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Cibachromes produced archival quality color prints

Humor is obvious in the right, Cibachrome photo. Look closely and you will see the Ilford Cibachrome watermark in the left photo.
Humor is obvious in the right, Cibachrome photo. Look closely and you will see the Ilford Cibachrome watermark in the left photo.
© 1985 Vernon Brookins

From approximately 1980-2005, photographers could get Cibachrome prints from their color transparencies. These prints had polyester bases instead of paper bases, which made their archival qualities better. Cibachrome has important references: Dr. Bela Gaspar, Gasparcolor, Ciba Geigy, Ilford and Ilfochrome.

Chicago, film developing and printing companies like Gamma produced these excellent quality prints on demand. (At that time, Gamma was on west Superior Street on Chicago’s, near north side. Currently, Gamma is at 222 N. DesPlaines Street, and they no longer produce Cibachrome prints.) Cibachrome prints were more expensive than chromogenic prints.

Photographers who had rooms that they could make absolutely dark, and who owned darkroom equipment: enlargers, timers, trays, thermometers, developing drums, chemicals, and most importantly, Cibachrome/Ilford color paper, could produce Cibachromes. Such developing required that these darkroom technicians handle and develop Cibachrome paper in absolute darkness; therefore, such was the necessity to use drums instead of trays. Beseler and Ilford manufactured the chemicals to develop Cibachromes.

Many Chicago-land art galleries have displayed Cibachrome photos. (There may even be some of these in the Art Institute’s, archival sections.) Cibachromes had more value, and sold for higher prices than chromogenic, color prints.

During Cibachrome’s era, Kodak, transparency films were the most popular: Ektachrome 50 Professional, Ektachrome 64, Ektachrome 64 Professional, Ektachrome 160, Ektachrome 160 Professional, Ektachrome 200, Ektachrome 200 Professional, Ektachrome 400, Ektachrome Professional 6118, Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64, Kodachrome 40 5070 (Type A) and Kodachrome 200. Some other, less common, transparency films by Kodak were Ektachrome Duplicating Film 6121, Ektachrome Duplicating Film 5071, Ektachrome Infrared Film, Ektachrome SE Duplicating Film SO-366 and Photomicrography Color Film 2483. Currently, you cannot purchase any Kodak transparency films because Kodak ceased to manufacture all films because of the popularity of digital photography.

Nowadays, Fuji makes most of the world’s, color transparency films. The only brick-and-mortar, photo supply store in downtown Chicago that sells Fuji transparency film is Central Camera at 230 S. Wabash Avenue. By mail order, photographers can purchase Fuji transparency film from Adorama and B&H Photo.

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