View Full Version : Best options for long-term storage of B&W film

Bruce Pollock
30-Oct-2011, 15:38
I'm thinking of buying and stockpiling some Tri-X. Is there any additional advantage to freezing the film, rather than simple refrigeration? Will it extend the useful life?

Any other advice for long-term storage of unprocessed B&W materials?

30-Oct-2011, 16:27
It will extend it nicely. If you read through the archives, especially in regard to Kodak's changing business, many people are stockpiling/hoarding film and freezing it. Many people here are also using 10+ year old film without problem. 10-15 year old film sells on Ebay for the majority of it's new price, no questions asked.

Freezing it basically suspends the chemical changes of the film.

Refrigeration is more medium term storage, such as how pro film was retailed back when you could buy it locally.

Cooling does not protect it from radiation, which is much tougher to protect from. That will slowly add fog to the film over many years but it's still usable. If you put film way underground to protect from gamma rays, it probably be more prone to radon, etc...

30-Oct-2011, 17:34
Stockpiling a film like Tri-X seems to me like stockpiling fresh eggs. Only worthwhile if you are eating a lot of eggs in a short period of time (or shooting a lot of film in a short period of time).

Thank you for contacting Kodak.

Kodak photographic films can be refrigerated in their original unopened packaging, and doing so insures that they're protected from heat and humidity. While there is not generally any benefit to freezing film it can be frozen as well. However, before use they should be allowed to achieve room temperature, and that can take as long as 1 1/2 hours from from 0F (-18C). (Allowing a few hours may be a good idea to be on the safe side. Always store the film in a moisture proof plastic bag or container and allow the container to warm up to room temperature before opening. Otherwise condensation can form on the warming film and create spots on your pictures. Make sure that the water resistant can or wrapper is not opened before it reaches room temperature.

We did want to mention that while storage in a refrigerator or freezer can be highly beneficial in some cases, you should not rely on it to extend film life beyond the "Develop Before" date. This is especially important with high-speed films, which can be fogged by cosmic and gamma radiation that is naturally present all around us. Neither cooling nor lead-foil bags will prevent this effect.

You should normally store most Kodak professional color films in their original sealed packaging under refrigeration at 55F (13C) or lower. These films are made and tested for the consistency required in professional use. Always refrigerate these films to maintain consistent performance. More specific storage conditions are given for special-purpose films such as KODAK EKTACHROME PROFESSIONAL Infrared EIR Film, which requires freezing. Thaw it just before use. Kodak consumer
films have their storage instructions on the carton exterior and should normally be stored at 70 F or lower.

For more information on recommended storage procedures, please visit the following area on our web site:


Thank you for visiting the Kodak website. If you should have future questions on Kodak products or services, please be sure to revisit our site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.


Jeneen Wake
Consumer Affairs Advisor
Kodak Information Center
(800) 242-2424 ext. 10

Daniel Stone
30-Oct-2011, 18:23
I'm no "expert" on the chemical goings on of expired(frozen, refg'd or just plain ambient temp storage) film, but from my EXPERIENCE shooting expired film, there's a few things I've noticed.

Last year I shot through 2 boxes for 8x10 Tri-x that expired in 1981. Yes, 29 years OOD. The person I bought it from purchased it from a studio closing down at that time, and he had it frozen in his deep freeze(under his fish none the less ;)), and completely forgot about it until the freezer died at the end of 2009. I knew there would be base fog, and there was. I don't own a densitometer, and I sure as hell don't understand densitometry, but I exposed the first few "test" sheets at iso 100. Looked good to me! Using a pyro developer(510 pyro), my prints showed a nice "glow" that I have not been able to replicate on more modern materials. IDK why, I'm no expert. I've shot some agfa and kodak c-41 materials from the mid 90s, frozen, non-frozen/fridged, and fridged, and they all gave a usable(but not always the desired) image. But those are color materials, we're talking b/w film stock here.

So, if you have a deep freezer in your basement, I'd say go for it. However, be aware that higher asa films will have a tendency to fog more rapidly, at least in my experience vs shooting some old ilford from the 80s as well(iso 125 IIRC, can't remember the name, maybe it was fp4/3?).


Frank Petronio
30-Oct-2011, 19:23
The emulsion becomes more delicate and eventually lifts off, depending, more so with color. At least with late 1990s color film that was "properly" stored in the fridge.

30-Oct-2011, 19:30
This discussion reminds me of the Fallout Shelter sign that I saw today near the basement entrance of the apartment building that I am staying at in New York. I wonder how old that sign is. There is one by the basement entrance of every apartment building in the neighbourhood.