When Expired Film Goes Bad

#1133. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.
I shoot a lot of expired film. Occasionally, I come across old film that has somehow managed to defy aging. This is usually because it was properly stored over its lifetime. Ferrania Solaris FG 100 and Perutz Primera 100 are two films I own that still look good a decade after the expiry date.

#1134. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.
And sometimes I come across expired film that produces decent results while still showing its age. I have rolls of Konica Centuria 200 that will produce muted, faded colours giving photos a slightly vintage look.

#1135. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.
And then there is film that has become downright ugly with age. This is film that probably baked in the hot sun when it should have been hibernating in a cold freezer. These photos were shot using Agfa CT Precisa 200. Sadly, this film was beaten with the ugly stick. I’m not exactly sure how the spots formed on these images, but if I had to guess, it probably has more to do with the aging of the emulsion and nothing to do with the development process.[1]Update (09/2022): I have since learned that the spots are the result of a fungal growth on the film itself. These spots are often visible on the film before shooting and developing. The strong color shift and fading is definitely a sign of aging. Konica Centuria 100 also has a strong color shift.

#1136. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.
One thing that can dramatically slow down (and possibly even stop) the aging process in film is proper storage in a freezer. It’s best if film is stored in airtight ziplock bags that have had as much air squeezed out of them as possible to avoid condensation freezing on the film’s emulsion. And before using frozen film, you will want to let it warm up to room temperature. Don’t open the roll while it is still cold or you may get condensation forming on the emulsion.

A general rule of thumb when shooting expired film is to give the film an additional stop of light for every decade past the expiry date. When in doubt, bracket your shots.

#1137. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.
It is important when buying expired film online to inquire about the storage history of the film. You definitely don’t want to buy film that’s been exposed to a lot of heat. But if you still choose to buy film whose history you know nothing about, then at least buy only one or two rolls and test it out before buying more.

#1138. Agfa CT Precisa 200, Canon Rebel 2000.


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