Shooting Expired Film

Fuji Reala

I was recently going through some old storage items and I came across a roll of Fujifilm Reala 100. This is a film that was discontinued by Fuji back in 2012. Apparently, this roll of film that I had come across was from my early days of film photography because this roll had expired in December of 2004. Being that I had come across this film in 2018, and it hadn’t been cold stored I debated on whether I should spend the effort and money to shoot and process it.

Well, to save you all the suspense, I figured, what the hell, I loaded it in my Leica and took it along to a family picnic. I set my meter to 50 iso because I would rather over expose than under expose it, especially since it had been expired for 14 years.

When all was said and done, there was a little color shift towards the green which isn’t as big of an issue when your end game is to scan it, because you can do some  color correction in your computer. The other notable items are that the film came out a little grainier than I had remembered and the negatives were so curled that it was difficult to scan. I’m not sure if this film was naturally curly or if this was a result of being wound on the  spool for so long, but it curled both from being coiled on the roll, but also, laterally which made the middle of the film press against the glass when I was scanning it resulting in a funny rainbow pattern on some of the scans as well as some scanner focus issues.

So the final question, do I think it is worth shooting expired film? It all depends on the purpose. I honestly think that you can get really good film stocks for every affordable prices so if you are shooting expired film to save money, I don’t think it makes sense. If you are shooting expired film because you want to experience a discontinued film stock, I think it only makes sense if you are familiar with the seller and how they stored the film because poorly stored film might not give you the experience you were looking for, as well, it may be very inconsistent from one roll to the next. Additionally, if a roll of expired film has a really bad, unfixable, color cast or poor contrast, you are potentially leaving the quality of your captured memories to chance. I think the real advantage of shooting expired film is if you want to experiment with getting different effects with you images. You might get some cool effects similar to shooting with a camera that has a light leak or if you like to experiment with film soup.

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