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Just because everyone’s gone digital doesn’t mean there aren’t those who prefer to work with film as a medium. Additionally, you may wish to store old negatives, slides, and film stock (8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film on or off reels) for their artistic value or to preserve history and memories.
Different types of film need to be preserved in slightly different ways depending on your plans for its future use.
Rolls of film for SLRs and older types of cameras are getting a little harder to find. When you do find a good deal, stock up and then save it for years to come.
The best way to store your camera film rolls is in the freezer (though you should never consider freezing instant films like Polaroid, Impossible Project, or Fuji Instax, as this will severely damage the chemicals on the film’s surface). Unused camera roll film is susceptible to the damage of gamma rays and heat, so storing it in a dark, cold place is crucial. Interestingly, the slower the film’s speed, the longer it will keep.
To freeze your film, remove the plastic containers with film from their boxes to save space in your freezer (if the rolls are wrapped in foil wrappers, leave the wrappers intact). Label each container with the film type and ISO. You can also add the date you are freezing the film in order to use older rolls first. Sort the films by type into plastic bins or boxes, pop on the lid, and slide them into your freezer.
Before using the film, be sure to bring it to room temperature before handling because cold film is very brittle. Frozen camera roll film has been known to stay fresh after over a decade of sitting in the freezer!
Family film heirlooms, film art pieces, and film stock for future projects don’t necessarily need to be frozen in order to be usable for years to come. The one exception is 35mm nitrate base reel film, which is highly combustible; keep this type of film in a well-ventilated freezer.
18mm, 16mm, and 35mm film with an acetate or polyester base need to be stored in moisture-proof and corrosion-resistant containers. These containers should also allow airflow to the film, as film needs to breathe. Stack the containers horizontally in a space that enjoys a consistently low temperature and humidity level (this rules out attics, basements, and garages).
For valuable film collections, consider renting a unit from a highly rated and qualified fine art storage facility such as Museo Vault. Located in Southern Florida, our fine art storage facility is built to withstand the ravages of nature while maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels for each type of fine art. Our clients also enjoy Museo Vault’s list of related art services, including transport and installation, museum-quality packing and crating, domestic and international shipping, collection management, and more. Visit our Homepage to get more information about our facility, staff, and services and to request a quote.