I just loaded up my film camera (Pentax IQZoom EZY) then 2 minutes later the door popped open and I think I have ruined it. :( I attempted to wind it back up and closed the door again but since that I haven't been able to take any photos and my camera says ‘0’.

What should I do? Is my film completely ruined? Is there a way I can save it? Is it safe to open the door again in a dark room to attempt to fix this?

  • 2
    " I attempted to wind it back up and closed the door again but since that I haven't been able to take any photos and my camera says ‘0’." The film counter resetting to zero is normal. "I haven't been able to take any photos". Did you by chance wind all of the film back into the cannister? Did you reload the film? Sep 23 '21 at 3:13
  • 1
    If you rewound it until only a few inches were visible, and if you then loaded it into your camera just like you would load a new cartridge, everything should be fine. If you cannot take pictures, that's unrelated; something went wrong with the loading. That can happen with those "automatic loading mechanisms" over which you have no control. Most likely the film was not grabbed properly by the winding mechanism because it was not aligned quite right or was bent or too short or simply through a chance snag. There is no danger whatsoever in simply re-opening the camera and re-loading the film. Sep 23 '21 at 10:41
  • With a little experience you can tell from the sounds the camera makes whether the winding motor is running idle or whether it actually grabbed and wound up some revolutions of film. Don't forget that the number of pictures you took before plus one or two are spoiled and cannot be used; simply "shoot them away" after re-loading. Sep 23 '21 at 10:44
  1. Breathe.
  2. Download the manual for your camera, and read it!
  3. Any film that was exposed to light when the camera back opened is no good anymore. Even if the film is wound back into the canister, it was spoiled the moment the camera back opened and the light hit it. Film that never emerged from the canister in the first place is still good - even if the camera back was opened. Just think about it logically, you'll get used to it. It sounds like most of the film roll is still usable, if you didn't take many photos in those first 2 minutes. Remove the film from the camera, and start again. The first few frames might not turn out, so don't use this film for anything important. Use the film to get used to your camera.
  4. If you need to retrieve the film leader, YouTube will help you.
  5. For goodness sake, do not open the back of the camera when there is film inside!! (And if you hand the camera to any curious friend or stranger, I'd advise giving them the same warning!)
  6. Enjoy film photography!
  • 1
    Good advice (technically and emotionally ;-) ). A direct link to a manual PDF is here. Sep 23 '21 at 10:39
  • Another tip is to learn how to load the camera entirely by touch so that you can do it in the dark. This can get you a few extra shots on the roll, but also helps if you need to fix something on an already-loaded roll. Sep 24 '21 at 15:10
  • Film is sufficiently opaque that if a camera is opened briefly after shooting a substantial portion of a roll, some of the earlier pictures on the roll are likely to survive without noticeable damage, since each layer of wrap on the roll will receive exponentially less light than the next outer layer. Not something to rely upon, but it's often worthwhile to develop rolls that have been partially exposed in such fashion.
    – supercat
    Sep 24 '21 at 16:12

Consider that all the pictures you have taken in these two minutes are lost. Then the first picture you'll take after advancing the film to that same position will be lost too. The rest of the film that was still in the canister when you opened the camera should be OK (but IMHO it's safer to use a new roll).

  • 3
    All film inside the cartridge is OK; cartridges with new film and after full exposure are handled all the time in daylight for much longer periods of time (= receiving much larger amounts of light) than a brief case opening. Your "better to use a new roll" advice should only concern uncertainty about the spoiled number of pictures, that is how many pictures one must advance after the incident and re-loading the film to reach unexposed and therefore usable film material. Sep 23 '21 at 10:35

For your specific camera, the other answers which state that the film you shot on is ruined and only the exposures you haven't shot can be used are correct. That camera winds film in the typical forward order: when loading a new roll of film, it winds the film on just a little to the first exposure, then pulls film out as you take photos, then rewinds it all back once it's finished.

On the other hand, some cameras, such as my Canon EOS 300, pre-wind the film and shoot in reverse order: once you load a new roll of film, it winds all of the film out to the last exposure, then as you shoot photos it will rewind those exposures one at a time back into the canister, and then once you shoot the last exposure it will just rewind that one back in along with the leader.

If you have a camera that winds film like that, then the answer is the opposite of the other answers here, which is that all of the photos you shot are safe (with the possible exception of the last one you shot if it isn't completely wound in), but any film you haven't shot on is now unusable. In this case, so long as you didn't wind any film out of the roll, those photos can still be developed and viewed. If you do accidentally open the film door, be sure to cut and discard the unused film on the takeup roll before removing the cartridge, and then immediately wind the remaining film in until you're ready to develop it.

  • This actually ended up coming in handy for me: a while ago, I was in a scooter accident where my camera broke and the film door came off: the roll had some important pictures, but they were safe inside the canister. Had the camera been the typical variety where the film is wound forwards, they would have been gone. It can also come in handy if a guard approaches you and asks you to delete your photos: you can open your film door and show them that you've "ruined" your film, but no photos are actually gone.
    – gparyani
    Sep 23 '21 at 21:20

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