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Photography Question 
Mary C. Casey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/24/2007

Refrigerating Slide Film

According to the data sheets that came with the Velvia 50 and 100 slide film, and the Ektachrome slide film, it should be kept in the refrigerator. Do any of you do that, and if so, how do you keep it? Do you put it in Ziploc bags in the produce bins? A Tupperware container? Or do you do that at all?

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10/29/2008 7:28:42 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Mary - good question!
All film and photo paper are perishable. The chief ingredient is a light sensitive salt of silver. Silver salts resemble table salt except they are exceeding tiny crystals, not very soluble in water. The must be attached to the film or paper base using a glue. The glue must be flexible, clear, permeable (fluids must percolate within during the developing phase), and not wash away. Many things have been tried. Once egg whites were used and millions of chickens were proud contributors.
For more than 100 years, gelatin has been used as it has proven to be best. Gelatin is an animal product; it is made from bone and hide. The gelatin used to make film is highly refined and has preservatives added. Nevertheless, it is perishable thus for long-term storage, refrigeration is called for.
The chief enemies of all photographic films and papers are time, moisture, and radiation. The silver salts undergo a chemical change when struck by radian energies. These are heat, light, and ionizing radiation such as X-ray, gamma ray, and light. Thus we keep photographic materials in light tight containers until deliberately exposed in the camera or photo printer.
Over time, despite our best efforts, a chemical change will take place. This occurs no matter what we do as to storage method. The change is a slow liberation of the metal silver - i.e., a silver salt breakdown occurs (it self exposes). Thus film is dated usually the shelf life is about 2 years.

Gelatin is hydroscopic meaning it absorbers water from the air. We pack film and photo papers in hermetically sealed containers. The air inside the container is dry (very low humidity). If you do not open or otherwise break the seal of the inside packaging, the material remains protected from moisture.

Refrigeration extends shelf life. If you refrigerate film you extend its shelf life. If you freeze film you can extend its shelf life indefinitely. To store in a refrigerator, donít open the film as this act will allow moisture to reach the material. When ready to use, try and anticipate need. Remove the material and allow the container to reach room temperature before opining. If you open the cold film container, water droplets may form like sweat on an ice-tea glass. These water droplets will spoil the material. Best to remove from cold storage 1 day in advance of use. Sometimes you canít plan ahead, open while cold at your own peril.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

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10/29/2008 8:13:11 AM

  Hi Mary,
I keep all film-slide, color print, and black and white in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until I get low on what's in the refrigerator. This slows the breakdown of the film's chemistry. I keep what I will use in the immediate future in the fridge.
As you use film, keep it out so it will not sweat when you get it in the field. This way, you will not end up with water spots on your negatives or slides. If you need, say four rolls for a shoot, Take four rolls out of the fridge. Replace them with four rolls from the freezer. Keep them in Ziploc bags until you're ready to go. Then, put them in your camera case.
Have fun and keep shooting.

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10/29/2008 8:17:54 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Mary,
I have a small refrigerator devoted exclusively to film. I keep many products frozen. Thanks,

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10/29/2008 4:58:10 PM

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