Quality of outdated film

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by JDP, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. JDP

    JDP Member

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    Hi all,
    I would be interested to learn of peoples experiences using outdated film. More specifically, what is the most-outdated film you have used and still achieved good quality results.

    I ask because I am still intersted in using some discontinued films (particularly kodak e200), but the only stock I can find is a few years out of date, and given the high prices asked (amazing!), am in some indecision if it will be worth it. I am not interesed in the 'lomography' of old film and need decent quality.

    Any views gratefully received.
     
  2. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Generally, if stored at room temperature, past 2-3 years will give about correct results with maybe a bit lost quality. If stored in refrigerator all the time, around 5-6 years past the date will be quite ok. But, if you need maximum quality without doubt, just use fresh film, or film that is expired for only year or so AND stored refrigerated, preferably frozen all the time.

    OTOH, 10 years over the date, stored mostly at room temperature, will usually produce very notable lack of quality. In slide films, this means usually loss in maximum density (black), usually with high color cast (e.g. magenta or reddish blacks). Neg films gain fog density and lower in contrast. Graininess goes up. Still, 10 years past the date may be quite usable for some purposes.
     
  3. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    The oldest I've used to date: Ilford Soft Gradation Panchromatic glass plates of a pre-WWII vintage. Badly stored in a loft, and blotchy almost unusable results. Also have a stash of Fuji Acros 100 that is three to six years out of date - This stuff has been frozen since purchase and is returning excellent (in my opinion) results.

    Relatively slow colour films *should* still be OK as long as they have been stored appropriately, but I wouldn't consider paying a premium price for them.
     
  4. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Barely expired but poorly stored Velvia gave me awful results, as mentioned above there was little contrast and the blacks were reddish-magenta. I've had good luck with expired B&W and color negative films by shooting them 2/3-1 stop over but I would avoid shooting out dated slide film unless you are SURE it has been refrigerated or frozen.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I gamble alot on expired film.
    B&W is quite robust and if it's a 100 speed film I will go out to about 10 years expired.
    400 speed is a bit iffyer (a new word)
    I usually will pass on high speed like Neo1600 or TMZ if it's outdated at all.

    Now color materials are a different story.
    For c41 I'm usually comfortable to about 5 years expired but have shot older.
    E6 can be a crapshoot. If I'm reasonable sure it's been frozen I'll trust 5 years expired.

    One odd thing is I've noticed some older style Kodak E6 like EPP seems to keep well.

    I try to not pay more than 2USD for expired stock no matter what it is.
     
  6. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I normally won't touch the stuff as I find it's very inconsistent if you do colour printing and consistency is very important in printing.

    That said, I did get ten rolls of Agfa Ultra 50 a few years back which had probably been stored at room temperature. The film was exotic enough to be worth a stab and it's held up pretty well over the years. I'm glad I gambled on this film as the results are incredible. I've never seen such saturated reds and I'm exploiting this look to make sure each roll is well used.
     
  7. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I have to add;

    If your reason to buy outdated film is that you want that specific film and its characteristics but it has been discontinued, it may not be very wise after all. Even if it is still usable, the properties like color rendition, contrast, grain etc. may have already changed significantly, and it's hard to say before testing if they have and in which way. So it will be a "different" film after all; and then you don't have a reliable supply for more. So, you'd just better choose a film that is still produced and buy it as fresh as you can. Then, if you hear it will get discontinued, you can stockpile for a few years. But, if it's already a few years out of date to begin with, I see no point. Especially in color slide film.

    The price is another matter. If you have a good deal and don't need to have exactly the same look as with the fresh film, go for it.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    So far I never used outdated color so far, but I have used B&W that was up to 5 years passed expired date with good results, usually the film was kept in a freezer.

    Jeff
     
  9. jacarape

    jacarape Member

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    Unless you process it yourself, expired P3200 is probably an entire waste of money. Slow speed frozen can be a money saver.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I don't buy outdated film but I'm sure many people who do get good results with it but it seems to me to be false economy to take the trouble to spend all the money we do on equipment and worrying about the technical quality of our work not to mention lugging our gear all over the place to jeopardise the possible outcome of our efforts seems to me like like a cook making a meal with food that's past it's expiry date, the results are unpredictable. :smile:
     
  11. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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  12. nickrapak

    nickrapak Member

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    Frozen slow film can be good for 25-30 years past its expiration date. After that, the colors start to shift and base fog starts to build up, even in the slowest of films.
     
  13. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Currently making my way through a 400' roll of Ilford FP4 Motion Picture film dated 2004 and stored in an unheated room. No problems that I'm aware of.

    Steve
     
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  15. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Monochrome film is a different kettle of fish you can use it years past it's expiry date.
     
  16. semeuse

    semeuse Member

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    The oldest film I've used and got good results from was just over 50 years past date - but that has definitely been the exception. I get consistently good results from 10-15 year old TechPan, but that film is nice and slow. I have never gotten anything usable - interesting, maybe but not consistent - from anything over 2 years old color film.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i pretty much only shoot outdated film, both color and black/white.
    i process my own b/w in for about 10years now in ansco 130 dilute 1:6 or 1:10
    @72ºF for about 8 min ..
    i have also been doing the same thing with caffenol 130 ( .. that is caffenol c with a splash of ansco130 )
    and i get very good results. even 15year old expired tmz3200 room stored ( really drawer stored )
    with very little or no base fog.
    expired color ...
    i shot a ton of velvia that was shelf stored
    kodak readyload 160
    and fuji color chrome + cn ... all 4x5
    it was all pro-lab processed and all came back with no issues.

    i have attached 3 images ..
    one was color chrome, expired room temp stored for years ...
    the other tmz as previously described.
    the scan is pretty much what the chrome looks like ...
    the b/w is not tweaked, the base is clear ...
    the last one is long expired 320 tri x 5x7 film
    shelf stored. purchased for 1¢/sheet
    processed in straight caffenol ( no 130 )
    and there is very little if any fog

    in the right circumstances i might no do a commercial job with expired color film
    ( unfortunately no labs left where i am to process it though :sad: )
    and i wouldn't hesitate doing assignments with expired black and white.

    the trick is to expect the unexpected
    and roll with it :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2011
  18. bwfans

    bwfans Member

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    Fresh film results expected, predictable, conformed, and usual images. This is perfect for our annual Christmas family portrait.

    I am living in a different world the rest of the year. Unexpected, unpredicted, nonconformity, unusual, is what I am looking for. Outdated film gave me all of that and more: availability of many now discontinued film, adding some historical, cultural sense to my images.

    But, many times outdated film disappointed me: they are just look like fresh films.

    It is not easy getting weird results from outdated films unless you are sure they are not stored well :smile:.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2011
  19. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    Manufacturers give quite a lot of leeway in expiry dates...which are just the date to which they guarantee the results if the film is stored in accordance with their instructions.

    I stock up with new and fresh film (B&W or color) from time-to-time, keep it in the fridge or freezer, and not worry at all if I use it up within 2-3 year after expiry. But I'd be much more cautious in buying out-of-date film unless I really knew the storage history (perhaps being a little skeptical when an Ebay seller says it's been frozen since the day it was made...no offence meant to the many honest Ebayers, of course!). Not worth the risk to try to save a few $, when the real cost is spending time, money and effort in getting to photogenic locations.

    Having said that, I have occasionally used really ancient film with some degrees of success, but only by way of interest and experimentation, never for important pictures.
     
  20. JDP

    JDP Member

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    Thanks for all the comments and pictures. The information is really useful. I like the colour flower picture from jnanian, in particular. Maybe I should consider lomography...

    As stated, the main issue when purchasing outdated film off the web is how it has been stored. I guess there will always be an element of uncertainty there....
     
  21. pandabob

    pandabob Member

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    I wouldn't shoot a paying gig onto it.. But I've used kodak black and white films from the 40's with very good results.
     
  22. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    There's demand for expired color films from Holga/Lomography folks. I've bought a lot of old C-41 and E-6 films for my daughter to use creatively in her Holga, all get processed as C-41. There was this really ancient EPR120 (Ektachrome Professional 64) we had that was really wonderful. Other lots of Ektachrome 64 and 100 have been too well cared-for, they're now being aged. There's a brick of Kodacolor II (C120) that's still embarrassingly good, the color balance isn't at all far off, only one dye layer is weak, it must have been frozen since new. Once you fix the color balance in scanning, that Kodacolor II has the classic color palette of that film, from before the "color saturation wars" started.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    thanks jdp

    the flower was made with a graflex slr and home made close up adapter .. :smile:
    i can't remember what lens i used, but it was either a 21cm tessar or
    a brass rr lens named laverne i bought off of a fellow apugger ...
    nothing too fancy, and nothing plasticy ...
    (i don't use a lomo, and don't really ever use my holga)
     
  24. brianmquinn

    brianmquinn Member

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    In the past I would pick up outdated and short dated film when I found it cheap.
    I never bought any over 5 years old however. Lots of different types and I am sure most if not all were stored at room temp. I never had an issue with any of them.

    Today I ONLY BUY FRESH. That is because if the film makers can't sell film when it is fresh they will stop making it. AND they have stopped making lots of my favorites in the last 2 years.
     
  25. rjbuzzclick

    rjbuzzclick Member

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  26. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Very cool! Why did you choose Diafine?