Shooting and developing Ektachrome 64, expired in 1979

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by mellais, May 29, 2020.

  1. Hi,

    I recently shot a roll of ancient Ektachrome 64 slide film. Expired in 1979, no idea how it had been stored.

    I have a few rolls of this stock so I'm testing. I decided to start with this roll at near box speed (50ASA) exposure and regular development.

    Terrible results - or, more like no results at all. See the image.

    Any ideas where to go with the next roll? Heavy overexposure, longer development time, both, or what?

    Many thanks for your comments.


    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    cameragary likes this.
  2. That film looks like it hasn't been developed at all. There's no outer edge frame numbers and no frame separators. Can you post more information about the processing ?
    cameragary likes this.
  3. That was my initial reaction too. I asked the lab about it but they haven't given me any answer yet. Is it really possible to develop a film so that you cannot see the frame numbers and frame separators?

    Feels weird.

    cameragary likes this.
  4. I think it is dead.

    This is reversal film, so the unexposed part should be dark black.
    Numbering is white (clear) on a black background.

    Your film is (close to) completely clear, so pretty much fogged.

    With negative film, you can increase exposure, within the exposure
    latitude to get above fog. You can't do that with reversal film.

    You could try as a negative, either black and white or C-41, but the results
    are not likely to be much better. Best to use this for display purposes only.

    As you say, unknown storage conditions. It seems that they were not good enough.
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  5. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    Has this film been processed at all? Ektachrome, and indeed most chromes films, have black rebates and leaders/tails after processing, with film data visible on rebates.
    The other thing is, well, 1979 is a long, long time ago...
    Slow-speed Ektachrome is a difficult film to expose well when expired after such a long time. A baseline guidance is 1.5 stops for every 10 years elapsed, but variations — likely wild and unpredictable, will be found depending on storage. Film that has been frozen over a very long term will still have lost speed but can provide useable images. Latency will be affected if the film was exposed but left unprocessed; with Ektachrome, that means any recorded images will come to nothing, much like Ilford's infamously "disappearing" Pan F+ 50 film with its well-known poor latency.
    cameragary likes this.
  6. Ektachrome 64, and likely other Ektachromes, has about 6 stops on the exposure side
    of its Characteristic Curve. (A gamma of about -1.5, so 9 stops in density.)

    If you overexpose by 6 stops, there is nothing left.

    Compare to C41 films, which have 10 stops, and the curve hasn't leveled off at the top,
    so maybe 12 or so. If you overexpose 6 stops, you still have 6 stops left.
    cameragary likes this.
  7. What are those round holes doing between the sprocket holes, and why does the film appear to have water blobs and other surface marks all over it?

    I've never encountered 36 exposure cassette Ektachrome with punctures between the sprocket holes. Nor any processed film that appears to be grey and opaque.

    Is this a leg-pull?
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  8. I think I have known those little holes on other films, but haven't tried to keep track of them.

    The gray is hard to explain, but it isn't obvious how the picture was taken.
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  9. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    I've puzzled over that too. The dots occur at 4-sprocket intervals, so maybe in those days (1970s) an alignment / orientation assist when loading into machines? I have no recollection of my own Ektachrome transparencies from that era having little dots among the sprockets.
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  10. What commercial lab returns the film uncut and unmounted too?
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  11. If there are no frame lines, all labs that I know.

    The one nearest me, charges extra for mounting, so presumably returns it that way if you don't want it mounted.
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  12. Yes, but in that case there's usually an 'advisory' sticker on the film that puts the blame firmly on the photographer.

    A lab that just returns an uncut and unsleeved length of blank film with no further explanation really has no right to call itself a 'lab'. A slop-house maybe, but not a lab.
  13. Another thought occurs to me.
    Since it expired in 1979, that batch of Ektachrome would have been produced on the cusp of the transition from E4 to E6 and before the widespread introduction of E6 processing to general, amateur labs. Therefore it might be designed for the obsolete E4 process and not be compatible with E6 at all.

    What process is stated on the box?
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  14. Not too long ago, I shot a roll of EPP that the lab pronounced "completely dead." At my request, they processed another from the same batch, with the same results.

    I still have it around here somewhere, but it was essentially a clear and nearly colorless strip of acetate. This was 120 format, and expired in 2006.
    cameragary likes this.
  15. Ektachrome-X is the E4 film, Ektachrome 64 (and other numbers) are E6.

    Do you mean that they might have put one in the wrong box?

    Ektachrome 200 is the replacement for High-Speed Ektachrome.

    Ektachrome 50 and Ektachrome 160 are the tungsten balanced versions.

    The longest I ever tried was about 8 years, which was the roll in my film camera
    when I first got a DSLR. After 8 years, I decided to finish the roll. All the slides
    have a pink cast, which comes from things black looking pink instead.
    I think that was Ektachrome 200, but it is a while ago by now.
    cameragary likes this.
  16. The might put the explanation on the box, or somewhere that the OP didn't show us.

    In 1971, my grandmother went on a trip with my family. She brought along a (simple) camera
    that use 127 film, and had a roll of Ektachrome in it. (About 8 years after my grandfather died.)

    As a test of the camera, my dad had the roll processed. (We lived close to a Kodak lab, so
    same-day E4 service.) You could see the frames, but just barely. It came back uncut,
    probably with a sticker on the box, or maybe on the film. There was enough image,
    though, for my dad to believe that the camera worked, and bought a roll of film for it.
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  17. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    In the old days, it was not uncommon to have a roll with no images returned uncut / unmounted. Saw a good bit of it over a few years working in a camera store.
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  18. I must admit that my memory fails me about the date that E6 took over from E4, and the designation of Ektachrome film from that era.

    Wikipedia (Yeah, I know!) says that E6 wasn't rolled out to amateur (I.e general public) labs until around 1976, which would likely have been the manufacturing date of the OP's film. Also, I can't find any mention of the E6 process in the formulary for the year 1976. All of which lead me to believe that E4 and E6 coexisted during the time that the film in question was 'fresh'. Furthermore E4 film isn't pre-hardened, and won't stand up to E6 temperatures.

    So, no, I wasn't suggesting it might have been boxed wrong. Just that it was possibly an E4 process film to start with. The first E6 process Ektachromes were suffixed 'Professional' I believe.

    Anyway, the box and cassette should definitely say which process the film was designed for.

    I'm also happy to add that I've never had an entirely blank roll of film returned. So I don't know what a lab's procedure is in that case. I do know that the odd blank frame completely screws up the cutting machine, and that you're likely to get other frames chopped in half!
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
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  19. In about 1977, I had a Unicolor E6 box, just after it came out, so I remember
    the year.

    The choice then was between E4 and E6, so that is close to the changeover.

    The change also included names with numbers in them, so it is easy to know.

    All the Ektachromes with a number in the name, 50, 64, 100, 200, 400, ... are E6.

    I am pretty sure that I remember 64 as ER, (or EPR for professional). Not so much
    later, it was replaced by Ektachrome 100, EN.

    Ektachrome X (EX) and High Speed Ektachrome (EH) are E4.

    But yes, it might be that EX was available with an expiration date in 1979,
    but not called Ektachrome 64.

    I am not sure the year, but Kodachrome also changed over to numbers,
    from Kodachrome II and Kodachrome X to the new Kodachrome 25 an Kodachrome 64,
    the latter being KR.
    cameragary likes this.
  20. Good memory Glen.

    I think I must have accidentally hit the Delete button on my memory of all that old film nomenclature. I remember there was FP3, and then FP4. That's before it ate too much and became FP4plus. :p

    Don't ask me to put a date on when that all happened though. I'll leave that to archaeologists.
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