POST 003




August 9 2021

When I first started out with film I rotated between expired film from amazon, the wayward pack of Kodak Gold that I found in Smiths or the Fujifilm Superia that Walmart surprisingly kept in stock. It wasn’t until I stumbled into the ‘Film’ section of eBay’s ‘Film Photography’ category that I realized the depth of available film options. This category provided an endless selection of film from deadstock Kodak emulsions to random canisters of black and white from the 1960’s. Upon this discovery I shot almost exclusively on expired film for months.

Nikon FA with Nikkor 50mm f2 on Seattle FilmWorks 400

One of the first purchases of expired film I made was a set of two rolls from Seattle FilmWorks, one ISO 400 and the other ISO 200. It was pretty cheap so I bought it without much hesitation or research. I should have done some research though because after firing through the first roll I learned that it was respooled cinema film. My lab told me the Remjet layer was removed so they could process it, if the layer wasn’t removed then my film would be trash... a c-41 lab couldn’t process it. That was the last time I bought cinema film off ebay…

Nikon FG with Series e 28mm f2.8 on Seattle FilmWorks 200

The Remjet layer is basically just a dark layer on the back of the film to prevent halation’s on cinema film. Standard color negative film doesn’t have this layer and Cinestill film removes it before they create their 35mm rolls. There are a lot of good youtube videos about Cinestill film that explains cinema film better if you are interested, but in essence a c-41 lab cannot process 35mm film with a Remjet layer because it will ruin the lab so I got pretty lucky because some SFW rolls out there still have the layer on.

Nikon FG with Nikkor 50mm f2 on Kodak Royal Gold 400

The SFW film was a bit of a scare. Wouldn’t want to lose images because of bad film, but I’ve found that expired film usually works really well, good enough, or enough to make a cool vintage looking image. The shot above is form a roll of Royal Gold 200 that I got for $3 and the shot’s from it turned out AMAZING. However, the one below is from a roll of Walgreens Studio 35 film – back from when Walgreens still sold and processed film in the store. All the images from that roll incredibly dark, foggy and grainy. If I took important photos on that roll I would have been very bummed, but as it was I mostly just took random ski photos and they all got that genuine vintage look from the old film

Pentax PC35af on Walgreens Studio 35 200

I will definitely dedicate a post to shooting expired film. I personally love using expired film because it always produces random and fun results. Some people think it’s not worth it, and it’s a totally valid reason. It’s not all that much cheaper than buying new film and most of the time half of the shots on the roll will be complete garbage... But every now and then you will get a shot off an expired roll with colors and grain that are so beautifully wrong it will keep you coming back.

Pentax PC35af on Fuji Superia 200

That picture was the one for me. The grain is way to big for a 200 ISO film. The oranges and blues are way to vibrant and the trees and basketball hoop seem unnaturally dramatic in front of the clouds and sky. But I love it. And as an added bonus it has a nice light leak in the negative space.

It’s definitely a risk to use expired film, especially off eBay where you don’t know the storage or sometimes even the age. I have gotten burned a lot with bad rolls, to the point of swearing it away, but every once in a while that one shot will come and it keeps me hooked. And now, I’m pretty sure I will always have at least one roll of expired film on hand or loaded in one of my cameras.

Nikon FG with Nikkor 50mm f2 on Scotch Color 100

Next time we’ll talk about how to shoot expired film. Thanks for Reading!