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original Kodachrome speed

Thomas Shoebotham , May 04, 2007; 01:14 p.m.

I am doing a little research into the history of Kodachrome and am trying to find out what was the ISO/ASA of the first versions of Kodachrome slide film (35mm and 828 format), i.e., from its release in 1936 until around 1961, when Kodachrome II (ASA 25) took over. In my poking around, I've seen answers for this question ranging from ASA 6 up to 16, with ASA 10 or 12 being the most common ones. What is THE correct answer? Is there more than one correct answer?

I've gotten pretty consistent answers for the speed of the early 16mm and 8mm movie films, ASA 10 for daylight and ASA 16 for "Type A", which I assume was some sort of indoor version, but nothing so clear for the slide versions.


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Ellis Vener , May 04, 2007; 01:37 p.m.

ASA 8. But what does Kodak say? Have you asked through http://www.kodak.com ?

Thomas Shoebotham , May 04, 2007; 01:51 p.m.

Yes, I'd thought of that. That was my next step, if I couldn't get a clear answer here. I may just do it anyway. But I'd still love to hear from anyone here who has a response.

John Kelly , May 04, 2007; 02:21 p.m.

Kodachrome was also manufactured in a very widely used microfilm version (long rolls) and of course in a print form (looked like the old Cibachrome, but had longer tonal scale).

John J. Genna , May 04, 2007; 02:38 p.m.

Thomas Shoebotham , May 04, 2007; 02:51 p.m.

Thanks! I have seen it. Did you notice that on the third line of that Kodachrome timeline chart, the line for "Kodachrome film, 35mm and 828, daylight & Type A, 1936-1962," which is just what I'm looking for, that there is no entry for the ASA/ISO? That's my problem.

And what is this print film spoken of above? I assumed that people just made prints out of Kodachrome slides. Was there some separate Kodachrome product dedicated to making regular consumer prints?

Walter Degroot , May 04, 2007; 04:19 p.m.

apparently, kodachrome did not lend itself to making prints.

when kodacolor came out there was a process for printing and later even making slides from koacolor.

Kodachrome was an entirely different thing. Higher contrast and greater saturation caused problems. so I THINK they made a Internagative from the koadachome slide and made a " kodachrome print" from that, they were plastic like the current driver's licenses and ID cards. often 2" x 3" but I recall larger prints also they were expensive.

at that time there was roll film kodacolor but NO 35mm kodacolor. I went round and round trying to find out exact details about film history, and kodak milestones are the "classic comics" version of history.

Craig Shearman , May 04, 2007; 04:20 p.m.

ASA 10 is what I've always heard, though I wouldn't be suprised if there was a slightly slower ASA 8 when it first came out, or with that small a difference maybe they just changed the rating without changing the film. Type A film typically has a higher ASA than daylight film. It is in fact "some sort of indoor version." Daylight film is balanced for the 5000-6000 degree kelvin color of daylight. Type A is balanced for the 3400 degree color of Photoflood bulbs and Type B for the 3200 degree of tungsten/quartz lights. These are all the same regardless of movie vs still film. Not sure about the reference to a Kodachrome "print" film. You can make prints from slides of course but when people say print film they usually mean negative film. Kodachrome is of course a positive transparency film, not a negative. I believe there was in the 1950s a Kodachrome Commercial 35mm movie film that was low contrast to accomodate for the increase in contrast when making duplicate "prints" on movie film, but I wouldn't call that a print film.

Thomas Shoebotham , May 04, 2007; 05:38 p.m.

Well, I tried asking Kodak. Here's their answer:

"We received your e-mail regarding the ISO (formerly ASA) of KODAK KODACHROME Film prior to 1961 and appreciate the opportunity to comment.

Regrettably we no longer have the resources to assist with your research.

You may find the International Museum of Photography, located at the George Eastman House able to assist. You may wish to contact them at:

International Museum of Photography (George Eastman House) 900 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14607"

Guess we're on our own for now.

John Stockdale , May 04, 2007; 06:31 p.m.

"I've gotten pretty consistent answers for the speed of the early 16mm and 8mm movie films, ASA 10 for daylight and ASA 16 for "Type A", which I assume was some sort of indoor version, but nothing so clear for the slide versions."

I can confirm using ASA10 daylight Kodachrome 16mm movie film in the 1950s.

My sister had an 8mm consumer movie camera in the 1960s and if I remember correctly all of the Kodachrome in that format was Type A for indoor use in incandescent light. The camera had an inbuilt filter that was used when filming in daylight.

The response above from Kodak is a little disappointing, but understandable. In around 1970 I found an unused roll of my father's 10ASA Kodachrome 16mm movie film with a use by date of around 1955. I phoned our local Kodak office (Melbourne Australia) and spoke to someone about the film. He advised me to give a half stop extra exposure because of the film's age. I used it in a tricky light situation (skating just after sunrise on a frozen lake) and took the roll to Kodak. They had to send it to Hawaii for processing because it wasn't the current type of film. No charge for processing, since it had been prepaid maybe 18 years earlier. Results were pretty good, considering the lighting conditions being so contrasty. It's a different world today, but I still use some Kodak products.

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