Purchasing Expired Film: Hit or Miss?

featured, Film

If you’re anything like me, you do a daily Ebay hunt to get those super deals from unsuspecting sellers who may not know how much the item they are selling is really worth.

From time to time, i truly strike GOLD and come across things I’ve been searching for for a long while AT CRAZY PRICES.

One of my most frequent searches is film, either 35mm or 120, since this is primarily what I shoot.

Recently, I came across not just one but TWO deals on film..my luck was on fire..or at least i was thinking this when i purchased the items.

There was only one catch with both films, they were both expired…

Meaning they were beyond their expiration dates, which was basically the reason they were so cheap.

As a matter of fact, they were both years beyond expiration…

One listing which I won was for 38 Rolls of Kodak Tri-X which has expired in 2012

Doesn't that look beautiful?

Doesn’t that look beautiful?

and the other was for 50 ROLLS of Kodak Portra 160NC, which was found by a someone bidding at an estate auction, they had no previous knowledge of how it was stored or anything

50 Rolls of Portra 160NC, which i believe is now discontinued but such a beautiful film

50 Rolls of Portra 160NC, which I believe is now discontinued but such a beautiful film

Not going to get into prices but I’ll tell you they were a steal, so much cheaper than buying fresh stocks of these films.

Once i received, I instantly loaded my camera and hit the streets (started with Tri-X first) as i was already on my way out and decided to take some detours to check film out.

This can be nerve racking at first because you’re always thinking “what if i just got screwed over?” “there’s no guarantee this film is any good and i just spent cash on it!” “If all these rolls are trash, i’m going to feel like such an idiot”

I’d like to share some of my results of the 35mm with you 🙂

I used my homemade Rodinal formula and did a semi-stand development for an hour (agitated at the 30min mark)





This gentleman and I had a conversation first in English, then in Spanish, for over an hour. Very interesting individual

It seems my luck was definitely with me on this purchase

When I finished developing and took a look at the negatives, I had a huge sigh of relief

Knowing I made out like a bandit in the night was pretty awesome

Now next up was the Portra 160NC..

I’ve seen so many amazing results from others in the past with this film, which has been replaced by the new Kodak Portra 160

I loaded my camera and invited a good friend over for a quick rooftop photo shoot, he lives close by and always likes to help out at times like these

So now was the time to see if i bought 50 rolls of trash film or not 🙂

Side note: These were also developed at home using the Unicolor C41 Kit and Epson V600





At one point, i let my friend Erik use my camera and take a pic of yours truly!

I can honestly say the film gods were with me on this day!

Kodak Tri-X and Kodak Portra are semi-expensive professional films and can really hurt the pockets when bought in bulk

So happy i didn’t make these investments just to come back with terrible results.

These films are now hanging out in my fridge which is where they will remain until the next time they are needed

Whenever looking into expired films, make sure to ask a lot of questions:

Were these cold stored after expiration?

What is the date of expiration?

Are these from your personal stock or someone else’s?

Have you film tested any of the rolls?

If any of these questions are left unanswered, then it’s up to you to deduce whether or not this is beneficial to purchase from the conversation

Thanks much for reading

Stay tuned for my very first experience with Kodak D76 B&W Developer, post coming soon!

P.S. this was also purchased expired! 🙂


One thought on “Purchasing Expired Film: Hit or Miss?

  1. I have no qualms about shooting expired black & white film, I think the rule of thumb with that is that you overexpose one stop for every decade it’s been expired. As far as chemistry goes, they say as long as the bag is still sealed and the powder’s still white, it should be good! Color on the other hand, is definitely more hit or miss. I wouldn’t use it to shoot anything critical…

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