Very, very old photographic film

One of the items in a job lot of out-of-date film turned out to be an unopened box of Ilford sheet film which must have been manufactured between 1942 and 1945. It's the oldest unexposed film I've ever come
across.
I can't help comparing this to owning an unopened bottle of wine of a bygone vintage: once it's opened, it's opened and all the mystique is gone. It might have turned out to be a nice bottle of wine but it might have been better never to know.
I'm asking uk.d-i-y for some scientific advice. Should I presume that the base is celluloid, in which case what are the odds that the box only contains a sticky gloop or crumbled powder? I've heard of ancient movie film stock spontaneously combusting: is there any danger of that and are there any specific precautions I should take?
If the odds are that the film is viable then I'll probably use it - you can get some interesting effects from out-of-date film though the oldest I've used so far only goes back to 1980 and the results I've had with it have been pretty good. If the chances are pretty hopeless I'll probably try and preserve the mystique and keep the box and its secrets intact.
Thanks,
Nick
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Hi Nick, sorry to hijack your thread, but I seem to remember I have an old Kodak camera which came in to my possession after he had passed away in 199 7. In the camera I noticed a little while back that the film had only been half used. May decide to take it some where (if there is anyway that devel ops old 110 film) just to see what the pictures he took were....That is if they will still be in a state to develope.
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On 01/12/2019 21:57, Richard Donnelly wrote:

I (rather foolishly) gave Boots a slightly out of date 110 colour film to develop a few years ago and the prints came back purple. The girl in the store refused even to apologise for the defect as she didn't think it was anything to do with her.
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On Sun, 01 Dec 2019 23:34:30 +0000, Max Demian wrote:

I went to a place that just did developing, and explined the situation. They took care and it was fine.
The story of the year-late processing is odd. I had taken a colour film (this was years ago of course) and posted it in the box outside the delivery office late one evening on the way past. I didn't receive any prints and did the usual enquiries. Nothing.
Nearly a year later, the unprocessed film arrived in an envelope with a short explanation. The postbox had been raided that night for valuables, and the perps had been caught almost immediately. The film had been in the evidence store until after the trial, but I wasn't told!
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On 01/12/2019 23:34, Max Demian wrote:

It wasnt. I took two cameeas to sradinia some years ago - ahdne use either for at leats 8 years and notice that one had slide flim in it, It came back all green. Digitised it and color correcte it. No problem
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Having said that, when I found an old roll of undeveloped film back in the 90s, made by Gratispool and apparently although a 127 roll, it was not on a transparent backing, I was advised by Boots that there was a little guy down the road who did vintage film, mumbling about c41 stock or something. I did get it developed. and although the pictures lacked contrast due to the film being old, it showed beach huts somewhere I'd say around the late 1960s perhaps. I gave them to a local Hysterical society. Brian
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wrote:

Out-of date colour film is prone to colour casts though that sounds pretty extreme to me given that even the oldest 110 film can't be that old. As I said elsewhere, if the pictures matter to you, consider scanning or printing in B&W.
Nick
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On Sunday, 1 December 2019 23:34:33 UTC, Max Demian wrote:

old Kodak camera which came in to my possession after he had passed away in 1997. In the camera I noticed a little while back that the film had only been half used. May decide to take it some where (if there is anyway that d evelops old 110 film) just to see what the pictures he took were....That is if they will still be in a state to develope.

Why should it have anything to do with her. ?

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On 03/12/2019 10:48, whisky-dave wrote:

Corporate responsibility should be part of good customer service. Even if she had said it was because the film was out of date it would have been something - though I don't remember whether she was aware of that.
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Only if the employee in question is suitably compensated which I very much doubt applies in this case.
Not everybody in life is fortunate enough to work for companies which provide exemplary service to all their customers at all times, with cost being no object. The reason the assistant was unable to explain what had happened or thus apologise was because she was a lowly paid untrained store assistant - as a matter of a company policy, as a result of which doubtless higher management got larger bonuses.
Its the higher management who decided to hire lowly paid untrained assistants who should be doing the apologising, if anyone should.

Why should she have been ? If you want to deal with highly trained staff then you go to a specialist shop and pay the appropriate price. Although obviously in this case there's always a chance they might adopt an even less welcome, condescending air. "With respect, of course your prints are unsatisfactory Sir, as the film was out of date - didn't you realise this Sir ? Here let me show you". Said in as loud a voice as possible for the benefit of any other customer in the shop and his mates out the back.
There's just no pleasing some people is there ?
michael adams
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On Tuesday, 3 December 2019 11:05:04 UTC, Max Demian wrote:

n old Kodak camera which came in to my possession after he had passed away in 1997. In the camera I noticed a little while back that the film had onl y been half used. May decide to take it some where (if there is anyway that develops old 110 film) just to see what the pictures he took were....That is if they will still be in a state to develope.

n
Did she ask you whether it was kept at the correct temperature both before exposing and after exposing ? Did you keep it in a warm place perhaps in a car, or on a window ledge or s omewhere else. You do know that both exposed and non-exposed film should be kept cool preferable in a fridge.
Corporate responsibility ends when you don't follow manufactures guides.

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On 03/12/2019 11:04, Max Demian wrote:

You submitted material for processing that had time expired. Colour processing is rather tetchy about that sort of thing. Its not her fault.

She's a sales droid in Boots for heavens sake!
If you wanted it processed to work despite being dodgy you needed to take it to the sort of specialist laboratory that knows how to work around such ageing faults. TBH I can't think of any photo labs that wouldn't just laugh at you using 110 film. Minimum size was 35mm with 6cm or half plate being the norm for most commercial photographic work.
If you still have those negatives digitising them and colour correcting will probably get them back to something like right.
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On Tuesday, 3 December 2019 11:05:04 UTC, Max Demian wrote:

Has the film been stored correctly as in the temerature range (under 15C) some people especially non photogrphers using a cheap cameras might have st ored the camera and film on the back shelf of a car in sunlight for a few h ours or in any warm envioment, both before exposing and after wxposing, thi s can easily result in a colour cast or other damage such as contrast. Film should always be kept in a cool dark place bith before and after expos ure if possible.
Did she buy it from one of the local chemist or tobaconists that have it on show in the shop window brightly lit and kept warm for weeks on end until it was sold ? I used to keep mine in a metal filling cabinet under the stairs which never went much about 16C even in summer, if I had my way I'd have kept my film stock in the fridge, but my mum thought the fridge was meant to store thing s like food and drink NOT film :-(
I did store some IR film in the freezer for a couple of months.
Even

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On Sun, 1 Dec 2019 13:57:42 -0800 (PST), Richard Donnelly
1997 is really not too old in those terms.
Last year we discovered some exposed but unprocessed black & white film taken by my other half's late husband in 2002. In good hands (I didn't trust myself for something of such sentimental value and sent it to the lab I use for colour processing) we got some pictures which are more contrasty and grainy than normal but evoke the times very well. One of the prints is now framed on the mantelpiece.
Colour film is more likely to have unexpected colour casts due to age but scanning or printing in black and white usually eliminates these and results in classy-looking B&W pictures.
A basic rule of thumb is that unexposed film usually degrades in a known way and can be compensated for in the way you take the picture or process it afterwards. Exposed film undergoes chemical change at the time of exposure and that's why it is best to process it promptly regardless of the age of the film but as I said earlier, 1997 isn't that old.
BTW I use photohippo.co.uk
Nick
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On Sun, 01 Dec 2019 21:36:56 +0000, Nick Odell wrote:

Can't help you on film that is *so* out of date, but you're right about the effects of old film. IME decades-old B&W film gives really grainy results that add a real classy feel to the images. I'm sure someone will say you can do that with with Photoshop or whatever using one of the filtering options, but I maintain it's inferior that way. In fact I was so impressed I went out and bought some already-expired B&W Kodak Tmax and popped it in the fridge about 8 years ago. In another four I'll bung a reel or two of it in a vintage Nikon F2 with a yellow filter and go take some stormy skies shots when the opportunity arises. I should say my only experience of this is with B&W film; no idea what happens to old colour film. Anyone know if B&W film shooting on vintage cameras is enjoying a comeback, like vinyl records have?
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I don't know but I do recall my father buying up some out of date 8mm movie film, colour by afar and the results were, shall we say interesting. There seemed to be only two colours on it, red and green, Some blue was evident but not much. It was as if the blue sensitivity was low or the red green was high. Brian
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On Mon, 2 Dec 2019 00:45:40 -0000 (UTC), Cursitor Doom

B&W and colour too. "Lomography" is a "thing" and you can buy film that guarantees to give the "wrong" colour cast and special effects.
Nick
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I suspect that it is now not viable. I'm assuming this is early celluloid in which case be very careful. I can remember many years ago now, a guy was in the local press who was clearing out a property and found some old cine film reels in the loft. He dropped on and it kind of blew up and nearly burned the house down. I guess its Nitrate or something in the material. Being a local paper, we never actually go the detail though. It would be interesting to find out when film with dodgy materials in it stopped being made and the decomposition modes of progressively younger film. Brian
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On 02/12/2019 08:26, Brian Gaff (Sofa 2) wrote:

See also Colin's post below, which contains more relevant facts. Cine film is normally kept in aluminium cans which are just about air-tight, so (from the contents reacting slowly with the original air) the oxygen level inside may have been very low. That could give you conditions for self-combustion for nitrate film if they are opened or damaged. Your sheet film will presumably be in a cardboard box, with multiple wrappings of thick paper. I would predict that oxygen from the air will diffuse through all that fast enough not to give you any depletion.
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According to
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg469.pdf
<quote>
Cellulose nitrate was used for 35 mm photographic roll film and photographic sheets up to about 1940, but it continued to be used for popular (amateur) formats and aerial photography up to about 1950
</quote>
So that cellulose nitrate, about which there are all these problems was only in use until around 1950. So there is no real basis for comparison based on experience when using out of date post 50's film stock which is polymer or acetate based,
<quote>
it can start to decompose and become unstable at temperatures as low as 38 ?C, giving off large quantities of poisonous gases, which could cause an explosion. Warmth and humidity (moisture) accelerate this decomposition;
</quote>
So that if its ever been subject to high temperatures or humidity at any time during the past 70 years then it may have started to decompose. While at a guess unless it was stored under optimal low temperature conditions throughout, it will probably have started to deteriorate.
<quote>
How can I tell if my cellulose nitrate film has degraded? Visual evidence and smell can be used to identify cellulose nitrate film or negatives that are degrading
</quote>
" and smell."
So that possibly without actually opening the box it should be possible to make a pinhole in the box, in a suitably darkened environment and have a sniff at a distance, bearing in mind that any fumes may be toxic.
And given that cellulose nitrate and possibly any gases thus released are highly flammable this would probably be best attempted out of doors on a cold night using a torch or portable lamp etc. as a source of illumination.
michael adams
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