Today we at Reed say goodbye to our old friend E6. When the E6 slide film process was introduced, the ground-breaking technology brought amazing real-life color and contrast to an already booming sector of photographers. Decades later the advent of digital capture technology, through its instant gratification, led to a rapid decline in the interest in slide film.
Just a few years back, the demise of the Kodachrome process was a clear indicator of things to come. The momentum behind the growth of digital capture was strong and the with lure of shooting quantities of images with no cost to develop them, the decline of film as a medium was inevitable.
With all the opportunities that digital brings to the table, it has its drawbacks and expenses too. Software, storage, migration of files as storage technology changes, obsolescence of file formats, and the list goes on. Transparency has the benefits of easy storage, it’s inherently archival and easy to view. No file format changes, no technology changes, no expensive software and no paying an assistant for hours of post capture digital time. This of course meant the photographer had to get it right the first time with no tools like photoshop to save the day. It was an era of bring your skills to the set and the camera or go home.
Digital has certainly changed the way we creatives do business, and it has increased competition as excellence in image quality has become more approachable with the addition of advanced editing tools. We now have more creative minds in our industry than ever before, and they’re stretching beyond the previous limits of the medium to bring amazing images to our world.
Progress means leaving the old behind and moving into the new. There are always trade-offs with change. The smartphone instantly connects us like never before, but we spend more time on social media and less time pursuing our dreams. The automobile brings great mobility at increased speed over the horse drawn carriage. But with it also comes environmental issues. We truly are a culture of instant gratification and film just doesn’t fit that model.
We’ve been watching a renewed interest in film photography blossom as today’s generation of students begin to embrace the old-school processes. But for E6 processing at Reed, it’s just too little and too late.
We intend to keep running our dip and dunk professional C-41 color neg film and B&W film lines as long as there is enough interest in those artistic mediums. At one time, we had one of the very best E6 lines in the nation. We were proud that Kodak and chosen us to be the very first regional participant in their acclaimed Q-Lab system – requiring tolerances twice as tight as professional standards. Tolerances which we easily met and exceeded. Unfortunately, our E6 volumes have been just too low to keep the 72 gallon developer tanks in-check and the product quality was suffering.
We would rather turn it off than deliver a product to you that doesn’t meet our standards. It’s been a good run, and a big part of the foundation on which we originally built our business and our national reputation.
As we flip the power switch for the very last time today, we say “Farewell old friend”.