How long of an expiration date to expect?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jeremy, May 11, 2005.

  1. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    When buying new film, how long of an expiration date do you expect? I just received an order for a large quantity of film (500 sheets) and the expiration date is September of this year (just 4 months from now). This seems to be a little wonky to me as I have never received new film with an expiration date of less than a year.
     
  2. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    I often see that as qualifying as "short-date specials."

    When I buy new, I expect at least a couple of years. But I don't buy new that often, anyway.

    allan
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    kaiyen is right... that shoul dhave been a short-date special and you should have received a good discount... did you?
    if not I'd complain to the seller
     
  4. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    There was no mention of it being a short-dated product so I will send an email to the store.
     
  5. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Sent an email to the seller and received a reply within 15 minutes that there must have been a mix-up by the person who grabbed it off the shelf and he offered me a 50% discount or fresh film + postage for the short-dated film. As I just cleared a bunch of space in the freezer and will soon be getting a deep freezer I took the discount (it's b&w film and should be okay for quite a while frozen) :smile:
     
  6. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Who was the seller? That seems like good customer service, and I am always looking for stores like that.
     
  7. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    Sounds like a good deal as it should last for years in the freezer.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Some time ago.... quite some time ago. I did a *bunch* of calculations for a Reliablilty Lab using the -- Lord, Ive forgotten the name -- Arrhenius (??) equation, which is commonly used in conjunction with testing at elevated temperatures to determine approximate life expectancy. I do not remember exactly, but 72 hours of testing at, say 60 degrees Celsius, could be the equivalent of *years* of degradation at room temperature.

    At the time, I calculated the increase in life expectancy of film: Reducing storage temperature to -18 C (0 degrees F) would extend the projected life to something over ~ 100 years.

    I buy film, toss in in the freezer at -18C, and disregard all dating. As far as I'm concerned, it is no longer relevant.

    Not long ago, I was approached by a girl who had spent a summer in New Mexico. She asked me if I had any idea why her film was so 'washed out' after it was processed upon her return. I asked her about the film storage in New Mexico: "Oh, I just kept it in the glove box in my car."
    - In the glove box, no garage, all summer in New Mexico. I told her that I thought that she was fortunate to have any image at all on that film.
     
  9. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    It was very good customer service and I am now a dedicated customer to J&C (an Apug sponser). John is going to send me the last 8 boxes of short dated film and fill the rest of the credit in with J&C100 in 120 (thought I would give this one a go).
     
  10. pitchertaker

    pitchertaker Member

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    Jeremy:

    I would think that most "fresh" film would have an expiration date of at least two years. At least that's been my experience.

    Pitchertaker
     
  11. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Just a further not that I just sent John the email that I would take the 8 boxes he has and to fill the rest in with J&C100 120 and he has already responded and said they would be shipped out tomorrow. This is by far the BEST customer service I have ever received anywhere.
     
  12. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    I wouldn't fear too much..

    but you didn't state whether it is B/W or color or slides..

    I think B/W keeps best..

    however; attached is an image I took a couple of years ago - I found a box of 4x5 slides, out dated by 10 years, and I have no idea how it was stored...
    (found it in my refrigerator (can't spell it..?) but it was something I got thrown at me from some one who didn't photograph any more...

    well - you can see for your self - I kind of like it - it is a little rough but...
     

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  13. jandc

    jandc Member

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    A lot of this depends on the film manufacturer and how they date their films. There are manufaacturers who only give the film a 2 year expiration date when manufactured. Is it better to get a film with one year left that was produced a year ago or a film with 2 years left that was produced 3 years ago?

    The film Jeremy received with a 9/2005 date was produced in 2003. I have samples of Agfa 25 with a 2005 expiration date that were produced in 2000.

    Both of these films would work just fine.
     
  14. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    This is surely correct in terms of thermal degradation, but doesn't take into account fogging due to background radiation. Experience has shown that faster films, and those with the least reciprocity failure, seem to fog nearly as rapidly in frozen storage as they would at room temperature. I wouldn't worry too much about Plus-X or Panatomic-X; in the freezer, they should easily outlast me. T-Max 100, with its very flat reciprocity failure curve, is another story; it might well become unusable due to fog 10-15 years after expiration even in deep freeze storage (the stuff hasn't been around long enough to see much of this yet). The same may be true of Acros 100, which some sources claim has even less reciprocity failure than TMX. And very fast films like TMZ-P3200 or Delta 3200 also tend to fog rapidly even in the freezer.

    Moral of the story: stock up on Plus-X and Tri-X, but buy the Delta 3200 as you use it...
     
  15. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    A reminder of a hot subject ten or so years ago. There was a lot of discussion about the effects of gamma radiation on film. Gamma rays penetrate substances much more than either Alpha or Beta.

    What I remember, though, was strictly theoretical.... Most revolved around the idea that a refrigerator or freezer offered *vey* little protection against gamma radiation - nor does anything else, human beings, lead, stones, titanium, the Earth ... nothing attenuates gamma much - at all - and the sun, and the stars produce a lot of gamma.

    One would think that there must be a lot of data produced in Nuclear Testing ... as I understand it, there is a enormous amount of Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation released from a nuclear explosion, but I have never seen anything definitive about the effect of gamma radiation on photographic film. Maybe they don't WANT us to know.

    You cite "from experience." Do you know of any sources of concrete, finite information I might refer to?
     
  16. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    I thought that Gamma was stopped by concrete walls... That's why I stock my film in a freezer that lies under a 60cm (2ft) concrete ceiling in the garage... should I get worried ??? :-(
     
  17. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Thanks for sharing Jeremy..just proves there is still good customer service out there...and Thanks John, for what I see as very good customer service.
     
  18. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Ed, I think you're thinking of neutrinos, when you say the Earth itself doesn't provide much attenuation. Fortunately, they don't interact with film any more than with the whole mass of the Earth (takes something like 30 light year thickness of lead to reliably absorb a neutrino). Gamma rays are nicely stopped by simple mass shielding of any sort -- X number of grams mass per square centimeter works the same whether it's lead, concrete, rock dust, water, or even air (just takes a lot of air to do the job -- fortunately, we've got effectively several tens of miles of it above our heads).

    Cosmic radiation is the culprit I've seen implicated in this "cold fogging" -- it's very high energy particle radiation, in its purest form (mostly protons at relativistic velocity), but when it interacts with matter, it produces showers of secondary radiation consisting of a witch's brew of particles and photons from visible and UV through X-ray and far into gamma. That's what fogs the film in the freezer. And the original particles are of high enough energy that any practical shield simply makes it worse -- shielding astronauts on long interplanetary voyages promises to be a much larger problem than ensuring a multi-year supply of oxygen.

    Oh, and that concrete basement ceiling? It's most likely slightly radioactive (above background) in and of itself, because the gravel used as aggregate probably includes a significant fraction of granite, which in turn carries trace amounts of uranium and thorium. The alpha radiation that stuff mostly produces isn't a huge problem for film, however (the film packaging will stop alpha, which is helium nuclei); even beta is nicely attenuated by the steel shell of a freezer, unless there's a lot of it or its at unusually high energy. Also note that in some parts of the world, basements tend to collect radon gas, which can get inside the freezer and fog the film with its decay radiation without respect to the freezer's metal shell.

    As for "concrete" information about long term fogging of film in cold storage, as far as I know it's all hypothesizing to explain anecdotal evidence, but the hypotheses are based on pretty well proven properties of film and radiation -- the radiation exposes a halide grain the same way a visible light photon would, and just as with visible light, it takes more than one photon to produce a developable latent "image" speck (in this case, not carrying image information, just noise in the form of overall fog). If the film's reciprocity treshold (which is reduced when it's cold, to make matters a little worse) isn't met, that single photon exposure is eventually "forgotten". If the threshold is met, that exposed halide grain becomes part of the film's fog level. Since the faster films require fewer photons (larger grains collect photons more efficiently and combine exposure over a larger area), and those with less reciprocity failure "forget" the sub-threshold exposures less quickly, those are the films that cold fog the worst. Royal-X, Delta 3200, 2475 Recording, etc.? Likely not to last ten years, even in a freezer. Panatomic X? Probably still be okay when your grandkids use up the last of the 100 bulk rolls you bought up before it was killed, providing they can keep it frozen...

    Relative to T-Max 100 and Acros, the data isn't in yet, because those films haven't been around long enough, but with their very low level of reciprocity failure (Acros needs only 1.5 stops at 1000 seconds, T-Max about 3 stops at the same time) they're likely to fog badly after many years, even in deep freeze.
     
  19. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    So, Donald, you are saying that keeping 900 sheets of Efke PL100 in the freezer while I use them over the next couple of years is no problem at all.... :smile:
     
  20. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Could be that I am think of neutrinos. That misses the point, though.

    I am the product of many moons of statistical work, and a few years of Metrology Lab and work in Optics and Optical tooling. The net result at present, is a disdain of "anecdotal" (read: Well, this guy told me that...), and "It is common (and unsubtantiated!!) knowledge that ..."

    Sorry to be so cynical, but I'm really searching for something more than conjecture. I've searched for information of "Background radiation (n.b. background)as it affects photographic film", in every way I can think of, and I've come away empty.

    I don't mean this as sarcasm, but I hope you have noticed that at times there is a WIDE gap between theory and practice - not that the theory is flawed, but that we cannot envision every factor that can possibly affect any given outcome.

    Will high energy radiation affect "fast" film more than "slow"? I'll assume, probably safely: Certainly, without question. - But how severely is either affected in the first place?
     
  21. John Cook

    John Cook Member

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    Kodak has several technical information web pages on both cine and still films, which state that nothing (including freezing) stops cosmic radiation from fogging film. Faster films are affected to a greater extent. And modern T-grain emulsions (like Acros and Delta) having a lower D-max, are less able to overcome this fog.

    One of these Kodak technical pages can be found at:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/consumer/products/techInfo/e30/e30.pdf

    There are several others scattered around if you do an extensive web search.
     
  22. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    That was interesting, but not really very enlightening.

    "While storage in a refrigerator or freezer can be highly beneficial, you should not rely on it to extend film life beyond the "Develop Before" date. This is especially important with high speed films, which can be fogged by cosmic and gamma radiation that is naturally present all around us. Neither cooling nor lead-foil bags will prevent this effect."

    - This seems to equate Gamma Radiation with the higher energy "cosmic" radiation.

    Again in my role as questioner: If there is no extension of life "to be relied on" from lowered temperature, just how is there a "highly beneficial" effect?

    - Or am I to accept all information from Great Yellow Father to be gospel truth as a matter orf faith ... something I have learned not to do - largely from lessons taught by Kodak?

    What would really be necessary is objective information about the strength of potentially damaging background radiation, and definitive result from some sort of controlled study relating to film longevity.
    A few hours - something more than that - of Google - and others - searching has been unsuccessful.
     
  23. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I wouldn't expect any problem at all, as long as it isn't already expired and hasn't already been stored at 120 F for a prolonged time... :wink:
     
  24. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I can understand this.

    Unfortunately, a) I haven't tested this and am not a physicist who could give quantitative arguments based on hard theory, b) I don't know of any genuine testing that's been done that's specific enough to be very helpful. There are so many variables involved that the only really useful test for what we're discussing would be to take a bunch of film from the same batch, shipped as a unit, and stick it all in the same freezer, then pull some out every year or two, expose a portion on a step wedge, and develop in freshly mixed published-formula developer (ideally, in multiple separately mixed batches of that developer, or even in different formulae to avoid a systematic error due to a manufacturing change in an ingredient). It should be obvious, by now, why it hasn't been done.

    I think you're right, in that we can assume that harder radiation will have more effect, and it's well known on a general basis that faster films are more affected (just as they are by a given amount of visible light). For film fogging purposes, it's not at all unreasonable to equate gamma with cosmic ray cascade products.

    I just don't think the hard data on how much effect there is really exists at all -- not even inside Kodak. We can only go by rules of thumb: more radiation is bad (don't let your film get x-rayed more than absolutely necessary, don't store it on a mountaintop above 70% of the atmosphere, don't store it in a pitchblende mine or a basement with known radon accumulation), and harder radiation is worse (dental x-rays aren't anything like as bad as gamma, in terms of penetrating packaging or in terms of amount of exposure to the halide). Faster films are more affected, and those with lower reciprocity failure likewise. And cold storage won't stop radiation induced fogging, though it does a very good job of retarding thermal based chemical degradation.