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What is the difference between expired and new film?

I am looking to buy film for my new Polaroid cheaply and have found expired film to be much less costly. However, is it risky taking photos with expired film? Will they come out differently or not even develop at all? Does the date it expired matter?

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orksecurity6 years ago
Can't vouch for Polaroid film, but in general, colors drift as film ages. In fact that's the big difference between pro film and amateur film -- pro film is manufactured with near-perfect color balance, whereas amateur film is manufactured with the assumption that it will sit on the shelf for a long time and thus has its colors pre-shifted so it will drift through the ideal balance and out the other side.

How fast the color shift happens depends on the temperatures and humidity the film was exposed to. Again, pros keep film refrigerated until they're ready to use it and generally don't let it sit around; amateurs and non-pro stores obviously don't.

For amateur purposes that may not matter -- most of the color error can be compensated for when prints are made or scans are taken. But there are limits.

If you use expired film, there are no promises that it can be processed successfully. You can usually get away with it, especially if you're having it processed by a lab that Has A Clue rather than your local drugstore or wallmart or whatever. But if an uncorrectable problem does arise, you have only yourself to blame.


Re-design6 years ago
If the expired film was kept cool, dry and in a dark place it might be good, but if it was kept in a hot warehouse during the rainy season it might not be good even if it was still within date.

It's guess work either way.

. +1. It all depends on how it's been treated since it left the factory.
Seconded. Expiry dates are there to say " we no longer guarantee this product to conform to the standards we set at the factory to be as good as when it was first made and quality control tested". It may be anything from perfect to colour being wrong to completely not develop.
I was taught by an old military photographer to keep film in the freezer until you needed it.
Storage and Handling of Unprocessed Film at Kodak. That should have a little more authority than "an old military photographer". ;)