Processed expired film came back with no images on it

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by robbert_hoog, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Dear all,
    I bought a bunch of expired film online recently. Among it were three rolls of Kodak Ektachrome (slide film). The first roll (ISO 64) I recently shot with my camera and brought to the lab to get it developed. When I came home my negatives were compeltely blank. Not even the small numbers and letters on it, that tell you what kind of film it is. All completely blank.
    At first I even shot two sets where I under- and overexposed by 3 stops (so 7 total stops) to see if there was any shift in ISO since this film had been expired for 34 years. Any suggestions on what might have happened?
    I always get my film developed at this lab (never had any issues) and also shot multiple roles with this camera.
    Kind regards,
  2. If it hasn't been stored properly it's probably been shot to hell regarding it fogging unless it's been in the darkest coldest freezer you could imagine. Also- did you mention that it is Ektachrome from the 80's? Not all Ektachrome used the E-6 process!
  3. Ektachrome film yields color slides (transparencies) not negatives. This is a reversal film and it operates exactly the opposite to that of a negative film. Areas of high exposure reproduce dark (black) on negative film. A reversal film yields clear (blank) when exposed to high light levels. I am suggesting that if you are unable to see the edge printing, frame numbers, emulsion batch numbers, etc., the film was likely exposed to light and thus rendered useless. You might see the edge printing if you examine the film closely. They likely will be seen if you look at the film by reflected light. Examine both sides allowing the shiny surfaces to reflect light from a nearby lamp.

    No images could also result is the photo lab is guilty of misprocessing the film, you know, using the wrong chemicals etc.
  4. Is it clear or solid black?
  5. Even in C-41, Extachrome (E-6) should produce negatives. The colors will be off but you would get photos.
    Now if it was old E-4 or E-2 Ektachrome then C-41 processing temperatures would melt the emulsion right off the base and leave you with nothing but clear film.
    Being 34 years old it could have been E-4. Check the box to make sure.
    You can process E-4 in Cold C-41 (65*F for 25-30 minutes) and get something that could be interpreted as pictures.
    Look at the Flickr Group, "Fossilized Film".
  6. It's entirely clear, no printing on the edge at all. Almost like it's a piece of plastic or 'gimmick film'. Can look straight through it. It said proces E-6 on the film cannister.
    Held it up to a lamp, couldn't see any edge printing on either side (hard to tell what side is which anyways). My dad has a light table thingy (sorry, not a native English speaker) for viewing slides. Will probably bring it this weekend to check it out with a magnifier as well.
    Just trying to figure out what went wrong and if I should go back to the lab or not. They don't proces E-6 themselves (first time e-6 at this lab, black & white they send out to the same people and that always came back good) and I think they will probably blame it on being a 34 year expired film.
    Already thanks a lot for the answers! I didn't shoot any important stuff, just my first time shooting slides and expired film, so just bummed out that I have no funky results for my instagram ;).
  7. Then maybe the lab tried to process it in E-6 chems that had died out?
  8. From what I read on similar topics here, and on other forums, no edge printing means wrong processing. Does this also go for slide film (most of the topics were people home processing b&w)?
  9. The edge printing is applied using light. In other words, the edge printing is exposed on the film and becomes visible during the developing process. No edge printing is a good indication that that the film was improperly process. If this film was sent to a photo lab for processing and they processed in chemicals E-6 process, color slides resists. If the film was damaged by exposure to light either before you placed it in camera or any time before it was developed (fogged to light), the film will develop to blank (clear). You need to tell us if you sent the film out to a lab and if you know, what process was used. Again, fogged Ektachrome, properly processed turn out blank (clear).
  10. Yes I have send it to a lab which also did all my b&w until now without any problems. The person at the counter saw it needed e-6, and I told him as well slide film. It also said so on the cannister. Plus it was colour so worst case scenario they did it in c41 which would have still yielded a result right?
  11. No the film was not processed using the C-41 process. It this was the case, the film will yield color negative images. If the film was exposed to light (fogged) and processed in C-41 chemicals the film would be totally back.
    The most likely event: Film was exposed (fogged) to light before you put it in the camera or before it was developed in E-6 chemicals.
  12. Just curious. Why would you shoot 34 year old expired film?
  13. I am intrigued that super overexposed or fogged slide film comes out so crystal clear then, I would have expected to at least see something or just totally white squares, not see through.
    Why shoot 34 year old film? For fun of course. I bought a whole bunch of different expired film online for around 15 bucks. It was 20 rolls in total and not all of it was expired that long. Was kept refrigerated, but not frozen.
  14. Taking "white" to mean a maximum-brightness pure white:
    For prints: White == Very white paper
    For slides: White == clear
    For digital (in the 8 bits per color case): white = a value of 255 for each of the three colors.
    In theory a white print could be a mirror surface. That would reflect more than the ~98% that paper does. In theory a slide's white could be the milky white you were expecting. Figuring out why those alternate choices were not made is left as an exercise for the reader. (Hint: how is each type of image used?)
  15. I am guessing that has to do with using slides in projectors? Because you're projecting the slides on a white canvas, you don't need any whites on the slide itself?
    Everybody thanks for the answers by the way!
  16. It was about 1978 that E6 films came out, so 34 years should be Ektachrome 64.
    That sounds a little old, but if kept refrigerated I would have expected something visible.
    If not refrigerated, I am less sure.
    For black and white film, I usually expect reasonable results, maybe a little fog, but mostly the image should be there, on 34 year old film. For 70 year old Verichrome (not Pan) I have had bad results.
    If you have the whole developed (uncut) strip, you should also have the end from inside the cartridge, which wouldn't be exposed, even if someone decided to pull out the roll.
    But I think mostly this is what you expect from old color film, unless stored frozen, or refrigerated.
  17. I have had lots of fun with older black and white film that I develop myself. Sometimes it comes in a batch with some color film, which I tend not to use.
    I had an exposed, but undeveloped roll of VP122 that I bought on eBay. It turned out to have pictures of the Mackinac bridge under construction, so I can date it pretty closely. The pictures aren't all that good, most likely as the lighting wasn't all that good. (It looks like a cloudy day.)
    That was over 50 years old, which tends to give okay results with slower black and white films.
    I would have expected at least faint images, but mostly clear, on old Ektachrome, but it goes bad pretty fast at higher temperatures. I suspect a few months at 100F, so maybe a few years at room temperature in a southern state, would do it.
    But if it really was kept refrigerated most of the time, and away from high (100F and up) the rest to the time, then I am surprised you don't see anything.
    Since you have other rolls, make sure that they are Ektachrome 64 (the E6 version), not Ektachrome-X (the E4 version). Though the processor should also have checked that.
    As far as I know, the only reason to use such old color film is that you have enough rolls that, once you know it works, you can use the other rolls. Three isn't as many as I would hope for.
    While you got a good price on the film, you still have to pay for processing. The overall value has to be enough to make that worthwhile.
    But if you got some B&W rolls, do use them. Either develop them yourself, or find a friend to do it. (There are others around also interested in old film.) I suspect better results.

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