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  1. #1

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    Expired film - how will it look after processing

    I recently picked up a bunch of expired film from a guy on craigslist. It was all expired, but had been kept cool and dark. I've shot quite a bit of it, there was a bunch of tmax in 120 format and also a bunch of bulk loaded tri-x in 35mm. So far all the film has turned out fine after processing. However, I just finished processing two rolls of the tri-x together at the same time. One came out totally black, unexposed. The other is fine. Presumably these were bulk loaded at the same time, but I have no way of knowing for sure. They were shot in different cameras, but I know the one that looks unexposed is working ok, I just checked to make sure the shutter was opening at all speeds, and it is. Some of these I was actually trying to overexpose by a stop, so I really doubt I completely underexposed the entire roll to the point that there are no images.
    What happens when film is totally expired? Would it come out looking totally black like this roll?
    Thanks for any comments.
    Jono

  2. #2
    kapro's Avatar
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    If there is a sun above us black film should be overexposed or illuminated...
    I just shot HP5 (expired in 1993, stored in freezer) with excellent results in Prescysol. It only lost one stop in sensitivity and must be exposed as 200 instead of 400.

  3. #3

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    So my film is totally overexposed... hmm ok... so should I look for problems with my camera or is this what would happen with expired film?

  4. #4
    kapro's Avatar
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    Depends on whether the film is totaly black or has just black 24x36mm frames. If is totaly black it should be illuminated, most probably during loading into cassette (or the cassette was leaking). Expired films shouldn't turn totaly black. As I wrote you my 14 years old films were fine...

  5. #5

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    As Kapro says, if the film (negative strip) is completely black, then it was almost certainly fogged. This could have happened when the film was bulk loaded or in the camera, but my guess would be when bulk loading. If you've got black rectangles and clear sprocket holes and spaces between frames, then the camera was severely overexposing the images. I doubt if expired film would produce a totally black result, although a modest increase in base fog might be expected, depending on how far out of date the film is.

    To go into more speculation on light leaks, I doubt if a leak in the film cassette would cause a completely black result. In my experience, leaky cassettes produce fogging around the edges and/or at the very start of the roll. Light leaks I've seen in cameras tend to produce periodic blotches. I'd expect a camera light leak bad enough to completely and uniformly fog an entire roll would be extremely obvious, like a door hinge that's flopping loose. A problem at the time of bulk loading is a more likely candidate. Depending on the design of the bulk loader, it's conceivable that the operator "spaced out" and forgot to close it up, thus fogging the whole roll. This would be an extremely obvious mistake, though, so as a hypothesis it works better if you suppose the person making the error was drunk, drop-dead exhausted, or otherwise impaired. A somewhat more satisfying hypothesis is that this roll was used for practice in loading a developing tank, including use in full light, then mistakenly tossed in with the rest when everything was sold on Craig's List. You might want to contact the seller. It's conceivable he's got some idea of what went wrong, and whether you might have another "time bomb" in the lot.

  6. #6

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    Thanks guys, the film is totally black, not just black frames, the area around the sprocket holes is black too, start to finish, entire roll. I had light leaks on the camera (an old Canonet) before, but I've had them replaced and have put lots of film through since then with no leaks at all. And the leaks it did have weren't altogether too bad, random here and there areas of the film would be overexposed.
    I'll see if I can get in touch with the guy that I bought it from. I got such a good price it's really not a big deal, it would be nice to know if any other rolls might be like this though.
    I guess the good thing in all this was that I doubt there were any good shots on the roll. I basically forced myself to shoot the whole roll in a day trying out Mike Johnston's not much of a system system for exposing/developing. Basically giving more exposure for high-contrast scenes and less exposure for low-contrast. I guess I'll have to have another go at it.
    Thanks again!

  7. #7

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    Any chance you exposed the film to light while loading onto the reel? I only suggest this because I accidentally did this recently. I was using a changing bag. I did one roll and placed it into the tank, closed cover etc. When I was loading the second roll I stupidly removed one arm from the bag so I could turn off the light (which I had forgotten to turn off) as soon as I did it I had a sick feeling.... first roll was fine, second roll was totally black. I roll my own cassettes, so it's possible it happened then, but highly unlikely as the two films were from the same batch.
    Roger

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=jono1515;553274] I had light leaks on the camera (an old Canonet) before, but I've had them replaced /QUOTE]

    You had your light leaks replaced? Replace them with better light leaks?
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things! http://rwyoung.wordpress.com

  9. #9

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    [QUOTE=rwyoung;553418]
    Quote Originally Posted by jono1515 View Post
    I had light leaks on the camera (an old Canonet) before, but I've had them replaced /QUOTE]

    You had your light leaks replaced? Replace them with better light leaks?
    Haha, I didn't mean it like that, I had the light seals replaced.
    Anyway, I don't think it happened while I was loading it into the tank. I used a changing bag but I wasn't aware that I should be shutting off the lights when I use one. Do you guys usually use a changing bag in the dark? I loaded the one reel and actually had some trouble towards the end of it, it was sticking and wouldn't take the last like 2-3" of film. I didn't force it and set it aside and loaded the other reel. Then I went back to the first and still couldn't get it to go so I decided that I'd just leave the tail end sticking off the side of the reel. I put that one on the bottom and the properly loaded one on top. The one with the tail end sticking off is the one that was overexposed.
    I contacted the guy I bought all the film from and he says as far as he knows it was loaded fine but maybe I should just forget about the rest of the bulk loaded stuff if I'm having problems. I'll probably shoot it anyway and if it works, it works. The real meat of the sale was like 24 rolls of t-max in medium format, the 35mm bulk load stuff was sort of a bonus. $30 for 24 rolls of t-max and then like 15 rolls of hit or miss 35mm tri-x seemed pretty good to me, and still is even with this one dud roll.

  10. #10

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    You could load a foot or so of the bulk film onto a reel and process it and see if it's fogged.

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