View Full Version : Developing a strategy for a lifetime (10 years) supply of film.

Stephen Willard
11-Jun-2008, 15:22
I am considering purchasing a lifetime supply (10 years) of color negative film, and I am interested on any thoughts you may have about this. What I am hoping to do it identify all the technical issues and of course possible solutions.

Clearly, there will be issues for storage as well as chemical processing.

Any considerations would greatly be appreciated.

John Kasaian
11-Jun-2008, 16:39
Only ten years ??:eek:

11-Jun-2008, 17:39
Freeze. Really really cold. I gather film changes very little when kept very cold.


Dave Brown
11-Jun-2008, 17:42
Sounds expensive (running a freezer for ten years).

Here's what I think: Film shouldn't be an issue, I've seen C-41 films last 20+ years without refrigeration. C-41 chemistry should also last at least ten years, provided it's in powder form (like Tetenal's press kits), and provided it's kept 100% dry (very difficult, maybe nitrogen and vacuum bags). Printing, assuming you're planning on using RA-4 could be the more difficult part. First, you'll need more freezer space to store all that paper. Second, as far as I know, there are no commercially available RA-4 kits in powder form. Finally, there is the issue of processing equipment. Personally, when my Jobo processor dies, I'm done developing color film; I can't imagine Jobo parts will be available at any price in 10 years. I also doubt I'll be able to get replacement bulbs for my enlarger in ten years. So you might want to lay in a supply of spare parts.

Now I'm not certain that liquid chemicals won't keep (I've just had some troubles myself). And if you don't mind mixing your own, it may not matter. Anyway, I'm sure you won't be alone in this venture; many of us have given it some thought.

Michael Kadillak
11-Jun-2008, 18:06
The only way that I could envision a lifetime supply of film is with B&W where one could mix developers from scratch. deal with increasing FB+F with additives and tray develop. Michael Smith bought the entire remaining supply of Super XX from Kodak and had a walk in freezer built specifically for storing this massive quantity of sheet film. We are talking big bucks here and you need to be 95% sure that you can independently make it work should commercial processing cease to exist.

There are to many variables that you cannot predict let alone resolve as a function of time with color materials IMHO. As a result I feel that a reasonable strategy is to keep a year or two at most of film in a reasonably sized chest freezer so you do not have any excessive financial exposure in play.

Another point to consider is that one would think that the ever lower costs of advancing technology at some point in the not to distant future could prove more fruitful than remaining old school.

Just my $0.02.

Turner Reich
11-Jun-2008, 19:44
When Smith dies can we all have a piece of that Super XX he is hoarding?

11-Jun-2008, 20:22
You want a freezer that doesn't have a auto defrost cycle.
I think cosmic rays can be deterred with lead but i don't know how thick the lead needs to be. I've seen very thin lead in rolls 4ft wide, so it is available.

Stephen Willard
12-Jun-2008, 00:23
I have also posted this question on APUG. Please take the time to read the responses there as well to further your considerations. PE has an expample of color negative film he had frozen since 1984 and just pulled out, exposed it, develped it and then printed it digitally, but said it could have been printed using traditional RA-4.

Take a peek at the discussion there and get your ideas, research, and thoughts recorded in these two threads. It is importatnt to all of us.


Per Madsen
12-Jun-2008, 00:43
Freeze. Really really cold. I gather film changes very little when kept very cold.


Film lasts much longer when stored in a freezer, but use a freezer with low power consumption and no auto-defrosting.

When I changed my twenty year old freezer to a new freezer my power consumption
fell 250 Kwh pr. year.

The need for lead shielding is very much dependent on the film speed.

12-Jun-2008, 10:25
A couple of thoughts on your query:

1. 10 years? You are still a young man. Why only 10? Actually, I agree with those who opined that your assumptions about other things you would need to support the use of the film being so unchanged over 10 years as being optimistic. Polymax disappear?? - That will never happen!!! I read it here just months before Kodak pulled the plug. 8 track tapes are in every flea market but try and find a working player.

2. Lead will help very little, especially at our altitude. Take it from a "trained Physicist". I believe that I have read that chemical instability can be vastly slowed by cold w/o defrost but the high energy gamma radiation which makes up cosmic rays would be hardly slowed by any reasonable amount of lead. This will degrade the film over time, less for slower film, but guaranteed some amount for all film. It would be better to move to sea level if you are serious about trying for 10 years. The additional atmosphere would help.

3. I read where someone responded either here or APUG about a magenta shift in some older frozen film they developed and "digital darkroom correction" was proposed. Well, IMHO, that type of treatment might work for snaps of Aunt Millie's 90th birthday, but for the type of fine art work you do, the appropriate response is GIGO (Garbage In - Garbage Out for you younger folks). Why would you willingly use such inferior materials (10 year old film) in your captures? I do so get tired of the "I can fix it in PhotoShop" mentality. If you don't have it in the first place, it can only be approximated in its restoration. It's like saying that you don't need a sharp lens because you can always correct it by using "sharpen" it in Photoshop.

Again, IMHO, get a year or 2's supply - 3 if you are really daring, then go out and use it with abandon. After that, take stock of the situation and do what makes sense. Sorry about this long answer. If I had more time, I'd have made it shorter.
Hope things are going well for you, we miss you at the gallery. Jim

vann webb
20-Jun-2008, 09:22
One should also consider how all of these frozen films are going to be stored after they are shot, developed, and filed...Ooooooops, yeah, that's right, Print File probably won't issue a press conference when they stop doing archival pages for storing negatives...it's always the little things that wind up biting us survivalists in the ass. Not really an emergency, but I did notice recently that I now have to mail order my archival negative pages since they never have them in stock locally any more.

Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2008, 09:33
Just my two cents, but I've dwelling on morbid thoughts with older relatives this morning...

Maybe color neg film should be treated like old age and hospice. When its time is over, let it go. Your own life quality may be better because of it. There will always be a nice alternative color process of some kind available and in ten years who knows what will develop?

I would take all that film and freezer money and spend it on experiences, trips, family, fun.