Whether you shoot a lot or a little film if you want the best out of it you need to look after it. Here are some tips for how to look after your precious film and keep it alive happy and healthy!
Keep your film in the fridge
I feel like at this point I should take a photo of the film in my fridge to show you, but that’s not going to happen. The fridge needs a clean and then you will be able to see that I’m a poor photographer and there is only half a lump of cheese, some milk, browning miso, and an old curled up onion in my fridge along with the around $800 worth of film. Hmmm priorities!
Ok so the best thing you can do for your film is keep it in the fridge, I keep mine in plastic containers so that if anything spills in the fridge my film won’t get wet or dirty. I was very thankful for this just a couple of nights ago when my 6yr old managed to spill an entire litre of milk through the fridge.
If your film isn’t in the fridge get up off your butt and put it there right NOW! I’ll wait I promise!!
Keeping your film cool slows the aging process and keeps it good for longer. When you’re ready to use it remember to give it time to come up to room temperature before loading it.
There is very good reason for refrigerating your film, especially pro film. Manufacturers keep pro film until it is at it’s peak and then they release it. So if you want to keep the film at its peak longer you need to refrigerate. Consumer films are not so critical as they are released immediately after manufacture so you have no idea if the film is at it’s peak or not.
Freeze your film
If you need to store the film for a long time then keep it in the freezer. Freezing film will not stop your film from aging, annoying gamma rays will fog the film over time, but it slows it down. One thing to note too is that faster films age quicker, so it’s best just to keep them in the freezer.
Keep your film away from heat
Ok so after the fridge conversation this seems pretty obvious but we all do it sometimes. Leave the film in the car, in the camera or some other stupid place. Heat and humidity promote mould growth and ferrotyping which is when the gelatine base swells and changes the structure of the film. You can see examples in this filckr group.
Don’t leave film in the camera
It’s not a great idea to leave film in the camera. See number three. Heat and humidity effects the film in camera as well and it will deteriorate over time. Plus if you leave it in the camera there is more chance of forgetting you have film in there and opening up the back to expose it to light. On this I speak from experience. If you can use the roll in one go if not then don’t take too long and make sure you keep the camera in a cool place, don’t just leave it lying around in your bag and especially not in the car.
Make sure your film has good tension in the camera, this will prevent light from getting in. This is mostly for 120 film. When you take it out of the camera make sure its nice and tightly wound or light will get into it at the edges. Make sure the sticky tabs are well stuck and holding it tight.
Keep exposed rolls cool
It’s a good idea to keep exposed rolls in the fridge until they are ready to be processed as well.
And that’s it, with a few simple steps you can keep your film alive and get a longer useful life out of it. Happy Shooting!