Life expectancy for refrigerated film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by catchlight, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. I have a dozen rolls of colour print and slide film from my pre-digital days which have been taking up fridge space
    since about 2001.

    I'd like to mail it to a friend who shoots landscapes with film.

    Most of the expiry dates are 2004. Is it worth the postage to ship it to her, or would even refrigerated film be past its
    prime by now?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. In theory if it's been in the freezer sharing space with the Cherry Garcia, the exp date should be moot. Shoot one roll and see, no?
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  3. Should be fine.

    I regularly shoot film from 04, 06. I have a large batch of C 41 from 02 that has shifted a bit but it's easily corrected in

    B&W is more robust than color but if it hasn't been exposed to harsh conditions it is for sure worth trying.
  4. Check the archives to read about other members' experiences with expired film. Some films may keep better than others. YMMV.
  5. I've got plenty of Portra, NPS and Astia from 2001 - 2003 and it scans just fine. I find I need to color correct less than I do for a digital Raw file from a DSLR.
  6. In all cases where we are using film past its expiration date, the only safe approach is to try a roll OF EACH
    PRODUCT and evaluate it before shooting the rest of that product. The stability of film products is different for different

    Having said that, here are some general guidelines. The expiration date for many products is about 2 years after
    manufacture. Refrigeration will preserve the the chemical properties of film for 2 to 4 times longer than at room
    temperature. If you bought fresh film and refrigerated it, the chemical properties should last 4 to 8 years
    instead of 2.

    Freezing will preserve the chemical properties for something like 8 to 16 times longer than at room temperature.
    Frozen film can be expected to maintain chemical properties for 16 to 32 years.

    Unless you have access to a salt mine, background radiation cannot be stopped by any process that any of us can
    afford. Background radiation causes fog and grain increases in the shadow areas. All films are sensitive to
    background radiation ROUGHLY in proportion to film speed. That is, an 800 speed film would be roughly 32 times as
    sensitive as a 25 speed film. This is very rough since the current Kodak 800 speed film is about 1/4 as sensitive as
    the generation from 8 years ago. All these discussions of keeping film in a refrigerator or freezer should only apply to
    low speed films (200 or slower). With high speed films, the background radiation will degrade the film regardless of
    the storage temperature.

    FWIW, I've shot K-64 that had been in my freezer for 20 years with good results. I don't shoot 800 speed film that has
    only 6 months until expiration.
  7. My technical pan from 1991 still seems fine.
  8. I tried refrigerated Fuji Reala that is 1 year out of date, and the results are horrible - unless you like very pastel tinted
  9. I have shot rolls of Kodachrome 25 that expired in 1993 and 1998. They were refrigerated and amazingly have shown
    no signs of discoloration.
  10. Whats interesting with food is there are goobs of research with cold storage. Many foods can last along time frozen but the taste goes away. Due to safety reasons of being sued a radio program of modern book often preaches chucking out items.They have to do this since consumers mix all sorts of foods together in the freezer and often fail to date/mark items. An old HVAC engineering book here copyright 1939 thru 1970 shows a maximum storage period for<BR><BR> frozen poultry of only 10 months at a temp of -20 to 0 F; <BR><BR>Ice Cream 6 to 12 months at -10F or less <BR><BR>Frozen eggs 18 months 0 to 5 F;<BR><BR> Lamb 2 weeks 28 to 30F.
  11. I'm guessing my ~55 rolls of Ultra 50 will last for a long time being so slow. Might try to shoot a roll one of these days and see if it still has the magic. :)
  12. How did we move from Film to food?
  13. Brother Brent, I have over 300 rolls of films in my freezer. I just recently one roll of each and found the b&w is a bit tougher that the color but the color can be corrected during digital retouching.
  14. Re How did we move from Film to food?

    Both will not last forever if frozen; but with food folks often are not afraid to try it; see it its OK; to chuck it if bad;. With film folks would rather ask a zillion stangers than try a sample old frozen roll of film! :)

    Both compete for freezer space with your film from the Clinton era next to your mother in laws fruit cake from 1999

    rBoth food and film are often best when new; worst if from an unknown place; dangerous and risky if from an unknown source. Both are ruined if eaten by a dog; run over by a truck; or if stored in a hot oven like place like a hot car trunk.

    Thus what we really need is beef jerky tri-x!

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