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Frozen out of date Portra 800ASA film


Active Member
I am going to do a VIP portrait shoot (studio with tungsten lighting) and will need to use 800ASA film (Hasselblad 6x6).

The Portra 800 I have is dated to expire May 2005 and was put in the freezer in June 2006. So, I need comments from those who regularly freeze their film and know how it reacts from actual experience.

So, what risk do you think there is that it will perform badly? Should I over expose it; under expose it; have it pushed or pulled? Or, should I not use it for an important shoot?

Unfortunately I do not have the time to try out a roll before the shoot. I could always just buy a new box or 2 and trial the frozen film another time and then use it if it is good.

I have always held some film frozen and the rest in the fridge and have never worried about expiration dates. But this is the first time that I have frozen film 1 year out of date and then had another year pass.

Thanks for your help.

PS: while there is a section for "digital darkroom" threads THERE IS NO FILM SECTION HERE! Ouch - someone please set up a film section please!
> WARNING: Science Content

> From a strictly chemistry standpoint, you should be fine. A rule of > thumb for over 100 years has been a ten degree temperature drop > ( for "normal" routinely encountered temperatures) slows a chemical > reaction by (roughly) a factor of 2. So a 30 degree drop has the > effect of slowing chemical reactions by a factor of 8. Same applies > to film aging. So from the film's perspective a year in the freezer > is like a month at room temperature.

Called the Arrhenius Equation ( kin/arrhenius.html ) for anyone who is interested.
Svante Arrhenius was from Sweden, so the equation should work in case you use your Portra film with a Hasselblad.

Ulrik (another chemist)

I have no experience with "frozen" color films . But I have used color films with about a year over the expiration date . They all showed a slight color cast , mostly magenta .

So If your shooting is important and can not be repeated , I would suggest that you go and get fresh films . You shurely have an imagination of how many images you will shoot . So if you think , three films will do , for ex&le , the cost at the end will be cheaper . Also you will be on the safe side .
Good luck .

Regards Jürgen
I've shot Portra that was well over the exp date, like 2 or 3 years. As long as they are kept cool (or frozen for that matter) Portra in my experience is very forgiving. Note that these were Portra 160 NC/VC and 400 films, I only shot 800 a couple of times. Given the higher speed it might be more sensitive to color shift.


For piece of mind I would purchase some fresh film. That way you can give your full attention to the shoot. You can use your old film another time and the only person affected will be you and then you can chalk that up to an experiment if there is a problem. Enjoy the experience.

Best Regards:

For anything critical of course Gilbert is right: don't take
chances. Go for fresh film.


If there is enough time use some of the frozen 800 ASA Portra and test the films.
To be save use fresh film I agree on that.
I used 800 ASA Portra on many occasions. It is great stuff.
Thanks everyone for the excellent advice - which I will take.

I think posting the question lead me to the sensible conclusion too - take no risk and use fresh film.

But I was also pleased to hear your views on film storage too. I will use a roll of the frozen film for the benefit of the experience to see how it comes out compared to the fresh film.

Thanks again.
I have had no problems with freezing Kodak film and shooting after the experation date. When I worked at Kodak, I was told that frozen film can be used as much as ten years later without a problem.

When I heard that 120 UCV 400 was discontinued, I brought 55 rolls of it an put it in the freezer. I wanted to keep it from the hoarders! I will be shooting some of it in Moab Utah this coming weekend.

Hi Steve,

I hope for you the sky over Canyonlands NP has improved. Last week visibility was horrible due to smoke from forest fires cluttering up the atmosphere. I was told the smoke was coming as far as California(?)

Yes, -18 degr C is what my freezer does. Film likes that. Just allow it time to thaw, while still in its sealed wrapper.

Trivia: NASA has frozen their *developed* films from the Apollo program as well. Multiple copies were made and put in multiple locations, in the fridge.

Do their fridges go that low?
Thanks again guys.

Steve that was an interesting comment you made about Kodak saying the freezer life may be as long as 10 years.

I have shot a test roll to see how good that film is. Meanwhile I did the portrait shoot with fresh film.
Well I did my shoot - a success. Of course I did it with fresh film - Portra 800 and Fuji 400H.

I was amazed by the fine grain of the Portra - hardly any difference between it and the Fuji 400!

The portraits were mostly group and a few individuals - seeing the group images reminded me of why I shot 6x6 MF!

I took about 70% with the Makro-Planar 120 CF. The rest I took with the Planar 80 CFE. Both were ideal because none were head / shoulder images - needed 3/4 body shots.

While this is a common comment about the 180mm lens, I have to say that seeing the prints pointed out to me some facial "flaws" these people had that I had never noticed!
That's their problem, not mine!

Thanks for your help.