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Thread: Really Old Film???

  1. #1
    tokengirl
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    Really Old Film???

    I just found an old box of unused 35mm film in the garage. That would be an un-airconditioned garage in South Florida. It's been there for a little over seven years, and was in a closet for even longer before that. All of it has "process before" dates from 1996. There are 4 rolls of Ektachrome Elite 400, 4 rolls of Ektachrome Elite 100, 4 rolls of Ilford Pan F, and 3 rolls of Ilford HP5. All boxes are unopened.

    Should I:

    a) get a cheap film camera and see what happens?
    b) throw it out?
    c) sell it on eBay?

    I am leaning towards option (a), unless someone can tell me there is definitely no point.

    Any suggestions, ideas, pointers from anyone who has ever used really old film would be helpful.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    You'll probably have a color shift in the color film and maybe some base fog in the b&w, but it will (most likely) still be usable.

    I just shot some Tri-X that expired in 1976 with no problems after a little benzatriazole in the developer (often used to help with fogging in b&w developers).

  3. #3
    Member jeffvk's Avatar
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Shoot it. You will get color shift, which can be cool. The BW will have fog but will work.
    Recycle the film if you chose B, there is silver in it.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Hehe "really old"... On the LF forum that headline would sometimes mean glass plates.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  5. #5
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    I think it is important to remember the caveat -- that it has been kept in an un-airconditioned garage in south florida for 7 years and a closet for several years before that. That means that it has been exposed to long periods of very high temperatures and humidity. While I also bet that you will be able to get an image on all of them, I don't see much point. The color film is probably strongly shifted and fogged. The black and white is probably more salvageable, but why bother? It is only 15 rolls. If you want to shoot film you will have more fun and better results with fresh film. If you shoot any of it, try the PanF -- that is the least sensitive film, so the least likely to fog. Rate it at ISO 25 or ISO 12 etc...
    You also need to remember that from the moment it is made, film begins to accumulate fog from cosmic radiation. There is no way to prevent it, and the faster the film and the older it is, the more visible the fog will be. If you are interested in experimenting, then try it, but if you want technically good results, it is best to keep within a year or two of the process before dates (assuming it has been stored correctly, which this film hasn't).
    Last edited by Stuart Richardson; 23rd January 2010 at 04:53.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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  6. #6
    tokengirl
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Believe me, I have NO illusions of getting technically good results. I'm hoping for an "interesting surprise" at best. I can probably pick up an old working Canon EOS basic film body for $50 or less, so I don't have too much to lose at this point. When I have some time, I'll give it a go and see what happens.

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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Ok, best of luck, but I think you will get a boring surprise, not an interesting one! Just very low contrast, a shift towards magenta -- not that quirky. You'd probably have more fun for less money with a Holga, Lomo or Polaroid.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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  8. #8
    Super Duper
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Quote Originally Posted by tokengirl View Post
    I just found an old box of unused 35mm film in the garage. That would be an un-airconditioned garage in South Florida. It's been there for a little over seven years, and was in a closet for even longer before that. All of it has "process before" dates from 1996. There are 4 rolls of Ektachrome Elite 400, 4 rolls of Ektachrome Elite 100, 4 rolls of Ilford Pan F, and 3 rolls of Ilford HP5. All boxes are unopened.

    Should I:

    a) get a cheap film camera and see what happens?
    b) throw it out?
    c) sell it on eBay?

    I am leaning towards option (a), unless someone can tell me there is definitely no point.

    Any suggestions, ideas, pointers from anyone who has ever used really old film would be helpful.

    Thanks!
    I did a few little projects last year based on the fact that I have a drawer-full of un-refrigerated, un-frozen film that 'expired' up to a decade ago. This set, named "Tar Dance", was one of the products of that endeavor:


    The technical details ...

    - Camera: Contax Tix
    - Film: Fuji New Reala F100 40 exp, expired 2001
    - Add +1.5 EV to exposures
    - Neg process at photofinisher

    - Scan with Nikon LS-IV and VueScan 8.5.18 (light filtering, manual crop to include rebate, auto preview and scan, output to DNG embedded TIFFs)

    - Import into Lightroom 2.4 (adjust WB, high Vibrance, very negative Clarity, little bit of individual processing)

    Have no expectations, make some allowances for variability and strangeness, interpret what you come up with creatively. :-)

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Really Old Film???

    Godfrey, You made a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Thank you for sharing your project. It is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your work-flow, too.

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