Quality of outdated film
I would be interested to learn of peoples experiences using outdated film. More specifically, what is the most-outdated film you have used and still achieved good quality results.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intersted in using some discontinued films (particularly kodak e200), but the only stock I can find is a few years out of date, and given the high prices asked (amazing!), am in some indecision if it will be worth it.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.
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.
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 Also have a stash of Fuji Acros 100 that is three to six years out of date - This stuff has been frozen since purchase and is returning excellent (in my opinion) results.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.
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.
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I usually will pass on high speed like Neo1600 or TMZ if it's outdated at all.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.
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.
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.
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.
Unless you process it yourself, expired P3200 is probably an entire waste of money. Slow speed frozen can be a money saver.
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. :)