Exposed vs. Unexposed film lifetime
Just curious: does exposing film change it's life? Suppose I have two rolls of film. I expose one now, and store it without processing with the other roll. After a signficant period, I expose the other, then develop both.
Will time affect one roll differently from the other? What about with color/slide film?
I've never tried it, but I hear that exposed, but undeveloped, film will last for several years. Fog will continue to accumulate, however, so storage conditions are still an issue - particularly with color film.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
I've heard the same too. I've tried developing B&W 35 mm film [T-MAX to be exact] that was just exposed, along with one that was A. expired since 1997 B. Exposed two weeks ago C. Pushed +2 stops. I've had no actual problems, it all worked O.K.
Now, i don't think that two weeks is a "significant period" though, and i'm not sure if it affected the archivality of the film. I've heard many times though, that B&W films keep good, even if exposed.
Close your eyes to see. This will take a while.
The latent image (on the exposed film) deteriorates much faster than an unexposed film gets too fogged to be usable. Kepp them all in the fridge (exposed and unexposed). The latent image on a colour film is of the same nature as the one on the b&w one. Develop your films as soon as possible after exposure, especially the colour ones, if you want to avoid colour shifts.
Exposure definitely causes quicker deterioration.
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I recently found 2 pro packs of Plus-X dated 1979 that I had with me when I lived in South America working as photographer for an archaeological project. One box had been exposed, the other was still intact in the wrappers. I used the exposed rolls to teach my son how to load metal reels inside a changing bag and was surprised to find the the images on them were still quite useable (regular development in Diafine, not expecting anything to turn out...). Seeing that, I thought we would try the unexposed rolls to see if we could capture images on them. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky. You could tell that there was an image, but the fog obliterated most everything.
In the same box with the Plus-X were about 10 rolls of ORWO that were unexposed and about 23 rolls of already shot but not developed (...it's amazing what you will find when you move...), all dated October 1980. The exposed rolls came out quite nice, though much curlier than before, but the unexposed rolls showed little or no image capture through the fog. I only tried 4-5 rolls of the unexposed and still have a few, if someone wants me to try something...
So my anecdotal observation would be that the exposed film with latent images will outlast the unexposed film's ability to capture images.
what about 4 x 5 color film?
anyone know about the storage life of that stuff after its exposed?
Generally speaking, slow speed emulsions will last much better than the rest. I just used some 4x5 FP4 expired in 1984, and it works just dandy developed in Rodinal.
On the other hand I also used some 1973 4x5 Plus-X, and it had quite a bit of fog, but was still usable. That pack of film was opened, however, and that may have affected it adversely.
Next project is som Tri-X expired in 1985, a high speed emulsion - it'll be interesting to see how it develops.
I'm sorry, I realize after I posted this message that it ties in poorly with the original subject.
I'm not sure whether exposed film that's been sitting for two years has the same quality as two year old film exposed recently. But I do know that it's definitely recommendable to develop as soon as possible. It is also advisable to keep the film dark, not just cool and dry.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
Hey, if you want anecdotal evidence, here's what I've got:
In 1988 I bought three unopened boxes of 9x12 cm orthochromatic glass plates (dry plates) made by Gevaert (Belgium, before merging with Agfa) and Lumiere (France, the one owned by the guys that invented cinematography). The boxes have no dates printed on them, but must be made in the first decade of the 20th century.
I shot some plates from one Lumiere box, exposed them at E.I. 12 and developed them in paper developer by inspection.
The results were printable, although it seems that they could do with some more exposure and development. The edges of the plates had recorded no image on them, and there was a certain amount of fog but still, since what I originally expected was to have no image recorded at all, it was a huge success.
I still have two boxes that I kept unopened (like a vintage Bordeaux) for the moment that a special occasion arrives...