2

I'm somewhat of a beginner I would say in 35mm film photography. The last time I shot was back in the early 2000s with a Ricoh AF-7 that my dad gifted me. After the camera had some issues and couldn't be fixed, I had never used a film camera until now. I've always loved film photography and the process itself of developing your own images. Recently I decided to get a Minolta SLR camera and some films for really cheap prices and get some shots.

I purchased three packs of film rolls.

  1. Fujicolor 200 pack of 4 rolls with Expiry date 02/2007 (I was told by the seller that this was refrigerated)
  2. Fuji XTRA 400 pack of 4 with Expiry date 09/2018 (unknown storage condition)
  3. Kodak Ultramax 400 pack of 3 rolls with Expiry date 02/2017 (unknown storage condition)

The Fujicolor 200 was mainly purchased with the intention of trial. Also, I'll be developing it myself so don't want to do it on a good roll for the first few tries.

Will the images from the Fujicolor 200 be terrible due to its age? I'm assuming that the Fuji 400 is only a couple of months old so I might get lucky for a few months if I keep it in the freezer. As for the Kodak again its almost 2 years so I'm skeptical if that will be having grainy images, too.

  • Film starts to lose its "quality" the day it is made. The question is more about how long until it is noticeable, and then how long until it is no longer considered usable. – Michael C Apr 29 at 13:35
  • "What brands still produce new film" is an entirely different question. I'm going to edit it out of this one — please ask it separately. – mattdm Apr 29 at 14:34
  • @mattdm well that just renders my answer completely useless – timvrhn Apr 29 at 14:36
  • @Tim Yeah, sorry — I went for the title question and the bulk of the text rather than the second one thrown in as the last sentence. As it is, your answer only answers that last part of the question so it couldn't be "the answer" anyway. One thing you could do is ask that question yourself and then move your answer to that. – mattdm Apr 29 at 14:38
  • 1
    The general problem is that such wiki answers tend to not get maintained. Then when they fall out of date they're a mess that's hard to clean up. I suggest just starting it as a non wiki if you have the ambition to do so. You could follow the model of the "lens numbers and letters" question and make the top answer be a list of manufacturers and then have separate detailed answers for each. – mattdm Apr 29 at 14:49
10

One of the users on Photo.net is a chemical engineer who worked at Kodak for ~30 years. He posted the following information in a thread over there about Life expectancy for refrigerated film:

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 products.

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.

In fact there is a ton of information about this on Photo.net if you search around.

There are also some questions here that could be useful:

Kodak and Fujifilm are still making high-quality, fresh, reliable, gorgeous colour film. Take a look at (for example) Freestyle Photographic Supplies to see other current manufacturers. I would encourage any budding film user to buy fresh film - you don't need to worry about storage conditions, and you are supporting continued film manufacture.

  • 2
    +1 for freezing film. I am shooting old expired Ektachrome from June '85, which has held up extremely well – timvrhn Apr 29 at 13:20
  • So if I'm reading that correctly, the Fujicolor 200 effectively expired six years ago, the Kodak Ultramax 400 is probably no good, and the Fuji XTRA 400 might or might not still work -- test it before doing anything important. – Mark Apr 29 at 22:17
  • 1
    @Mark The info I posted, while relatively authoritative, is more applicable to critical (or at least important) use cases. A "consumer" film like Ultramax 400 that expired "only" 2 years ago is probably still perfectly usable. Certainly not for the trash just yet! I wouldn't use it for once-in-a-lifetime photography opportunities, but acceptable results are widely obtained from such expired film. – osullic Apr 29 at 22:27
  • @osullic I plan to use only brand new films with expiry date far from date of use for important events which I definitely wouldn't want to take any chances with. – The_Vintage_Collector May 1 at 20:26
1

Which brand still produces new films?

Although the market is considerably smaller than it used to be, there is still decent number of companies producing fresh film. Note that most of the production has been scaled down.

From the top of my head:

Traditional films

  • Kodak
  • Fujifilm (pulling back)
  • Ilford
  • Kentmere
  • ADOX
  • Foma
  • Rollei
  • CineStill (rebranded Kodak motion picture films, with removed remjet)
  • Lomography (a lot of rebranded films, some home-produced films)
  • Film Washi

Instant films

  • Polaroid Originals
  • ONE INSTANT (est. summer 2019)
  • Fujifilm (Instax)
  • 1
    Not all of these are different manufacturers: Rollei are someone else, Kentmere are Ilford – tfb Apr 29 at 15:14
  • @tfb yes and it's not Kodak but Kodak Alaris producing the film specifically. You can buy films under these brand names, so for film buying purposes this list is fine. – timvrhn Apr 29 at 16:22
  • Well, if you're worried about whether film will survive or which films are actually different rather than just badge-engineered then it matters, I think. – tfb Apr 29 at 16:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.