Agfa Isopan Record - Not your Grandpa's Film...Oh wait! Yes it is.

13

I shot some 52 year old (!) film and got some decent results, but it took a bit of planning. Read about it.

I got a hold of some Agfa Isopan Record film that had expired in 1960. That was 52 years expired by the time I shot it. After quite a bit of research I found that it was originally rated between 1000 and 1200 ASA. That’s blazingly fast for films of the time. Film loses sensitivity after it expires. The rule of thumb is that film loses one full stop of sensitivity for each decade of “expiredness”. However, faster film loses sensitivity even faster. According to the rule of thumb, I should have shot it at 25 ASA. Adjusting for the fact that it was originally a fast film and that it had probably been stored poorly. Most film is happier being overexposed rather than underexposed. So, I decided to shot it at 6 ASA. That’s about a 7 to 9 stop pull. In other words, 7 to 9 stops overexposed. I developed it for 8 minutes in full strength Kodak D-76. I picked architecture to emphasize detail and contrast. I used an old TLR with a not-too-bright focusing screen, so there were some focusing issues, but I think you can still see that the film held up pretty well.

You can see from the results that my decision to drastically overexpose the film to compensate for its age was a good one. The lesson to be learned is that the main impact of age on film is loss of sensitivity. You can still get decent results by simply treating it as less sensitive film.

written by gvelasco on 2013-01-17 in #reviews

13 Comments

  1. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Nicely done!

  2. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    great job...^..^

  3. vinci84
    vinci84 ·

    hi there! excellent article, but i have a question: what camera did you use?

  4. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Ciro-Flex Type D. I metered it with a Gossen Blue Silicon something or other.

  5. marcus_loves_film
    marcus_loves_film ·

    lovely results from this vintage film! was there a lot of base fogging on the film?

  6. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thanks. There was SOME base fogging, but much less than I was expecting. The negatives had pretty good density. I suspect it was because of the massive pull.

  7. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    Wow, impressive

  8. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thanks.

  9. vonkrueger
    vonkrueger ·

    nice article! but I still confused about 'the rule of thumb'. could you explain again how to calculate the sensitivity of expired films? thank you : )

  10. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    The standard rule of thumb is that film looses one full stop of sensitivity for every ten years of "expiredness". There are a few adjustments. Faster film loses sensitivity faster than slower film. Color film loses sensitivity faster than black and white film. Film that was kept hot loses sensitivity faster than film that was kept cold.

  11. blikka
    blikka ·

    ey, wow so interesting! I have just finished shooting the same roll, and I think is as old as this one... I'm no expert in developping (meaning I have absolutely NO IDEA) so I will send it to the lab, but if you could give me any piece of advice that I can say to the lab people, I would really appreciate it. Thanks! :)

  12. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    @blikka: It might be too late. :-( What speed did you shoot it at? The trick is to shoot it at a much slower speed, in other words you should drastically overexpose it. Then, have it processed at that much slower speed too.

  13. blikka
    blikka ·

    ouch..... well, I think most of them were double exposures so maybe something good can work... we'll see... thanks anyway!

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