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  1. #1
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    How long does exposed film last?

    Sorry I tried searching and couldn't find anything on this. I'm wondering how long exposed film is "good" for. Basically, I found a handful of rolls of ISO 400 Fuji 35mm from a trip in fall 2002 that I never had developed. I'm wondering if it's even worth it? It would be going to the local drugstore 1 hour place if I have it developed, I have 0 experience doing anything like that myself. Even if the prognosis is bad, I'm thinking I'll take them over anyway just to see what comes out.

    edit: on a side note, how long is unexposed good for? I saw 1 or 2 rolls of the same stuff that was not used yet as well.

  2. #2
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    It depends upon how it has been stored. Exposed film is more heat sensitive than unexposed film for final color properties.

    A professional lab will be able to 'print' the film better or more closely to the original than 1-hour processing. 1-hour processing may even not develop the film that well.

    Old film that you don't have any idea what it is becomes a 'bonus' but if you think you know it can be a disappointment. Should the trip have been one of a kind or memorable spend a little extra and get it done by a lab and let them know it had been sitting around. It still may not come out perfectly.

    Temperature is the big enemy of film both exposed and not. Traditional silver halide B/W is more robust. C-41 and E-6 (color print and slide/positive) film though can degrade rapidly once exposed and not developed. Weeks from exposure to development can cause major changes in the image quality to say nothing of months or years!

    Best of luck.
    CDPrice 'drg'

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  3. #3
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyinion
    Sorry I tried searching and couldn't find anything on this. I'm wondering how long exposed film is "good" for. Basically, I found a handful of rolls of ISO 400 Fuji 35mm from a trip in fall 2002 that I never had developed. I'm wondering if it's even worth it? It would be going to the local drugstore 1 hour place if I have it developed, I have 0 experience doing anything like that myself. Even if the prognosis is bad, I'm thinking I'll take them over anyway just to see what comes out.

    edit: on a side note, how long is unexposed good for? I saw 1 or 2 rolls of the same stuff that was not used yet as well.
    As for the exposed rolls take them in for sure. I took some in last year and had them developed and they were of my son's 6th birthday party. He will be 29 years old on July 18th of this year. As far as the unexposed rolls they are probably OK but I wouldn't want to chance missing a picture to find out, Jeff
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  4. #4
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Thanks guys, I'll go ahead and take them in. They're nothing too special, just from a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm. Nothing that couldn't be replaced, and I guess after 7 years, nothing I've really missed. As for the unexposed rolls, sounds like I should just toss them and buy fresh film. I figured I probably shouldn't keep them but was curious. I tried finding an expiration date on them but couldn't find one.

  5. #5
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Similar experience here. Took some in that I had no idea what they were and there were some 20 years old. They'd been in a drawer but never super hot.
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  6. #6
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Well took them in and got them back. They came out. The film was definitely aged though. Kind of a washed out yellowishness red to a lot of things. I actually had to finish the 4th roll of before bringing it in, and noticed discolored bands on the top and bottom of those pics. Everything was also very grainy, noticed more on the photo discs I had made. Not sure if that's the aged film or the ISO 400 film I used since this is the first time I've ever had a photo disc made. Some of the photos taken in bright sun looked like they were 20 years old. Oh well, I'll have to remember not to forget film again like that.

  7. #7
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyinion
    Well took them in and got them back. They came out. The film was definitely aged though. Kind of a washed out yellowishness red to a lot of things....
    I had one roll of exposed film sitting in the fridge for a bit more than 10 years. The photos turned out OK bar some operator's errors back then. None of that old-yellowish look you mentioned.

  8. #8
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    I found an old exposed roll of 127 in the kodak brownie.
    Now I'm torn between developing it myself, and messing it up.
    Or going out to find someone who can process Tri-X Pan 127 these days.
    PAul

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  9. #9
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    my mom used to hold onto film for years and years before she'd get it developed. It would come back yellowed like you described, but it was still neat to see the pictures.
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  10. #10
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Greetings:
    RE: exposed film of variable vintage...
    I used to haunt flea markets, junk shops and the like, looking for old cameras for my collection, but also for any with old film still in them. It was always a surprise what could be on them. If it was 'regular' B&W film, I'd handle it myself, if not, I would ship it off to my favorite pro lab. (I always had a bunch of stuff going weekly anyways)
    In my experience, C41 color film will, WILL, have serious color shifts and distortions after the first few years. (Depending on the ever important storage conditions, of course. Refrigerated exposed film can be OK even after 5 or more years.
    B&W seems to hold up better, as noted by another poster. However, I sometimes took the color film negs into the darkroom and made B&W prints... Thereby negating (no pun intended) the effects of wild color shifts. (Mostly... That is) I did this purely as a lark, and, as it wasn't MY old pictures, I wasn't too worried about results. (C41 color film IS B&W silver film, under the hood. But with a twist. E6 (Slide film) is too. There is, {or was?} even a B&W C41 film! Yet, it all still has (had?) silver at it's heart. Dyes were used later on to 'enhance' the silver part of the film, IE: T-max films. (As a newspaper shooter, I HATED the T-Max films when they first came out. And worse, Kodak discontinued my beloved Tri-X! We all screamed, and they, Kodak, relented, making Tri-X available again... for a while. Later on, T-Max technology made it's way into C41 color neg film.
    That can give you a better idea of the film's age, knowing the exact technology it boasts of.
    If you want to know more about that, I am sure there are explanations of the technical aspects available somewhere online. (I'm too old remember it all here)
    If it were my old pictures, I would do as the previous poster said, and use a pro shop. They indeed can do a much better job. and be sure to note on the envelope that this is OLD film, give approx. age if known, and ask for special processing, not batch. It costs more, sure, but it is often worth it. Sometimes, nothing can help. In those cases, I would ask for B&W prints from the color negs. (Or ask at the shop if anyone locally can do it, or will try doing it for you. I assure you, it CAN be done in any well stocked and equipped darkroom. Once you have the negs, trying to make prints at worst only wastes paper and chemicals, and doesn't hurt the original negs)
    Sometimes, this is the only way to go, and the only way to save an image. You can Photoshop the prints later, if desired. Photoshop can handle making the B&W out of color negs. (Remove the orange mask, all colors, and go greyscale and just make B&W prints) You may have to tinker with it for the greyscale to 'see' it the way you want it too, a large color shift can be 'seen' as a shade of grey that's not really there.
    Or, try your hand at hand coloring. in effect. Never been easy, but never been easier than now, with Photoshop. I've done this, on a rainy day. (And, it TAKES a rainy day! But I've done it, so anyone CAN learn to do it.
    Or, just live with the B&W results, as that way, even wild color shifts can be dealt with as long as the silver develops.
    If the film has been kept frozen, just tell your friendly photo developer this fact. If refrigerated, ditto. They will have experience with this more than I have. I have more experience with UN-exposed film stored in the cold.
    So, I would say to go with the recommendations already given. Your 1 hour lab isn't going to be able to do a single roll batch, it will be lumped in with all the other film for that day. If it says C41, that is. If not, be ready for them to say they can't develop it at all. (there used to be many competing 'standards', until C41 pretty much settled it, other than movie film, which is whole 'nother animal altogether, as it does not have the orange mask, and will ruin any C41 chemicals if processed that way. Sort of a Betamax vs VHS battle)
    Hope I've helped convince you to go the pro shop route. You may NOT gain anything that way... But you can be sure you will get the best that's possible. And that's as good as it's going to get, most likely. Photoshop is then your next best line of defense. But you gotta get a usable negative to work with first. Photoshop is good... But not THAT good!
    Junkman

  11. #11
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    Re: How long does exposed film last?

    Hi i found some 4 old 35mm undeveloped film at a house clearence

    they are

    1 x Ilford HP3 35mm 20 exposures (looks to date from late 1960's/ early 1970's)
    1 x Ilford FP4 35mm 36 exposures (looks to date from 1970's)
    1 x Kodak Tri-X 35mm 36 exposures (looks to date from 1980's)
    1 x Kodak Plus-X Pan 35mm 20 exposures (looks to date from 1980's)

    I have sent them off today to a pro lab they said they would process the films for 4 each and then if there is anything printable then i could pay for the prints

    Anybody think i might actually have something on them?
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