Expired Film....

Discussion in 'Color Film Discussion' started by edwardconde, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. edwardconde

    edwardconde FF Regular

    Mar 24, 2015
    Edward Conde
    I thought it would good to have an Expired Film thread for those who are looking for information.

    From what I know (from my short film exp.) is that for every 10 years over expose 1 stop... What I do is just just adjust the ISO accordingly...

    For example, next week I will be shooting some of my old Kodak Gold 200 that expired in 06... Being that it is within the 10 years, I will go ahead and set my ISO to 100 at shoot it there. (The film was not properly stored all these years) I know you can also set your shutter speed one stop over and so forth.

    Any other advice or steps some of the more veteran film shooters care to share?

  2. pdh

    pdh FF Regular

    Mar 25, 2015
    The subject of expired film gathers a lot of myth and mysticism around it.

    As they age, all light sensitive Silver halide emulsions lose both speed and contrast, and gain fog, simply because of the physico-chemical nature of them. Black and white films deteriorate less quickly than colour, and slower films less quickly than faster.

    Colour films and black and white films will suffer differently because of their different composition - there are dyes and dye-couplers and whatnot in colour film that can age and cause problems in addition to the things that happen in black and white emulsions. There are also dyes in ordinary black and white emulsions to assist with sensitisation for both speed and for their spectral response, but they are a bit less problematic than those in colour films.

    All these different things deteriorate more or less quickly depending on how they were manufactured (the formula), but the biggest effect will be from storage conditions: long periods of high temperatures (necessarily vague - a few weeks at 40C, a few months or even years at 30, somewhere in between depending if there is cycling between cooler and hotter ... ) and/or high humidity (similarly vague).

    Then you have to allow for the rated speed of the film - faster (400+) films deteriorate faster than slower films.

    SO ... that rule of thumb is just that , but it's as good a place as any to start.

    If you are buying long-expired (20, 30, 40 years say) fast colour film, it can be a bit of a lottery ; If it's been kept in the glove compartment of a farm truck in Arizona or a Land Rover in Dubai for several years, maybe it'll might need two or three stops over and throw in a bit of a push and expect some weird colour shifts. But really you have to try it and see - you can't know in advance unless you have a batch of the same film stored in the same conditions to work with and test.

    On the other hand, a 10 year old ISO100 negative film that's been in a 'fridge or on a shelf in a temperate country all it's life might easily shoot at box and look fine.

    Almost all negative film, colour or black and white, will tolerate a couple or three stops over exposure with normal developing. So for instance your Gold 200 will probably be fine at 100 anyway even if it were fresh.

    I have some 70+ year old nitrate stock that I shoot from time to time. I have no idea what it was originally rated at, and after two rolls I quickly established that it's good enough at ISO32 and given about 13mins development in D23 1:1. It's a bit foggy and low contrast but I can print through the fog.

    IF however someone has a lot of rolls of very expired film, then its a good bet to test it at different EIs with normal development. Easy enough to do - just bracket every shot on a roll by two or three stops up and down and have a look at the negatives once they are developed.

    I rarely use expired film because it seems to command a premium price over here - it's usually cheaper to buy fresh. In fact, I just sold some film that had actually expired while I owned it - at a profit

    The nitrate stuff came out of a long dead photographer's darkroom. He wasn't still in there, fortunately
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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  3. edwardconde

    edwardconde FF Regular

    Mar 24, 2015
    Edward Conde
    This was a fun read! Thanks for the info.. I decided to take a some expired with me. I have shot some before with so-so success.. So gonna give it another go.. Or I could sell it like you and hope for a profit! :)
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Mar 22, 2015
    Amin Sabet
    I've got a pile of Arista Premium that expired in 2011. Has been in a refrigerator since then. I'm shooting the first roll at ISO 320 and will see how it goes!
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  5. pdh

    pdh FF Regular

    Mar 25, 2015
    I'd be amazed if it were not absolutely fine, Amin. I'd be slightly surprised if it were not OK at box speed too.
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  6. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    I don't hesitate to purchased Fuji Neopan when I can find it, and use it at 400. The film wasn't discontinued that long ago and most of what I do find is < 2 years expired. However, the darkroom that I belong to constantly gets donations of expired film and I've never developed a roll that didn't have some issues. I don't waste my time with donated film anymore b/c even if there's something I want to print, it ussually takes quite a bit of additional work to get a decent print. It's not an apples to apples comparison though as you never know how the donated film was stored, whereas expired film from a trusted retailer was probably stored in a frig or freezer.
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