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Need advice on developing old Kodak movies: G160, KA-II, K40, and E160


Chris Corridan
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Hello everyone,

I have about a dozen Kodak movie films (family home movies) from the mid 1970s. I tried to get them converted to something watchable, but I was informed that they were undeveloped. I was also told that the materials involved for developing these films into color are very difficult to come by. Apparently, converting them to black and white would be much more convenient.

I presume that the color cannot be restored if I choose to get the film developed into black and white, but I do not want to take that step if there is an opportunity to see these films in color.

What would you recommend in this situation?

 

PS: And when I wrote "something watchable" I meant any commonly accessible format: DVD or any kind of conventional video file for PC.

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Edited by Chris Corridan
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Sadly these would have deteriorated over the decades, but for the best results contact this specialist lab... Film Rescue International  in Canada .... https://www.filmrescue.com/

The Ektachromes can still be processed but the Kodachromes can only be processed as B&W negatives.

John S 😎

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I process these films all the time here in my custom lab service at Plattsburgh Photographic Services.   I'm a tiny one man operation these days.  Anyhow, results depend a lot on the age of the films, how they were stored and what amount of heat and humidity they have been exposed to over the many years since exposed in the camera.  KODACHROME  KA-II films were manufactured prior to Sept 1974 thus are very old, and these can and should only be processed as a B&W Negative using a high contrast developer and compensated for age fog.  The same holds for very old KODACHROME 40A films. All KODACHROME films are inherently B&W matrixed films with a layer for each of the 3 primary colors filtered.....the color are dye transferred via processing, and all that support is long discontinued.  The process was proprietary and owned/supported by KODAK alone.  Even so, IF the process were still available, these old films would fair extremely poorly, with results tetering on absolutely nothing to perhaps extremely faint pinkish (magenta) images. 

The EKTACHROME films can still be processed as Color Reversal, however, quality and any resulting images vary.  I have processed some films from the 1970s that still had enough color in them that they could be somewhat digitally restored after digitizing.  But usually, films of this vintage tend to have shifted to mostly green or blue-green.  Worse, is if storage was poor, getting any usable images becomes more difficult.  Also, any poor original exposures such as filming in low light were even when new, the images would've been fainter, will make things worse.

IF these old films had been stored in a zip lock bag frozen since exposed, they would all fair very well, but I doubt that is the case.  In all my years of film processing, I only had one customer from Germany that did so, and his films despite being over 25 years old, were nearly perfect.

Anyhow, unlike larger labs, I custom manual process all cine and still films here, which allows me to mix up the chemistry as needed for the work to be done.  Processing old films as Reversal is a risk since if the film in question is very poor, the results will be terrible or nothing.  Processing any old film to salvage something is via the B&W Negative default process.   However, if all these films were stored together, processing one as Reversal, and yielding acceptable results would allow the others to also be done that way, usually.  And if extremely poor, then deciding to process the remainder to B&W Negative would be the better option.   As stated by other labs, the decision is the customer's.   Contact me if interested in any of my services.  I haven't had a website up since 2008, nor do I advertise, since I still seem to get swamped with film at times.  And ha, don't recommend hiring help.....that's sort of a joke these days.....can't get anyone to shovel snow, cut grass, or help with various tasks these days......and interest in learning specialized analog work seems impossible.  I fear that one day when those of us that are still supporting it, retire or die off, such services may end to a great extent sad to say.  I do wish to warn you, regardless of the lab doing the work, the cost is higher than many would pay owing to the amount of labor involved, specialized chemistry and associated costs.

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Slightly offtopic. Would latent images on German WW2 1941 35mm motion picture film be recoverable? The storage environment would have been original can sealed with oilcloth and tar against saltwater splash. Can buried in limestone soil for 70 years in seasonal temperatures ranging from 5 degrees C to 38 degrees C with hopefully more even temperatures through being buried. This information is for a screenplay project. There is a remote chance that a roll of 35mm motion film in a can and a roll of 35mm still film in a Leica camera body still exist, buried in a hollow in a steep limestone face. Wartime searches for the camera and film were unsuccessful.

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Odds are against it due to the higher heat and humidity despite being sealed in the can.  The oldest film I have processed was made in the late 1940s, and while something came out, it's so terrible that it's impossible to tell what you're looking at, due to the mass infusion of fungus damage in the film emulsion.  I wouldn't give up, and at least with such film length, small pieces can be experimented with to derive the best way to process.  However, if this film is nitrate based, it would be dangerous.   Also, there will be a high probability of the film having developed vinegar syndrome, which again would require lots of special handling.  At worst, it will all be slimed together so severely that maybe some pieces can be worked with, or not at all.  I would hold out slightly better hope for the Leica 35mm film owing to it's much shorter length.  Anyhow, how to proceed would be determined on how bad the film is physically, and after some snip tests are done and evaluated.

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The article link is helpful for those desiring to shoot their unexposed good condition film at ISO 20 and manually process it themselves.  However, the original person posting the question is looking for a place to process old film exposed many years ago.   [Er hatte nichts gesagt uber selbstenwickelung, nur das er einen Labor finden mochte ihmseine Filme entwickeln zulassen.  Aber, dankbar fuer denn Link trotzdem]

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