Vinegar smelling film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by StoneNYC, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Hey guys,

    I've heard that with antique films you have to watch out for vineyarded films, but with all the antique film I've used, I've never come across it (even with film from 1947...) but today I did, some Panatomic-X in 70mm

    My question is, because vinegar is an acid, should I avoid running it through my camera? Or is it "safe" just damaged with bad images as a potential outcome?

    The film I believe is from / expired 1968.

    Thanks!


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If the film smells like that before processing it is very likely totally bad. The smell comes from support going bad. And yes, the smell is acid and will not be kind to your camera either.

    PE
     
  3. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    How strong is the smell? Is the acetate base moist or sticky? Has the film become stiff or brittle? What about shrinkage?
    These are the things that happen to acetate as it decays. I can't answer what to do with undeveloped film, though.

    As long as the film isn't sticky it shouldn't hurt the camera if its kept clean. Brittle, shrunken film might not go through the camera without breaking or tearing out the sprocket holes. (Try running brittle film through a projector at 24fps!)

    You can't undo "vinegar syndrome." The chemical reaction is autocatalytic. Once it begins, it can be slowed down but not stopped. There are cleaners that can remove excess acetic acid which will slow the process. Keeping the film cold will also slow it down.

    Segregate any vinegar syndrome film from other film. The acid vapor can cause other film to start breaking down, too.
     
  4. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Oh wow, thanks Ron!

    Also Worker,

    You mention "sticky" I have a separate film that does NOT smell vinegary at all, and is just slippery, like oil, but doesn't smell bad at all, is that also a concern?

    Should I separate that from other films too? Or is that just some kind of oil?

    Thanks, I will NOT use the film. (the Pan-X) but can I wash the can and use it? Or will there be residual stuff in the metal that will damage future rolls I run through the can?

    Thanks guys


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Was this a long roll of film? Or just 5m?

    I assume that oily stuff to be plasticizer. But to be more precice I would have to look into the decay process.
     
  6. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    It is just 5m BUT it does not come in a regular usable film canister, just a metal 5m spool, and still has to be Re-spooled onto the normal plastic Kodak/linhoff spools, and inserted into the kodak/linhoff re-usable canisters (with felt opening).

    I'm not sure if that's clear, or helpful.


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I asked because the more compact the mass of film is the more likely the decay to expect. See it as something between the extremes of a single small sheet in paper envelope and a 1000' 70mm roll in tight metal can.
     
  8. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    To the tune of the William Tell Overture:

    "To da dump, to da dump, to da dump, dump, dump..."

    Then get going with 4x5 and use sheet films on polyester bases. :smile:
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Randy, Stone;

    The items brought up by you, Randy, are all items to be concerned about, but mainly after the film has been kept processed, as an estimate to see how well the final negatives were kept and will keep. However, if the vinegar smell is there to start with, that means bad keeping to the raw stock and the acid has thus leaked into the emulsion itself. There is no way to tell what damage has been done before processing, and no way to say how badly that film will damage a camera.

    PE
     
  10. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    I have a couple reels of my father's 16mm film that has that smell.
    And the smell was STRONG STRONG STRONG !!! It was like stop bath concentrate.
    I made the mistake of opening the 16mm can in the house PHEW !!!

    I had the film converted to DVD, but I would still like to keep it.

    PE, do you know if Kodak still sells the packet of acid absorber? I recall reading about where you would put the packet around the film to absorb some of the acid and slow down the deterioration.
     
  11. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    AC12 I thought at first I would like to keep the dangerous Nitrate based film too as I enjoyed the images I got, but ultimately PE's advice to throw it away probably saved a lot of destruction. I would say scan it and burn it like I did.

    I won't be using the Pan-X but still would like to keep and use the GAF which is just "slippery" since it doesn't smell I'm hoping the final decision is that's at least safe. I just want to know, should I separate it from the other films?

    What a conundrum!


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Stone- If it's oily, you probably don't want to stick it in your camera. You never know what damage it can do.
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Well I've already run it through, it seems to be on the base side not the emulsion side of that helps


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  15. jcoldslabs

    jcoldslabs Member

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    I shot some 8x10 Dupont X-F Pan from the 1940s recently that smelled strongly of vinegar when I opened the box. Sure enough the base had shrunk so much that it wouldn't fit into an 8x10 holder properly, so I taped it in. I had ZERO hope of there being an image, but before I tossed it I wanted to be sure. To my surprise I achieved the result below. How archival it is from here on out only time will tell.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Jonathan
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Don't forget that sheet film does not have to travel over 35mm or 70mm camera parts.

    Also, don't forget that there is the vinegar smell in processed film and raw film stock. The latter is far worse I think.

    PE
     
  17. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Ron, you're right. My experience is with processed film. As I said, I am only guessing when it comes to unprocessed film but any film that has gone vinegar can't be good.

    Running film through a projector versus through a camera also presents a different set of circumstances but, in either case, caution is warranted.

    I once had to run a 35mm print of "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) which was on vinegared acetate stock. When I opened the cans, I got hit in the face with the smell of Renovex film cleaner combined with vinegar. Practically knocked me over backward! The film was so dry and brittle it literally crumbled in my fingers but I had a good, old straight-gate Simplex projector that handles film well. It took a lot of work but I got it to run.

    I agree with you, Ron, the acetic acid isn't good for cameras or projectors, especially if the film is damp with vinegar. In my case, it was "you gotta' do what you gotta' do." I cleaned the heck out of the entire projector before and after every run. My problem was that I had a paying audience waiting to watch a vintage movie of which there are few existing copies. It was either run the movie or disappoint an audience. The show must go on.

    Certainly, one should consider whether to run vinegared film through a camera carefully. If in doubt, don't.

    My experience is different but the main things to watch out for are dry, brittle film. It also shrinks and weeps liquid. (Acetic acid plus other platicizers, etc.) The image might remain on black and white film but, color film will certainly fade. It will quickly turn pink and finally turn red. At this point, there is not going back. The film will soon be shot if it isn't already.

    The only thing you can do is try to slow down the degradation process. Keep the film cool and dry. Remove any residue from the film, if possible, and vent away any vapors. The acid vapors can cause other film to start decaying. Byproducts of the degradation reaction causes film to decay even faster. Segregate degraded film from other film. Molecular sieves can be used to absorb acid vapors. Packets of activated charcoal MIGHT work if you have no other options.

    Once film starts to vinegar, it is basically done for. You can copy the image onto fresh film if it hasn't gone too far bad. Otherwise, it's game over.

    I wouldn't use vinegared film in a good camera unless I absolutely had to.

    P.S. Stone: The acetate base is what degrades. The emulsion doesn't degrade so much. If the film shrinks too much the emulsion will slough off. It's called "channeling." That's what we see in jcoldslabs example, posted above.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2013
  18. StoneNYC

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    Well the film itself doesn't appear "shrunk" at all and isn't brittle, just vinegar smell, so, who knows, I'm just hesitant to run it through my 70mm back. I don't want transfer to other films run after it or damage to the back itself.

    And again would wonder what the slippery stuff is on my GAF film (that's the "good" stuff I've been using that doesn't smell, I love the characteristics and images I get, I'm actually literally developing a 15 foot roll of the GAF IM 10 minutes...


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Just clean the camera (or projector) after using any suspect film.

    Any oily liquid on the film is probably the plasticizers leaching out. Another sign of degradation.

    While I'm not afraid to run vinegared film, I'm not eager to do it, either. I'd try to avoid it if I could but the final decision would be based on just how far gone the film is. If it was just a little whiff of vinegar I wouldn't be so worried. If it smelled strong or had any liquid on the surface, I'd be very hesitant unless it was a "show must go on" situation like above.
     
  20. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Well once the plasticizers leaching issue is run through the developer I don't seem to see any or feel it on the film, it seems only evident on the pre-processed film. I think it's ok.

    I don't know what to do with the pan-x ... I love the stuff, it's my last roll I'll probably ever buy as I'm not buying any more used/old film, I've had my experiences with it, but I'm "done" and just trying to use it up, it's just money I've spent that's now lost ... a disappointment... I didn't smell it when I got it, a foolish move, now I have to go defrost and smell all my cans... see what's not worth saving... blah... I always smell them before I go to shoot the roll, but forgot to check a few when I first got them, so now, I have no recourse from the seller either, it's only a few dollars, but still, I suppose it's money in education at least :smile:
     
  21. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    Well it's a crook day when you don't learn something new. I've not, until now, heard of vinegared film and I've always understood acetate film to be very durable. If this happens to processed negatives as well as unprocessed stock, does it not cast some doubt upon the generally accepted archival properties of film? OzJohn
     
  22. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    I think this is film stored improperly in hot and humid locations that can degrade it, and digital hard drives degrade MUCH sooner, 10 years from now tons of corruption and lost images on the same drive, if you COPY the files, and make multiple backups theoretically they will sustain longer, if disaster doesn't strike (like an EMP hitting the US... ). This is 45 year old film, not well stored... still probably "USEABLE" and would expose an image I would guess, I might try cutting a piece and sticking it my crappy back that I never use except for experiments such as this... but, again, why bother, if I can't use the entire roll... :sad:

    I shall endeavor to move forward, not be stuck in the past...
     
  23. AgX

    AgX Member

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    This is part of the long going discussion, not necessarily here at Apug, about longevity of photographic films. However here at Apug discussing acetate versus PET film base the discussion is rather about the mechanical effects, light-piping etc.

    I should add that the type of storage is of influence. Storing film base totally vented (eg. a piece of sheet film in pasper envelope in cotrast to rooled film in tin tight can) is regasrded as beneficial.


    Concerning smell, I have came across acetate cine film stock badly smeling, however not of acetic acid.
    Film is made from various compounds, part of them just evaporate. This is thus not necessarily a sign of vinegar syndrom.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2013
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    As long as there is no liquid acid involved but vapour only, I assume the corrosive effect negligable under practical circumstances.
     
  25. StoneNYC

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    Do you suspect there would be MORE of an issue deeper in the roll? or actually less deeper in the roll? If I pull out a few feet, and inspect the film for liquid acid of any kind, and don't see any, do you think it could be deeper in? or would the closer contact with oxygen on the outside be more of a risk?.
     
  26. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I expect more decay in the midst of a packed volume of film. But this is hard to answer from a desk-perspective, and rather should be answered by someone who encounters such films as a routine business, thus as a cine restorer.

    Both, the decay of nitrate as of acetate film base is considered as a self-amplifying process, thus the existance of decay products cranking up further decay.