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Thread: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

  1. #1
    Ron Miller
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    CT, USA

    Color film & outside temps - newbie question


    I'm a newbie to film and have been spending the time to understand my LF equipment. I'm currently using only B&W but I want to start up at the end of the summer with color.

    I have a question on color film and how I need to store it before use and after use. Please assume I'm talking about Velvia or Portra or Provia here (if that makes a difference) and that the film is not expired and that I bought it from a place where it was properly fridged.

    My thought is I buy the boxes I need and put them in the fridge - which I do not do for B&W. But if I go on a 2 week vacation and take the color film, how do I need to care for it while on vacation? If I drive to Bryce on October where getting there could be 90 degrees for a few days, will that damage the film? If I put them in a fridge every night and took them out every morning is that okay or does condensation occur? Would they be okay unfrigerated for 2 weeks straight with temps from 30-90F?


  2. #2
    lenser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Tim from Missouri

    Re: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

    Hi, Ron.

    Condensation is definitely a problem in muggy Missouri where I live, but in the desert it may not be so. My habit here is to always put film boxes (open or not) in the fridge or freezer in zip lock bags and not open those until the film has been out of the fridge for several hours and at or near room temperature.

    When I traveled in the west in mid summer a few years ago, I kept all film in an empty cooler with a moist towel over the outside of the cooler. That works as a primitive evaporative air conditioning system. I was always surprised at how cool the film boxes were even when ambient temps in the car sitting in the sun were well over 100 degrees. Just keep the towel slightly moist.

    Chances are you would be alright without any protection other than not leaving film boxes in direct sun or a closed car in the heat of the day, but this system should make it a slam dunk.

    Have fun on the trip.

    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  3. #3 tgtaylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

    When I travel, I keep the film in a Playmate cooler with a 1 liter water bottle filled with ice. I keep the bottle in the freezer filled almost to the top with water (to allow for expansion) and refill it with ice on the road at a McDonalds, Carl's - anyplace where there is a soda dispenser with ice.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

    Just keep the bulk of the film in your air conditioned room, no need for the fridge. Take what film you will use with you during the day, don't leave it in the car.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Lakewood, CO

    Re: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

    The easiest solution is to only photograph in the dead of winter. If its below zero, you don't have to worry about any of this.

    As long as the film is at a relatively comfortable temperature for you, you're not going to have problems. The point about the car is important. If its 140 degrees inside the car, its too hot for your film in the long term, and possibly the short term. A cooler helps to insulate it from this.

    The reason we keep film in the freezer is preserve it for the long term.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Van Buren, Arkansas

    Re: Color film & outside temps - newbie question

    Color film can go anywhere you can go. Just keep it as cool as you keep yourself. Color film was a successful product long before universal air-conditioning. Kodachrome was a commercial product back in the 1930's. Very, very few stores and homes were cooled with anything other than fans back then. I never refrigerate any film after I have opened the box. I am a professional, and have shot LF color transparency film for over 40 years. It will (in time) shift in color balance a wee bit, but we are talking many months here for that to happen to an extent that you would notice it in general photography.

    Just FYI, all film, including color transparency and color negative films are shipped by truck or package delivery services to the retail outlets just as any other type of freight. There is no climate-control during shipping. Since film is guaranteed to be good when you purchase it, if the act of transporting the product to market was causing the film to "go bad" then it would be changed. It has never been a problem.

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