Expired Film Day 2016 results: 1977 Kodak Kodacolor II

Spotmatic and Kodacolor II
Pentax Spotmatic SP with Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 and Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lenses, and Kodak Kodacolor II that expired in July, 1977. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Kodacolor II was the standard Kodak professional color negative film for pretty much the entire 1970s and into the 1980s. Its reputation for survival isn’t good.

It’s quite likely it earned that reputation for poor performance when out-of-date, honestly. It did for me.

I checked and double-checked the bright black-and-yellow cassette with its zebra-striped ends, and it is definitely C-41 film. That’s the same color negative process used in drug stores and pro labs for the last 40 years.

Kodak Kodacolor II
Kodak Kodacolor II out of the box. Check out the striped caps on the cassette, and the logo on the canister cap. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I rated the 41-year-old ASA 80 film (expired in July 1977, but expiration date is typically two years from date of manufacture/packaging) at ASA 20, which should’ve overexposed it by about two stops. I was generous in my exposures, too — typically letting the meter fall on the side of overexposure when dead-center wasn’t possible.

I didn’t take any pictures with it that were really stunning, I’m sure. I used my Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP with a Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5, all known-good gear. I backstopped the meter with my iPhone Light Meter app before I loaded the camera.

1977 Kodacolor II detail
A detail shot of the sickening green hue of the base material on the failed July 1977 roll of Kodacolor II that I tried for Expired Film Day 2016. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I dropped the film off with my pals at Englewood Camera along with the rest of my Expired Film Day C-41 stuff (yet to come) and some other test rolls. It was all processed together in the same chemistry (and everything else yielded results).

Sadly, the Kodacolor II was a total bust. There’s a minuscule difference in the coloration of the leader vs. the rest of the film (slightly pinker and a tiny bit darker on the leader), but even under close inspection there’s nothing on there at all — at least nothing discernible or usable. The film is essentially clear, and the base appears to be an illness-inducing pea-soup color. The edge marks are there, though very faint (but the edge marks on other films I’ve used from this era are typically more faint than with more modern films).

If I didn’t know better, I’d guess it was unexposed. But I’ve double- and triple-checked the hardware. I’m confident the film was simply no good.

Whatever, I can handle it being trashed. I got results from 3/4 of the film I used on Expired Film Day, March 15, 2016. I’ve got five more rolls’ worth of posts coming up — and they’ve all got results. Some are even pretty good.

Other Expired Film Day 2016 posts:

Kodacolor II dead roll
This roll of Kodak Kodacolor II film expired in July 1977. My results? The worst — nothing at all. (Daniel J. Schneider)
  • Too bad. I kind of miss Kodacolor II. I shot scads of it in 126 when I was a kid, and I like its color signature.

    I can’t figure out Kodak’s naming scheme anymore for their consumer color films. They change all the time, and they’re weird. Someone recently gave me a four-pack of expired, cold-stored Kodak color film called, I kid you not, “Kodak Max 400 Versatility Polyvalence.” Wha?