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Where, What, Why, Expired Film? - Tips For Using Expired Film

Ella Palmer |

Where, What, Why, Expired Film? Tips For using Expired FIlm

Where, What, Why, Expired Film? - Tips For Using Expired Film

Why would you use something that's past it's use by date? What makes expired film usable and actually exciting to use, where and how do you use something that is out of date and what happens to film that goes out of date? This blog will go through a few features of expired film and why it's an amazing piece of kit that can spice up your photography.

Film usually expires 2 or 3 years after the expiration date on the box. After the expiry date, all film will slowly start to lose light sensitivity, become less sharp, show more grain, and have less contrast. Colour film is affected more than black and white film by dull colours and colour shifting.

How to tell if your film is expired

 Kodak Expired Film - Film Camera Store

 On 35mm boxes of film, you can see the expiration date printed on the side of the box. This will indicate how long you have left to use the film. However, if stored properly, the film can last 1-3 years after the expiration date without any consequences in different results. 

How should film be stored for optimum results?

Most of the time as long as the environment is dark and cold then the film will be perfectly fine. Black and white film isn't as affected as colour film. This is because colours can fade, and become dull.

Film stock is best kept in a fridge or freezer to preserve the chemical makeup of the film. A lot of people have their own dedicated fridge for film so that they can keep it at its prime for the longest.

Expired Film - Film Camera Store

 

Can you develop an expired film like you normally would?

Yes! You can of course develop the expired film as you usually would. If you are taking the film stock to a professional film developing lab you may wish to inform them that the roll you used is expired. This takes the shock factor out when they find your film is a little dark or comes out with lots of weird effects. 

Expired Film - Film Camera Store

How to know if a roll of expired film is good

To understand if the rolls of film are worth using. You will need to shoot it and then develop the film. This is the only way to understand how the film looks and whether it is in good enough condition. A lot of the time it is total guesswork as you will not always know how the 

Light leaks - Film Camera Store

What happens to film when it expires

When film goes out of date the film chemicals tend to break down and make the film less sensitive to light. The film becomes a little dull and has a fade to it, sometimes this takes on a colour, usually, red or green depending on the makeup of the film. The rule of thumb that you hear is to always add one stop of light for every decade the film is past the expiration date. 

 Slide Film - Film Camera Store

 Some film will ok 10-20 years if it was stored in a cool place. It's a recommendation to keep the film in the fridge or even the freezer so that it slows down the degradation of the film's chemicals.

 How to take photos with expired film

When using 35mm, 120mm and large format film keep it in the fridge no matter what type of film it is, colour or black and white. It is important to keep the film away from humidity and light. When you are ready to use the film add 1/2 - 1 1/2 a stop to make up for lost definition. To do this change your iso to half or 1 stop up from the box instructions. say if the box says the iso is 400 and it's from 2000-2010 add your iso up 1 stop to 200 iso Here is a helpful chart from The Darkroom. This is called push and pulling to help adjust your photos.

 Push and Pull chart - Film Camera Store

If you don't have access to changing your iso you can always adjust your shutter speed or aperture ring to let in more light. This is due to the loss of sensitivity.

No matter how much you move your stops or store your film, expired film is full of experimental surprises which you should embrace when using expired film.

Expired Film - Film Camera Store 

Expired film and its inconsistencies 

Expired film may be inconsistent but it is beautiful when it turns out just right. The colours and light leaks from the film can give you so wacky and wonderful effects that are so unique and organic that they just can't be replicated. A lot of the time the film can show all sorts, sometimes even mould that's been eating at the chemicals, giving some fun striations across the film. 

Expired Film - Film Camera Store

Why buy expired film?

For these exact reasons above, expired film has become more and more popular in the film community because it has amplified the way we think about film and the interesting results we have at the end of waiting for what the film might look like. Developing a roll from decades ago doesn't just show us what the chemical makeup of film can do but also gives us a little glimpse into how the film was back in the day. 

Expired film can often be found for cheap by people who don't know where it's come from or you can buy it from sources like us who can store it correctly to give it longer shelf life. 

Check out our Mystery Expired Film Bundle here