The look of Ilford slide film after 50 years

In this, the first of a series of posts, I’m attempting to show the look of a film emulsion which is now unfortunately lost to the world – I’m going to show the look of Ilford slide film.

Over the years many companies produced different film emulsions which used their own unique chemical processes to try to capture a scene photographically. With the takeover of digital photography, these films have been gradually phased out until there are now only a few left and although some companies are returning to film there are some emulsions which have been lost forever. In this series of posts I’m going to feature a set of pictures I’ve found which have been taken on a particular emulsion to show the ‘look’ that the film has.

Of course, the simple name “Ilford slide film” covers a wide range of different emulsions, and I don’t know exactly which one this is. The slides I have are all mounted in exactly the same slide mounts, and one has written on it the date – 30th October 1965. These are therefore all likely to have been taken in the 1960s, and at that time the Ilford film available would have been Ilfocolor and Ilfochrome, and there was also a slide film made in conjunction with a Swiss company called CIBA. It is likely that the slides I have scanned here are one of these three film types.

In order to try to capture the look of the emulsion, I have simply scanned the image and applied no corrections to white balance, clarity or colour either at the scanning or the Post processing stage other than getting the exposure right when carrying out the scan. I’ve attempted to just capture the slide as it would have looked when first returned from the photo lab. Obviously all of these pictures were taken many years ago – in most cases 50 years ago, so this will actually be the look of ilford slide film after 50 years of ¬†storage and use, but it’s the best we can do since the film isn’t available anymore – and that’s sort of the point.

I’m intending to add new pictures to this post as I find other examples of Ilford slide film in the future.

The Look of Ilford Slide film

So, these are the slides I have scanned at the moment and this is the look of ilford slide film, albeit 50 years after the pictures were taken. What do you think?

When I first saw them, I initially thought that none of them had the colour depth and detail which you can get from a good Kodachrome slide, but after a while, and particularly when I considered the last two scans, I decided that is not really a fair comparison. There are thousands of Kodachrome slides still around these days and not all of them are brilliant so it may be if I looked at a thousand Ilford slides I could find a number of brilliant images which have aged well. Also, the subject matter of the pictures in probably not wide enough yet to draw a proper conclusion. I guess I will just have to review the look of Ilford film as I add more images and different subjects to the collection.

In the mean time I’d be glad to hear anyone’s opinion, or any requests for a similar article on any other film emulsion; although I don’t have an exhaustive collection, I normally acquire new slides each month so I’m always adding to it.

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