I'm a relatively new user of film, getting back into it after a few years. I've had the first B&W 35mm film developed and there are vertical stripes of light on lots of the photos - often in the middle but sometimes at the ends.

I'm not sure if this is user error from me, a film issue, or if there is a problem with the camera - a Canon AE1 that was given to me by my grandad. When I told him I was using his camera again he asked if I'd gotten it fixed - something I've not done as I hadn't realised there was a problem! Help gratefully received.

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  • 1
    Always consult the film itself when trying to identify an issue. Scans only tell part of the story
    – timvrhn
    Jun 17, 2022 at 7:43
  • Have you examined the condition of the felt seals around the back of the camera? Particularly the two vertical edges on either end?
    – Michael C
    Jun 18, 2022 at 3:17
  • I'm 99% sure these are light leaks, change light seals :) easy job Jun 25, 2022 at 13:45
  • Hi @GeorgeHuman Please post potential answers as answers, not as comments, even if they're short.
    – osullic
    Jul 3, 2022 at 15:31

4 Answers 4


It's pretty obvious you have light leaking onto the film. Based on the very narrow and perfectly straight vertical line in the middle of each stripe, I'd look first at the seals on the vertical ends of the camera's back (the part that swings out when you open the camera to load/unload film), particularly to the seals on the end right next to the film take-up spool.

image showing location of light seals and a light seal kit

Replacement seals can be found on places like eBay fairly easily and they're affordable. This one comes with three sets pre-cut on one card for about $20 USD. Kits with the seals already cut for your specific camera make it a lot easier, but you can also get more generic ones that will require you to cut your own from a patch of the material. If you're very mechanically inclined, it's also a fairly easy DIY project to remove the old ones and install the new seals.


White areas means the film has been overexposed. If the problem was with putting or removing the film in the camera, only areas would be overexposed (typically end of the film or complete frames). Since your stripes are on the whole film, this means those have been burnt onto each frames as the film was travelling through the camera. This is happening when the camera is leaking light, typically around closure points. So have a look at the body, and check if all is light tight. You could place a small LED light in the body of the camera and observe if you can spot some lights leaking out when the camera is in a dark room. Good luck!


What type of 35mm developing reels are you loading the film onto to process? If the streaks are on and off the length of the film, you may be "bending" or curling the film too much if you are using a metal spiral reel. If you are using a walk on reel, I agree with the light leaks.

  • "I've had the first B&W 35mm film developed..." It sounds like the OP took the film to a commercial lab to have it developed there.
    – Michael C
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:03
  • Still, good to have another suggestion for others who encounter a similar scenario
    – osullic
    Jul 3, 2022 at 15:28
  1. If the film is not advancing smoothly you will get tension stress marks on the film.
  2. The shutter rail may be worn causing uneven exposure.
  3. When the film is finished and rewound into the cassette, winding the leader into the cassette can cause light leakage (this can happen with re-used film canisters as the felt light trap gets worn).
  • Thank you! 1/ is there something I can do to help it advance smoothly? 2/ would this be possible for a specialist to fix?
    – Rae
    Jun 16, 2022 at 16:44

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