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Photography Question 
Ray Hadorn

Developing a ten year old roll of film

I need to develop a roll of 35mm tmax 400 that was exposed 10 years ago. I am looking for professional and experienced opinion of a developer/time/temperature combination that will yield exceptable results.

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1/23/2007 8:19:02 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Ray,
Consider that film consists of light sensitive crystals that for the most part will not develop unless struck by photons. During normal use, when the shutter clicks, photons stream thought the lens and strike and expose. The number of photon hits required to render a crystal developable is its threshold. High speed films required less hits.

As film sits around and time goes by, the silver salt crystals are being bombarded by background radiation, changes in temperature, humidity and these cause chemical changes just like photon hits. What eventually happens is a high percentage of crystals will be rendered developable even though they have never been hit by a photon. In time the majority will exceed threshold rendering the film totally fogged. This is why film has an expiration date.

On the shelf, before use, crystals move towards their threshold. That means that aged film requires fewer photo hits -- thus old film is faster than fresh. This natural ageing process can be accelerated. We call it hyper-sensitization.

Now exposed film ages differently. Consider that many crystals close to threshold will be driven over the edge and rendered developable by the ageing process. Thus you should treat this film just as you would a roll of film known to be overexposed. My recommendation is to under-develop by 15%. Fine-grin developers contain a silver solvent which could prove to be helpful in this situation.

Good luck,

Alan Marcus

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1/23/2007 11:23:21 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Black and white holds up better than color. 1996 or 7? You might have a tiny time capsule.

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1/24/2007 12:11:54 AM

Ray Hadorn   Thank you, Alan. Do you have a developer recommendation?
Would you consider TMAX developer?

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1/24/2007 5:46:14 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi again Ray,

Nothing special required! Use Kodak T-Max developer followed by a stop bath. You can make your own stop. One teaspoon of ordinary vinegar in a cup of water. After the stop, immerse in a fresh fixer and start a timer. OK to turn the lights on after the film has been in the fix for a minute or so. Observe the film, if opaque; continue fixing until the film clears. Fix time is twice the time it takes to clear.

Black & white film (color film too) is naturally only sensitive to UV and blue light. Modern panchromatic films are sensitive to all colors (pan being a prefix for all). Their sensitivity has been extended into the green and red regions of the spectrum by treating the silver salts with dye. Mixtures, type, and colors used is proprietary. Sensitizing dyes are generally rendered soluble in the developer or the fixer. Used and spent processing solutions naturally turn dark but sometimes you can observe tinges of color which are the dyes soaking out of the films.

T-Max often takes on a warm color after processing. This means the dyes has not completely washed out. Such color is harmless. It is prevented by using fresh fixer and washing for 30 minutes to make sure residuals are entirely removed.

Agitate in every step except wash (assumes running water). Agitation is 5 seconds every 30 seconds.

Luck to you,

Alan Marcus

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1/24/2007 7:15:19 AM

Edward J. Gerson   Follow the instructions on T-Max developer and have fun. Are you using stainless steel or plastic reels? -Ed

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2/21/2007 7:50:42 AM

Ray Hadorn   Stainless steel.

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2/21/2007 8:50:49 AM

Edward J. Gerson   take care spooling the film; if its unusually stiff or even slightly deformed you might want to switch over to a plastic reel

T-Max requires (if I remember correctly) a pre-soak. This might be a good idea in any case. - Ed

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2/21/2007 3:53:03 PM

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