Expired film: how old is too old?


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Aug 22, 2013
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I'm interested in purchasing some expired 35mm film to achieve some vintage effects in my photos.

I was wondering how old is too old when it comes to picking the film? Would something from say 2006 be too risky? I do want the film to turn out obviously and I'm worried about choosing film that is just too old. I understand that storage is a big factor when it comes to how the photos turn out.

Thanks in advance.
gsgary, our inestimable TPF colleague, frequently shoots film that expired BEFORE the Falklands war ended...

He will be along shortly...
Depends on how 'vintage' you want to make them.

Here are two pictures that were taken with 20-year-old (at least) Tri-X:

$Day 132 - Dog.jpg

$Day 132 - Rooster.jpg

Tons of grain, but still workable images. Mind you, this roll was still in the camera and half exposed when I got it. The camera bag where it had been stored for 20+ years was falling apart, but I still got images from the film. If it had been in cold storage, it probably would have been sharper.

I think film from 2006 has plenty of mileage still in it.
That doesn't seem like it would be too old to be usable. I got B&W film out of a camera that had probably been in there for a good 40 years based on how young my relatives were in the pictures! - and they turned out fine. Of course that film had been exposed years ago so that's different than exposing vintage film that many years after it was manufactured.

Those Leonore are cool, that grainy effect works with the subject I think. It seems like B&W can hold up for years but color seems to be more unstable, which works if you're going for a vintage or experimental look. Have fun and hope you get some interesting photos with it.
Ah, I see. I shall indulge now, thanks everyone.
Ah, I see. I shall indulge now, thanks everyone.

Good luck with it - and be sure to post your results here so we can see what you got from it. :) The most out of date I've done personally has been about 8 years, and had no issues. Consider how the film has been stored, too, if you know - anything stored in a fridge will have a much longer life as opposed to, say, finding it in a hot attic. Whoever is selling it should offer up that info.

I love this image - LOVE.IT. This is what pulls me to film; I love the surreal, dream-like quality that heavy grain gives in shots like this. Without the grain, this image would lose some of its moody appeal. A little touch-up is needed here and there, mainly for the white spot on the door frame, but aside from that.... dee-lishous!

To the OP: I apologize for the thread hijack! :)
Working with some old black and white film as I'm setting my darkroom back up. Some of the stock I"m working with (tri-x, tmax, plus-x, orwo, ilford, you name it) is 25-30 years old. It was stored in a freezer for a lot of its life, but not all. So far, I'm getting very good results on the half-dozen or so rolls I've shot and processed, using either Kodak D-76 at 1:1 or, just tried Adinol (rodinal) at 1:50 dilution. Seem to be getting a little bit of fogging, probably because of age (but it could be, as I found out and fixed today, the gigantic freaking light leek under the door of my darkroom!). Anyway, I wouldn't be at all worried about film from 2006. Just bought a brick of Tri-X 135 from a friend from about the same vintage, still in individual boxes AND original factory plastic, for $1 per roll.

So, my gut reaction is, Go For It!
1986 TriX

HP5 in black cannaster not sure how old, about knackered

more old HP5 double exposed

Tmax 100 20+ years out of date shot at 400 by mistake, stand developed in Rodinal

same roll (100 foot) but not on same roll as above Tmax 100 shot at 400 stand developed in Rodinal but this time i added 12grams of sodium sulphite

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