Shooting with Expired Film


Shooting with expired film is always a gamble. If you remember to expect the unexpected you'll always be pleased. In the end, isn't that what it's all about?

Cross processing can cause grain and changes in exposure. I think the culprit here may be the Sensia 100 being expired!

The final rule of Lomography is perhaps the most important one, the one that free’s us from constraint and allows us to unleash our creativity. It’s emblazoned on the website and printed in bold in every book the LSI publishes. “10 › Don’t worry about any rules.”

However, there is one rule we cannot avoid. One truth we’ve all felt at one point in time and it’s this… New film is expensive. So much so that if you trawl the net or charity shops a new second hand camera can be cheaper. The LSI produce a range of good, cheaper films than what I have available to me in the shops, but to only use that limits the range of what’s possible.

I deal with this by shooting almost exclusively with expired film, and this is how I deal with it.

1. Acquiring expired film.
Here in New Zealand, we don’t have access to charity shops in the same way the rest of you might. Pretty much all our dealing in second hand anything has to be done through our own version of a certain online auction site. We’re limited. So I watch this like a hawk and when I can, get a big batch from a photographer who needs the reliability of new film or has switched to digital.

When it goes right – it can be wonderful. My biggest score of cheap expired film included about 15 rolls of Provia 100F, absolutely beautiful when cross processed!

2. Film age.
I try to limit myself to film from the last decade or two, if it expired earlier than the mid 90’s it really is a gamble. So I don’t buy massive batches of that. If I come across something interesting I’ll give it a go. I’ve a Kodak T64 in the fridge for a special occasion that expired in 1980-something.

Once again, nothing wrong with this batch of Sensia 200 when cross-processed!

3) Looking after it.
Once purchased, I put mine straight into the fridge. I have a big enough collection for it to live in it’s own fridge. Chilling film helps keep it fresh, like food. All my film lives here, new and old. So it’s important with the expired stuff to keep it as fresh as possible. Don’t freeze it, I’ve heard you can cause reticulation this way though not experienced it.

4) Shooting with it.
The effects of expired film are many. The two we’re most concerned with are colour shift and sensitivity. As lomographers, we like weird effects, it’s why we cross-process expensive slide film! Colour shift in film is when one or more colours doesn’t resolve properly so it’s ‘subtracted’ from the perfect balance. This makes other colours stronger and causes the shift. Not a bad thing!

These were shot with Kodak Portra VC, very expired. VC means ‘Vivid Colour’ but that’s certainly not true, there seems to be quite a shift to the yellow end of the spectrum here, giving these images a nice creamy, almost painted look.

Expired film may be less sensitive to the light. This is the worst situation because we can’t tell how much and we don’t want underexposed negs, they mostly always just look rubbish. If you have a big batch of the same film, from the same pack and the first one is underexposed, it’s likely that all of it will be, and in that case, pretend it is a different ISO. I have some 400 speed Fuji Superia that underexposed twice. From now on I’ll shoot it at 200 to give it more light.

I bought a big batch of Fuji Superia 400, I wanted it to be my normal, backup film when I needed something for bad light. These shots all taken with an LCA+ RL should have been brighter, the day was very flary but they are all underexposed…
Same film, same place, a few weeks later. Lesson learnt! Next time shoot it at 200 ISO.

So that’s me signing off, before I go, please comment below on your expired film experience, let me know how you get on.

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-03-06 in #gear #tipster #shift #sensia #expired-film #fuji-kodak #color #superia-colour #film #iso #asa #provia #tipster


  1. renenob
    renenob ·

    good read

  2. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Very good article and with detailed experience. I have tried 2 rolls of expired Konica Centuria, They are wonderful results, except some under exposed ones, because I shot with a Holga, and wasn't able to control the shutter speed.....

  3. sommer
    sommer ·

    usefull!! :) gonna read carefully next time I use an expired film!

  4. asharnanae
    asharnanae ·

    I've only shot one expired film, the interesting thing I found is this. My film was partial exposed about 15 years ago, forgotten, then found and I finished it of recently. The old pictures were perfectly fine, and showed no colour changes at all. The new pictures however were all shifted towards purple. The most interesting bit however is where the film doubled up and overlapped, the colour shift only happened in some areas. I wonder what would happen if someone shot a whole roll, kept it for 5 years, then shot some more, waited again etc... so that you got multiple times overlapping, what would this do to the shots? who knows!

  5. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @asharnanae bizzare, what a great experiment and discovery. I'd never expect the exposed film to retain it's qualities.

More Interesting Articles

  • LomoAmigo: Stephen Dowling Tests the LC-A 120

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-01-14 in #people #lomoamigos
    LomoAmigo: Stephen Dowling Tests the LC-A 120

    Previously a music journalist, Stephen Dowling now writes for the BBC. If that isn't interesting enough, London-based writer is also passionate about film photography. He has blog called zorkiphoto where he writes about all his favourite cameras and film types. The folks over at Lomography UK lent him an LC-A 120 and, as you'll see in a bit, he managed to get some wonderful shots.

  • You Get More from Expired Lomography Color Negative 400 ISO 120 Film

    written by ncjom on 2014-11-05 in #reviews
    You Get More from Expired Lomography Color Negative 400 ISO 120 Film

    If you happen to come across an expired Lomography Color Negative 400 ISO 120 film pack, either in a store or on the Internet, get one and be ready for an exciting experience. You'll definitely get more from it!

  • Roundup: Film Photography Day 2014

    written by shhquiet on 2014-06-03 in #news
    Roundup: Film Photography Day 2014

    Did you miss this year's Film Photography Day celebration? Here's a recap of all the events that happened in April, in honor of our love for analogue photography. Of course, remember that you can always make any day a Film Photography Day if you wish; just gather your friends and organize a LomoMatrix in your area! For inspiration, check out what Lomography Gallery Stores and Lomography Embassy Stores from all over the world came up with.

  • Shop News

    Recognizable Images of Petzval

    Recognizable Images of Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • Lomo'Instant Accessory Challenge

    written by antoniocastello on 2015-02-04 in #world #competitions
    Lomo'Instant Accessory Challenge

    Do you love being creative? How about instant photography? If the answer is yes, no or maybe, then we've got a jam happening with your name written all over it! Being the most creative instant camera around, it's difficult to imagine the Lomo'Instant becoming any more awesome. But what would happen if you and your pals put on your thinking caps for a Lomo'Instant accessory brainstorming session of the ages — limitless creative potential! Show us your skills by joining the Lomo'Instant Accessory Challenge!

  • The Magic Yet To Come: Part 4

    written by Lomography on 2014-09-05 in #news
    The Magic Yet To Come: Part 4

    Read on dear friend and I will weave a story for you. There may be more questions than answers raised by this peculiar tale. But if it’s clarity you seek, have no fear, things will become clear in time (they always do, don’t they?). So rub the Sandman’s dust from your sleepy eyes and take a journey with me. If you think you have an answer when we reach the end, please do share it in the comments!

  • I am a Mad Analogue Scientist: New Experiments with 35mm Films and Chemicals

    written by blackfairy on 2014-08-07 in #gear #tipster
    I am a Mad Analogue Scientist: New Experiments with 35mm Films and Chemicals

    Unfortunately, it happens sometimes that your resulting pictures are not what you expected - the image doesn't look that good, the colors are bland, and the subject is banal. Indeed, it couldn't be picture of the year! Herein I propose a second chance for your pictures by modifying your 35mm negatives. Just pick up some ideas from here, experiment, and scan your negatives with the Lomography Smartphone Scanner. Anything is possible: burning, scratching, putting on hydrochloric acid, balsamic vinegar, nail polish, bleach, or raspberry juice... use your imagination and write down your new film soup recipe! You can find a sample of the effects in this article.

  • Shop News

    Lomo Instant Boston

    Lomo Instant Boston

    Here is another way to enjoy analogue experience and capture great memories in an instant! This package includes the best creative lenses for your LomoInstant camera!

  • Fresh From the Lab: The Lomography Redscale XR 50-200, My First Medium Format Film

    written by sinema on 2014-07-07 in #lifestyle
    Fresh From the Lab: The Lomography Redscale XR 50-200, My First Medium Format Film

    This is my experience with the Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 (120), my first medium format film. It's an adventure that started when I got a Lubitel 2, to finally shoot with it. In this article, you'll find detailed information about color schemes, the advantages of shooting in medium format, and the differences between standard redscale films. Here are the results of a day of shooting outside, which I recently got back from the lab.

  • Creative Ways to Shoot with Your Lomo LC-Wide Camera

    written by Robn Kester on 2015-02-17 in #gear #tipster
    Creative Ways to Shoot with Your Lomo LC-Wide Camera

    What’s not to love about the Lomo LC-Wide? If you are a fan of wide angle lenses or Lomography, you probably have one in your collection. The LC-Wide is a powerful camera with many fun features to get creative when shooting. Best of all, all these are already built into the camera.

  • Fresh from the Lab: Silvia Precisa

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-20 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from the Lab: Silvia Precisa

    Recently, I used my trusty Fuji Silvi. It may not be my all-time favorite camera, but I just wanted to use it because I kind of missed shooting with it. So I decided to look through my film stash to see what I could use with the Fuji Silvi. After much consideration, I ended up picking the old Agfa CT Precisa ISO 100 to get that classic blue tone. Silvia Precisa!

  • Shop News

    Last Day: Free Camera Deal

    Last Day: Free Camera Deal

    Last day of the free camera deal today! Grab films now worth 99 EUR/USD/GBP and get your free Diana Mini or Diana F+ Love Letters for free!

  • 36 Reasons to Bring Your Camera to a Party

    written by Andreas Bischoff on 2015-02-06 in #world #lifestyle
    36 Reasons to Bring Your Camera to a Party

    Partying isn't dissimilar to dreaming; you end up in unimaginable situations, have so much fun and then sometimes you can't even remember it.

  • Most Popular Photo Last Year: July 5, 2013

    written by icequeenubia on 2014-07-05 in #news
    Most Popular Photo Last Year: July 5, 2013

    You'll never know what surprising things await for you in another city so always be equipped with your favorite camera!

  • Me, Myself and the LC-A 120: Gudrun

    written by hembot on 2014-09-14 in #news
    Me, Myself and the LC-A 120: Gudrun

    The LC-A 120 is our newest kid on the block and it's certainly a popular one at that! See what Gudrun from Lomography HQ has to say about her time shooting with it!