How to Use Expired Film

38

Why does a film expire? What's the difference between expired film and fresh film? You'll find the answers to these questions and more in this Tipster!

Here in the Lomo world you hear about expired film A LOT, and it is something we all want to or have tried. The ones who haven’t tried it can be afraid of buying something that supposedly doesn’t work anymore, but is it true that expired film doesn’t work anymore? I don’t think so.

First, I’ll tell you why the film manufacturers put an expiration date on the film and for that I have to explain you the nature of the emulsion.

When a film stock is produced (which can contain many film rolls) it is made to achieve certain sensibility (or speed), a.k.a. ISO (or ASA); it can be 400 ISO or 100 ISO or 800 ISO. Then it gets out of the factory and sent to the store for people to buy it. There’s no way for you as a consumer to know how the film was transported or stored before it arrives to your hands, and depending on those conditions (temperature, lighting, humidity) the film can lose a certain amount of sensibility. That’s why you can sometimes buy a film rated 800 ISO but in reality its sensibility is 400 ISO. This can be a lost of one step, and sometimes you don’t even notice it.

Now, the date the manufacturers use as expiration date is the one they can assure the film to not have lost a lot of its sensibility and in a way to still be the one printed in the package. After the day the film expires, the manufacturer is not responsible of the problems you may encounter when using it, but the emulsion still works properly. The thing is, it is less sensible.

The main difference between fresh and expired film is that when using fresh film you can trust in its native ISO value and when using expired you can’t.

Credits: hervinsyah

So, there’s no problem when using expired film and the only thing you have to take into consideration is that you’ll need more light than stated. If you buy a roll of film that expired two years ago and it is supposed to be 400 ISO, maybe you should shoot it as 100 ISO. Knowing that in advance, you won’t have problems using the insanely fun expired film and the results will be great. And what are the effects on the image when using expired film?

Well, you get more contrast and intense colors. Also, the colors can change a little bit. For example, If you had a light blue it can get a bit of purple; but this isn’t always true, they can change in different ways or they can stay the same. This is what makes expired film so exciting, the results may vary from one to another and the results can really surprise you!

Credits: kylewis, elvismartinezsmith, hervinsyah & ceduxi0n

Don’t be afraid to experiment with expired film! You’ll love it!

written by antoniodezner on 2012-03-07 in #gear #tipster #tipster #experimenting #film #expired #emulsion #how-to #iso #contrast #sensibility

Lomography Color Negative 400 (35mm)

You'll love the vibrant colors and stunning sharpness that the Lomography Color Negative 400 35mm film can give you.

38 Comments

  1. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @mikeydavies : Thank you very much =D

  2. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @antoniodezner : Thank you very much for using my photo. It's the first time my photo used by other at this site & I'm very honoured of it =D

  3. mikeydavies
    mikeydavies ·

    nice pic @hervinsyah and nice article @antoniodezner :)

  4. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @hervinsyah the photo is great! I saw when I was looking for expired film photography and thought it was really cool! :D

    @mikeydavis thank you! :)

  5. jochan
    jochan ·

    great photos..

  6. radiactive
    radiactive ·

    Thanks for this article! Right now i am shooting with expired film and i am excited and a little afraid because it expired in 2009 and i didn't know anything about the ISO thing... :S

  7. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @radiactive you're welcome! yeah, you should shoot it as it was a lower ISO... Good luck! I bet you'll have amazing results! :)

  8. fizzynothing
    fizzynothing ·

    Thanks for the article, I'm a complete newbie at this and this was very useful and helpful.

  9. kblair82
    kblair82 ·

    Thank you! I recently bought several rolls of expired film. This helps me a lot :)

  10. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @fizzynothing thanks to you for reading it! :) if you have any doubts don't hesitate on asking me!

  11. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @kblair82 Wow! That's so cool! When you develop them and upload them let me know so I can see the results! :) I bet they'll be awesome!

  12. parky
    parky ·

    great article! How about this for pushing the boundaries of expired film... www.lomography.com/homes/parky/albums/1764455-the-spirit-of…

  13. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @parky It is amazing how the grain grew a lot! It looks like if it was texturized or something! Amazing results!

  14. mgferrer
    mgferrer ·

    any tips on very expired film? - i found some old 35 mm film while cleaning house, and i reckon it's at least 7-8 years old...

  15. mj_crn
    mj_crn ·

    EXPIRED FILM IS THE BEST:)

  16. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @mj_crn agree! :)

  17. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @mgferrer it will need a lot more light than it is supposed to, but i can bet it'll work properly... try to shoot it in a very sunny day or in a situation with a lot of light... you'll probably need 2 or 3 iso steps lower... what's its iso value?

    but i'm sure it'll work, look... @parky shot a 35 mm film that expired over 40 years ago! www.lomography.com/homes/parky/albums/1764455-the-spirit-of… and that's a lot! that's why it looks so grainy... but your film will look ok! :D

  18. mgferrer
    mgferrer ·

    @antoniodezner thanks! It's 400ISO. I'll try it out soon & will post photos

  19. kynland
    kynland ·

    love the article. It gave me the lil' push i sometimes need before experimenting with something=) namaste

  20. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @mgferrer great! let me know when you post them :)

  21. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @kynland that's awesome! :) i'm glad it helped you! go for it and experiment as much as you can!

  22. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    AMAZING. I saw this article announce at the most popular article of the week at Competition's page today. CONGRATS =D

  23. iamzackary
    iamzackary ·

    Wicked article! Nice to finally know what it's all about :)

  24. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @hervinsyah Thank you! :)

  25. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @iamzackary It is great to know it helped you!

  26. geiza_dobashi
    geiza_dobashi ·

    Just about to start using some b&w and colour film that expired in 1959 & 1960. 400iso & 100iso speed. And how on earth do it drop it a few stops. I read you sould drop an f stop for each decade that the film expired??? So five f-stops.
    Should i just hold out on using the film until the sun is shinning better and maybe just use it at its original iso setting, or half it????

  27. geiza_dobashi
    geiza_dobashi ·

    All of which i am thinking of selling... But do not know if i should?!

  28. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @geiza_dobashi Well, yeah you should use it in a very sunny day... About the one stop for every decade, it is an estimate and sometimes it may not be very accurate because it also depends on the conditions the film was storaged... You could use it with its original iso setting but you'll need to remember to drop a few stops in every shot and never use the time and f number that your exposimeter says as it would give a dark picture.... That's why it is easier to just set a different iso setting directly to your camera in order to shot as your exposimeter says... If you camera can't do with low iso settings you'll have to remember to drop stops in every shot... 5 stops seems to be ok, but you can experiment with 3 or 4 or even 6 in different shots and see what happens

  29. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @geiza_dobashi don't sell them, it is a nice opportunity to experiment.... Also, @parky shot a film that expired in 69... He could help you and tell you what he did and how he exposed it, i'm sure he could give you some tips! Check his album for his 69 expired film! Good luck with your expired films! I'm looking forward to see the results!

  30. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @geiza_dobashi : How about exchange with my 2 Kodak Ektacolor 120mm? =D

  31. iamtheju
    iamtheju ·

    I have no idea how old my expired films are as they don't seem to tell me. so i'm just going to use them the same way i use all of my films: completely blindly.

  32. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @iamtheju hahahaha that could be very interesting! Try to overexpose it a little bit... just in case!

  33. mgferrer
    mgferrer ·

    @antoniodezner ok - I developed the old kodak film and got some pretty good results just with the Diana F+, I tried exposing it bit - <a href="www.lomography.com/homes/mgferrer/photos/15756953?utm_sourc…" title="on the swing"><img src="assets5.lomography.com/576/384/78/4c39eaccf8ee33c75c08f87a1…" width="576" height="384" alt="on the swing" /></a> I will go through & post more, I just got some of my negatives mixed up while I was scanning, so I need to sort through which ones came from which rolls of film...

  34. antoniodezner
    antoniodezner ·

    @mgferrer The photo looks really good! Nice colors! I'm really happy you tried expired films and got cool results!

  35. af-capture
    af-capture ·

    nice article....nice pic my friend @hervinsyah

  36. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @af-capture : Thanks =)

  37. manuel8121
    manuel8121 ·

    I have a question: do you think that would work an expired film in 1953?

  38. replicant78
    replicant78 ·

    I found some old 120 film recently. It expired in the 70s and has been stored in what I would consider a temperate environment. Is this worth shooting? I'm thinking about giving it a try in my Holga. Any help is appreciated.

More Interesting Articles

  • Expired Earl Grey: Does It Taste Nice?

    written by Xiang Cong Tham on 2015-02-22 in #gear #reviews
    Expired Earl Grey: Does It Taste Nice?

    A lot of lomographers have experienced using and even writing about the greatness of the Lomography Earl Grey black and white 35mm ISO 100 film. However, no one has written about using an expired Earl Grey film yet. How does it fare when it is used expired? Read on to find out more.

    2
  • A Chat with the Founder of STENOFLEX, Eric Marais

    written by jacobs on 2015-03-04 in #people #lifestyle
    A Chat with the Founder of STENOFLEX, Eric Marais

    Eric Marais is the founder of the portable dark-room experience, STENOFLEX. We recently had the chance to ask him some questions and he was kind enough to answer us! Read on to find out more about his company, his interest in photography and what's next for STENOFLEX!

    1
  • A Video Essay About Why We Take Pictures

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-02-03 in #world #lifestyle #videos
    A Video Essay About Why We Take Pictures

    A wonder how a camera, something that goes between the photographer and a subject, becomes not a barrier but a way to connect. Joe Aguirre takes us through the why's in a moving new film by Jonas Normann.

    2
  • Shop News

    The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit opens up a new, creative photographic domain!

    The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit opens up a new, creative photographic domain!

    Satisfy your hunger for creative snap-shooting with this lens package made especially for Micro 4/3 digital cameras! Don't miss the 20% discount!

  • Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    written by Lomography on 2015-12-20 in #world #lifestyle
    Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    At first, Skyler only visited the Lomography website to take a look at sample photographs taken with different point-and-shoot cameras. Seeing the immense focus given by the community to film photography and experimentation, two things she absolutely loves, she immediately signed up and started her own LomoHome. In this interview, she talks about her go-to camera, the difference between digital and film photography and more.

    1
  • Tipster: DIY X-Pro Redscale

    written by rancliffhasenza on 2015-09-27 in #gear #tipster
    Tipster: DIY X-Pro Redscale

    Browsing through the Lomography website, you can find a lot of redscale shots, which are all done on color negative films. I asked myself if it’s possible to redscale a slide or chrome film and then cross process it. (And yes, it is.) In this tipster I’m going to teach you how to create the bloodiest homemade redscale film I've ever come across.

    10
  • American Southwest Landscapes in Turquoise XR

    written by austex on 2015-06-09 in #gear #reviews
    American Southwest Landscapes in Turquoise XR

    How do you bring a fresh perspective to a landscape that has been photographed from every possible angle? Using a brand-new film, of course! With this goal in mind, I loaded some LomoChrome Turquoise XR into my Nikon 35Ti and went on a major trip across southern Utah and northern Arizona.

    5
  • Shop News

    Be Sharp and Get Accurate Shots!

    Be Sharp and Get Accurate Shots!

    Never go wrong with amount of light entering your lenses. Perfect for any photo shoots, very handy, lightweight and extremely versatile!

  • A Secret of the Cosmos: Launching the Newest Lomography Product

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-19 in #gear #news
    A Secret of the Cosmos: Launching the Newest Lomography Product

    Shh! We've got a secret matter at hand, and it's coming at you at the speed of light! We're being as mysterious as the Cosmos about our new out-of-this world product, constantly orbiting around our big reveal. But the eclipse will pass and soon the stars will align. Until then, there must be some questions floating around in the universe, right? Well, there's no need to look to the stars to find your answer! Stay on Lomography's wavelength as we kick into hyperdrive. Let your imagination skyrocket and see if you can decipher our otherworldly clues!

    19
  • Optical Illusion Toys and Moving Pictures: The Origins of Filmmaking

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-11-12 in #world #lifestyle #videos
    Optical Illusion Toys and Moving Pictures: The Origins of Filmmaking

    What makes a movie interesting? Today, answers would vary depending on the individual—the story, cinematography, film score, production design, and so on. But in the early years of cinema, movement was all it took to captivate the audience.

  • Neil Krug: Pulp, Rock, Color

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-10-27 in #people #lifestyle #videos
    Neil Krug: Pulp, Rock, Color

    In 2009, Neil Krug uploaded a commercial for Pulp Art Book on Youtube. In the comments section someone asked, “Does anyone know what kind of camera he uses or how he gets his pictures to look the way they do?” Krug was on to something. He did something wildly intriguing, one that looked to have a secret formula.

  • Shop News

    Lomo LC-A+ Russian Lens

    Lomo LC-A+ Russian Lens

    A true Lomographic gem, the Lomo LC-A+ RL is blessed with good looks and bursting with experimental potential. Get ready to shoot amazing Lomographic photos by experimenting with MX shots, long exposures and a whole range of accessories!

  • Newcomer of the Week: klemidesigns

    written by lomography on 2016-01-17 in #world #news #videos
    Newcomer of the Week: klemidesigns

    It's no secret that the community is a treasure trove of film photography tips and techniques. And this artistic atmosphere is what exactly piqued Kellie Leming's interest. In this interview, our newcomer of the week from Nashville, Tennesse opens up about how the music community in her hometown inspires her to be positive and creative and what shooting on film means to her.

    3
  • Concert Photography Tips: Low ISO Film at Night

    written by sirio174 on 2015-08-10 in #gear #tipster
    Concert Photography Tips: Low ISO Film at Night

    In this article I'll teach you how to take sharp photos in low-light conditions using a simple point-and-shoot camera loaded with slow-speed film.

    5
  • Cinematographer Michal Dabal on the Petzval Lens

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-01-05 in #people #lifestyle #videos
    Cinematographer Michal Dabal on the Petzval Lens

    Here’s what happens before we interview a photographer. We gush about the work though we have yet to find out the cameras and processes behind the brilliant composition or the light architecture. And even when they haven’t used a Lomo camera, we feature them anyway. But every once in a while comes a pro who uses one of our premium lenses at work and our fun cameras off-duty. This makes us mighty glad, more so when their images are good and worth sharing. We count cinematographer Michal Dabal's work among them.

    1