Using Expired Film

Recently I have bought a few cameras from people who cleared out their clutter during lockdown. Along with the cameras, there have been a few expired films inside the cameras or bags. So I decided to do an experiment.

I have used expired film before, you just have to look at any APS post I have made. I have also used expired 35mm film that I have bought or been given. My rule was always to over expose by a stop for every decade that it was expired by if I don’t know the storage history. The people I have been buying cameras from took the batteries out of their cameras, but also left the films in the bags, in the lofts. There they have stayed during heatwaves, beasts from the easts, and everything in between.

I don’t believe in writing loads of scientific stuff if another, more informed person has done it for you. So, if you want to know anything about shooting expired film I suggest you read this post. Mr Emulsive has written and described more than I would ever care to and has a link to a podcast on the subject.

So what about my experiment. When I bought the OM10 there was a film from 2001 in the bag. It was unopened, that was the one I decided to use for my experiment.

I loaded the film and set the camera to 50asa. Then I wandered around my local area and took a few photos. Next, I took the camera to the Himalayan Garden and reset the camera to the box speed of 200asa to see if there was a noticeable difference.

Here are some of the shots at 50asa.

As you can see, I didn’t bother dehairing the negs, plus there seems to be an issue with water droplets. After this I changed how I used the wetting agent.

AND here are some of the ones shot at 200asa.

Ok, so the ones shot in a slightly darker environment are definitely more underexposed and “naffer”. Those in bright light are less so.

My overall conclusion is that expired film, where the storage is unknown should be shot with the one stop rule. If the film is then over exposed in any way, the film will cope. Expired film is less likely to cope when underexposed.

If you know the history of the film, and it has been well stored, then shoot it at the box asa. In the end it is your own choice, this is mine.

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