Last Kodachrome photos to be shown in Istanbul

Kodachrome photosPhotography lovers might want to make a trip to Istanbul this summer to be the first in the world to see the last roll of Kodachrome photos on exhibit at the Istanbul Modern museum. As we reported in December, the film was discontinued in 2009 by Kodak due to the rise of digital photography, and the very last roll of film was processed in Kansas at the end of 2010. The last 36-exposure roll was given to National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry in July 2010, who used it to photograph subjects including Robert de Niro, Bollywood stars, Turkish photojournalist Ara Güler and the Rabari tribe of India. McCurry is best known for his iconic portrait “Afghan Girl” which appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985, shot on Kodachrome.

The Last Kodachrome Film will run August 2 to September 4 at the Istanbul Modern, located on Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait. The museum also features a collection of modern and contemporary Turkish artists, and will show another photography exhibition from Turkish artist Lale Tara in August along with the work of Steve McCurry.

Photograph by Steve McCurry, courtesy of National Geographic.

Cisco kills the Flip and travelers just move on

cisco flip camera videocamera camYesterday, Cisco announced that it would be closing down its Flip camera operations as part of an effort to refocus on the company’s core business. Cisco bought Flip a mere two years ago and quickly made it the most recognizable brand of consumer HD video cameras. Suddenly, every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Mary, too) could record their kids, vacations and random acts of police brutality in 720p HD video. Travelers embraced the Flip because it was small, had no extra components to pack and allowed them to record their trips in stunning HD. Well, stunning assuming that the conditions were perfect (read: well lit and no background noise). However, as more and more smartphones and consumer cameras added HD video capabilities, the idea of having a second video device quickly became archaic. Why tote around a Flip when your DSLR, point and shoot or, heck, even your phone can do the exact same thing? And, with one simple press release yesterday, Cisco pulled the plug on the Flip. It burned hot, it burned quickly and now it’s gone. But, does anyone care?I own a Flip. Many of the videos that I have recorded for Gadling were made using the Flip. However, I always recognized and bemoaned the tiny camera’s limitations. The editing software that was bundled with the Flip was useless. I always deferred to iMovie and, more recently, Final Cut Pro. The internal microphone on the Flip was abysmal. It required you to be uncomfortably close to the camera or to speak in an unnaturally high volume. The lack of a port for an external microphone was an issue that users complained about from the Flip’s inception. The Flip also necessitated optimal lighting conditions to record anything even close to watchable.

All of that said, for your average traveler, the Flip was a revelation. When the conditions were right, consumers could record lasting memories in a quality never before imaginable to anyone other than professional videographers. The Flip was affordable, tiny and simple to operate. Sadly, it never evolved while other segments of the technology market surpassed it.

If you’re looking to point fingers in the death of the Flip (and don’t feel like blaming it entirely on Cisco’s poor management of the brand), look no further than the iPhone 4. Apple put an HD camcorder inside its already popular smartphone and showed that merging all of your key portable devices did not require sacrificing any single one of them (except for maybe call quality in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco…but that’s another story). Now, Android phones have HD, consumers are more comfortable upgrading to DSLR cameras that shoot HD and many point and shoots, including the popular Canon S95, put HD video in the palms of people’s hands. And since travelers rarely want to carry extra gear, the Flip, that simple unitasker, is no longer necessary.

Would phones and consumer cameras have upgraded to HD video as quickly as they did if the Flip hadn’t become so popular? It’s hard to say. The Flip certainly did change people’s thinking about video quality and made HD a consumer standard rather than just the professional standard. Cisco, it seems, was either lazy or unmotivated. Other companies with handheld HD video cameras such as Kodak never seemed interested in pushing their products through marketing the way that Cisco did in recent years. Perhaps they realized that the market for pocket HD video cameras had a ceiling and that it was reached almost immediately.

Are travelers sad to see the Flip go? Probably not. Cisco says that their transition plan will support current Flip customers. However, most people who are now interested in taking better videos – people who may have been inspired by using the Flip – have probably already moved on to a new product. Most likely, their phone and/or camera already does what the Flip did for them before.

In the history of travel gear, the Flip is but a blip. Its influence, however, may be underrated. We can all shoot in HD now. Most of our trip videos are still boring and poorly edited, but boy do they look sharp.

RIP, Flip.

The End of an Era: last roll of Kodachrome film has been processed

The final roll of Kodachrome has been processed, marking an end of an era.Dwayne’s Photo, located in Parsons, Kansas, hardly seems like a place where history is made. But that is exactly what happened yesterday when the photo shop processed the final rolls of Kodachrome film, effectively bringing the curtain down on one of the most well known brands in the history of photography.

Kodachrome film was originally introduced by Eastman Kodak back in 1935 and is widely recognized as the first successful color film in history. Over the past 75 years, it has been used by many of the world’s top photographers and has captured numerous iconic images. Kodachrome was well known for its outstanding color reproduction and the ability to be stored nearly indefinitely, which helped to garner its legendary status amongst professionals and amateurs. But the process used to develop the photos shot on the film is a complex one which gave rise to a number of photo labs that specialized in developing those images.

In June of last year, Kodak announced that they were ending production of Kodachrome, citing the rise of digital photography for its demise. The company had stopped processing the film themselves several years back, and years of declining sales saw most Kodachrome labs closed down. At the time of the announcement, Dwayne’s Photo was home to the last processing machine in the world, and earlier this year they announced that that machine would shut down on December 30.

With Kodachrome’s expiration date clearly defined, photographers across the globe sprung into action. Many had stockpiled the film over the years and they now scrambled to use their final rolls before the deadline. Yesterday, dozens of them, from across the U.S. and around the world, descended on Dwayne’s to have those final rolls processed. In the end, last roll of Kodachrome to ever be developed actually belongs to Dwayne’s owner Dwayne Steinle.

When that final roll of Kodachrome slipped through the processing machine yesterday, it truly did mark the end of an era. And while most of us have moved on to easy-to-use digital camera options, which offer instant gratification for a new generation of photographers, it is impossible to understate how important Kodachrome has been to the art of photography over the past 75 years. So the next time you pick up your fancy new digital to capture that perfect shot, take a moment to recognize a bygone era and remember that you’ll need to tweak that image in Photoshop just to try to equal the color captured with Kodachrome.

Get a “vacation makeover” and visit Mt. Rushmore this summer

The Black Hills Visitor Industry and Kodak are joining forces to give five lucky travelers a “vacation makeover” this summer, sending them on a South Dakota adventure. All they have to do to win, is share their best vacation story ever, and we all know we have great travel tales to tell.

The Vacation Makeover: Destination Mt. Rushmore contest is designed to bring out the travel writer that is lurking inside all of us. The contest organizers want to hear are absolute best travel stories, whether they’re hilarious, adventurous, or just plain tragic, they want to hear them all. Better yet, they’re going to post the stories on BlackHills.travel for everyone to enjoy and comment on.

Contest chairman Brian Boyer says, “Over the years, we in Black Hills tourism have heard great stories from our visitors about their road trips, family vacations and outdoor adventures. We thought it would be fun to gather great tales like these into a single website. He goes on to add, “And no matter what your story, we think the Black Hills can give you a more memorable travel experience. That’s why we’re offering a Vacation Makeover.”

Visitors to the contest website will vote on their favorite stories, with the top four storytellers winning a trip to South Dakota. As a bonus, everyone who casts a vote will also be entered into a sweepstakes, with a fifth name being drawn to join the trip. Those five winners will be off to the Black Hills later this year. All five winners will be able to document their journey on a brand new Zx1 Pocket Video Camera courtesy of Kodak, and when they head back home, they can edit their vacation movies, with the best one being shown on the Kodak Jumbotron in New York’s Time Square.

So, head on over to the website and share your best travel story. If it is good enough, you could end up on a Black Hills adventure of your own this summer.

Daily gear deals – $220 Netbook, cheap HD camera and iPhone accessories

The star of today’s lineup is the Acer Aspire ONE AOA150 refurbished Netbook. Outfitted with a 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. Normal retail price is $299, but it is currently on sale at Tiger Direct for just $220. The unit is refurbished, but usually this is not visible in any way. Available from Tiger Direct. Shipping is just $2.

The Kodak ZI6 pocket digital HD Camcorder goes on sale every other week, today’s price is just $99, but this does mean you’ll be getting a refurbished unit. At about $80 under retail, this is still an awesome deal. Available from Amazon and comes with free shipping.

Looking to listen to your iPod/iPhone in the car? Then check out this (horrible looking) charger dock/FM transmitter. The product will not work with the second generation iPhone/iPod Touch, but other versions of the popular player will work just fine. The unit even includes a USB charger port for charging other device. On sale for just $16.99 + free shipping!

Another sale which may interest iPod and iPhone owners is this huge lineup of Kensington accessories. Many of their most popular products are on sale for as much as 50% off. One of the highlights is this pocket battery pack, which we reviewed here last year, on sale for just $27.99