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Will 2-year-old, unrefrigerated stock look very different?


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#1 Christopher Crow

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 11:13 PM

Hello all, this is my first posting to the forum, which has been important to me as I learn about shooting film, so thanks for all the help so far and I hope someone can help me with this question too:

How does stock change when it's this old? Does it change its sensitivity to light? It's contrast charactersitics? It's color response? I'll be shooting with old kodak 50D (7201), 250D (7205), and Vision 500T (7218). It was free, so why not? It's about 2 years old and has been kept at room temp in San Francsico, probably an average of 70 degrees. My plan right now, lacking any experience with old stock, is just to shoot as I normally would and see what happens. But I wonder if I should compensate in-camera or at the lab? If anyone has any experience with this I would really appreciate a hint.

Thanks
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 11:28 PM

Hello all, this is my first posting to the forum, which has been important to me as I learn about shooting film, so thanks for all the help so far and I hope someone can help me with this question too:

How does stock change when it's this old? Does it change its sensitivity to light? It's contrast charactersitics? It's color response? I'll be shooting with old kodak 50D (7201), 250D (7205), and Vision 500T (7218). It was free, so why not? It's about 2 years old and has been kept at room temp in San Francsico, probably an average of 70 degrees. My plan right now, lacking any experience with old stock, is just to shoot as I normally would and see what happens. But I wonder if I should compensate in-camera or at the lab? If anyone has any experience with this I would really appreciate a hint.

Thanks


What a great learning tool for you to have...free stock. As far as compensating, I wouldn't do that if I were you because you have no way to know exactly how to compensate. If this is negative stock, they can compensate in processing or you can do cc once you transfer it to digital, if you bother with it. If it is reversal then get the best exposure you can based on the film speed and pray. Either way, learn and have fun!
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#3 Dominic Case

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:17 AM

If this is negative stock, they can compensate in processing or you can do cc once you transfer it to digital

No, there is NO way to compensate for aged stock in processing. The best process for all stock is the standard process.

Your best bet is to keep your exposure on the full side - at a guess, a half or 2/3 stop over. No more. The effect of age on stock is most noticed in the clear or thin areas on the neg - that is the deep shadows, the toe of the characteristic curve. If you expose a little more, you will keep the image a little further up the curve, out of the problem area. That way, you'll have enough image information to work with when you transfer, so you can push the blacks down to black to suppress any increased graininess, without crushing shadow detail.

Quite probably you won't have any trouble at all. If anything, the higher speed stocks will probably be more affected than the slow ones. Has 7201 been around for 2 years already? Time rushes by!
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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 04:25 AM

No, there is NO way to compensate for aged stock in processing. The best process for all stock is the standard process.


Um, actually you can compensate for over/under exposure as long as it's not ridiculous with negative stock. That is why it is good to shoot because it's not as touchy as reversal and affords some degree of latitude. As far as the issues with aged stock, I didn't say you can get rid of that. I was referencing what he said about exposure which CAN be pushed or pulled in processing if neccessary.
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#5 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 11:57 AM

As stock ages, the most likely changes are:

1. Fog increase - seen as "smoky" blacks and more graininess in the shadow areas. Easily measured by having your lab do a "clip test" on each roll.

2. Loss of speed - seen as less shadow detail

3. Loss of contrast

4. Increase in graininess

5. Color mismatch - occurs if the red, green and blue sensitive layers don't age at the same rate.

For color negative films, have your lab run a clip test to look for bad fogging or issues like x-ray exposure. With moderate aging effects, slight overexposure puts your scene content further up the sensitometric curve, where the effect of aging like fog and increased graininess are less obvious.

The KODAK VISION2 films generally keep quite well. Chances are that two years at 70F will have had little effect on the slower films, and a slight but noticeable increase in fog level of the faster films.
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#6 Matthew Buick

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 12:33 PM

Don't fairly far gone Colour Reversals (10 years or so) give a Psychadelic look.
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#7 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 12:38 PM

Don't fairly far gone Colour Reversals (10 years or so) give a Psychadelic look.


If anything, really old reversal films will lose contrast, have very smoky blacks, and lots of grain.
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#8 Dan Horstman

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 12:45 PM

Best thing to do is send the fim to a lab before shooting and get end tests. Then you will be able to see how this film reads in density, red, green and blue compared to the factory numbers. Then you can determine how much you will need to over expose the film to cut through the age fog and help reduce the grain.

But if you are gonna wing it...I'd say rate everything at 1/2 the ASA listed (so you will over expose by 1 stop) this will help reduce grain and should cut through the age fog.
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#9 Christopher Crow

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:34 PM

Thanks to you all for your replies. Some very useful information. I think I'll have Monaco do the clip test, as suggested and see what that turns up. We're going to shoot in late October, in mid-day light in the desert, so over-exposing won't be hard. Because I'm curious, I plan on mixing in some fresh stock and see what differences I can detect. I'll let you all know what I find.

Thanks again for the comments
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 04:45 PM

Note that what the lab would deem as unusable, might not be depending on which post route you take. Their values and RGB limits are mainly designed for projection, and are therefore tighter and have less tolerance, but you can get away with quite a bit of grain/contrast and color-problems if you're end product is telecine and SD (or perhaps even HD).

Best thing is actually to shoot something, develop it and TK it (if that's your route). But that's often not possible to do for budget and time reasons.
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#11 Jon Kukla

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 04:20 PM

Note that what the lab would deem as unusable, might not be depending on which post route you take. Their values and RGB limits are mainly designed for projection, and are therefore tighter and have less tolerance, but you can get away with quite a bit of grain/contrast and color-problems if you're end product is telecine and SD (or perhaps even HD).

Best thing is actually to shoot something, develop it and TK it (if that's your route). But that's often not possible to do for budget and time reasons.


Seriously. I recently was testing a few rolls of old 35mm film which was literally found in a projection booth back closet - and this place doesn't have air conditioning, so who knows what temperature variations it had. I simply did quick shots with my face and a grayscale with fairly flat lighting (2:1 contrast) at N, +1, and +2. The stocks were 5295 (400T), 5248 (EXR 100T), and two rolls of 5293 (EXR 200T) - one of which I added a filter to.

The lab sent me back a print of the 5248, which looked perfectly normal, and the negatives for all four rolls, saying that the rest was too fogged. I ran each roll of negative on a bench, and sure enough there was plenty of image still there, so I returned the negs and insisted on a print of each one to the best of their abilities. The 5293 came out fine, although the rolls each were slightly different in characteristic, but nothing that an extra stop or so couldn't compensate for.

The 5295, not surprisingly given its age, was pretty badly decayed with a green fog, but in fairness there was still a half-decent image beneath that. I have no idea what to do with it, but I'm going to keep it in cold storage in the hope of using it for an appropriate scene down the road. I guess I just can't bear to part with film unless it's completely useless.

But to answer your question, I think the main things to look for are grain, shadow discoloration, and lower latitude (specifically how much more light you'll need to maintain decent fill). Test, test, and test.
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