I managed to get my hands on a couple of rolls of expired film. I found a roll of Kodak Verichrome and a roll of Kodacolor-X. Last Tuesday I shot the roll of 120 Kodak Verichrome film, expired in June of 1972. It’s a lovely panchromatic film.
I loaded that film into a vintage Koni-Omega camera. I suppose all medium format cameras now-a-days are vintage. The Koni-Omega, is a one my favorite cameras. It is a 6×7 medium-format rangefinder camera. It’s a big camera, but a lot if fun to shoot.
Orthocromatic B&W film. Wratten & Wainwright Verichrome was introduced around 1907/8 offering greater spectral sensitivity and speed compared to contemporary emulsions of the time. The company was bought by KODAK in 1912. In 1931 KODAK released the film on a safety base as a Roll film, with greater latitude and finer grain than the KODAK NC (Non-Curling) Film that had been the standard since 1903. Replaced by Kodak Verichrome Pan Panchromatic) film in 1956.Wikipedia
Why Shoot Expired Film?
I am a dyed-in-the-wool film photographer. I feel much more content shooting film on my daily photo-walks. However, any camera is a great camera for photo-walking
Expired film offers some special challenges. The biggest of those is the unknown results. You never know the condition of the film stock. This is where the fun comes in. The surprise. It is a bummer sometimes when the film comes back from the lab and it’s blank. It’s happened to me a couple of times, but most of the time, the images come out fine. Color film will generally have color shift and loss of contrast. Black and white film will typically fare better than color film over time.
How I shoot a roll of expired film.
If you know the provenance of the film you’re shooting, then it makes easier to figure out how to expose the film.
I like to start at a baseline exposure. Film loses sensitivity over time. Adjustments should be made in exposure instead of development. It’s much more difficult to get detail from a negative if it’s not there in the first place. You do this by adjusting the ISO. This is especially important with color reversal film. Typically, a photo-lab will develop that film, and it’s easier to let them just process at box speed.. If you process your own film, then you have a little more leeway. I don’t mind making adjust in ISO and then pad a little more time or temperature on development.
This chart is just the baseline I use. I don’t shoot much slide film, so I have not experimented with expired slide film.
Using this film basic chart, when I get a roll of film I will inspect the packaging. It doesn’t look too faded or beat up considering its age, then I’ll stick to the chart. If it looks a little rough, I’ll pull the film another stop just for good measure.
If I’m shooting black and white film and I’m going to develop it myself, I’ll overexpose from box speed and add development time.
Where I find expired film.
I typically run across old film at thrift stores. There are also some camera stores, like Blue Moon Camera and Machine in Portland, OR that will have a little box of expired film that they will sell for a couple of dollars a roll.
I don’t particularly go out of my way to find old film, but I will jump at the chance to shoot it when I get my hands on some. Personally I think expired film is more fun, because so much can go wrong.
This roll of Verichrome expired in June 1972. I processed it in D76 stock dilution, 75° for 7 minutes.