Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/12/12

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Subject: [Leica] Kodachrome and Leica Lenses
From: "Jack F. Matlock" <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 10:41:20 -0500

On Fri, 11 Dec 1998 19:26:46 +0000
John McLeod wrote:

"I agree with you Tim.  My old Kodachrome 25 (and even 64) 
slides are still
my favorites.  Rich, natural, and deep color.  New Kodachrome 
still looks
natural to my eye, but not as deep or rich, especially the 25."

My experience exactly.  Some subjects, of course, can benefit 
from poster-like strong color, but it is anything but natural to 
my eye.  In addition, my experience is that Kodachrome (in all 
its past versions) is remarkably stable.  I have some slides 
going back to the early 1940s with color as vibrant (it really 
was poster-like then!) as when I got them back from the 
processor.  All my Ektachromes, Agfachromes and Fujichromes have 
shown noticeable deterioration after 10 years (in the case of 
Ektachrome, even fewer).

Of course, the dyes used in the other "chromes" may well be more 
stable today, but if I live another decade or so, I don't want 
to find out that that assumption was incorrect. I have lost too 
many pictures that are important to be personally to fading and 
radical color shifts.

Furthermore -- I find that even the new T-grain based films 
cannot match Kodachrome for fineness (actually absence) of 

As for the color balance, that can easily be changed in the 
printing or duplicating process.  Ditto color saturation. 
 Actually, my main problem with duplicates is controlling the 
increased contrast and (usually) more intense color saturation. 
 It's a bit hard for me to understand why these should issues in 
the selection of a film since they are so easily modified, so 
long as the image detail is there.  It always will be in a 
properly exposed, properly focussed Leica image.

So -- this is one fellow who will continue to stick to 
Kodachrome whenever he considers the pix important to him, and 
wants them to last.  If I am going to project them a lot, I'll 
make a copy on Ektachrome duplicating film -- and the copies are 
almost always more snappy (i.e., contrasty and color intense) 
that the Kodachrome original.  But using duplicates for 
projection preserves the original image.  For me, the bottom 
line is that I can control color balance and color intensity, 
but if a slide has faded, with noticeable color shifts, it 
cannot be fully restored since some colors will have faded more 
than others, with the loss of portions of the image required to 
bring them back into proper balance.

Ultimately, of course, the color balance and saturation are 
matters of taste.  There is no correct or incorrect view of the 
matter.  It does strike me, though, that some seem to get 
emotionally attached to a given choice -- whether of a film, or 
camera, or developer, or whatever -- and lose their objectivity 
of judgment.  But that's their privilege.

Jack Matlock