed they could develop Kodachrome 25 as a black-and-white film.

I rolled the dice and developed my film with Boutique Film Lab. When I sent the roll to Boutique Film Lab, I accepted that I might be wasting money.

I should have exposed the Kodachrome 25 cartridge at ISO 6; ISO 12 was insufficient. The film was so severely underexposed that the Epson Perfection V600 struggled to find the frame border during the scan preview. I manually adjusted the scanner for each frame. After scanning, I followed my usual 35mm scan workflow, importing and running the scans through Negative Lab Pro. I knew I had failed as the images appeared on my Mac Studio Display.

The frames were very dark and underexposed. I did my best to fix things in Adobe Lightroom, but the best I could do was make the image recognisable.

I don't fault Boutique Film Lab. Either the film was unusable, or I needed to expose it properly. I have about five more rolls of Kodachrome 25. I need to find out how the cartridges were stored. I am to use the remaining cartridges.

Name Kodachrome 25
Format 35mm
Film Code Number 5073
Film Code Name KM
Process K-14
Native ISO ASA 25
Features saturated colours and fine-grain structure
Price FREE
Lab Boutique Film Lab
Exposed ISO ASA 12
Lab Process Black and White
Scanner Epson Perfection V600
Software VueScan 9, Negative Lab Pro, Adobe Lightroom
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12
Sunday 29 January 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 12

Author: Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

3 thoughts on “Kodachrome 25 - Expired”

  1. Jim Grey says:

    I think the emulsion has deteriorated. You may be able to get better results from this film by tweaking the exposure and development, but I think you'll never get truly good images.

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