I've just found an old disposable camera after a bit of a tidy up, no idea what's on it.

On the bottom it says develop by 08/2010 so it's about 6 months overdue.

Will the images still be OK to develop? I.e., does the film degrade after time? I am not looking for prints, just need photos onto disc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ People already showed you there is the possibility that it is still good. I had the opposite experience after about one year Pictures came out with severe degradation. Mind you it was not kept in controlled conditions just my home which varies temperatures with the seasons and get extremely humid in the summer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ the cost of developing and scanning this should be pretty low, so why not give it a try? You may find treasures there... \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 5:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, they go better! \$\endgroup\$
    – Andres
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Im so happy to read these post i have like 30 undeveloped cameras from 8 yrs to 3 yrs ago. Had them put away in my boxes in my aunts house ! I was so down thinking i might not get any pics! Can't wait to start developing them! Can walmart help me, or do i need a special lab???? \$\endgroup\$
    – user21746
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 6:35

3 Answers 3


As long as the camera has been protected from the elements, and stored in moderate conditions (ie, no extreme hot/cold/humidity), I think you should be fine. Six months isn't that long, and the guidelines take into account that people might not be taking care of the camera.

You might see some degradation in the colors, but probably not much. It's worth a shot getting it developed, and see what you get!


Unless you seriously abused this film, there's no problem. I have taken film of all types--B&W, color slides, color prints--on repeated long trips, including extended ones outdoors in the desert, developed it late--sometimes years late--and noticed no degradation at all. The only exception was a roll I found last year (Ektacolor or something like that) which had been left almost 20 years in a camera (Nikonos V). There was noticeable washing out of color around the top and bottom edges of the film, a slight loss of contrast, and a little blurriness overall, but even so the photos are serviceable. Here's one from the middle of the roll, shown in full exactly as scanned by the processor (converted to JPEG by Picasa for upload here). Consider it an extreme example of the degradation that happens to all film over time.

alt text

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very respectable results for 20 years! Like you said, most of the image is still quite good. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see about 8 vertical bands; are those present in the original print, or are they artifacts of scanning? \$\endgroup\$
    – Evan Krall
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 1:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Evan Good eyes! You can see those artifacts at the top and bottom. (They're not whole bands, though: they extend only about 10-20% of the way into the picture from the top and bottom.) They correspond to the sprocket holes along the edge of the film. Over the years--even though this is a waterproof, metal camera kept in a case or drawer--some photons evidently did get in. In effect, each sprocket hole acted like a little window of purple light. \$\endgroup\$
    – whuber
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 16:17

I've seen the results of film that was developed after fifty years of living on a shelf. While it did take some special processing, the results were fabulous.

A few years ago, I found a roll of TMAX that I shot when I was a teenager (going on 20 years ago), and the lab was able to develop it just like it was exposed yesterday.

I've even seen unexposed film that was decades past it's expiration shot and developed perfectly fine.

In essence, unless you're dealing with Kodachrome, there's a good chance that any film you find can be processed.


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