I received a phone call from my photo lab last week, they have run out of Kodak E-6 developer and no longer develop chrome slides. Insert sad face. A couple months ago Kodak announced they will be discontinuing their E-6 developer. Everyone knew this day would come when Kodak stopped making colour reversal film in March 2012. There will be an adjustment, some labs will be able to offer development as they will find a replacement developer, but most are just stopping.
Not sure what E-6 or a slide is? The two types of colour films are a negative and a positive. The positive films are those that can be projected, their colours and exposures are normal. They are also called Colour Reversal or Chrome Slides, there are many names. This film is developed by using the E-6 process. On a negative film the colours and exposures are flipped. These negatives are developed with the C-41 process. This C-41 process is safe, in fact usage is on the rise.
What is so special about Chrome Slides? The video below will answer that question beautifully.
For me Chrome Slides are like a hug and a slap on the back. When I am somewhere special and create a photo, I can't wait for it to be developed. When I go pick it up at the lab I immediately pull out the film and hold it up to he light. It is then the angels sing and the photograph can be seen in all its glory. If I expose the film correctly it will look beyond perfect, better than imagined. Chrome Slides have a small margin for error, so don't mess up!
Here is one film labs story about their discontinued E-6 development.
Where now? There will be only a few labs offering E-6 processing, and you will be lucky if it is in your hometown. You will have to mail them away to be developed which adds to the cost. Another option is to cross process the film. Develop your positive film at your local film lab in the C-41 process. Depending on the film used you will get purple or green colours overcasting the image. It can also come out with a contrasty look. It is always a surprise as to how they turn out. These two photos were Fuji Velvia 50 cross-processed. Don't mind the light leak in the last photo- that was my mistake.
It is not all bad news in the film world. Today, July 12 2014, is International Kodak Film Photography Day. Check out some of the action on twitter. There is a vibrant and growing film commuity. George Eastman would later found Eastman Kodak was born 160 years ago toady.