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Outdated film

David Pidcock , Mar 22, 2012; 11:16 a.m.

I have some outdated 120 & 220 film. It has been stored correctly in the refrig.
When using this film, besides bracketting, would the correct exposure be a little longer? IE, 160 speed be exposed as 100 speed, etc?


Kevin Parratt , Mar 22, 2012; 12:03 p.m.

David, it depends on how far out of date. If correctly stored as you say, a few years will make no difference, especially if negative film. I've got loads of B&W of various types, in all formats, anything from 5 to 15 years and some much futher out of date. The 500' bulk rolls of 70mm I will batch test then go for it.
If colour transparency, best get some advice over at Film and Processing.
Good luck, Kevin.

Craig Shearman , Mar 22, 2012; 02:28 p.m.

I have frequently shot 10-year-old B&W film that was simply kept at room temperature (70-80 in a heated, airconditioned house) with no problems. No need to adjust anything.

Ray Butler , Mar 23, 2012; 06:51 a.m.

I would say that it depends on characteristics of the film, such as its ISO sensitivity and its reciprocity failure. Slower films, poor reciprocity films, and possibly B&W films will be less visibly affected. A slow/low ISO film is less likely to respond to the ubiquitous cosmic ray flux, and a poor reciprocity film is more likely to "forget" a cosmic ray event (it will lose the latent fog image, which is a good thing in this context) before the next one comes in.

I have seen clear signs of aging in both Konica and Kodak ISO 400 colour negative film (with pretty good reciprocity) which was just 3-5 years expired and (I believe) refrigerated before it came into my possession. There was enhanced fogging, predominantly visible as a pronounced greenish grain in shadow regions. The distinctive greenish colour made it look bad, which is why I suggest that B&W film might get away with it. As an example, Tri-X may be sensitive (ISO 400) but it has poor reciprocity and it's B&W.

Kevin Parratt , Mar 23, 2012; 09:10 a.m.

Example for reference: This was "Kodak Safety Film" exposed New Years Day 1977, Mt Buffalo, Victoria, Australia. On the wrapper it said the usual: "Store in a cool dark place. Process promptly after exposure." The roll of 120 film sat around in boxes, backs of drawers, in various pockets and for a while in a tool box, for 14 years, along with a roll of Fuji colour neg film exposed on the same day. 14 years of Australian summers is hardly a cool dark place. Nor was 14 years exactly prompt. Apart from very slight fogging down the edges from light creep past the edge of the backing paper, it looked as good as new. The Fuji was seriously discoloured. Ok, they was probably exposed prior to expiry date, but there was plenty of time for other factors including cosmic whatevers to affect them. The C41 process was standard. It's here for discussion, but I will be off on a long haul flight around the globe shortly, so may not be able to add further comment for a while. I have to see if my out of date films have survived yet another year, unrefrigerated, in the tropics. ;-) Cheers, K.

Kodak Safety Film - 14 years between exposure and processing

Neil Grant , Mar 23, 2012; 10:08 a.m.

films get slower and lose contrast with age.

Ray Butler , Mar 23, 2012; 10:21 a.m.

"Store in a cool dark place. Process promptly after exposure."

Kevin, the reason for the "Process promptly after exposure" instruction is the risk of latent image decay plus exposure to cosmic rays (or "cosmic whatevers" as you put it!). So I'm not surprised that "The Fuji was seriously discoloured" but I'm glad to see that you got away with it with this Kodak film. (OTOH, those shadows look pretty grainy/blotchy, even at this web resolution).

Rodeo Joe , Mar 24, 2012; 03:28 p.m.

Outdated film - get used to it! Soon it'll be the only type of film you can buy.

The speed of outdated film isn't usually an issue, but the growth in grain certainly is. You'll see a definite increase in grain with film that's well past its sell-by date.

Mike Leon , Mar 25, 2012; 02:53 p.m.

I recently shot some E100SW that expired in 2001 that had been refrigerated, not frozen. Shot at ISO 100, everything looked great. Modern film holds up better than you think, just don't shoot a wedding with it!

David Pidcock , Mar 26, 2012; 11:35 a.m.

Many thanks to all for sharing.

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