View Full Version : Freezer or Refrigerator for Films?

16-Mar-2004, 20:21
Hi All,

Quick survey... Freezer or refrigerator? What's the preferred method of keeping film?

I just bought 20 x 50 sheet boxes of Provia film at an incredible price and want to store them in a manner that will ensure they'll last.

I've been told that the freezer method requires that the film be packaged well in plastic with as little air as possible.

Any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance.


Donald Hutton
16-Mar-2004, 20:35
I use ziplocks in the freezer for long term storage - otherwise, my wine fridge has a whole section devoted to my other pursuit...

Steve Baggett
16-Mar-2004, 21:24
I've been using a freezer for 4 years for boxed film and pre-loaded film holders. Use zip-loc bags and allow at least 1 hour (2 is better) after removing it from the freezer before opening the bag, to prevent condensation. Don't worry too much about getting all the air out of the bag before freezing but just get as much as you can, as a freezer is *DRY*, i.e. very low humidity. It's when you take film out that you can cause a problem.

16-Mar-2004, 23:45

I stored my films in the wine fridge too but then my "sharpening tools" started taking over. I only had 300 sheets though and now that I've bought this big batch... they have to go in the freezer. Besides, some of my preferred Napa Valley vinos have just arrived!

BTW, Donald... what temperature do you have the wine fridge at? Mine's set at 58 degrees.

So many things to photograph, so many wines to drink, and so little time!


I saran wrapped the entire box to keep things dry in the fridge... I'll have to go and get some zip- loc bags then.

Thank you both for the suggestions.


17-Mar-2004, 08:53
I believe that the fridge is plenty cold to preserve film, but for most people's lifestyle, it is more convenient to put it in the freezer instead. And since everything in the freezer is wrapped and frozen, there is much less chance of spilling something on it. And much less traffic in the freezer.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
17-Mar-2004, 08:57
I have been eyeing a couple of deals like Henry got. Would it make sense to store 19 boxes in the freezer and keep the one you are working on in the refrigerator - taking out a single box each time one runs out?

Philippe Gauthier
17-Mar-2004, 09:36
Both. Most of your stock should be kept on your freezer, where aging is halted, with a box or two (or whatever you're likely to need quickly) kept in the fridge, where aging is slowed, but not halted. In short: long trem sotorage in the freezer, short to mdoerate term storage in the fridge.

I personnally keep my B&W sheets at room temperature. I'm sure to be finished with my current box of 100 before the exp. date in 2006. If I had supplies for the next five years, that would be another matter.

Bruce Watson
17-Mar-2004, 09:54
If you really want it dry, put each film box in a zip-lock freezer bag, and add a 3 gram silica gel packet to suck up any moisture in the zip-lock. This would be added protection against possible condensation when you un-freeze a box of film.

I use pillow-paks from Desiccare, Inc.:


YMMV, but this is what I use for this service. Especially when I put exposed film in the freezer because I can't get it processed right away.

17-Mar-2004, 12:21
Hi Edward,

I paid CDN$37.00 per box for 50 sheets of Provia...

Shoot for that price... I was told by the Lab where I bought it that this is a fairly reasonable price considering the expiry date is 5/04. It's just too bad it wasn't Velvia. :<) Oh well...can't complain!

Good luck

Edward (Halifax,NS)
17-Mar-2004, 12:42
Henry, I am currently paying $5 per sheet of Velvia. That is why I am looking to the auction sites to pick up bulk shortdated film. Besides, I have a half empty chest freezer. :)

17-Mar-2004, 16:31

That's a pretty HOT price on the Velvia... I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. I've only bought some Fuji Quickloads off the internet but haven't bought any other films from there. Have you had any problems bringing them in from the US when you've gone onto the auction sites?

My main concern is that they're out of the freezer/fridge when they're shipped in. And then there's
the tax and shipping that must be added onto the cost.

But, at 50 cents a sheet for Velvia... that's a pretty hot price!

Good show.


Tom Johnston
17-Mar-2004, 19:26
I have kept my film in the freezer for over thirty years (not the same film....lol) with no problems. In fact, I just found a 50 sheet box of 4x5" Velvia that I forgot about that had been in the freezer for about seven years. I was surprised to find that I can't distinguish between photographs made on that old Velvia and photographs made on fresh Velvia!

I even store loaded holders in the freezer if they are loaded and I won't be shooting for a while. I keep all my holders in ziplock bags (for dust control in the field) but I have found that even that isn't necessary to prevent condensation because I keep the holders in cooler bags - you know, those rectangular bags for keeping a six pack cold, etc. Using them, the film slowly warms up after removing it from the freezer. Of course, it warms much more slowly so you have to give it more time. But there are other advantages with using them as well. They buffer temperature changes when going from warm or hot places to cold places. They are great for film in the car.

I keep my large format film boxes in these insulated cooler bags too and I have never worried about putting them in ziplock bags because they warm up slowly so there is no condensation problem at all and the film is in it's plastic envelope anyway. I have never had any problems at all in many years using these methods. However, if I knew that I might need film to warm up more quickly - say 35mm film - I sometimes just put the canisters (in the can) in ziplock bags.

I freeze all my printing papers the same way and have never experienced a single problem with condensation. Not once.

Think about this: Hunters have to deal with condensation on their expensive firearms. Rust can ruin a gun quickly if condensation forms on it. To prevent this, they put their guns in padded gun cases before bring them into a warm place. They do not use ziplock bags, obviously, and their guns do not rust using this method. The reason is that condensation will only be a problem if cold material (gun metal or film) is suddenly exposed to warm air. Ziplocks, etc., are nice but the best method is to simply prevent the cold film from being in contact with warm air in the first place. To do that, keep them in an insulated container. Don't let cold film suddenly hit warm air - that's all.

That said, an argument can be made that humidity should be controlled in a freezer when storing light sensitive materials. However, to my knowledge, ziplock bags won't help with that anyway and, as I said, I have never had a single problem, even with films and papers frozen for many years.

Common sense is all that is needed.

18-Mar-2004, 00:52
Hi Tom,

Nothing speaks like experience... thanks for your advice.

The cooler/container makes a lot of sense for slowly warming the film to ambient temperature... I'll give it a try the next time I need film from the freezer.


Edward (Halifax,NS)
18-Mar-2004, 10:40
Henry, how is the Provia 50 sheet box packaged? Are all the sheets in one pack or are there a couple of packs in the box? I just picked up two 50 sheet boxes at $45 US per box. Not the great deal you got but still much lower price than I was paying for Velvia.

Ernest Purdum
18-Mar-2004, 10:55
One caveat. Polaroid film doesn't belong in the freezer.

18-Mar-2004, 14:35
Hi Edward,

The boxes are the standard 50 sheet size with 2 packets inside. Each packet, of course, contains 25 sheets. I don't know why they don't pack in one packet other than that it minimizes exposure to the film should someone turn on the lights while you're loading.

I was looking for Velvia when this deal came along... it was just too good to pass up. Personally, I do prefer the color saturation and richness of Velvia but find that Provia isn't that far off if I rate the film differently from the 100 ASA.

Now, if Velvia shows up at the same price... I'd be one happy camper!

Ernest.... thanks for the heads up on the Polaroid. That film remains in the wine fridge.