I Felt Good About the Return of My Friend Etkachrome Even if Only for a Fleeting Moment

I don’t use film anymore but found interesting the news that Kodak is bringing back Etkachrome slide film.

on-photography-newI was a big user of Etkachrome until I bought a DSLR camera in July 2011. I shot my last frame of slide film a year later.

The rebirth of Etkachrome is good news for such slide shooters in the Akron Railroad Club as Marty Surdyk, Jim Mastromatteo, Richard Antibus, Don Woods and Dave Shepherd.

Kodak Alaris, the company that took over Kodak’s film products, said there has been increasing interest in analog photography and sales of film products are on the rise.

Those making images of railroad operations on film can expect to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Yet I am reminded of a discussion we had at Eat ‘n Park last year during the post-ARRC meeting social hour about how the last lab in Akron that does E6 processing would be discontinuing that service.

Marty said he had a couple of rolls of film that were being held “hostage” by Cleveland-based Dodd Camera because the machine it uses for E6 processing was broken and it wasn’t certain when or if it would get fixed.

The upshot of those developments is that local photographers might need to ship their slide film by mail to get it processed.

The availability of slide film is unlikely to become any more convenient than it has been for the past several years. You have to visit a camera store to buy it or order it by mail.

Nor is the return of Etkachrome likely to signal a substantial return to film among railroad photographers.

In reading the comments on a photography website about the Etkachrome revival, I got the impression that film is a niche market heavily populated by professionals and serious amateurs who are invested in digital and film alike.

Film has its advantages, but cost is not one of them. Many who posted spoke about the high cost of buying and processing film, which can average around a dollar a slide.

If you want to show your slides to the world, you just about have to digitize them because there are few opportunities to see slides projected on a screen or wall. Social media is a digital world.

Although I grew up in a film world and most of my photography career has been in film, I sold my Canon Rebel G after going digital and there is a zero chance I’ll go back to film. The advantages of digital photography are just too many.

Emotional attachment and reaction is at the heart of photography. The return of Etkachrome is like hearing from a friend you haven’t been in touch with for several years who was once a big part of your life.

Even if the renewal of that friendship is fleeting, it feels good to know that he is still alive and well even if living a diminished life.

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