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Developing expired film question


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Today I shot a roll of Tri-X that expired in Dec 1984 and a roll of Plus-X that expired in Jan 1999. I don't know their storage history so I am assuming room temp all these years. I have heard the rule of thumb that you overexpose by 1 stop per decade of age. Problem is the film had already been shot before I learned this. So I was wondering if anyone has tried push processing by the same number of stops? So maybe on the order of pushing 3-4 stops for the 1984 roll and 2 stops for the 1999 roll? I know it's not the equivalent of overexposing in the camera, but it's all I could think of. I can cut the rolls in 1/2 in the darkroom and use two different variables to hedge my bets if it would help ensure success. Let me know what you think, Thanks!

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There used to be a member of this forum who graciously accepted other peoples'  long expired rolls of exposed film (sometimes 40 years and longer), and developed them, often not knowing the exposure details . His successes, if I recall correctly were usually using HC110, and I believe he rarely gave more than 1.5 times the  normal recommended development time, and usually got printable results. Good luck with yours.

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I would advise cutting the Tri-X in three pieces, and develop the first piece at normal time and temp. Do the second piece at 50% extra development. After doing those two exercises, you'll be able to judge what the third piece will need, probably somewhere in between to get usable images. Hopefully you have no important images on the film that you would be possibly cutting through, but in any case I think you will have to treat that Tri-X as a trial test film.

The 1999 Plus X will be better to work with, it's a slower ASA and is not so old that it wouldn't be impossibly to get good images by developing at a little more than normal time and temp, perhaps 10% - 15% more development time. However, you may wish to cut that film in two and be sure of it as well.

All this assumes of course that the exposures were correct for the respective film speeds. But usually it's good practice to give long term expired film an extra stop or two to wake the emulsion up to accept some light after it's 20 -30 year hibernation.

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Normal development should be fine.

Well, you don't know if they were over or underexposed in the first place.

 

Films don't get less sensitive.

As they age, background fog increases.  For negative film, increasing exposure helps get above the fog.

 

But for already exposed film, pushing doesn't help get above the fog.

(Some will argue it doesn't so anything at all.  That isn't far off.)

 

HC-110 is a favorite for users of old film.

 

This picture is on Verichrome Pan from when I was in 8th grade, and developed 40 years later.

 

472078_3611541049465_1787684695_o B.jpeg

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-- glen

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This one is Tri-X, developed 31 years after exposure.

It was in a camera I borrowed from my father at the end of my college years,

and I gave it back with a finished roll inside.  He noticed 31 years later.

It happened that I had a darkroom at that time to develop it.

 

This one is in Diafine, which some also recommend for older film.

If you look at the dark parts, there will be some light spots, which are age fog.

 

So, I recommend up to about 30 years for Tri-X, 50 years for VP,

and about 80 years for Panatomic-X. 

(I have some 80 year old FX, which I will someday try using.)

Your Tri-X is a little older, but probably close enough.

Some say that PX isn't as good as VP, but 33 years should be fine.

 

470024_3579665332592_508498299_o.jpg

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-- glen

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On 11/15/2022 at 10:44 PM, billorg said:

So maybe on the order of pushing 3-4 stops for the 1984 roll and 2 stops for the 1999 roll?

Over-developing - 'push processing' - has nothing like the same effect as increasing the exposure. All it does is increase the contrast of the negative and has almost zero effect on the sensitivity of the film. It will also increase any fog density and probably make the negatives even harder to print or scan. 

OTOH, if you add about 1gm per litre of potassium bromide (or a commercial liquid anti-foggant) to the developer and give 1/2 to 1 stop extra exposure you might see an improvement in the quality of result. 

However, now that you've already exposed the film I'll second Glen's recommendation just to give the standard development time. 

Oh, BTW, 'pushing' by 3 or 4 stops is impossible. Since extending the development does nothing to increase the film speed anyway. All you'd get would be unprintably dense highlights and an even more increased fog level. You can't even 'push' fresh film by more than a stop, effectively. 

Edited by rodeo_joe1
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And,  though it wasn't asked.

Even though extra exposure is good for old (and even not so old) negative film, it doesn't help reversal film.

Reversal films have higher contrast (more negative gamma) and small exposure latitude.

 

If you have more than a few rolls of some old film, it can be worth using one as a test for the usability of others.

Especially as you still have the usual cost for processing of color film.

I do have some color film that has been always refrigerated, but otherwise I mostly don't use it old.

-- glen

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I've shot a lot of long outdated film and never really found much need to adjust the "book" exposing and developing times, especially since so much is easy to do after scanning the negative. I'm quite sure that more careful adjustment would be beneficial, but my slap-dash methods are good enough for me.

Here's some 1974 Tri-X shot and developed in 2015, per book. The film was frozen for a while, but was mostly at room temperature for years.

 

732489192_IL-Cdale-Watertower-1974-Tri-X-12-N.jpg.fb6ba884e270b9e4bdad2fb59821931a.jpg

The Polyspheroid Water Tower

Edited by JDMvW
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On 11/23/2022 at 8:52 AM, JDMvW said:

(snip)

Here's some 1974 Tri-X shot and developed in 2015, per book. The film was frozen for a while, but was mostly at room temperature for years.

(snip)

 

Different rooms have different room temperatures.

They will last a long time at 60F, much less at 90F, which might be room temperature in different parts of the world.

VP is amazingly good at working well after many years, and with less than optimal room temperature storage.

Tri-X somewhat less.

 

I am not one to believe in the one stop per decade. 

One half to one stop often works well for negative film on any age, new or old.

-- glen

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This is from a bulk roll of Tri-X @ 400, purchased in London in 1991, and kept in the little fridge I keep in my photo cabinet. I used to cut some lengths on occasions, mainly for my Minox 8x11 reloads. A couple of weeks ago I used a 10 exp length to load in a reusable cassette, just to check on the film.

I was not bothered with the age of the film, just shot it @ 320 and developed in D76 1+1 for 11 mins, agitation 30" in the first minute, then 1 inversion at 3 mins interval. Camera is an Olympus OM10, manual mode. 

This is one of the frames I got, scanned negative. Not bad, considering.

 

image.jpeg

Edited by Minox
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My Minox journey continues...

www.juliantanase.com

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/19/2022 at 6:15 PM, john_shriver said:

Do use a data sheet from the time the film was manufactured to choose developing times. For instance, 400TX developing times are shorter than the preceding Tri-X. Lower developing temperature may lead to less base fog.

 

And TMax films have changed at least twice, with different times.

They change the names and box look slightly.

 

-- glen

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/18/2022 at 2:47 AM, rodeo_joe1 said:

Over-developing - 'push processing' - has nothing like the same effect as increasing the exposure. All it does is increase the contrast of the negative and has almost zero effect on the sensitivity of the film. It will also increase any fog density and probably make the negatives even harder to print or scan.

Thanks for that - and clarifications from others too here.  "By the math" I wondered if it might work but wasn't taking fog into account.  I'm fairly new with darkroom work though I've been around film for years, and have ended up with a bit of old expired film.  It sounds like +1 stop at exposure and develop normally is the typical method for those who have had good results.  But I'm not going to use old film for anything important either.

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On 12/31/2022 at 7:58 AM, kykr said:

 (snip)

But I'm not going to use old film for anything important either.

When I was young, I learned about finding recently outdated film, usually in a box on the counter.

More recently, I often use outdated film in sizes that they don't make anymore.

Often enough, I take a film camera with old film, and digital camera along. 

-- glen

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