Five years after ditching its Ektachrome 100 film, Kodak is making final preparations for its relaunch.
The iconic photography company has been working on the production of Ektachrome for more than a year, and has just shown off some of the first images shot with it.
“Our development team is still working hard on the update,” Kodak said in an Instagram post (below), which included “some successful test photos from our pilot-scale equipment.” It declined to offer a specific date for the relaunch of its once-popular 35mm color transparency film, though a blog post last November promised it would hit the market some time this year.
Kodak says that its Ektachrome 100 film was popular for its “extremely fine grain, clean colors, great tones and contrasts, [and] became iconic in no small part due to the extensive use of slide film by National Geographic magazine over several decades.”
If you’re wondering why Kodak can’t simply roll out the same production method as before, the company points out that it’s a “very complex film with over 80 ingredients, and many of those ingredients were not able to be purchased any longer.”
So its first step was to find out which places could make the necessary chemicals and which ones it could make itself, a process that in itself presented a “big challenge,” though one that it has clearly managed to overcome.
The fall and rise of Ektachrome
Kodak launched Ektachrome in the early 1940s, but facing financial difficulties in 2012 and citing lack of demand in the face of growing pressure from the fast-expanding digital market, the company ended production of many of its film types — Ektachrome among them.
In 2013, Kodak’s film photography unit was spun off into a new company called Kodak Alaris. In the last few years, the company said it started to receive an increasing number of inquiries asking if it had any plans to reintroduce any of its films.
“Sales of professional photographic films have been steadily rising over the last few years,” the company said in early 2017. It added that both professional and enthusiast photographers were “rediscovering the artistic control offered by manual processes and the creative satisfaction of a physical end product.”
With the launch apparently just around the corner, Ektachrome fans will soon have the chance to once again load it into their film cameras. We look forward to seeing some of the results.