Shooting Expired Film

Hi all! Charlie here. I recently developed a roll of Boots Panchromatic film that expired in 1974 (44 years out-of-date!). I bought it for £1 in a photographica in a local town - Arundel Photographica (they have some really cheap good kit, worth a visit if you're in town). The roll had already been opened, including the inner wrapping, and there was nothing holding the roll together. In fact, the roll was partially unrolled and very loose, but for £1 I figured it was worth a shot.

I shot it around town and in the local park. It was very stiff to wind on. Being 4 decades out-of-date and the film having a normal sensitivity of ASA 125, I used the general rule of thumb of '1 stop per decade' and shot it as ASA 10. Being such a ridiculously low speed, I brought a flash and used that for lighting in most of my shots. I tried to vary my shots a bit and ended up shooting a couple landscapes. It was an overcast day and my camera - a 1962 Yashica-Mat TLR - struggled a bit. I was shooting wide open at f/3.5 and still getting 1" exposures.

When it came to development, I did some research and found that it was supposedly repackaged FP4+. I developed it in Rodinal 1:50 for 15 minutes. Expecting a long black strip to come out, I was surprised when I pulled it out the rinse and saw 10 useable exposures. The first 2 frames had succumbed to decades of being loose in the packet and I had some serious light leaks, but the other frames came out very smooth with a pleasant grain and sharp contrast.

If you ever come across any expired film and it's cheap, give it a try! Just don't pay any more for it than what you would for a fresh roll. It's an exciting and refreshing experience. You really have no idea what you're going to get, and when you do get good results it makes it even more worthwhile. I look forward to shooting my next expired roll soon - a 1980 expired roll of Kodacolor II. Watch this space!


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