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Kodak 35mm Film Canisters - History

James Sharp , Sep 28, 2012; 10:40 p.m.

Can someone please tell me when Kodak switched from metal canisters to plastic for their 35mm film? My older brother and I were discussing them this evening. I believe that it must have been late-70's/early-80's. I am reasonably certain that they had made the switch by 1982 but I do not know for certain.

My brother got me into 35mm photography around 1970 when I was ten. I seem to recall that, at that time, all Kodak 35mm film (slide, B&W neg, and color neg) came in metal canisters. By this time, the canisters were aluminum (great for blowing up with firecrackers) with steel caps.

For the past couple of years, I have been buying NOS film on eBay. I recently purchased a dozen rolls of PX-135-20 with a 3/69 expiration. I assumed that these would all contain metal canisters. All but a couple of the packs were in like-new condition. One was crushed fairly badly so I decided to open it. The film magazine was packed in sealed foil - no canister. No big deal; just a surprise. But since I shot mostly B&W in the early-70's, I could swear that Plus-X and Tri-X were packaged in canisters.

While we're on the subject, can someone tell me when Kodak switched from the enameled steel canisters with the embossed "Kodak" to the aluminum ones? Many of my eBay purchases have been late-50's/early-60's Kodachrome and Ektachrome. These are packaged in the steel canisters - Ektachrome in yellow with blue cap, High-Speed Ektachrome in blue with white cap, and Kodachrome in red with yellow cap (or it is vice versa?).

My brother and I both worked at a small camera store in the mid-70's. This evening, we both laughed about the large box FULL of empty film canisters that we had at the store which were probably thrown away. Those same canisters are now fetching $3-$5 on eBay. You've got to love it.


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Jim Momary , Sep 29, 2012; 12:10 a.m.

ross b , Sep 29, 2012; 12:55 a.m.

I don't know what year the switch was made but I have some of the old tin ones. I even have a nice black one that say's Kodak on it. However I have one in my locker at work filled with quarters in case I do not have any cash for lunch. Also I keep one in the car filled with quarters to feed parking meters when we go out of town. I probably have about 10 of them.. I also have some real old Kodachome film still in the box and I bet they are in tin cannisters. I just have never opened the boxes to see. The film is many years expired.

David Papas , Sep 29, 2012; 01:33 a.m.

I first started photography in 72 the cans were metal, by 74 they were all plastic

Bob Bollinger , Sep 29, 2012; 02:05 a.m.

I got my first 35mm camera in August 1974 and never bought Kodak (or any other brand) film for it that came in a metal canister. Always plastic from that date.

Yuri Yupiter3 , Sep 29, 2012; 05:22 a.m.

Kodak Kodakchrome II bought in the early to mid 1970's in England or from the USA as a grey Kodak import film was in a hybrid can. It had an aluminum can and a plastic top that snapped on.

Louie Powell , Sep 29, 2012; 08:02 a.m.

I got into 35mm photography in 1970. For the first several years, I used a lot of Agfa CT18 film that came in aluminum canisters with a gasketed screw top. I'm pretty sure that the switch to plastic came in the mid- to late-1970's.

James Sharp , Sep 29, 2012; 08:41 a.m.

Thanks to all for your responses. That's why I love photo.net!

Bob: I didn't realize that the change came that early. Time flies, I guess. Thanks for that piece of info.

Jim: Thanks for the link. It pretty much confirms what I recall - that Plus-X DID come in an aluminum canister. I'm going to have to look into why this batch that I've got from 1969 does not have canisters (at least the one that I opened).

If the change to all unpainted canisters took place in '65, that would explain why I do not remember the painted ones. My brother (four years older) said that he remembers our grandfather, who shot Kodachrome, using film in the painted canisters in the early-1960's.

Brian M. , Sep 29, 2012; 10:44 a.m.

I have been shooting film since perhaps 73 and never bought film in metal canisters. I was curious how they looked. Cute.


James Sharp , Sep 29, 2012; 11:25 a.m.

Indeed, Brian, they've gone the way of the glass soda bottle (glass in general, I guess). The unpainted ones in that eBay listing are the only ones that I remember. But, as I said in my original post, they were a hoot to blow up with firecrackers. I must've blown up about 16 trillion dollars' worth in my younger days. LOL

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