Some more photos taken with a Hasselblad 503cx on a roll of Kodak Vericolor 400 which expired in 1990. These are some of the best results I have gotten from expired Vericolor 400. The images were shot metering for ISO 25, or +4 stop of exposure compensation from box speed. This was done according to the rules of thumbs for shooting expired film.
Just some mediocre photos taken with the Hasselblad 503cx on Kodak Plus-X Pan which expired in 1999. The images were shot metering for ISO 64, or +1 stop of exposure compensation from box speed. This was done according to the rules of thumbs for shooting expired film.
On a family trip a few summers back I found a box of expired Fujicolor Super HQ 200 with 3 rolls in it. It was at a roadside flea market and the vendor was packing up for the day. I asked what they wanted for the box. They seemed unsure, but replied, “five dollars.” I paused to consider the price, tentatively waiting for a better offer as is usual for this type of venue. Hearing none, I handed over a five dollar bill and walked away with the film. Three rolls of expired film for less than the price of a new roll seemed like a good deal.
The box was a three pack of Fujicolor Super HQ 200, but it also contained a bonus roll of Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400. So, I received two rolls of Super HQ and one roll of Superia. I shot the roll of Superia in my Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. The results were hit-and-miss, so I tossed the other two rolls in the freezer.
Wanting to see how the Nikon 35Ti would treat expired film, I thawed a roll of Fujicolor Super HQ. The 35Ti does not have an ISO override, so I had to use exposure compensation to adjust for the age of the film. The rules for shooting expired film suggested the film would need 1⅓ stops of additional light, so that is what I dialed in. The results from the Super HQ in the Nikon were much better than the results from the Superia in the Minolta. The photos from the expired Super HQ turned out great. If I knew the photos were going to turn out so well I would have spent more time considering the subjects and composition.
Expired color film rarely produces great images. The longer the film is expired, the less likely it is to produce usable results. So, not much should be expected from a roll of Kodak Vericolor III which expired in January of 1991. The only thing that it has going for it is its slow speed, it was a 160 speed film. Based upon the rules for shooting expired film this film should now be rated at ISO 40. That’s because ((2022 + 4/12) - (1991 + 1/12)) / 15 is 2.0833, and two stops of overexposure from 160 is 40.
Fortunately, it was cloudy the day this film was shot, so the needed dynamic range for the day was minimal. That combined with nailing the adjusted exposure resulted in some surprisingly pretty images. The scans are a little dodgy, not enough compensation for springtime dog shedding, but that’s not the films fault. No corrections were made to the images, just scanned and inverted, which is why the black of the borders is not true. Regardless, the results from this roll of 31 year old color film are encouraging; some expired color film is still worth the trouble.
Shooting expired film is a challenge. Film sensitivity and dynamic range both decrease over time. To account for the loss in sensitivity there is a rule of thumb which advises adding one stop of light for each decade of film age. The rule may account for loss of sensitivity on average, but the loss in dynamic range means that it is often not enough to get usable results. I use rules of thumb based upon the type of film to get slightly better than average results.
In addition to the problem of getting the correct exposure there are also challenges related to using the film after it has been developed. Expired film which has been properly exposed and developed can still be quite dense. Expired color film can also have strong color casts. Even if all of these obstacles were accounted for, rolls of medium format film will frequently have uneven exposure across the frame caused by the additional fogging which occurs towards the edges.
This 32 year old roll of Kodak Vericolor 400 demonstrates the limitations of expired film.
It has been a very cold and snowy winter here in Northeastern Ohio. The weather hasn’t exactly encouraged people to get outside. But, it is good for the health to get outside on those few days when the sun pierces through the grey winter skies, even if the temperature is still well below freezing. So, I loaded up some film to have a reason to get out there.
For the colorless winter days I grabbed an expired roll of Kodak Verichrome. And, since the electronics on the otherwise outstanding Bronica EC-II refuse to operate below freezing, I have reluctantly switched to a Hasselblad 503cx. When your fingers are literally freezing, fiddling with an uncooperative camera very quickly causes frustration and discourages taking photos. The Hasselblad works reliably, even when it is well below freezing. I guess that helps justify the price. The real advantage of a working camera is that there is one less excuse to not go out in the cold.
While wandering through a thrift shop I spotted an interesting looking metal box. The box contained a dozen slide carriers, each of the slide carriers was mostly full of Kodachrome slides. The images looked like they were taken yesterday. There were some around-the-house family shots in the collection, but what caught my attention were the travel slides. So, I decided to buy someone else’s old vacations slides for ten bucks.
Other than getting a small glimpse inside of an upper-middle class mid-century home, there was little of interest in the family photos. The travel photos, however, were of places which still draw visitors from around the world. The collection contains photos from Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California.
I was writing about how much I love the esthetics of the original SX-70, but I had to note that there were some problems with the early SX-70 cameras. The early electronics are sometimes claimed to be less reliable. I am not sure if that claim stems from the slightly more advanced age of those cameras, or if it is based upon documented changes to the circuitry. The widely circulated 1975 repair manual advises, “When changing a shutter, replace it with an N or P configuration only. Do not use M or earlier configurations.” So, perhaps the earlier models do have some sort of inherent defects. I tend to think that the manual recommends not repairing early shutters because the traces on them are more likely to lift and break, so a lot of care needs to be taken when applying heat to those boards.
Currently these cameras are between 40 and 50 years old. And, given that each camera has been treated in many unknown ways over those years, it might be hard to say that a particular electronic control module is more reliable at this point in time. But, there still are some functional differences between models. I first got the hint of this when I found an SX-70 with a “flash inhibit shutter.” That configuration prevents the shutter from releasing if a flashbar is detected, but the flashbar has no available flashes. That configuration also prevents a photo from being taken when there is an electronic flash present, but the flash is not ready to fire. It seems the use of electronic flashes, especially early ones which could take time to recharge, likely drive the change in functionality.
Since these cameras are fully automatic the way the shutter, or more precisely the electronic control module (ECM) which is in the shutter housing, is configured changes what the camera decides to do under various scenarios. I started keeping track of how the configurations operated in those different scenarios so that I could find and select models which were likely to work the way I wanted them to. Below is what I have found so far. It is interesting to note that my least favorite SX-70 camera, the SX-70 Model 3, has the configuration I prefer most. It does not use fill flash.