I was given two rolls of very long expired FujiChrome 400 slide film - one of which I gave to a friend, one I kept.

He shot his roll at the rated speed, but did not get much in the way of results. One or two frames had feint images, but the vast majority did not work at all.

The roll expired in 1986, and since it was obtained by the shop who gave it to me, it was refrigerated, however I know nothing of how it was stored before then.

I'm going to give it a try, but I'm not certain the best approach to metering it.

If it was a negative film, I'd just meter it as a much slower film, probably iso 50 or 100, but I've been told that slide film requires much more accurate metering than negative film.

Given how old this film is, is there any way to work out what a more appropriate way to meter it would be?

I'm not particularly worried about getting it wrong, but as it's slightly more expensive to process than negative film, I'd rather increase my chances of getting something back.

  • 1
    Expose 3 frames at a known target at ISO 200, 100, and 50. Snip off the frames in a darkroom and develop. Reload camera in the dark. Expose the rest based on what you learn from the test.
    – OnBreak.
    Aug 21 '18 at 5:48
  • @Hueco That would be the best way really, though unfortunately I don't have access to a dark room. Is it likely that if I just shoot at 50, it would cause problems? I've no idea what happens if you over expose slide film.
    – Alex
    Aug 21 '18 at 10:44
  • Slide film has less latitude for exposure errors than neg. I found this on Provia: casualphotophile.com/2017/08/28/… stating that at +1, highlights suffer, and by +2, they're blown. I see no reason why an older emulsion would be any more forgiving. So, it has most definitely slowed down in speed over the years, but you don't have the wiggle room to guess, unless you want to heavily bracket and accept that every third shot might be good.
    – OnBreak.
    Aug 22 '18 at 18:55
  • 1
    You don't need a darkroom, just a dark room. A closet with no windows, at night, with the house lights off is usually good enough. Get a change bag if needed. Keep the snipped film in the change bag and take to a lab and tell them it's a snip test and they'll take it from there.
    – OnBreak.
    Aug 22 '18 at 18:57

Hueco's recommendation to shoot and develop multiple test shots is the best approach. However, if you don't have access to a dark room, you probably also don't have the necessary chemicals for development.

The rule of thumb is to drop one stop for every decade of cold storage, so it likely needs to be shot somewhat slower than ISO 50. However, since you don't know the storage conditions before being obtained by its previous owner, it may have to be shot even slower.

Since your friend already shot a roll and a few frames had faint images, you have a reference on which to base a guess. Estimate how many stops under exposed your friends images appear. You can fiddle with exposure compensation on a digital camera to help make a more accurate estimation. From there you can figure out an ISO value that may work.

Hueco also states, "Slide film has less latitude for exposure errors than neg."

One reason for this is it is intended to be viewed directly or projected. Under or over exposure affects direct viewing. Exposure differences among a set of slides complicates projection.

Another issue is slide film loses density with increased exposure. Once the highlights are blown, there's no there there. If your intention is not to view them directly, but to scan them, you should be able to underexpose to preserve the highlights. You can then bring the shadows up during or after scanning. (Why does that sound familiar... ?)

You might like to also consider cross processing.


Labs can do a clip test for you. Give them the whole roll, and they will do what others have previously described - cut off a few frames and develop them. You can then look at the results and see if the remainder of the roll needs to be pushed or pulled (which is a technique used in developing film that helps compensate for under/over exposure.)

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