Roll your own Kodachrome?

Fujifilm’s firmware updates with the “Classic Chrome” filter got me thinking. What are the key characteristics that I like about that look, and can I recreate it without buying their camera?

Although I haven’t shot a roll of Kodachrome in many years, looking at their sample images that remind me of the memory of the real thing gave me some clues. The blues don’t have any purple or magenta infused, and there tends to be a little amber undertone that warms up the browns and desaturates the yellows (and maybe shifts the greens a bit to a woodsy looking hue).

Ok, that’s enough for trying to describe it verbally. I’ll point out a few pics from my previous post that I tried to convert to “faux chrome”. I can also describe how I cobbled together a pseudo chrome workflow without working too hard.

Here are a couple of scenes at the Berkeley Marina that shouted Kodachrome to me when I saw them.



Below is a gallery of the OOC raw files for comparison, and next to them are the initial versions worked up in ACR with presets.

Interestingly, to finally get to the Kodachrome look, I ended up processed them with the VSCO Velvia 100 Landscape preset to get a starting point. Notice the purple or magenta in the sky, and the slightly boring wood colors.

The magic sauce was added by applying a Technicolor cinematic filter in Alien Skin Exposure. Yes, I could have done this the hard way, but I kind of like a two-click workflow if it produces the results I want.

I could have also desaturated and lowered the contrast a bit, but think this treatment looks more like what I remember my old slides looked like with a loupe on a lightbox, or projected on a screen with a  decently bright bulb. I read on the Fuji site that they went for the look of Kodachrome printed on matte paper, which to me is not really the point of color reversal film. That said, the so-called Eggleston look is pretty cool too (as noted by Zack Arias when he reviewed the new Fujifilm jpeg setting).

I also took a few snaps that screamed Velvia to me. Here are a couple from the last post that were processed with more hands on toning after one or another Velvia preset from VSCO kicked things off.



Just for fun, I did throw in a bit of the previous Kodachrome look in an extra layer overlay to match up the sets so they were more consistent. So, these two are sort of hybrid Koda-lvia or Vel-chrome processed.

Here are the raw files exported to jpeg, so you can see what the starting point was. Not so great really, but good practice to work with them.

If you want to see some original Velvia color, take a look at the first gallery in this earlier post. Duplicating it exactly wasn’t really the point for me, but it did help to learn to recreate a certain look. It gave me tools to create new and unique images.

I didn’t have preconceived notions for the following one, just the scene in front of me that grabbed my attention for a moment. I’m continuing to look for more.


Please note that all my shots from this day suffer from the effects of dueling image stabilization systems (Olympus vs. Panasonic). I have since duct taped the OIS switch to off, to avoid the fuzziness.


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