I have bought a bunch of 35mm film canisters (24 and 36 exposure canisters, no bulk rolls). They are new films (Expiration date sometime in 2016), but I won't be using them all immediately.

My apartment generally has a temperature of around 72 °F (22 °C), but on hot days it can go up to 80 °F (27 °C).

I heard that storing film in the fridge or freezer prolongs its life greatly, but people also caution because of condensation. Most threads I've seen revolve around bulk rolls however.

For canisters, should I store them in the fridge to make sure to maintain the best quality/life expectancy even if it may take a year before I finally use them?

  • 1
    My local shop stores them in the fridge before selling them to me. Their experience and knowledge is enough to keep me doing the same.
    – dpollitt
    Jun 18, 2014 at 13:12

5 Answers 5


It depends on the type of film and on your post processing.

For black and white films there is no need to cool them at all. When they mature well beyond their expiration date, they might get a bit slower if at all.

It is different for colour emulsions. The three or four colour "layers" may mature at different speed which may then result in unwanted colour shift, while a minor change to the overall speed of the film may not matter that much, similar to b&w.

For colour negatives, you could still correct minor colour shifts with your enlarger or have that automatically done in the lab where it is typically done for free anyway.

For slides it is different though. A slide is a slide with no chance of corrections due to the absence of any post processing. (Unless you plan to scan them or enlarge them on reverse paper or so.) The slide itself cannot be corrected in terms of speed (density) and colour. Slides should be kept cold when stored for some years.

And then there are the pro films. Pro films are typically used when ever very constant results in ever repeating processes are required. Such as Portraits in Photo Booth etc., where the operator is not even necessarily well trained. In order to keep constantly reliable results it is strongly recommended storing them at constantly cool temperatures, preferably in dry environments. No need to freeze them either.

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    B&W films should be cooled too if you store them for a long while - they loose not only their sensitivity but also dynamic range which is one of their major advantages. Jun 18, 2014 at 10:53
  • Not to my personal experience. I even had the impression that the dynamic range actually increased. Just an impression of course, no scientific measures. Jun 18, 2014 at 12:48

Yes, storing them in the fridge is a good idea. The cool temperature slows the degradation of the film. Additional benefit is gained from the stable temperature.

To prevent condensation, being an issue, simply take the film out of the fridge the evening before you intend to use it. Leave it in the canister until it has had chance to warm up to room temperature and it won't end up covered in condensation.


If you have no-frost fridge then keep the film there, preferably at the bottom (where it's not so cold) - this way you should be safe from a frost (which is a true killer, condensation alone isn't as dangerous as frost is)

Year isn't really that long, I kept film for a longer while without freezing and it was fine, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

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    As warm air rises the bottom of the fridge should be the coldest.
    – stevenvh
    Jul 28, 2020 at 18:31

Store the film as cold as possible, but make sure it is in well-sealed canisters. Chemical processes are slowed with cold. This includes the chemical processes that age the film.

However, when you go to use a roll, don't open the canister until it has warmed to ambient temperature. If you don't, water can condense on the film, which is bad for the film and the camera you put it in.

Back in the pleistoscene (when one still had to muck with chemical processes to do photography), I used to store all manner of photographic material in a freezer. They preserved fine and I never noticed any ill effects. However, I was always careful to keep them in sealed containers and to not open the containers until the contents had a chance to warm up. Usually I'd let them sit on a table in the darkroom for a hour or so.

All that said, there is really no practical reason to use film anymore. Digital sensors now have better resolution and better dynamic range. In other words, they can capture more information about the scene than film can. Whatever non-linear effect you think film gives you can be emulated by manipulating the data from a high-resolution high-dynamic range sensor.


I am sorry, but keeping them in a fridge has no vital point at all. The only thing you should not do; shift them between hot and cold condition all the time.

Got it from a photographer / chemist for negatives with approx. 40 years of experience on analogue films etc.

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    That comment is absolutely not true. If that was the case, why does shooting film that is from the sixties have edge bleed in black and white and colour casts to colour film and increased need for sensitivity adjustment. Keeping film below zero C or lower, prevents degradation of the silver halides and non lateral aging in the colour layers of colour film. dont rely on supposed expertise of someone you know. go direct to Kodak or Ilford data which is freely available on the net.
    – David Salt
    Sep 8, 2018 at 9:45

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