old film & changes in characteristics

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janjohansson

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Has anybody experienced any specific and possibly
repeatable effects on the result when using old or severely
outdated film not stored in cold/freezer.

If so, what was the differences compared to same film fresh?

Any general knowledge on how film aging affects contrast,
density, grain and other parameters?


Thanks in advance,

Jan J
 

Ed Sukach

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The aging of film will result in "degradation" of the image. Exactly what degradation IS depends on *many* factors, specific time. temperature, humidity .. some will say gamma ray exposure. The "expiration date" on each box - or the film itself - is usually pessimistic ... I've used film two and three years out of date - with no apparent change ... at the same time I've used film a few weeks after having been stored in adverse conditions and found it to have been destroyed.

Black and white film will, it seems to me, lose contrast and definition. Color will have a shift towards a magenta bias. All this is objective observation - that is, my opinion... and I have no concrete proof. Film stored in a freezer, at -20C will probably last forever, and the expiration date becomes, for all intents and purposes, meaningless.
 

arkoshkobash

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I used some really old film that my Dad gave me, and it worked really good. It smelled like mildew when I put it on the reel, but there were no spots or anything on the film after it was developed. Maybe some film ages better than other film, or maybe this film was even way better when it was fresh.
 

John Cook

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Kodak's website states that cosmic radiation causes film (frozen or not) to slowly build up fog. This phenomenon is more pronounced in faster emulsions. Old-style films with lots of silver and a higher maximum density can be successfully used with higher levels of fog than the new thin-emulsion T-grain films which give you less room to maneuver.

Time-wise, Kodak states that the safe storage life is five years. After that, tests must be run on the stored film to determine if it is useable.

Probably something like Panatomic-X, Agfa 25 or Efke would be the most successful to store for long periods.

Beware of old film manufactured prior to 1950. It may not be safety film, but rather old silver nitrate which by now has become explosive or at very least a spontaneous combustion fire hazard.
 

Ed Sukach

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John Cook said:
Beware of old film manufactured prior to 1950. It may not be safety film, but rather old silver nitrate which by now has become explosive or at very least a spontaneous combustion fire hazard.

I think you are referring to the nitrocellulose base, a.k.a. celleophane, celluloid, or, when extruded, smokeless powder. I don't think it will ignite spontaneously, but boy, it WILL burn, and go boom! if enclosed.

A LOT of the old movie theaters burned to the ground - a result of having nitrocellulose-based film in close proximity to HOT!! carbon arc lamps.

One way to tell, from "Plastics 101": Take a strip and light it with a match. If it burns steadily and brightly , with a clear yellow flame, and little smoke, it is nitrocellulose. If it smolders and smokes, it is not.
 
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