Robert Stinson called me yesterday to mourn the demise of Kodachrome, the once-popular color slide film that was originally introduced in 1935. Kodak is discontinuing the film after 74 years because of dwindling sales in the digital age, and because there is only one lab remaining in the world that is able to process this unique film, the only film that is developed using the complicated 17-stage K-14 separation process. My own experience with Kodachrome is somewhat limited, but my grandfather, Richard Batten, shot thousands of Kodachrome slides in his lifetime, most of which are in my possession, and are in excellent condition. He used a tiny Kodak Bantam 828 camera. He is, apparently, the one from whom I inherited my photographic skills.
Kodak’s 828 film was unique. It used the yellow paper backing common to medium format, but measured 35mm wide like the much more popular 135-size film. The actual frame is slightly larger in both directions than a standard 35mm frame. Also like medium format, you didn’t rewind the film when you were done; you loaded it on the left to start, shot, then took it out on the right when you were finished, leaving the spool on the left, which you moved to the right side to act as the new take-up spool. It worked fine unless you lost the spool.
My grandfather must have been a very patient man to make so many excellent photographs with such a tedious and taxing tool. Of course, even today, patience is often what separates mediocre photographers from great ones, regardless of their cameras.