Developing a strategy for a lifetime (10 years) supply of film.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by stevewillard, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    I am considering purchasing a lifetime supply (10 years) of color negative film, and I am interested on any thoughts you may have about this. What I am hoping to do it identify all the technical issues and of course possible solutions.

    Clearly, there will be issues for storage as well as chemical processing.

    Any considerations would greatly be appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2008
  2. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Well, the first question would be:
    - how much of it do you shoot?
    and
    - of what format and speed?
    Color does not keep as well as black and white, even refrigerated.
    Ten years seems to be too long of a time to keep colored film stored
    without any alterations to its color.
    But then, I have very little experience of it.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Slow film lasts longer than fast film and cold storage is a good thing. For color, neg film, as you've chosen, is a better bet than slide film.

    Here's a shot on VPSII (6x6cm) expired 1984, frozen since new by our own PE, exposed and processed November 2007--

    http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/31a.htm

    The neg was fairly magenta. I haven't tried printing it conventionally, so I don't know if there would be severe crossover issues with a straight RA-4 print, but it was within the realm of digital correction.
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think proper film storage is the easy part.

    I would be concerned about chems for processing and output (ra4), and ra4 papers. And I also worry about signs that new Nikon scanners will soon be hard to come by, which you might keep in mind.

    I guess the safest thing to do is to list every single chemical and paper and bulb (and perhaps scanner ) etc. involved in your process, and assess the need to stockpile these alongside your film. This sounds a bit survivalist, but... one has to think well ahead of the market these days.
     
  5. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    David, that is amazing. That is 24 years which is way more than I am hoping for. I am willing to bet if you corrected for it digitally, it could be corrected for with a colorhead in a traditional darkroom.

    I have been told that wrapping the film in lead foil will NOT guard against background radiation. Does anybody know why?

    They say that the older chess freezers that do not warm and melt frost are the best. They keep a constant tenperature. Is colder better? -5, -10...?
     
  6. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    I am also assuming RA-4 will be around for sometime. RA4 prints are very viable and competative even for digital printing of family snapshoots. I am looking at formulas for C-41 so that I could mix my own from scratch.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Guys;

    That film will print with a good filter pack. But, a hybrid digital photo print will also work well or a direct scan.

    The chemistry will be around for a while I think, especially for RA4 papers, but there are good formulas for scratch mixing that are referred to here on APUG. They work quite well. The chemicals are all available.

    Slow films today are ISO 100, so that would be my target.

    PE
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It could be. As I say, I haven't tried it with this film, since I haven't printed color neg in years, and even the RA-4 proof sheets on Endura that I received from the lab were from scans. In everyone's favorite digital editing program, it's fairly easy to adjust the R, G, and B curves separately, or to apply separate shadow, midtone, and highlight corrections for R, G, and B, so it's not the same as just changing the filter pack for a single correction across the board, but I think you could still get a pretty good print with a single filter pack correction.

    As far as protection from cosmic rays goes--cosmic rays travel through the earth and come out the other side. I don't think aluminum foil is thick enough.
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    When I spoke of this some time ago I was really put off. I asked a Mr. ***** how much paper would I need for a lifetime supply, generally speaking with some specifics given, it wasn't possible was the answer. Soon after the paper was discontinued.

    So this is an important question and I hope some realistic answers can be given to Steven.

    Good luck,
    Curt
     
  10. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day steve

    why?

    this approach might stiffle your creativity

    Ray
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, to keep a stock, I buy 100 sheets of 4x5 at a time, and find that they go bad faster than 10 sheet boxes. Once opened, film ages faster.

    For paper, I would buy 100 sheet boxes of my favorite size(s). I think that 1000 sheet boxes would go fast more readily as well.

    I used a lot of film and paper, along with interneg film when available and a lot of other stuff, but now I make my own B&W product so it is not so much of a problem. I think that film usage will devolve from color to tricolor using B&W and Carbro, Bromoil or Dye Transfer. A regression so to speak, or digital output of the print.

    And, the film David speaks of prints just fine in my enlarger. There is a tad lower contrast due to the higher dmin.

    PE
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Maybe it will let him think about photography and not worry about materials by committing to a process and not dithering around with this and that.
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    There is that indeed!
     
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  15. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    My opinion. I think you should develop a strategy of using film stock that is "most likely" to still be around in 10 years. As opposed to buying film stock now for use for the next 10 years.

    It is possible that there will be further improvements in color negative films from both Fuji and Kodak. If you already "have" your film, then you wouldn't take advantage of these improvements.

    It is the continued purchase and use of product that will help ensure its survival.

    The motto of every film photographer should be "shoot plentifully and often". I do my part. I shot 60 sheets of 5x7 b/w last thursday, and I shot 24 sheets of 4x5 Ektachrome monday.
     
  16. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    I actual had a chance to speak to the Kodak guy at foto 3 alone, and he was not real optimistic about the survival of film. Here is the progression disappearance he noted. First will come the Readyloads which is already happening, then color slide film will go, and then Portra 160VC will go which is what I am shooting. Portra 160NC could hang around for a long time, and b&w film will most likely be here for the longest time. No distinction was made between sheet film vs roll film. So I do not know if he was just talking about roll film or when it goes all formats go. He thinks we got two years before heads starts to roll, but it was an interrupt driven conversation, and I finally gave up.

    So I am now considering developing a strategy for long term storage of film. I buy 8x10 and cut it down to 5x7 and 4x10. I have small older chest freezer with no auto defrosting that could hold around 100 ten sheet 8x10 boxes of film. I am also going to be talking to the freezer guys about shutting off the frostless feature on a new bigger freezer. I raised the question about the future of film at the foto 3 meeting about using lead foil (not aluminum foil) to further reduce the effects of background radiation, but someone said it would not work. I was too drugged out at that meeting from neck spinal surgery to ask aggressive questions and follow through on unclear answers. No one there dared to ask the the big question of how much longer can film hold on.

    So does anyone know why lead foil will not work?

    The Kodak guy said the Portra film could be frozen as long as the seal was not broken. Once the seal in the box is broken then crystallization can occur in high humidity condition when the film is frozen. So they recommend cold refriguration after the seal is frozen.

    I am also aware that the difference between Portra VC and and NC is not that much, and I could switch to NC once VC disappears.

    My goal is to identify all of the issues and solutions, and get the infrastructure in place and slowly start to build stock. Once the writing is on the wall it is just a matter of making the final big purchase. I am looking at 200 boxes total at $17,000.

    This fall my intent is to do some heavy testing of Portra NC, Portra VC, and Fuji color negative film and make the call on which one I am going to commit to, and then slowly start building stock.

    I am optimistiic that I could get 10 good years of shooting film after it disappears. My goal is to shoot 20 boxes of film a year, or 400 sheets of 5x7 or 4x10 (2 per sheet), or 200 compositions (2 sheets for each composition). That is a lot of shooting and a lot of work with a large format camera. I do landscape full time now, and I am determined to go down in flames before they bury me.
     
  17. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    Point well taken. If I cannot find that big of a difference between the three films noted above I may go with Portra 160NC just because it is still the most profitable.
     
  18. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    I suspect in may be prudent to come up with a suite of standardized tests that would check for film speed changes, changes to the slope of the characteristic cuvre, and color shifts. Each year you could run these test on our stock and make compensations on how to expose and process the film as it ages. Any thoughts on this?
     
  19. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day all

    if you guys stock up now, what are you going to do later?

    say you store enough for x number of years, firstly, how would you know it's enough?

    what are going to do if you run out early?

    Ray
     
  20. JanaM

    JanaM Member

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    Hello,

    I think it is not necessary to stock up for the next ten years.
    In a german film magazine ("schmalfilm", "small format") was an article about that topic and especially Kodak. There was an official statement from Kodak CEO Antonio Perez: He said that Kodak recently has made some long-term contracts with their customers for analogue photo and film products. Due to this long term contracts the film production at Kodak is safe for the next ten years at least. The sales of 35mm print film are continously increasing since 1999.
    A friend of mine is working at a european film manufacturer. There they had to increase their production recently by 60 % due to strong demand. Fuji has reported increasing sales numbers of professional photo films. Both Fuji and Kodak have introduced improved professional films every year during the last years. I don't think they would have invested millions of dollars if the market would not be there. They certainly know what they do when they invest in new photo and cine films.

    Regards,
    Jana
     
  21. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    As I understand it, a lot of the background radiation is from high-energy particles that travel completely through the earth. So a bit of lead foil is irrelevant.
    Some of the radiation can be from "local" sources, such as Radon, and in that case, its effect on the film is probably the least concern.
     
  22. snallan

    snallan Member

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    It is purely down to the kinetic energy of the particles. The largest particle accelerators (ie at CERN, and FermiLab) can generate proton energies in the region of 1 x 10e13 eV, or lead ion energies in the 1 x 10e15 eV.

    Cosmic rays start in around 1 x 10e14, and can have kinetic energies in excess of 1 x 10e20 eV. As has been said before, particles with these energies will pass through the Earth as if it is so much vacuum. Cosmic ray particles do interact with the material that they pass through, but lose so little energy (relatively speaking) that several (hundred) Earths would need to be stacked end-to-end to effectively slow down, or stop such a particle. :D
     
  23. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day snal

    so? do these particles have any effect on photographic emulsions?

    Ray
     
  24. snallan

    snallan Member

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    Hi Ray,

    The particles themselves, possibly, but they do not need to interact directly with the film, as when they interact with matter they create what is known as Cerenkov radiation. Cerenkov radiation is a broad spectrum electromagnetic radiation, that peaks toward the shorter (blue) wavelengths of light (actually more in the UV), and it is this that causes the cosmic ray fogging.

    The charged cosmic ray particle doesn't actually hit or disrupt atoms in the dense matter, it just interacts with the electromagnetic field of the atoms, so even interactions with the air inside storage containers can cause fogging.
     
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  25. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    As far as chemical availability goes, I can't image given the Durst Lambdas and Oce LighJets that dominate the wide-format color printing market, that RA-4 chemicals will be going away any time soon.
     
  26. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    I am not saying I am going to stock up now. All I am saying is that I intend to get things ready, and build a small inventory just in case things start to deteriorate. At that point I will be in a position to act decisively. My hope is that they do not deteriorate, but readyloads are being discontinued so maybe the writing is on the wall.

    I might have some test in place that will allow me to monitor the changes as my small stock of film starts to age as noted above. This will help me develop exposure strategies to compensate for the aging film. For example, if small levels of fogging start to occur from background radiation I could overexpose the film to hide/overwhelm the fogging. This would require shooting at a slower ISO. If a magenta shift starts to occur I may be able to compensate using a filter in the field to cancel it.

    One thing for sure, I am not going to be passive about it. I am going to start to explore this on a small inexpensive scale. By this fall I will have a small chest freezer that is not frostless with about 20 boxes of extra film in it. Each year I will pull one box a run suite of standardized test on it to monitor the progression of aging. Right now I am trying to come up with ideas, solutions, and strategies. I am not panicking, just being proactive. I do intend to share everything I am doing with anyone that is interested.

    So back to any ideas you may have. For example, does anyone know where I can get an inexpensive freezer alarm that goes off should the freezer break and shut off? Are there any freezers that allow you to turn off the auto-frostless feature.? Should the film be rotated periodically because of any temperature differentials in the freezer box? Is there any research or white papers about other products and long term cold storage out there that may applicable to film?