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How do I develop really old Kodak Max 35mm film?

Lilian Ho , Aug 09, 2006; 02:11 p.m.

I have found couple rolls of Kodak Max 35mm 400 Color Film at home which they were expired for more than 6 years. Is there any chance they can develop? or any special devloping procedure needed?

Should I bring them to those one hour store to develop or hand process lab? And what are the different between machine and hand process develop?

Please help!


Steve Dunn , Aug 09, 2006; 02:35 p.m.

If they've been stored in reasonable conditions, chances are they'll still be usable, though they probably won't look quite the same as they would had they been used and processed promptly. "Reasonable" primarily means not too hot; room temperature is OK, and the fridge or freezer would be better. If they've been in the trunk of your car sitting in the hot sun for the last six years, they're probably toast; sitting on a shelf next to a window where the sun streams in every day is also a bad thing for film.

If you want it handled by a specialist, contact this company or one of their competitors (but there aren't many companies who specialize in processing old film). They will charge you much more than your local one-hour lab, and as they note on their Web page, with old film, you can expect some changes like colour shifts (although "old" to a specialist company like this is more likely to be measured in decades than in years).

Your local one-hour lab can process this film; it uses the same chemistry as current films. The results from a specialist may be a bit better, but unless they're pictures that are particularly important to you (and if they were, chances are pretty good you'd have developed them shortly after taking the pictures), the difference probably isn't worth the price.

Another thing you could try is to have one roll processed at your local lab. If the results are good, get the rest processed. If they're bad, send the rest off to a specialist lab.

Phil Jarrett , Aug 09, 2006; 03:12 p.m.

I had a similar situation a few years back. I was clearing out an old cupboard and found about 30 35mm films going back some 20 odd years. I put one or two through a high street lab and they were OK (and I mean, just about acceptable) so I sent the rest off to a mail order lab that did a discount for bulk.

Just see what happens with that test roll. You might find it cheaper to get them to just dev and scan to CD rather than have prints made.

John Shriver , Aug 09, 2006; 04:20 p.m.

You will get something. See what a minilab can do with develop and scan only. Perhaps a one stop push might make it better, but it may not be worth it, or may not be necessary.

This presumes that you've exposed it already. If not, throw it out.

I did try a 127 size roll of Kodacolor-II recently (expired about 1978). I exposed at the nominal EI of 100. While there were images, it was grossly underexposed, and there was massive curve crossover. Worst color negatives I've ever seen. But that's a MUCH worse case than six years.

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