When it comes to expired film you‘ll never know exactly, if your shots turn out or not. From harsh grain to weird color shifts, anything can happen. Some folks like all these flaws and shoot expired film because of it, but I generally don‘t and that‘s why I usually tend to avoid it.
One day I decided I‘ll give it try and ordered a pro-pack of Kodak Vericolor III (ISO 160), which expired in 1993. Upon opening the worn cardboard box and grabbing one of the rolls you could clearly see, feel and smell that this film was old. The wrapper felt almost like rubber and the whole box had this vintage smell to it. At that point, I wasn‘t expecting anything better than horrible results. Nevertheless, I grabbed my Mamiya RB67 Pro-S with a Mamiya Sekor C 65mm f/4.5 lens, loaded the roll into my film back, and headed out to shoot it.
I haven‘t been living in Nuremberg for very long and had heard of this old riverboat at the docks, which sounded like a good subject. So I headed out and took a couple of shots of the boat. Since the film is expired for roughly 30 years I decided to rate it at EI 50, even though some people recommend adding a stop per decade, but that just seemed overkill for me. I‘ve never shot anything lower than ISO 50 and I still wanted to shoot handheld so 50 was my ISO of choice on that day. When you‘re about to lug a Mamiya RB67 around you don‘t want to bring a heavy tripod along as well anyway.
The RB67 is a great 6×7 format camera and my favorite medium format camera so far. The biggest seller for me is, that it‘s fully mechanical and you don‘t need any batteries to operate it. The rugged build quality, bellows focusing, a rotating back and the leaf shutter system add to this. Aside from the body Mamiya lenses are known to be of great quality as well.
The Sekor C 65mm f/4.5 is my favorite lens for everyday use. It‘s usually always on my RB67 when I‘m out shooting, except when the situation calls for a longer lens, then I’ll switch over to a 180mm. The 65mm is a really sharp lens and renders nice colors and contrast, without too much vignetting or distortion. Coupled with the bellows of the RB you‘re able to focus really close to your subject.
After taking a couple of shots of the riverboat I still had a few frames left, so on my way home I stopped by the zeppelin field and the large grandstand and finished that roll there.
At home, I developed the film with the Cinestill C-41 Quart Kit, which is my go-to chemical kit at the moment. It‘s really easy to mix and you can get well beyond 22 rolls out of it. The pre-rinse of the film looked like I was pouring out a bucket of dark green paint, which I have never seen before. I took three to four more rinses until it finally cleared up. To my surprise, the negatives turned out quite dense and overall they looked actually really good.
For scanning, I used a Fuji XT-2 with the 60mm f/2.4 Macro and Negative Lab Pro. The final results really surprise me. The colors and the contrast are amazing, I didn‘t have to adjust anything in post. The blues and reds are popping and the grain is quite moderate. There are some frames that have slight color shifts, but that was to be expected.
All in all, I‘m really happy with the results and can‘t wait to shoot the four remaining rolls I have left of it.
I‘m not sure if I‘m going to shoot a different stock of expired film in the future, but with Kodak Vericolor III I‘m glad I did.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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