Negative Storage Solutions

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Sean, Oct 27, 2002.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Once I start producing some serious large format work, I'll want some kind of storage system to ensure my negatives could not be lost incase of a house fire. What type of solutions do you folks use? I checked with a security company in town who has some large used computer data safes available. These things are going cheap because they are a by product of the computer storage days when backup tapes were huge. There's one that is quite large, like 5 ft tall, 2 1/2 feet deep. It weighs like 800 pounds! The funny thing is that it's cheaper than a small Sentry fireproof box (that's New Zealand for ya). They'll deliver it for free. Supposedly it is rated for plastics and computer data tape within the safe to withstand a serious fire. I think I might go with the biggun. Just curious what solutions some of you use. Thanks!
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sounds like a great safe, I have one of those gun safes and it is rated for 1500 F, but the inside can get as hot as 300 or 400 F....needless to say worthless....mine is about the same size you are mentioning and really are a good thing to have for other stuff too...like the camera.....since having guns in Mexico is a real hassle I sold all mine but kept the safe to guard my photo equipment. Houses in Mexico are made of brick so fires are not very common, but burglars are......Go for the big one, it is a real good deal mine was really expensive and not as good for fire as yours sound.
     
  3. steve

    steve Member

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    You have to remember that the most safes aren't rated as "fireproof" but as "fire resistant." Big difference. And as Jorge pointed out, while the safe will protect the item from direct contact with the flames - that interior gets, mighty, mighty hot. I'm not sure if you can get an insulated safe that will keep the interior temperature at a point that wouldn't effect the film emulsion.

    I'm all for empirical testing for these type of questions. Why not take some scrap negs, put them in the oven at 400 F & see what happens? Then you'll know what to expect and whether the safe will really do you any good.

    If you do test this, I'd like to know the results.
     
  4. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Yeah, the safe I was looking at was like 1200 pounds and designed to protect computer data tape in a big fire. So it claims to be insulated to a high degree of media protection for xx amount of minutes. They wanted 800NZ dollars for it. I was looking at one that was made by Sentry which was 1/10th the size and they wanted 1200NZ dollars for it! I figure data tape and film are very similar, tape is probably even more fragile than film when it comes to high heat. The big safe is probably overkill, but it's cheap and solid, etc. If I get it I'll post a pic.
     
  5. steve

    steve Member

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    Well, I'm not sure that magnetic tape is more susceptible to heat than film. The film base itself should be relatively stable. I'd worry about the gelatin emulsion on the film sagging or even melting from the heat as it has an upper heat limit of about 120 - 140 F.

    Computer tape is Mylar with a ferric oxide coating (usually on both sides to prevent print through). The only thing that should be really susceptible to heat is the binder (glue) that holds the oxide coating on the Mylar backing -totally different than film.

    Can you find out the internal temperature rating for the safe? Should be XX internal temperature after XX amount of time exposed to an external temperature of XX?
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Good point. I'm not in the market for the safe until I move houses, but when the time comes again I'll definitely look into it. Thanks for the info, Sean
     
  7. LD Horricks

    LD Horricks Member

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    Ross...
    Apart from fire proof safes, make sure you store the negs in a good archival storage system. I use the Mylar D sleeves and acid free boxes made by Light Impressions...they are really hard to beat. Gaylord also makes a good system. These products are a little expensive but well worth it.

    Larry D Horricks
    Prague, Czech Republic
     
  8. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Another thing to consider is humidity. If your storage area is prone to high humidity a bag of silica gel thrown in will help, as long as you periodically restore it with a quick bake in the oven. I've had old negatives and slides riddled with fungus, and these were stored in sleeves.
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    yikes, that would be terrible.