Shooting film to develop later, much later.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by casioculture, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. casioculture

    casioculture Guest

    I know there's a small camera somewhere in my storage in which there's
    a film shot in the 1990s. I plan to open it someday, perhaps soon, once
    I get to it. I also have a couple of undeveloped films from 2004.

    I notice that I'm somewhat eager and curious about what they contain.

    I therefore had the idea yesterday, that perhaps, once I had tested the
    cameras and got familiar with their peculiarities, I can shoot about a
    roll of film a month, that I just put aside and develop after a year or
    two, or more. Perhaps the longer the better. Each I'd date with a
    permanent marker, and put them all in a little rubbermaid box. You
    could say a "time capsule", or a "letter in a bottle", to a future
    self. No instant gratification here, on the contrary, the disadvantage
    of film compared to digital becomes a clear advantage; I think it could
    be very interesting and perhaps joyous to much later on open such past
    films, one a month.

    Does anyone here do something like this? What do you guys think of its
    feasibility? Any tips, advice?
    casioculture, Apr 3, 2006
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  2. casioculture

    Colin D Guest

    You may be disappointed with the results of long-delayed film
    processing, like poor color, crossed color, blotchy tones etc.

    And I don't think film has the advantage here at all. You can easily
    store digital images by stashing a flash card somewhere to find years
    later, with no image deterioration. More expensive, of course.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Apr 3, 2006
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  3. You don't mention what film you are using.

    If it is color to be processed by a lab I would get it processed
    immediately and not look at the prints [or slides] for a few years.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Apr 3, 2006
  4. casioculture

    Scott W Guest

    I did this by accident, bought a new camera and left film in the old
    for about 10 years. The film when I finally had it processed was just
    about unusable. If you really want to do this kind of thing get the
    film processed but just don't look at it.

    I also did the same thing with an digital camera, bought a new one and
    did not down load the photos from the old for a few years.


    Scott W, Apr 3, 2006
  5. casioculture

    casioculture Guest

    Reply to all those who replied so far.

    Interesting. Would putting it in a fridge or freezer help? I'd rather
    do this with film, rather than digital.
    casioculture, Apr 4, 2006
  6. casioculture

    casioculture Guest

    Reply to all those who replied so far.

    Interesting. Would putting it in a fridge or freezer help? I'd rather
    do this with film, rather than digital.
    casioculture, Apr 4, 2006
  7. casioculture

    Joseph Kewfi Guest

    Does anyone here do something like this? What do you guys think of its
    The grain will be bigger and the colour maybe off , if you're really unlucky
    you'll get fogging. Having said that, I got a C41 roll processed in 2004
    that was stuck in a camera since 1987, the colour was only slightly off
    considering the age.
    Joseph Kewfi, Apr 4, 2006
  8. casioculture

    Joseph Kewfi Guest

    Interesting. Would putting it in a fridge or freezer help? I'd rather
    Use a low speed mono film and freeze it after exposure, if you're planning
    long term process delay.
    Joseph Kewfi, Apr 4, 2006
  9. casioculture

    Peter Guest

    A freezer would help a lot, but you should be sure to put your film
    in a sealed container with desiccant for a few hours before

    Peter, Apr 4, 2006
  10. casioculture

    Scott W Guest

    Keeping it cool should help but even here there are limits to how long
    it will last.
    Just for grins I put up one of my slides that sat in the camera for
    about 5 years before getting it processed.
    I don't recall what film I was using other then a slide film.

    With enough work I kind of got the colors back.

    Scott W, Apr 4, 2006
  11. Yes. My advice is to get the film developed as soon as you get it out of the
    camera. Then, when you pick it up at the lab, don't open the box, or look at
    any of the film or pictures (if you have them) Just write the date on the
    box, and store it away somewhere in your own personal "time capsule" - This
    way, you will get the same benefits, but your picture quality will be a lot
    William Graham, Apr 4, 2006
  12. casioculture

    no_name Guest

    I wouldn't use it for archival photographs, i.e. something where the
    image is something you're going to want in the future (kids, weddings,
    birthdays, ...important life stuff), but for images to make an artistic
    statement, go for it.

    Even if they don't turn out perfect when you finally get the film
    processed, you should still have some kind of images.
    no_name, Apr 4, 2006
  13. casioculture

    bjw Guest

    Black and white film will last a long time before development
    (probably 10 years IME, or even more depending on how much
    aging-effect you can tolerate) although the image may get somewhat
    grainier. (People always say you may get fog, though I think
    this is mostly unnoticeable, unless perhaps you store it at
    high altitude and get more background radiation?)

    Color film will develop color shifts that are more annoying
    than interesting - fading and purpling for color neg film in
    my experience.

    If you want to wait a year or two, just use fresh B&W or
    consumer color film. Kodak, Fuji etc expect consumer users
    to sometimes leave color film in their cameras for a year or
    more before finishing the roll anyway.

    Cold storage will slow down aging effects, try to keep
    the film dry when you fridge it, put it in a sealed container,
    and ten years from now when you take it out, get on
    Googlesoftyahoo Verizon 3.0, reread this post, and
    remember to let the container warm up before opening
    it so you don't get lots of condensation. Though for
    all I know that's not really a big deal if you're just about
    to dunk the film in developer anyway.
    bjw, Apr 4, 2006
  14. That makes me wonder if there's an engineering tradeoff involved-- pro
    films can have better qualities in part because it's assumed that it will
    be developed soon and doesn't need to be as durable over time?
    Gregory L. Hansen, Apr 4, 2006
  15. Pro film does not have "better" qualities, it has more consistent

    All film gives best results if allowed to ripen for a time after
    coating. Pro film is ripened to the optimum point, before release, then
    refrigerated to slow further change (and should be refrigerated by the
    end user until use). Film for amateur use is released early; it is
    assumed that most of it will end up "with a Christmas tree at each end
    and a holiday in the middle", i.e. spend months or longer in camera. It
    will thus ripen during its use period.

    Very careful tests will show that the colour balance of the film will
    alter as it passes through the green - ripe - post-ripe sequence. Most
    people would not notice this unless comparing results side-by-side. It
    is important for pro use as it is necessary to ensure that the possibly
    hundreds of rolls shot on a job are consistent. For casual snapper use,
    the vagaries of the low-end processing chain will hide the differences,
    and few snappers shoot several rolls on the same subject anyway.

    David Littlewood, Apr 4, 2006
  16. Several people have mentioned colour shifts and possible fogging;
    however, I don't think anyone has mentioned (apologies if I missed it)
    the loss of latent image.

    All film (B&W or colour) relies on a latent image formed on a silver
    halide/gelatine emulsion. This consists of small clusters of metallic
    silver atoms formed from the silver halide by the action of light
    photons. They must contain some number more than one atom to be stable
    (in fact thought to be 3-6 atoms). These sites then act as catalysts to
    help the developer to reduce more silver halide to silver.

    If the exposed film is left too long, the small clusters of metallic
    silver are oxidised back to Ag+ ions, and the latent image is lost. I
    have developed films after 5-10 years and found them to be woefully
    thin, to the point in some cases of almost nonexistence.

    If you do wish to try the experiment, then certainly storage in a
    freezer will slow the deterioration. Avoid contact with oxidising agents
    (storage under nitrogen may help, but I don't guarantee it).

    Also, in anticipation of the loss of latent image, try over exposing the
    film somewhat - perhaps to the upper end of what is acceptable if
    developed at once. Correspondingly, when processing, some
    over-development may help. Clearly there may be some advantage in test
    processing one of a batch and using this as a guide to processing the

    This will be easy enough for B&W, a little harder for colour. In fact
    colour film (both negative and reversal) still have a conventional B&W
    process as their first stage, and can have their process adjusted
    through the first development time. Easy to do with E6 (either at home
    or through a pro lab) but harder with C41 (negative) processing as this
    tends to be through rigid machines. It is possible though, whatever a
    lab may tell you - but you may have to do it at home.

    If you get fogging, there are chemicals which can reduce it in
    processing, but now you are getting into specialist areas and I suggest
    you will need to research it yourself. Colour shifts will happen with
    colour material but you should be able to reduce this in

    Whether E6 or C41 chemicals will be around in 10 years (or whether the
    anal-retentive bureaucrats we feebly allow to rule our lives will let us
    buy them) is a different matter.

    David Littlewood, Apr 4, 2006
  17. That's actually good to know. It means that there's no reason to spend
    more money on pro film (or the extra effort to get it) if it will be
    submitted to the vaguaries of the low-end processing lab.
    It seems that, if a convention could be established and adopted, a camera
    could be made to produce a standardized exposure to a frame, and the
    processing equipment could be programmed to recognize it, image it, and
    adjust its light source accordingly. Whenever the photographer wants to
    make sure, he'd press the magic button and use up a frame, even if just
    once at the beginning of a roll.

    Idle speculation, there. Especially as the pros already have their way
    and the consumers aren't as picky. Could help with color correcting those
    archives, though.
    Gregory L. Hansen, Apr 5, 2006
  18. I should add that in some cases the film types used by pros may be
    better, just because they know better than to buy on price. However,
    some manufacturers used the same production lines for pro and amateur
    versions of the same film, and the only difference was the ripening and
    releasing protocol.
    One thing I am sure of is that film was nowhere near the limit of its
    development potential. Ideas like yours above is one area, and sheer
    refinement of sensitivity is another. The latent image process on film
    emulsions is so sensitive, and the development process so leveraged,
    that there are no physical methods for studying latent images (or
    weren't 10 years ago). Chemical development is the only way to measure

    David Littlewood, Apr 5, 2006
  19. casioculture

    Jon B Guest

    Is it? With some cheap cards you'll probably pay less than film
    Jon B, Apr 13, 2006
  20. casioculture

    Scott W Guest

    Ignoring the cost to process the film we are looking at say $0.07 /
    frame for film.
    Figure a CF card at $0.05/MB, this says we would have to use 1.4MB/
    photo for this
    to come out right. You can do pretty good with 1.4MB/image.

    Scott W, Apr 13, 2006
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