Today Kodak announced that they’re taking Kodachrome away, to borrow the phrase from the Paul Simon song. As a buyer and seller of collectible items, should you collect Kodachrome film or just let it fade away. In this buyer’s guide, we will take a look at the potential for this film being a collectors item and if you should buy the film for resell.
Guide continued below…
Kodak has been making Kodachrome for 74 years and photos taken with it have been among some of iconic over that time period, not to mention a staple of family slide shows from the 1950’s and 1960’s. What doomed Kodachrome as a product, beyond the transition from film to digital photography, was that the film used unique materials in manufacturing and photo processing. Kodak only produced the film in a single run in a year and only one company still processed the film, Dwayne’s Photo located in Parsons, Kansas. This high cost of production in conjunction with the shift to digital meant an end to the film that gave us the ‘greens of summers’.
So, as a collector of vintage items, should you buy Kodachrome film or not? Will it have collector value?
On the plus side for buying now is that the film will rise in price over the short term, especially as vintage film photography buffs try to snap up what they can before the film’s supply is exhausted. If you’re able to buy now you may be able to resell the film at a higher price on eBay or elsewhere in 6 months to a year from now when the supply is even shorter. I expect the price of the film to greatly increase over the next few months. Also, Kodachrome does have a long shelf life, roughly 20 to 30 years on average, as long as it’s kept in the proverbial cool, dry, place.
However, there is a downside. Dwayne’s Photo, the only processor of Kodachrome, said that they will end processing in 2010. This will mean that unless some other company steps up or if Dwayne’s doesn’t change their mind, the exposed film can’t be processed. If this is the case this will limit the value of the film for resell to diehard film photographers. There is a chance though that boxes of the film will retain long term collectible value. The market will probably be smaller but intact, well cared for, boxes may do well on the vintage collectors market 20-30 years from now.
My advice is try to buy the film at a good price now before stockpiling becomes too prevalent. The current retail supply for Kodachrome should have been enough to last until the autumn of 2009 but with today’s announcement it’s likely to run out before that. You can find it in the US at specialty photo shops, typically those that cater to film camera aficionados, but it may be more widely available in chain photography stores in Europe. Also look for people selling in bulk lots on eBay because you can break them down into individual sales and make a nice profit that way. Lastly, don’t forget those garage and estate sales where you might find a roll tucked away in a vintage camera bag that someone is selling for a dollar.
What are your thoughts on Kodak ending production of Kodachrome?