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Thread: How to store-archive color slides?

  1. #1

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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?

  2. #2
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

  3. #3

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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?

  4. #4

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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.

  5. #5
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1997
    San Jose, CA

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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.

  6. #6

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 1998
    Lund, Sweden

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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 ( sell the Secol range of polyester film storage products, as well as archival boxes to suit various levels of paranoia.

  8. #8

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    How to store-archive color slides?

    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 need to look at the PAT for each product and application as well. for slides--look for the product being tested with color slides.

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