View Full Version : How to store-archive color slides?

Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 09:10
The question was asked recently for negatives, and I think I know that slides behave differently.

For the time being, I have had some of my slides in Panodia or Herma sheets, but most are still in the boxes the sheet film came in, individually protected by the transparent sleeves supplied by the processing laboratory. I do not fully trust the Panodia or Herma sheets. They smell plastic and when you have them piled up, it's a LOT of plastic and thus a lot of possible contamination.

In the other hand, I do not trust the cardboard boxes either. Although after ten or fifteen years I have seen no sign of colour degradation on the edges of the slides (all Fujichrome), the boxes are probably not designed for long archival storage. If they are trustworthy, that would be good news for I like that form of storage.

And what about the room and cupboard (I use metal drawers), the temperature and humidity? Does it matter much? Would the hassle of freezing film be worthwile?

Would you share your experiences?

tim atherton
17-Feb-2006, 09:21
Downlaod and read this...

Chapter 18 in particualr (but others too).It's the standard textbook


For general home storage, probably around 15-20c/40rh would be fine and easyish to maintain (I'll try and remember double check). More importanlty is to avoid a wide range of cycling in temp/humidity- frequently going from cool to hotor dry to humid and back again.

Mylar type sleeves without any softener or "easy slip" coating are probably best - I think there is info in the book.

Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 10:09
Thanks Tim. Great resource thanks to Mr Wilhelm, I couldn't find the chapter end: "In short" though. ;-)

Polypropilene seems to be trustworthy. Found nothing on cardboard film boxes but I have to read more.

Anyone has a short version?

george jiri loun
17-Feb-2006, 11:06
Paul, I use Film-lok archival pages (heavy polypropylene) in Tyvek binders. Their storage place has about 40-45 % of relative humidity. So far over 10 years with no problem. Cardboard could be acid but that would be important probably only in a direct contact.

QT Luong
17-Feb-2006, 11:46
I don't see why the film boxes would be archival. Light Impressions sells archival boxes in all sorts of shapes, some of them ressembling a film box. That's what I use.

Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 12:47
Is there any risk with metal boxes like the ones sold in DIY stores, IKEA, or with biscuit boxes? The lid closes pretty tight, I don't know if this is a plus or if films need to breathe. I would think that if the bleach is safe for food, it should not distill any vapors harmful to film. Some are galvanized with zinc, not sure about these. What do you think?

Struan Gray
17-Feb-2006, 12:54
Paints outgas. Unless you buy something you *know* won't affect photographic materials you may be running a risk. You won't know for sure until its too late.

If you want a European source, Silverprint in London (www.silverprint.co.uk) sell the Secol range of polyester film storage products, as well as archival boxes to suit various levels of paranoia.

Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 13:54
Polyester should be better than any other material I guess for it is the base for film itself. It is also thin and light compared to polyethylen. This should suit my paranoia, I'm just sick with the thought of all the money I already invested in so called archival sleeves. Is there any independent testing that reports the archival qualities of brands like the ones I have used so far? Panodia says that the material is especially developed and controled for the conservation of ektas, and Herma just says that it's PVC free. However the Panodia smell...

That's why I would be enclined to use boxes instead of sleeves. It is also easier to store safe a large quantity of slides in a small volume that way, if the storage is not intended for viewing the content easily. By the way, the biscuit boxes are thermo painted in the outside, but the inside is not. It is treated against corrosion, but I don't know enough on the process to be sure that it's inert.

17-Feb-2006, 15:00
what you would need to do would be to contact the manufacturer and ask them if they've submitted their product--the sleeve--to a lab like the Image Permanence Institute here in the US, or similar ones in other countries (the names escape me now). But ask them if their products have been tested for the Photographic Activity Test--PAT--which is an accelerated test that pushes the materials to it's limits more or less. My understanding of it is that most of the plastic based products eventually are destroyed in the course of the test, so it's not as useful as it is when applied to paper enclosures, where it's regarded as the gold standard for "archival" enclosures. They also have another test for "blocking" where they can determine at what point a plastic sleeve will adhere to the material within if this should happen. I think it would have to do with heat, humidity and pressure--but I have seen a popular notebook type page stick to negatives because of the slip agents used within the sleeving, and it happened under pretty good environmental circumstances, and basically led us to resleeve many, many rolls of film simply because of being spooked...

Wilhelm's book is about the best you can do, without trying to contact the manufacturer's themselves. Nobody forces them to submit their materials for testing--they have to pay for it and it's all confidential really in the end, but it makes for good ad copy and makes it easier to shop for products if you know it's passed the PAT. The caveat is that a material can pass the PAT, and still fail or harm the materials stored within if the storage environment is bad enough to allow this---so sometimes, you can find disclaimers about the temp/rh range needed to use the enclosures. With those plastic pages, it's often right down there at below 70 degrees, 30-50% rh. But at a certain point, if the storage environment is too humid, or the temps too high you have bigger problems than the quality of the sleeve, and good materials are a waste of money really, if the storage & handling are lousy.

The notebook type pages apparently cannot be manufactured without slip agents however--there are only maybe one or two on the market without them, and they're both frosted type pages made out of high density polyethylene if I remember correctly--HDPE. Most of the other notebook pages are low density polyethylene or polypropylene.

For slides though--baked enamel storage boxes are good, as are the PAT slide bins etc--you can store more in a smaller area, but you can't get that visual access that a page gives you. If you use a page--there are some called "Saf-t-Stor" that are good, but these are open faced, and they stack into each other, with one protecting the other. If you use a notebook type page--the way to get more protection is to use a single sleeve made of Mylar D (dupont archival polyester) and insert each slide in that and then sleeve it into the notebook page. This way if the sleeve has a slip agent in it, you get the added protection of the mylar D sleeve for the slide. Some pages work better than others for this though, it can be a tight fit...

the three "safe" plastics are polyester, polyproyplene, and polyethylene. they need to be uncoated, which is hard to ascertain with a lot of these products. They also need to be free of adhesives as well--so the simple locking type sleeves are usually the best, or with a sonic weld, or a heat seal or something like that....there really isn't a good answer here, because for even the best materials, there can be downsides depending on how you like to work, and what your environment is like or what you can afford.

hope this helps, my opinions only as always.

17-Feb-2006, 15:06
btw--the PAT tests to see if the enclosure would damage the stuff stored within, i.e. a chemical stain etc. it doesn't really cover the physical damage...you need to look at the PAT for each product and application as well. for slides--look for the product being tested with color slides.

tim atherton
17-Feb-2006, 15:15
here's some stuff from Filmguard - we've used their pro-line stuff


you can see the links to all the different standards there

anoher product is Secol

tim atherton
17-Feb-2006, 15:17
this site which was listed in the last thread on negs sets it out as clearly as anywhere:


Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 15:35
Thanks for the extensive description and links! Maybe I should ask the manufacturers what the composition of their product is, as suggested. But of course, the products evolve and my stock is for some nearly ten years old.

Would you trust the sleeves one side clear and one side mat that the labs provide with sheet film processing? I would if there is no known problem with them. In doubt, I think that I will store my valuable slides in those, and in metal boxes.

19-Feb-2006, 17:02
if you mean 4x5 sheet film, a transparency? then really the best thing is to use a locking 4x5 mylar d sleeve and an envelope--usually an unbuffered, acid & lignin free--to store the chrome in juts like you would film. Light Impressions, Gaylord, Univ Products, Hollinger, Conservation Resources, etc--they all have similar products to store them in. Whether it's flip top boxes or cabinets.

I work in a museum, and we store our slides (35mm) in a manner like I described above with either the single sleeves within a sleeve, or using a saf-t-stor. Our 4x5 film and rollfilm is stored differently though. We use mylar D locking sleeves and then a PAT enclosure--buffered for b/w and unbuffered for color. The rollfilm goes into a long, narrow envelope basically and the 4x5 into a std. envelope. The b/w is stored apart from the color as well.

we use Russ Bassett film filing cabinets--they sell them through library supply houses like Gaylord etc. Basically it's a heavy duty baked enamel, steel filing cabinet that is the perfect size for filing 4x5 film. You can fit about 900 sheets in a drawer. The smallest cabinets stack and are sold in sets of two drawers--the visuflex brand. stacking media cabinets. The larger models are floor models....I use the visuflex's at home for my own stuff, because you can store so much more film in them than buying a bunch of flip top boxes, and you won't have to replace them either over time. Even "archival" boxes, enclosures etc wear out over time....the cabinets are expensive, but so are the boxes etc, when you add them all up.

like I said though--don't waste your money if you can't control the room temps & rh decently. If you contact Gaylord, Light Impressions, Universisty Products, Hollinger etc--they all offer pamphlets and guides for storage options.

hope this helps.

Paul Schilliger
20-Feb-2006, 00:53
Thanks! Yes it does help. I wish I knew if the sleeves furnished by the lab are archival or not. It is a material that seems strong but tears easily once a cut is started. The mylar sleeves are no longer produced. Dupont has stopped it's production some years ago have I read. Are they any other polyester sleeves with flap seal? Preferably from an european or swiss source if any?

Is storing color slides in an air tight metal box (or flap sealed sleeve) OK or not advised?

Lots of questions! Thanks!

tim atherton
20-Feb-2006, 07:30

Secol is Europe's leading manufacturer of polyester film based archival storage ...

(which doesn't seem to be working right now?)

Paul Schilliger
20-Feb-2006, 07:53
Tim, thanks!

The website works but for some reason the content of the pages is shifted to the right.
I found these products:

http://www.secol.co.uk/COLOURVIEW.SHTML open two sides (they do look pretty much as the ones my lab uses)

http://www.secol.co.uk/POCKETS.SHTML open 1 side

http://www.secol.co.uk/TRANTEC.SHTML "captive" as they say, but it seems from the view that they are open on two sides.


No sleeves with closing flap though.

21-Feb-2006, 19:28
sorry-you're right, Myalr D is no more, but only under that name. Dupont made a number of grades of polyester, and there was some confusion when they announced they had discontinued the polyester products--there's quite a bit about this on museum & archive listgroups--but eventually the products came back under a different name, "Dupont Archival Polyester", it was also called Melinex 516. It's still available, only not as mylar D. I call it that, because, well I dunno, everyone I know calls it that---like they call a metal edge, flip top box a "hollinger box. force of habit...

there should be some supplier in Europe, sorry I can't really help here--but polyester is a tough material. It doesn't tear very well and has really good stability. It has some drawbacks, mainly static and the fact that it's hard to form into sleeves and the like. It's very stiff....it's hard to work with if you want a pliable plastic material. Yet it's sold in rolls and cut out, sealed with special tape etc to encapsulate documents for archival work. Or you can cut out sleeves from large sheets/rolls and then fold it over to shape, and press the fold with tools etc. It's used for making museum mounts and the like, where it gets used as a barrier basically. Some people don't liek polyester and other plastics for encapsulation and enclosures because of "ferrotyping"---or the possiblity of the material sticking & coming off against the smooth plastic. I have never seen this to be honest, but it's worth pointing out that all these sleeves have pluses and minuses when it comes to different situations.

Very difficult question to answer, but I wish you good luck all the same.

Henry reed
16-Oct-2007, 08:01
Hi There,
my first time here, no idea where everyone is etc. Can anyone tell me where to buy Panodia A 4 Printibook's at wholesale in London UK??