Long term storage of developed negatives

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Kugerfang, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Currently, I keep my developed negatives in my freezer. They're triple-bagged using ziplocs and attached to them are my notes on that particular roll of film. They're still in the plastic sleeves you get when from the minilab. I'm aiming for very long term storage. I want to able to look at my negatives (and positives) twenty years (and more!) from now and still find them in good condition. Anyone have tips for this?
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I don't think what you are doing is really necessary. I don't know what film you are storing but it is important that the film is properly processed and thoroughly washed. I store in archival mylar (polyester) sleeves in acid-free print envelopes kept in archival flip top boxes. The negatives are in pristine condition even after forty years. It would be best to find out what the lab is doing and using for sleeves.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  3. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Hmmm... I figured that freezing would slow down the chemical processes that degrade the film. I'll continue to do that until my mom gets mad at me for taking too much freezer space. I'm storing 35mm film; mostly cheap film like Kodak Gold, Fuji Superia, etc. The sheets that the negs came in with are made by Fuji. They look pretty good but I'll be sure to look for archival sheets for extra protection.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2011
  4. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Some time back a special wrapping material was made for this which was a laminated ply of alum foil
    and polyethylene, which you could seal with a tacking iron. I still have some big rolls of it somewhere. The problem is getting the air out before you freeze it. So what works good for this
    is one of those automated freeze-dry baggers for vegetables etc with their own bag system. I bought one for about a hundred bucks but never have used it. The newer color neg films don't seem
    to fade significantly, at least in my climate. I'll probably donate the gadget to my wife for the kitchen. But if you do use one for film, I'd double-bag everything and add the aluminum foil too.
     
  5. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I process my own B&W but have the color done by a lab. I know the B&W is done correctly but have not had any problems with the color and have never kept negatives in the freezer nor the refrigerator. If you have to defrost them better do it gradually in the refrigerator so as not to get condensation. Personally, I would not keep them in the freezer.
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Fresh film is good stuff to freeze, but processed film should not need freezing. The risk of freezing processed film is condensation from when you remove it or the freezer loses power. Wet film is OK, but wet film in pages is bad news.

    Best to store processed negatives in a clean dry place. They should last >100 years with no special care as long as they are kept dry and clean.
     
  7. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Good! That's how I store my 5.25 inch floppy disks.
    :smile:

    s-a
     
  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Properly processed and properly stored B&W negatives can last indefinitely; like a hundred years plus.

    But, I would guess that the Philippines is pretty humid and you're shooting color film. So in that case, storing them in the freezer isn't that crazy actually. Many archives and museums do store their color material at low temperatures. You just want to make sure that there's no humidity in the bags and there are some methods for achieving this.

    Tell us a little bit about your climate there and whether you use climate control in your homes. I suspect that color film in archival sleeves (get rid of the paper envelopes and make sure the sleeves are safe, which they probably are) and in an air-conditioned home will easily last 20+ years and I'm certainly counting on much longer than that!

    But... but but but... if you don't use climate control, it might be a different story.
     
  9. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Some of my negatives were made as long ago as 1939. All are in perfect shape. They have been stored in a huge variety of envelopes, folders and notebook pages. One large set of pages, Unicolor, fell apart after a few years, but the negatives were not damaged. None have ever been stored in cold circumstances. They have always been stored in a room away from the darkroom, but other than that, no special conditions.
     
  10. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Our climate is tropical. We have the rainy season and the dry season but there's no need for climate control except for air conditioning during the summer months. Even then, it's optional and electric fans can do the same thing. So, no climate control necessary except during summer and even then it's optional. I triple-ziploc-bag my negatives and inside the ziploc with the negatives are silica gel dessicants. When I remove the bag out of the freezer I let it warm up for an hour or two first before opening it. I press out all the air from the ziplocs before returning them to the freezer.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Excess moisture, atmospheric and other pollutants and light are the three things you need to keep away from your negatives.

    A freezer can be effective with all three, but only if it is working perfectly at all times.

    If you use a freezer for negatives as well as other things one normally stores in a freezer (like ice cream) all it takes is one power failure and a little bit of leakage and you could end up with severely damaged negatives.

    In my temperate climate, storage in a light resistant box in a dry, room temperature space works great.
     
  12. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    I don't understand how a power failure could destroy my negatives. The temperature in the freezer would lower gradually, not instantly. Also, I'm beginning to get a craving for ice cream because of this thread.
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I have my father's negatives taken in the late 1950's. They were stored in glassine envelopes inside a wooden cigar box for more than 50 years. They look good as new.

    I still have almost every negative I ever shot. (that was worth keeping) Many of them are almost 30 years old. They are stored in PrintFile pages kept in three-ring notebooks. The notebooks are organized inside "Bankers Boxes" which are kept in a closet. Again, except for a few that have scratches or marks on them, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart from ones I developed yesterday.

    There are about half a dozen rolls of film that I shot which are inside Erie's bicentennial time capsule, buried in 1995. I have no reason to believe that they'll still be there in good condition in 2095 when the capsule is opened.

    Even with minimal care, your negatives are likely to last much longer than you will.
     
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  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Negatives stored in freezer!? Never heard of such a thing. :confused:
    Negatives of me from (50 years ago) are still around, flat, crisp and clear, just a little 'pasty' in terms of clarity compared to modern-era negs. And I do look so much cuter in my chick houndstooth flannel shorts and red-white-blue singlet...
    These old evergreens are well travelled, having turned up in card slips the back of old 1960s photo albums. We've shifted house about 8 times in five decades and never lost any negs.

    My own trannies and negs are stored in PrintFile sleeves then in turn just placed inside a dust proof plastic filing box. Filing never was a strong point for me, though I don't have any trouble looking for and finding what I want! :smile:
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You obviously have never had a power failure last for several days :smile:.

    Or had a freezer compressor fail on you (discovered unfortunately days later):sad:.

    Melted ice cream is really messy stuff.
     
  17. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    In ziplock bags they'll be safe from ice cream.
     
  18. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Are you talking about colour film? 100 years, sorry but from what I have seen 20 -30 years in dark storage would be at the outside , maybe the new films are better but I rather doubt it. We are scanning all critical colour images that are over 10 years old, and we are seeing a lot of it come our way before it goes the way of the Dodo bird.

    We get film here all the time for reproduction, Black White negatives no issue going back a hundred years, Kodachrome from the 50's very little problem, Ectachrome from the same period basically reconstructive surgery needed, and any colour film from the 60's 70's and 80's need Walt Disney factory to reconstruct the layers as they are fading and deteriating at different stages.
    Biggest myth of the century when the ads said to preserve your precious memorys with good Kodak Colour Film, the other manufacturers were and are no better. Any walk through any high school which has the Principal walls will know that the schools had cyan vampires overseeing them.

     
  19. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    No need to store in a freezer. :tongue: Back in our house in the Philippines, my grandfather's negatives (color and BW, no slides) that were taken in the 80's are just fine. We had them printed in 2004 for his self portraits and the prints came out nicely but the color one's were not that lively (maybe the color films back then were not that good?). What part of the Philippines do you live in? We lived in Batangas City, and that is one heck of a humid place, plus we were a few minutes away from the sea. They were stored in sleeves for negatives similar to the likes of PrintFile, and were stored in boxes in the closet of my grandfather's room.
     
  20. bishy

    bishy Member

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    Humidity and temp would be my main concern in long term storage.
     
  21. archer

    archer Member

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    I have been storing my processed color negative film in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer, @ -10 below 0, since I turned pro in 1965. In the early to mid sixties, the film was Ektacolor S which had the shortest post processed life of any color film I've ever used and last year I printed a 50th wedding anniversary album for one of the surviving daughters of the happy couple and the negatives, shot in 1965, printed as though they were taken last week. I believe, according to my own experience, that freezing post processed, color negatives that have been vacuum sealed, can extend their usable life for generations and perhaps as long as BW negatives when thus stored.
    Denise Libby
     
  22. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Wait, isn't ice cream sold in sealed plastic tubs? :blink:
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Some - but most is sold here in cardboard impregnated with wax:
     

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  24. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I've had trouble with mold and mildew on slides stored in metal slide cases and negatives in Printfile sleeves that were stored for a number of years without proper climate control in eastern Kansas. I suspect the Philippines is more humid than Kansas so kept frozen probably isn't a bad idea. Perhaps, even just refrigerated would keep the humidity under control.

    If you have the space in your freezer and don't need it for film or food, then why not use it?

    Dave
     
  25. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    That's so true.... either that or everyone was wearing rose-colored glasses back then.

    It is claimed though, that dye stability has been significantly increased in recent times.
     
  26. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    I've got relatives from the Philippines, and was there last year.
    The climate is very humid and the temperature must be averaging 24ºC, that was in July/Aug.

    Vacuum sealing doesn't seem a bad idea, at least it protects the film of the high humidity. Which is the main concern here. I left my OM1 in the bag for a few days, and bam, fungus growth.

    It's desirable to have the lowest temp, possible, but below 20ºC, there should be no problem. There's a very interesting book in this matter, written by Henry Wilhelm. Though it dates 20 years ago.

    As an example, both of us share an album with prints from the same event (family wedding) in 1990, ours, stored in temperate mediterranean climate are fine. Theirs are faded, in an advanced state.
    I've got the luck of having an old house in a mountain climate, the room where my dad's old photos are stored is a natural refrigerator half of the year. His chromes, negs & prints from the 70s-80s are perfect, most are agfachromes; except some that have been incorrectly processed I guess.