25 year old B&W film. Can I use it? What to expect?
May 20, 2004 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I just acquired an old Minolta 16 along with two rolls of B&W film. The film was in a sealed container with the expiration date marked May '78. Do I have any chance of getting workable pictures out of this thing? And is there something (longer exposure, or shorter?) one can do to compensate for expired film?
posted by Aaorn to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
As you've probably guessed, it depends. Sometimes the film won't show much difference, although a change is almost guaranteed with 20-plus-year-old film. The most likely issues, I think, would be oxidation of the silver, which would mean fogged photos. The gelatin base on the film may also have decayed or hardened, even sealed in the container, which could result in flaking or cracking of the film.

It's hard to predict what might result and having a lab develop the roll might more expensive than it's worth, but if you're developing the film yourself it might be worth experimenting.
posted by me3dia at 2:11 PM on May 20, 2004

In terms of developing old rolls of film, Rocky Mountain Film Lab has a great reputation (and I think it may have been posted here at some point.) I've never used them personally, but I know many people who have been impressed with their lab.
posted by fionab at 2:17 PM on May 20, 2004

You said sealed. I imply that means not yet exposed. If that is the case, pitch 'em they are not worth the effort or money. However, if they have actually been exposed, I would have them processed for the fun of it. Film does not age gracefully. If you have data on the film it would be nice to see what it shows, but if it is blank I would not waste the money trying to use this long expired stuff. I wouldn't use unexposed film from 2002, much less 1978.
posted by caddis at 4:34 PM on May 20, 2004

Now to derail this thread, but what about a film that's been in your camera and expired two months ago - will this show up good without any special processing?
posted by kchristidis at 5:44 PM on May 20, 2004

if it recently expired, it should still be ok. maybe some funky colors when it gets processed, but sometimes that makes mediocre pictures better.
posted by Hackworth at 5:49 PM on May 20, 2004

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