Latent Image Stability : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

While emptying a shelf over the weekend I stumbled upon an old undeveloped roll of fp4. Dilute-static in id11 and some time later found myself pondering over latent image stability whilst holding it against the light(It was mostly high contrast landscapes as I expected, many months ago). It's like this: I have never really seen noticeable effects of latent image deterioration in sheet or roll film, save perhaps colour and b&w paper and even then not something I could pinpoint(or blame on latent image stability, at the time, ...whilst passing doubtful glances at the stock solution). I prefer handling 5 or more films in a go(considering id11), besides which I have found messing with chemicals on long trips just not worth the hassle.

Illford for example suggests developing fp4 asap after a shoot, and I have to admit off hand that most of my best images are from film that were not lying about undeveloped (though eagerness plays a role here too). But how far does one take it? I suppose a chart or two is what I'm looking for but I'd like to hear of any experiences in sheet/roll film latent image deterioration someone else had. What goes(shifts?) first - highlight detail?, midtones? Or are modern film just so much more stable that this becomes a non-issue? Thanks, Ryan

-- Riaan Lombard (, January 15, 2002


I never noticed any distortion at developing films which was exposed some weeks before. Last year I found a film which was exposed about 15 years ago and developed it. Negatives were pretty thin, about 2 stops, they looked as if they were underexposed, which probably means that you will lose details in shadows first if you will wait too long. Regards,

-- janez pelko (, January 15, 2002.

I think you are going to have deterioration from both heat and stray radiation. I often get sidetracked and start new photo projects before I finish old ones--then months later I find the film and think "damn, I should have developed that last year." Sometimes, if it is less than a year old, I can't tell much difference, but I've had some old rolls show quite a bit of base fog--same thing happens with film that is out of date.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, January 15, 2002.

i once found a roll of 35mm T-Max under my car seat and processed it normally, and upon looking at the contact sheets i was surprised to find that it was a roll i had shot more than three years previously. they were precious photos of a loved one who had sinced passed away, and the image quality was as if i had taken the photos yesterday; no visible image deterioration after three summers/winters under my car seat! (please no comments about how often i clean out my car...)

~chris jordan (Seattle)

-- chris jordan (, January 15, 2002.

About a year ago I was going through some old boxes and found a roll of Plus X that I shot 20 years ago. Normal development yielded usable (though with noticable fog) negatives. I've also found 5 year old C41 film that also gave me printable negatives.

-- Dave Brown (, January 16, 2002.

Fog will creep in, but the stability of images on exposed and undeveloped film is remarkable. I had a roll of Tri-X exposed in 1974. Stored 4 years in a clear plastic bag on the seat of a parked convertible with a black top in So. California. (Non-running auto, but surely 120 degrees plus on many summer days). The balance of its life was under more normal conditions. Developed the film in 1996 and the negatives were flat due to fog but far from unusable as snap shots. There was some arctic expedition where everybody died and the bodies and last camp were found years and years (going from memory 40 years plus) the exposed expedition film produced decent prints. To answer your specific question I think the basic effect of aging is fog, and it seems in my experience to advance at about the same rate as it does with expired film that hasn't been exposed.

-- Kevin Crisp (, January 16, 2002.

So it seems a few years would make little more difference than a few hours on image stability. (I'll go check the stock solution again!)

Thanks for all the replies Ryan

-- Riaan Lombard (, January 17, 2002.

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