Long Term Color Stability of Kodachrome


If a Kodachrome color reversal film is stored correctly (dry, cool and in the dark) its colors may survive up to 20 years between exposure and processing.

A Miracle happens ...

In June 1989 a bag with a lot of exposed, but not yet processed Kodachrome films had been stolen out of my car in Canada. In August 2008 this bag was found. The bag had been lying for 17 years in the canadian rain forest, just a few meters besides the road. Then this part of the forest was cut clear and the bag was buried 20 cm under the earth (probably by means of heavy logging equipment) and just a little bit of the handle was visible. There it lie for another 2 years before it was found by people looking for fire wood. Five of those 15 to 20 film rolls were still sealed within their plastic boxes, the other boxes were open or destroyed and the film rolls were rusty and beyond any usage. The finders took the five good film rolls and were able to contact me (there was a paper with my address in each plastic box).

On a long but X-ray safe detour (Canada - England - Germany - USA) the films finally reached the last lab in the world which is able to process Kodachrome (Dwaynes Photoworld in Kansas/USA). There they were processed (probably manually). Two of the film rolls looked brand new, the other tree rolls had traces of rust. The plastic boxes were difficult to open because the plasticiser had got lost over the long time. Accordingly to the outer appearance of the film rolls was the look of the processed slides:

However, even on the worst preserved film rolls one can recognize the motive.
Picture of the best preserved film roll (no white balance)
Picture of the best preserved film roll (white balance applied)

URL: http://www.huennebeck-online.de/foto/kodachrome/stability.html
Letzte Änderung: $Date: 2009/08/20 21:20:23 $