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Back to (expired) film - a bit of advice sought

Discussion in 'photo' started by johnfromnorwich, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    I found a load of expired rolls of Tri-X and HP5 in my freezer last week. The arrival of children has meant that I haven't used a film camera for at least 5 years (possibly 8 years!) and the film was dated as use before 2013. The chemicals sitting in my cellar were of a similar vintage. But I took a punt anyway and fired off a roll with the Rolleiflex, and souped it in Rodinal (which never expires). The catch is that the fixer had significantly oxidised - there were crystals of what I'm guessing were ammonium sulfate floating in the stock bottle and had to flip a coin over filtering it or using 5-8 year old 1+4. I did the latter. Couldn't find any Ilfotol, but this was just a test, so nothing to lose. Well it all worked. But, there does seem to be some base fogging on the negatives. I can live with it and I'm going to move to caffeine developer anyway so some gunge is fine, but I'm wondering if this is a) the film, b) the weaker fixer (I left it for longer than usual to compensate a bit) or a mixture of both. What do you reckon? I definitely need new chemicals anyway. I'd like to pin it down before shooting anything I care about but similarly I don't want to waste a load of film on tests.
    martin clark likes this.
  2. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I think it's more likely to be chemicals than the film. I my youth I shot expired film most of the time (it was cheaper!) and never had anything worse than odd exposures that could easily have been metering issues. I kept the film in the fridge and often was using it years past date. However, I don't know what happens to frozen film over a long period. If your fixer is shot you may find the fog will get worse and worse over time - I had some prints that looked fine for about a month than gradually started to change, as my fixer wasn't up to strength - quite an interesting effect at first.
  3. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    That's my hope. I've ordered some new chemicals for a more systematic attempt. I scanned the negs immediately in case they weren't fully fixed and was quite surprised at how good a couple of the pictures looked. I'd forgotten just how great 6x6 can be, even under the worst of circumstances (I didn't even meter it - it looked like a 1/250, F8 day and I figured I'd be close enough). At least the camera appears to be working fine after all that time in storage. I need to test the Mamiya 6 x 7 next - but those things are built like tanks.
  4. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    Oh do post a few experiments!

    I love this stuff; over the years I've come across a roll (I've never remembered to develop) here and there; my record is c. ~ 15-17yrs between exposure and dev

    -and given that one is so distant and surprised by finding anything at all, the outcome (even, perhaps esp, colour shifts on c41 neg film) etc are all a part of the fun. In my limited experience...
  5. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    Unfortunately the tests I've done so far all involve pics of my kids - which never go online. The C41 question is an interesting one since I've a few rolls of Fuji Provia from the same era and I'm wondering what the colour balance is like. My biggest problem there is that they are all 35mm and my beloved Nikon F4 has stopped working. It got accidentally stored with batteries in it and I presume that as the voltage fell, the current draw got large enough to damage something internal. It won't even switch on. I have no idea if it's dead or fixable or who to ask.
  6. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    Test roll 2 was a 120 HP5+ I shot in the Rollei >7 years ago and has sat on a bookshelf ever since. I can date these to the third week of August 2012 (Dad's birthday - there's some digital shots from the same weekend). Quite a weird experience as the light hit the silver and my late father's face popped out, but nice to have a new pic. There's obviously been a bit of a light leak along the edge of the roll since the later shots have some blackening in the margin but the earlier ones don't. Still, amazing that it worked at all and they look a lot better than the last batch so I'm assuming the new fixer has improved things. I'll see if I can can scan something from this batch. I found a roll of 35mm Tri-X from the same time period in my (gah!!) broken F4, so I'll soup that tomorrow night. I wonder what lurks within?
  7. PaulMB

    PaulMB pfm Member

    Beware that current "Rodinal" does not last forever. The old Agfa stuff does, but the new versions made by various companies can go completely useless after a year or two, especially if the bottle has been opened. Test the fixer with an old bit of film to see if it clears completely.
  8. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    The developer seems fine. Or at least it's behaving as expected. Everything I'm seeing now is attributable to film storage I think. I did a bit of scanning last night and I think I understand what I'm seeing. The old developer was Ilford which is Ammonium Thiosulfate. It oxidises to Ammonium Sulfate which is less soluble in water, hence the crystals. I've ditched it and got a new bottle of Tetenal - although I hadn't realised it was an acidic fixer so I'll need some more of the Ilford stuff for my caffenol project. The very grainy and soft negs just happened to be the first ones I looked at and these were shot indoors in lowish light, wide open - so low contrast. Fortunately there were a couple on the roll shot in better light in my old flat in Cardiff and these are much punchier. The fog levels are better but not entirely gone on the latest roll but this has sat on a shelf 5 feet from a wood burner for 5 years! I've got a couple more archive rolls to develop (both 8+ year old 35mm Tri-X) then I'm on to new shooting.
  9. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    Rollei 2.8E / HP5+ / Rodinal. Taken in July or early August 2012.
  10. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    I store loads of film in a freezer, and some of it will be 10 years out of date or so. It's mainly B&W, and I do get an increase in base fog, but nothing particularly worth worrying about. I'll stick some in the densitometer later and get a reading. I've used old fixer with crystals in it, and also new fixer and seen no improvement, so i'm pretty sure the fixer age doesn't seem to matter (does fixer stop working with age?).

    Developer is xtol for me, new packets mixed and stored properly. I tend to get through developer so that's always correctly dated, and I sometimes put new film through if i'm in the mood, but mainly it's older stored stuff.
  11. johnfromnorwich

    johnfromnorwich even my wife noticed the dif..

    Well fixer is a reducing agent. In solution, dissolved oxygen is reduced to water and the reducing agent is oxidised. Eventually it will have no reduction potential left. In my case the reduction product was ammonium sulfate and this crashes out of solution - I'd imagine that it would take a long while to lose all/most of the activity but after that length of time who knows, so I just ponied up six quid for some tetenal. I was actually as worried about crystals sticking to the film emulsion as I was about loss of reduction potential. I did ditch the Ilford fixer, but I now wish I'd kept it for caffenol development - there's plenty of grit in that developer anyway!

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