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Ektachrome: Wikis


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Ektachrome is a brand name owned by Kodak for a range of transparency, still, and motion picture films available in most formats, including 35 mm and sheet sizes to 11x14 inch size. Readers familiar with old National Geographic magazines will recall the distinctive look of Ektachrome, used for decades for color shots wherever Kodachrome was too slow. [1]

Ektachrome, initially developed in the early 1940s, allowed professionals and amateurs alike to process their own films. It also made color reversal film more practical in larger formats, and the Kodachrome Professional film in sheet sizes was later discontinued.

Whereas the development process used by Kodachrome was technically intricate and beyond the means of amateur photographers and smaller photographic labs, Ektachrome was a product that small professional labs could afford equipment to develop. Many process variants (designated E-1 through E-6) were used to develop it over the years. Modern Ektachrome films are developed using the E-6 process, which can be carried out by small labs or by a keen amateur using a basic film tank and tempering bath to maintain the temperature at 100 °F (38 °C).

Although the Ektachrome name was once associated with both amateur and professional films, Kodak, as of 2006, uses the Ektachrome brand for professional films. Consumer Kodak E-6 films are now branded Elite Chrome.

Ektachrome is still used occasionally as a motion picture film stock, such as in the 1999 film Three Kings, which used a "bleach bypass" process to give a unique appearance.[1]



Although Kodachrome is often considered a superior film due to its archival qualities and color palette, advances in dye and coupler technology have blurred the boundaries between the differing processes, along with Kodak having abandoned Kodachrome research and development since the mid 1990s. Furthermore, the developing of Kodachrome has always required a complex, fickle process requiring an on-site analytical lab and today (2009) requiring a turnaround of several days to allow for shipping times to the one remaining Kodachrome processing facility, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas.

By contrast, small professional labs have been able to process Ektachrome on-site since the 1950s, with product safety and effluent discharge having been drastically improved since the 1970s, when Kodak reformulated their entire color chemistry lineup. It's even possible for amateur labs to process Ektachrome within an hour using a rotary tube processor (made by Jobo, WingLynch or PhotoTherm), sink-line, or even by hand inversion in a small drum.

Ektachrome variants

  • Before Process AR-5 there was EA-5 for aero film. This is a hot version of E-4 and similar to ME-4 for Ektachrome motion picture film.
  • E-6 was available to the public in 1975, but only the pro films were available at the time. There were some color stability ("keeping") issues to verify before the amateur films could be released.
  • E-7 is the "mix-it-yourself" version of E-6. Functionally it was equivalent, but there were a few differences.
  • ES-8 is a special process for one type of Super 8mm movie film. It was introduced in 1975.

There were some other Ektachrome processes for 16 mm motion picture films:

  • ME-2A
  • ECO-2
  • EC0-3
  • E-89
  • E-99
  • VNF-1
  • RVNP
  • CRI-1

The following processes were used for amateur Ektachrome super 8 mm movie film:

  • Ektachrome Movie process introduced in 1971 (movies without movie lights). The process was later designated EM-24
  • EM-25 is the mix-it-yourself version of EM-24.
  • EM-26 is the updated process for improved Ektachrome super 8 films introduced in 1981.
  • EM-27 is the mix-it-yourself version of EM-26.

Process history

Initial Ektachrome process for sheet film (1942-c.1950s)
Initial Ektachrome process for roll film and 135 film (1942-1966)
Updated 'professional' Ektachrome process for sheet film and Kodak EP professional rollfilm (c.1950's to 1976)
Updated Ektachrome process for roll film and 135 film (1966-1996, see note)
Research project, only saw minor use in a revised form as the aerial film process AR-5
Current Ektachrome process used for all major color reversal films and formats, first released in 1977. The conditioner, bleach and stabilizer baths were modified in the mid-1990s to remove the formaldehyde from the stabilizer: This change was indicated by changing the names of the conditioner step to pre-bleach step, and the stabilizer step to the final rinse step
Used for push processing of Kodak Ektachrome films in general, and particularly for Kodak Ektachrome EPH ISO 1600 film, which has a speed of ISO 400 in normal E6, but is exposed at EI 1600 and push processed two stops in the first developer bath (10:00 @100.0F) to achieve the ISO 1600 speed rating. (It is natural for a faster film to require a longer first development time. This is sacrificed in the case of most color processing for consistency in processing, especially in machine processing.)

Other film manufacturers use their own designations for nearly identical processes. They include Fujifilm's process CR-55 (E-4) and CR-56 (cross-licensed with Kodak's process E-6; but with slight variations in the first developer); and the now-discontinued Agfachrome and Konica's CRK-2 (E-6 equivalent).

High Speed Ektachrome, announced in 1959[2] provided an ASA 160 color film, which was much faster than Kodachrome. In 1968, Kodak started offering push processing of this film, allowing it to be used at ASA 400.[3]

The E-4 process was generally stopped after 1977, although continued in use for Kodak PCF (Photomicrography Color Film) until the 1980s, and for Kodak IE (Color Infra-red film) until 1996. This was due to a legal commitment by Kodak to provide the process for 30 years.

The Ektachrome process differs significantly to the Agfa Process AP-41, used generally until 1983 to develop films such as Agfachrome CT18 and 50s Professional.


  1. ^ The Internet Movie Database: Triva for Three Kings
  2. ^ New York Times: Color Film Rated at 160 Announced by Kodak, March 29, 1959.
  3. ^ New York Times: Photo Trade Show Opens, February 25, 1968.

External links


Official Kodak information

Processing of older Ektachrome films

Processes E-2, E-3 and E-4:


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