Film in the refrigerator, I know, I know it's serious
September 14, 2006 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Would black-and-white negative film still be good if it were stored in a refrigerator for over 3 years? What about printing paper?

I've had some B&W film (mostly Ilford 100 and 400) in the fridge for about 3 and a half years. Could I still use it? Would I need to alter the development time or temperature? (I will be developing it myself.) I also have the same questions regarding 3/4 of a 100-sheet box of resin-coated Ilford paper that has been stored in the same place for a similar amount of time.
posted by matildaben to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
The film, almost certainly. I used stuff older than that with no perceived effect. The paper, probably, but in that case I'd say why not just try it? It's not like you can't just reprint if the paper's gone over.

I think the biggest concern I'd have over the paper would be possible light leakage (since it's been opened) and maybe moisture (same reason).
posted by phearlez at 3:42 PM on September 14, 2006

Best answer: Kodak has some guidelines for unprocessed film storage, but the mother document is publication H1.

A quick skim indicates you should be OK for up to 10 years.
posted by plinth at 3:42 PM on September 14, 2006

It'll depend somewhat on how fast the film is. Rays from outer space will penetrate your house and fridge and affect the film, moreso with faster film than slower, I shit you not.
posted by rbs at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2006

Anyway, I think you're fine. If it were longer (like 10 years), I'd develop a little extra.
posted by rbs at 4:41 PM on September 14, 2006

IIRC it used to be the case that aged film was better than fresh. Professional film was pre-aged, because pros used it immediately. Amateurs usually kept it a year or two in the camera--not in the fridge. It should be fine. I Googled pre-aged film, and got nothing but an ad saying "Delay Your Ejaculation".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:07 PM on September 14, 2006

I used to exclusively buy film that had been stored in the camera-shop's cooler past the date on the foil wrapper/package. It was always fine, and a bargain. I usually got the Ilford delta pro iso 200, 120. I never liked the faster ilford film, but it wasn't bad by any stretch. What kind of Ilford is it?
I'm not a pro, but I really couldn't ever tell the difference between new and older, expired film (properly stored in watertight packages), and I shot many nice negatives on it.
If you've extensive experience with this particular film in a particular developer, I'd be interested to hear if you find that there's a deviation from what you expect, but I found that different combinations of film/developer called for much wider variations in development time/temp/dilution etc. than film age ever did--if, in fact, it did at all.
posted by pullayup at 6:49 PM on September 14, 2006

posted by caddis at 7:07 PM on September 14, 2006

yes and yes

I've used 20 year old unrefrigerated film and paper with few problems
posted by unSane at 7:41 PM on September 14, 2006

Yes. I too buy past-date film from my local store that's been stored in the cooler, and I always have great results. Of course, this is all with film that's iso 400 or less - I haven't tried it with any B&W films faster than that, but I have successfully shot and printed fast color film that was over 5 years old.
posted by bedhead at 9:45 PM on September 14, 2006

Best answer: B&W films store much better than color films. The problem with color films is the three color emulsion layers age differently, so you get color shifts. With B&W, there's only one emulsion layer, so the whole film is good.

The big issue is exposure shifts. The right answer there is a clip test -- you shoot the film, clip off the first six inches, develop that, and if it shifted, you compensate in developing. I seriously doubt that for 3-5 year old refrigerated B&W film that you've shifted anywhere near enough to not be able to fix in printing.
posted by eriko at 5:59 AM on September 15, 2006

3 years isn't a long time, I continue to use film older than that without any major problems. Black and white is much more forgiving than color. Obviously if you have some shooting that is more demanding of perfection you will want to use fresh film/paper but otherwise it should be fine.
posted by JJ86 at 6:32 AM on September 15, 2006

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