How long does film last?


TPF Noob!
Feb 20, 2006
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my first post. i recently bought a rebel g for kicks, learn something new and take lots of pics of my 3 year old. i have really enjoyed your site and learnt alot over the last couple of months. anyways i had four or five rolls of 35mm film that are probably 3 to 5 years old. are they still good? for some reason i have the impression that film goes bad.

Welcome to the forum.

I'm no expert on film but...I'll chip in my 2 cents on the subject.

Film does indeed change with age. Pro film is often "fresh" and more consistent...especially if bought in bulk and all from the same batch.

Consumer film is expected to sit on a shelf for a while, so is probably not fresh when bought. However, if it's not too should still be fine. It really depends on where the film was kept...temperature, humidity etc.

The easy answer is to try it and see. If it's only a couple of rolls...there is not much of a waste it it's not good.

Film can be kept fresh much longer by keeping it in the freezer.
In a word, yes.

In most cases the film is usually good for about three to four years from the date of manufacturer. However.
If kept in a freezer un-opened, (and I stress that point) film can last quite a long time. The problem is that the chemical structures begin to break down after a period of time.

This is not advice, but more along the line of personal experience.
I have used some B&W that was over 30 years old, and it worked just fine.

The problem with color, (and someone correct me if I am wrong) is that the bonding process of the color pigments loose their cohesion over a period of time rendering the film useless.
I have a question related to this.
Does film actually freeze when put in the freezer? (LIke build up ice and stuff) And if so you'd have to thaw it out right? So would it end up wet? Cause that'd be bad for the camera. :eek:

I'm considering buying a lot of film at once (not "in bulk" per se because i don't have a darkroom to develop my own film), and if i put it in the freezer my roommates are going to think i'm weird. haha
Yes you DEFINITELY have to let it thaw out. Not because it gets a build up of ice, but because it's frozen and the film is no longer pliable, so it shatters instead. You don't want shattered film in your camera. I always leave it out overnight before use or have it in my pocket for a couple of hours (warming up from body heat).

Think condinsation... Its a killer to film.
Freezers are very dry environments - the air in there will have extremely low humidity, so anything that isn't sealed against moisture loss will dry out over time. Fresh film obviously has some moisture content in the emulsion, and I'd guess that it is a good idea to make sure it stays there, so put the film in a ziplock bag before putting it in the freezer. Don't open the bag until everything is back to room temperature, then you won't get any condensation.


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