Old TMAX-3200 films (exp. date 1996) What to do?

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I recently got several old TMAX-3200 films with expiration date 1996. Are they still usable and should I take special precautions when exposing or developing? They have been stored at room temperature.

Thanks, Gert.

-- Gert Raskin (gert.raskin@med.kuleuven.ac.be), March 03, 1999


The films will be 'off'. If they were mine, I would put them straight in the bin. Well, OK, perhaps I might find a use for slow, grainy, foggy film. Try it and see, but don't use the first roll on anything important, just shoot something around your neighbourhood. You might find that setting your meter to EI 200 is about right. You might find that an anti-fogging agent helps, or use Farmer's reducer on the negatives (to get the contrast up to something reasonable).

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 03, 1999.

I disagree. In my experience, moderately outdated b/w films work just fine. Unlike color stock, b/w film doesn't immediately drift seriously from its original recording ability. If it's less than five years outdated, I wouldn't hesitate to use it (though perhaps not for a particularly important subject.) If it's more than five years outdated, there will be some speed loss and perhaps some fog... And if it's more than ten years outdated, it's probably not worth using.

Caveat: I don't have any experience with outdated TMZ - I'm talking about PX and TX here. It may well be that this ultra-high-speed emulsion decays much faster than old-tech films once it passes its expiration date. Still, if it's only three years outdated, I'd find a less-than-critical application and use it. You might want to rate it a half-stop or stop slower than normal to be on the safe side...

-- Michael Goldfarb (mgoldar@mobius-inc.com), March 03, 1999.

You might find they are no good.

Not based on personal experience, but I have read that with its high speed, this film is very suceptable to natural background radiation of some sort.

Supposedly (and take this with a grain of salt...), all these sensitive emulsions and papers are stored by Kodak in an abandoned salt mine, where they are protected from whatever effects. They are shipped out at peak condition and don't last too long.

I have heard from a number of people in the past who haven't had too good experiences with outdated TMZ.

Run some tests?

-- Tim Atherton (timphoto@nt.sympatico.ca), March 03, 1999.

Toss 'em; they'll most likely be heavily fogged and grainy.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (jbh@magicnet.net), March 04, 1999.

Re Micheal's post: believe me, I speak from experience. I have noted a number of times in this forum that I find a marked deterioration in TMZ when only 6 months old, kept in a fridge, and well within the 'expiry' date. If it has hit expiry, it is bad. 3 years out of date? I've never tried TMZ that old, but I would expect it to be terrible. Mind you, it would be interesting if Gert tried it, and let us know the results.

I agree with Michael that most B&W films wouldn't be too bad when 3 years out of date. TMZ has a particularly short life.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 04, 1999.


Could it be that there is higher background radiation where you store your film? Any stray fuel rods in the back of your refrigerator? ;) I have used TMZ a couple months from expiration with no problems.

-- Tim Brown (brownt@ase.com), March 04, 1999.

It might have been caused by that bit of old cheese I found at the back of the fridge. :-}

A film's life will, of course, depend on its history. I've bought it in blocks, and singly from shops, and haven't kept track of what I bought where. I got through about 30 rolls last year, with many variations in background fog. Some of these can only be seen by comparing a 'new' film with one a few months old.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 04, 1999.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Just for kicks why don't you take some pics of your dog with 1 roll and see what develops. If they've been stored together it would indicate the condition of the other rolls. (But even if the 1st was good, I still wouldn't use the other rolls for anything super critical!)

-- T Sefton (tsefton@hotmail.com), March 06, 1999.

I tried 2 rolls of them, threw away the rest of the lot. They were too foggy and slow... Thanks for all your contributions, Gert

-- Gert Raskin (gert.raskin@med.kuleuven.ac.be), April 12, 1999.

I've discovered that Ilford Delta 3200 suffers from room-temperature fog. I developed three rolls: two were exposed about a week ago, and were kept in a fridge before then. One was in a different camera for about five weeks, generally at room temperature. All were from the same brick of film (expiry December 2001).

The film stored in the camera for 5 weeks showed much greater fog in the unexposed portions of the film. It is still entirely printable, but it does suggest that the Ilford expiry dates are far too optimistic if the films are stored at room temperature.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), May 06, 1999.

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