How To Actually Store Your Camera Film

I’ve been shooting film for 7 or so years now and over that time I’ve had my fair share of mishaps with camera film!

Storing your camera film in a refrigerator or freezer can slow or halt the degradation of your camera film. Camera film doesn’t like heat or moisture, it likes a cold and dry environment.

To understand a bit more about how exactly to store your film and what kind of difference it makes, read on!

How To Properly Store Your Film

There are a few caveats but generally, it’s best practice to store your camera film in a fridge or freezer.

If you’re storing film in your fridge then you should be okay to just place it wherever you like as long as it’s cool enough!

You could also store your film in a freezer but it’s always advisable to make sure to ‘double bag’ your film. You should put your camera film into zip-lock plastic bags to ensure that no moisture gets inside.

If you store camera film in a freezer then there’s always a danger that the freezer could turn off and start to defrost which could completely soak your film! Avoid this happening by double bagging!

Alternative Places To Store Film

Of course, you don’t have to store your film in a fridge/freezer. If you have a cool, dry place then that will be better than nothing. Somewhere like a cool cupboard or set of draws will help to keep it from degrading better than if you were to leave it on a warm windowsill or something like that.

Storing Film On The Move

Let’s say you’re travelling, what should you do then? It can be pretty difficult if you’re in a really hot or damp country.

My best advice would be to have a plastic or metal container for your film to keep any moisture out of the film. Avoid leaving film in a hot car or anything like that and if you can, find cool places to store it when possible.

If you’re not on the move for too long then this shouldn’t really be an issue but it’s definitely worth being aware of if you’re in a really hot country.

Does It Need To Be Refrigerated All The Time?

To be honest, I don’t even refrigerate my film. I don’t really store film for that long so it’s not really necessary and I don’t live in a really hot country.

If you want to keep your film at it’s most perfect then stick it in the fridge straight away, it’s not that important to you then it’s not as if your film will be that impacted even if you left it in a cool set of drawers somewhere for a few years.

How Long Can Camera Film Last In A Refrigerator?

Typically, the best-before date of 35mm camera film is around 4 years from the date of manufacturing. This date is more of a guideline than a rule because camera film slowly starts to degrade from the moment it’s produced. After around 4-5 years, very little can be seen in terms of degradation (if it’s a low-ish ISO film and it’s stored in normal conditions). After 10 years, usually, you’ll need to overexpose your film very slightly, but not by a massive amount. Up to 20 years later, you may need to overexpose by 1 stop, depending on the type of film and how it was stored.Refrigerating your film can slow the degradation process by half. This means you can comfortably keep great quality film without being concerned about how it might come out or how it might look.

If you want to know how long film can last in a camera then check out this article I wrote!

What Happens If You Don’t Store Film Properly

Over time, film degrades and it can affect it in a number of different ways. Film can start to look more green or magenta, it can start to get fogging or spots or it might become more grainy and lose contrast.

Heat and moisture affect your camera film in different ways, over time film will just naturally start to lose sensitivity.

As you can see from the pictures above, expired film can make the pictures look very different.

How Camera Film Degrades

Over time, heat, moisture, gamma radiation and general loss of sensitivity will cause your film to degrade.

This means that avoiding heat and moisture is one of the best ways to keep your camera film from degrading (since we can’t avoid naturally occurring gamma radiation).

If you live in a place that is very hot or humid then you definitely need to store your film in a refrigerator.

Different Kinds Of Film

Different types of film degrade more quickly than others. Colour film degrades more quickly than black and white film and camera film with a high ISO degrades much more quickly than camera film with a low ISO because it’s more sensitive.

Final Word

Whatever you choose to do, read more of my articles so I can shoot more film.

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