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Frequently Asked Questions

Motion Picture Film, Storage, and Processing

  1. How long can color film maintain quality if refrigerated?
    You can see a detailed explanation of film storage on the Kodak Motion Picture Imaging Technical support site. You can find other storage recommendations in the specific product technical datasheet and also in the publication H-2 Cinematographer's Field Guide.

    In general, Kodak recommends the following storage at a relative humidity (RH) of 50%:

    • For general storage, store unexposed camera films at 13° C (50° F) or lower.
    • For periods exceeding six months, store unexposed camera films at -18° C (0° F) or lower.

    High humidity can promote mold growth and ferrotyping, and lower humidity can create static marks when printing or buckling due to uneven moisture loss. Refrigerating camera films reduces the photographic effects of storage, but refrigeration cannot reduce the effects of ambient gamma radiation. Gamma radiation (high energy from cosmic radiation and low energy from radio-nucleotide decay) increases the D-min densities and toe densities and also increases grain. Higher speed films are more affected by gamma radiation than lower speed films. A camera film with an EI (Exposure Index) of 800 has a three times greater change than an EI 200 film. Exposed and unprocessed film that has been properly refrigerated retains the speed and contrast of the exposure conditions, but the overall D-min, toe and grain will continue to increase. For more information, click here: Film Storage Information.

  2. Would getting the temperature too low damage the film?
    Although very low temperatures do not damage film, be sure to allow sufficient time for the film to come to room temperature before loading it into a camera. Conditioning times depend on the roll size and the ambient temperature and humidity of the surrounding air. A 100 ft.16 mm roll may take thirty minutes to come to room temperature, while a 1000 ft.35 mm roll may take up to 3 hours. Use gradual warming to reduce moisture spotting and to avoid condensation.

  3. Does it make any difference if the film is exposed or unexposed?
    Exposed and processed camera films can be stored for a much greater length of time than unprocessed exposed or unexposed film. Camera films stored for longer than six months should be tested to ensure that the product will perform appropriately. For more information on raw film stock, click here: Film Storage Information.

  4. If one got the temperature low enough, could the film be stored indefinitely?
    Kodak recommends that exposing and processing all camera films soon after purchase, and no longer than six months after purchase. Camera films stored for longer than six months should be tested to ensure that the product will perform appropriately.

    The Kodak Technical support page also includes storage information for all films. Additional information can be obtained from IS0 2803 or ANSI PH1 43-1985, "Practice for storage of processed safety photographic film."

  5. Can the film be used in a vacuum? If exposed to a vacuum or very low atmospheric pressure would vital components of the emulsion bleed off?
    Eastman Kodak camera films are regularly used by the NASA space program to document key events in space exploration. Care is taken to ensure that the camera mechanisms perform adequately under extreme conditions, but the photographic emulsions are not affected under a vacuum or low atmosphere. Maintaining humidity and properly warming the film before transport protects the camera film from transport damage.

  6. What are the exact dimensions of 16 mm perf holes? Exactly how far are they from the edge of the film? What should the dimensions of the registration pin be?
    The film edge to perf edge is E=0.0355 +/- 0.0020 inch (0.900 +/- 0.050 mm) for 1R and 2R Perforations.

    The perf hole dimensions are:

    C (Horizontal) = 0.0720 +/- 0.0004 inch or 1.830 +/- 0.010 mm
    D (Vertical) = 0.0500 +/- 0.0004 inch or 1.270 +/- 0.010 mm
    R (Radius) = 0.010 +/- 0.001 inch or 0.25 +/- 0.03 mm

    The complete standard is documented in:

    ANSI/SMPTE 109-1998, SMPTE Standard for Motion Picture Film (16 mm) - Perforated 1R and 2R


    Other sources are: Luccitti B., Student Filmmakers' Handbook 57-60, Eastman Kodak Company 1991.

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Frequently Asked Questions provide information of limited or specific application. Responsibility for judging the applicability of the information for a specific use rests with the end user.