Expired Film Problem, Care to Diagnose?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by newcan1, May 28, 2012.

  1. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    I have been going through my considerable stockpile of 35mm film to test various acquisitions, and I recently tested some expired Kodak Vision 320T film. It is an ECN-2 negative film and was allegedly cold stored before (and during) my acquisition. It's probably about ten years old or maybe more.

    Per the attached thumbnails, you can see that the top edge of the film seems more exposed than than the rest of the film. It also seems to have a somewhat different color balance. I am trying to figure what would cause this.

    One thought is that perhaps the top edge has lost less speed than the rest of the film. Another thought is that perhaps one of the layers may have lost sensitivity along the top edge (eg yellow). It could be a processing error, but the same problem showed up on separate films developed with separate, freshly mixed batches of developer (although the other chemistry including the ferricyanide bleach was shared).

    It does seem that the film has lost speed - it was exposed at its rated speed (effective speed 125ASA using an 85B filter).

    I wonder if the phenomenon shown would be mitigated if I reduced the EI of the film to say 64ASA with the filter or even 32 ASA. I guess the only way to find out is to run the test.

    Meanwhile any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
     

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  2. kerne

    kerne Member

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    Was it stored on the original film reel or had it been transferred to 35mm cans? It does look like the edge has been exposed to light. :/
     
  3. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    It was in the original 1,000 ft can - it doesn't look like it had ever been opened.
     
  4. kerne

    kerne Member

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    K, so it's probably not that. Are you sure your bulk loader was light tight on that side?
     
  5. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    That is a good question. I had wound about 50 feet off the big roll -- maybe I should do some more and use a different loader and see if there is any difference. I have used the same loader with other stocks and have not had this problem, but you never know.
     
  6. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    And for the record, it is not the camera, as the same problem showed up on films shot in two different cameras.
     
  7. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Can you see extra density on that edge in the rebate?
     
  8. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    Muddy grey areas look like retained silver (incomplete fixing and/or bleaching).
     
  9. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Yeah, that looks like the classic "not enough chemicals in tank" symptom from hand-developed B&W film. Were these hand processed in a tank?

    Duncan
     
  10. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    Hi all: Yes, I hand processed in a tank. I used 350cc of developer in a tank that is designed to use 300cc. I just today used the same bleach and fixer to develop some Portra and that visually looks very good, I will scan that this evening.

    That said, Portra and other C 41 films generally seem to fix faster than ECN-2. I am wondering if the subject film under discussion was not sufficiently fixed. I will bring it back to the darkroom tomorrow and re-bleach and re-fix it to see what happens. It would be great if it were just an incomplete processing issue.

    I did bleach for longer than the stated process and the edges (sprocket areas) look clear, so I doubt it is anything to do with the bleach. The fixer could be a bit exhausted though. However, I did fix for at least two minutes beyond visual clearing of the film.

    As for whether extra density can be seen, it is very hard to make out. the sprocketed part of the film is as clear as it is on the other side of the negative. If I look very carefully with a loup, it looks like the very edge of the image itself may be colored slightly differently from the rest of the negative but it is hard to see.
     
  11. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    first off, if the can was opened the original kodak tape would either be messed up or not present. there's no putting it back on to look new. second, it should have been in a plastic bag.
    It's not very likely that the can was flashed but it does happen. Most likely your film is aged but not flashed.
     
  12. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    The Kodak tape was on firmly and the film is in a plastic bag inside the can. I think the problem just could be an aspect of ageing -- perhaps the film has selectively desinsitized, ie less so along the edge?

    I have other ECN-2 films that have suffered considerable speed loss; I'm going to expose some of this at much lower speeds and see if that might mitigate the difference between the edge and the rest of the image.
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Perhaps it's expired old film.
     
  14. frobozz

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    I wonder what happens if a can of film gets stored such that it gets much hotter on one side than the other? (eg if it were somewhere that sunlight could heat one side of the can)? Since you don't know for sure it was cold stored before you got it.

    You could be methodical about which way around it was shot, reeled, and put in the tank to try to sort out out whether's it's in the film or the processing...

    Duncan
     
  15. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    It is definitely expired old film! Duncan, you may have something there. I really doubt that the guy who sold it to me was really "cleaning out the film fridge" as he suggested, unless he forgot to mention that said fridge had not been plugged in for 8 years or something. I acquired other stocks from him and not all were good (but some were) - in fact some Reala 500D seems to have dropped to about 100D which is quite a toll. So it could be an effect of uneven heat here. Odd though that the edge seems more sensitive than the rest of the film, or at least seems a bit more dense, hence lighter on the scan.

    I guess so far we have the following possibilities:

    1. Light got to the edge. Probably debunked by the fact that the sprocket holes are clear. And I used the same loader to bulk load some Portra that seems fine.

    2. Bad or insufficient chemistry - but I just used the same bleach and fix on some Portra with no apparent adverse effects, and the ECN-2 dev was freshly mixed from dry chemicals and previously unused.

    3. Bad storage/uneven heat. this seems to be where I am going.

    The negatives were very thin. Presumably, another aspect of poor storage would be speed loss. The question is: If I reduce the EI of the film and re-test, will the difference between edge and the rest of the negative be as pronounced with a thicker negative as it is with a thin one? Perhaps not, given the exposure latitude to over-exposure that most negative films possess. I will try to get to that tomorrow and see how things go. I am sure this was quite an awesome film stock once upon a time.