Shana Jo/A Mother's Soul 10:31pm, 10 January 2008
I chatted with a man down in Canal Park this past weekend and he was telling me that he found some old film in his father's things that he didn't want to throw away, but he didn't know if it was usable anymore. It was an odd size, I want to say 5x12, and he thinks it is from the 1950's. As you all know I nothing about film (although the man tried hard to believe that I did because I was out and about with my big camera and other equipment), and I had no idea what to tell him. I'll likely never see the man again, but now I am curious. How long does film keep? I imagine that film from the 1950's would be worthless?
K. Praslowicz 10 years ago
If its black & white, and has been frozen the pat 50 years, It might be borderline usable. Probably would be heavily fogged, and as a much slower ISO then what it was originally rated at in 1950.

If it is a color process, probably not, escpecially if its one a pre c-41 color process film.
Hambone Lewinski 10 years ago
Unexposed film keeps better or worse depending on the ISO. I have heard of B&W film from the 1950s being exposed and printed successfully for slower films... ISO 200 or slower.

The biggest problem for B&W film is fogging. There is a lot of silver in a B&W negative, and that is slowly artificially exposed in a uniform manner by heat and (I'm not kidding) cosmic radiation. If it takes very little light (high ISO) to expose that film, it takes very little heat/radiation.

Exposed film degrades much more quickly. I developed a few 400 speed color rolls for my wife from about 10 years ago. They were stored at room temp and had color shifted deep into the magenta range.

If it is a color negative or slide film from the 50s, it was probably a much older color process... C-22 being a likely candidate. There are only a few labs that do C-22 in the world anymore, but they are often quite good at getting an image out of very old film.

Interesting. Thanks Kip and Jason!
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