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Proper storage for new and opened film stock

film 35mm 16mm 8mm storage storing kodak

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#1 JJ Walker

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 07:50 AM

I recently purchased some Kodak Vision3 re-cans and short-ends film stock. I’ve read differing opinions in regards to refrigerating versus freezing the film. Some have recommended to not freeze the film as it may be damaged from the process. Is there any general consensus as to the best practice for storing film?
 
Kodak literature states that freezing film is an appropriate step for longer term storage (more than six months). I don’t know when I may use it and if the time period will exceed six months. Can I promptly freeze the film to slow the degradation process? With my film stock being re-cans and short-ends, I feel I should be more mindful of degradation, but with it not being in factory-sealed cans anymore should I avoid freezing?
 
What are the best techniques to safely store new and opened film stock? Fridge or freezer? Should I place the cans in zipped plastic bags? Should I insert selica gel packets to reduce moisture? Any tips or suggestions would be helpful. Thanks!

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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:06 AM

Hopefully this will be a workable link:

 

https://drive.google...SldCU1BtUkc5bzg

 

The above link is 20 year old XTR 500t Kodak stock that was a short end I forgot I had.  It sat in an non-climate controlled building for 5 years with temperature fluctuation and spiders and all, after I discovered it I promptly stuck it in the freezer.  I rated this at 320, and should have rated it at least 200.  This is a one light prores scan, with no correction.  

 

Somewhere I have a scan of frozen since new Fuji, but I can't find it. 

 

viz. I have not had any issues at all freezing film.  I take the cans out at least 24 hours and lay them on my kitchen table to stabilize. I have never had any moisture/condensation issues. 


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 09:08 AM

I never freeze opened cans, especially old recans or short ends. You can't know how much humidity there is inside the can and may run into problems when freezing it. Factory sealed cans can be freezed without problems but the risk is always higher if it is opened even briefly at some stage. If you clip test them always before use then it is of course not a problem. Zip bags are good for avoiding condensation on the outside of the can and protects it from food splashes if you store them in the kitchen's fridge. In fridge it is important to maintain the same temperature on the whole surface of the can, if you store it for years in conditions where the other edge of the can is warmer than the other you can have "pumping" base grain which intensifies every turn of the roll when you reach the "warm stored side" of the roll
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#4 aapo lettinen

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 09:15 AM

I tend to store in the fridge all the cans which I will use in about 1.5 or 2 years. If I have some special discontinued factory sealed stock then I may freeze some of it to save it for future projects, but even then rarely store for over about three years. If you shoot Vision stocks it is best to plan for about max. one year time period and purchase enough stock for that time when you have possibility to get good discounts. Film doesn't last forever even in frozen state so I'd advise against trying to keep it forever with tricks and accepting various levels of degradation, if you shoot vision stocks you can always get more from kodak or a short end broker so just buy enough for a year or so and then get more when you have shot the most of the previous cans

Edited by aapo lettinen, 28 August 2016 - 09:17 AM.

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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 12:38 PM

I don't think the freezer "adds" worthwhile time. I've been storing film in the refrigerator for years and it's never been a problem. 


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#6 Jim Moore

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 02:38 PM

My 35mm and 16mm sits on a shelf in my basement at room temperature, I've shot film that I received as short ends, put them on the shelf and shot them 2 years later and they looked fine.

 

I've also shot 120 and 35mm still film from as far back as 1940 and it was a 50% chance I would get something nice. But any still film I've shot that was made after 1960 developed fine. I'm sure motion picture film is the same way.


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#7 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 03:28 PM

We strongly recommend storing film stock in the fridge and not too cold.

 

We have seen a number of frozen ECN stocks (Both Fuji and Kodak) which have had the emulsion bond with the carbon (Rem Jet) backing which causes spots throughout the film which are not removable.


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 04:49 PM

I've been storing film in the refrigerator for years and it's never been a problem. 

 

Same here.  I've kept new stock in the fridge for close to a year and its turned out fine.


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#9 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:00 AM

Well the problem stocks we have seen have all been older stock and possibly frozen for an extended time.

 

What happened is the carbon backing stuck to the emulsion and when it ran through the camera the carbon backing basically acted as a mask and blocked light hitting the emulsion. It is not even a pretty film defect it just looks bad.

 

Obviously film stock works in sub zero temperatures and freezing it does not harm the film quickly. I am just relaying what we have seen as a lab when film stock is frozen maybe too long.


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#10 JJ Walker

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:44 AM

https://drive.google...SldCU1BtUkc5bzg

 

The above link is 20 year old XTR 500t Kodak stock that was a short end I forgot I had.  It sat in an non-climate controlled building for 5 years with temperature fluctuation and spiders and all, after I discovered it I promptly stuck it in the freezer.

 

Thanks for sharing. That looks surprisingly good considering its age and storage environment. A bit more grain than usual I suspect, but impressive.

 

If I had the resources, it would be fascinating to conduct a test involving modern film stocks stored in various environments over a period of months and years, and observe the effects this had on the image quality.

 

 

In fridge it is important to maintain the same temperature on the whole surface of the can, if you store it for years in conditions where the other edge of the can is warmer than the other you can have "pumping" base grain which intensifies every turn of the roll when you reach the "warm stored side" of the roll

 

That’s something to consider. Though it’s hard to determine if an even temperature is being maintained over the entire surface of the can, though it does seem worthwhile to rotate and reposition the can in the fridge every few months.


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#11 JJ Walker

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:47 AM

Thanks for the great advice. It seems, not surprisingly, Kodak has conservative timeframe recommendations regarding the storage of film stock. So far, the consensus seems freezing film stock adds little benefit versus the risks, as compared to refrigeration. For modern stocks, it seems long-term refrigeration can result in very little loss of quality.


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