Sugar Rush (Why This Big Kid Has Such A Sweet Tooth For Expired Film)

Thank you Mr Postman!

One of the delights of film photography is the range of film emulsions available.

With brand new film there’s still enough of a range available to suit every need for an enthusiastic amateur like me, from the very cheap yet surprisingly versatile and impressive AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 upwards.

But if you’re prepared to delve into film’s (recent) history a little, the number of emulsions at your disposal multiplies many times over. 

I love shooting expired film, and have had great success doing so.

Aside from the sometimes unpredictable outcomes (in a good way), being able to try film that’s no longer made is both exciting and refreshing, yet somehow nostalgic and slightly melancholy all at once.

Added to this, the physical, tactile aspect of the film is hugely appealing.

Much like CDs with their artwork and inlay cards (and records before them) added another layer of creativity and interest to the music itself in the past, compared with the uniform anonymity of a digital mp3 file, film in its bright and varied packaging makes it feel so much more special to see and hold in the lead up (the photographic foreplay before the actual picture taking, if you will) than slipping a tiny black SD card into your digital camera.

The latest batch of expired film I’ve picked up is pictured above. 

The Kodak Colour Plus 200 is an excellent alternative to AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200, and in my experience gives very pleasing results even up to a decade or so expired.

Ricoh FF-3D AF Super plus Kodak Color Plus 200 expired film
Contax 167MT with Yashica ML 50mm f/1.4 lens plus Kodak Color Plus 200 expired film

Jessops Diamond Everyday 400 I’ve used before and is rebranded Kodak. The slightly muted tones are appealing for certain subjects and moods.

Pentax Spotmatic F with Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens plus Jessops Diamond Everyday 400 expired film

Incidentally, the far more common ISO200 version of Jessops Diamond is even better, being repackaged Agfacolor XRG200. It can create some lovely rich tones and textures.

Contax 159MM with Yashica ML 50mm f/1.4 lens plus Jessops Diamond Everyday 200 expired film
Contax 159MM with Yashica ML 50mm f/1.4 lens plus Jessops Diamond Everyday 200 expired film

Truprint FG+ 200 has become one of my very favourite expired films, and it was no surprise to me to find it’s rebranded Ferrania FG+ 200. The similar Ferrania Solaris I’ve shot dozens of rolls with and has been just as good, and very similar in colours.

The FG+, depending on how expired, can give some lovely autumnal, amber tones.

Minolta Dynax 7000i with Tokina SD 28-70mm lens plus Truprint FG+ 200 expired film
Minolta X-700 with Minolta MD 28mm f/2.8 lens plus Truprint FG+ 200 expired film

When it’s a little fresher, you get just as special results, with the kind of richness and depth of colour that is so appealing about film photography.

Contax 167MT with Yashica ML 50mm f/1.7 lens plus Truprint FG+ 200 expired film
Contax 167MT with Fujinon 55mm f/1.8 lens plus Truprint FG+ 200 expired film

The Konica VX100, Agfa Vista 200 (the original German emulsion from Agfa, not the AgfaPhoto version that is rebranded Japanese FujiColor C200) and Agfa Ultra Color 100 are all new to me, so I look forward to seeing what results they can bring too.

All in all, a very appetising package, and being ever frugal, to me great value, working out at just £1.02 per film (another appeal of expired film, especially when found in mixed batched like this).

The phrase “feeling like a kid in a sweet shop” is over used, but with me and expired film, it’s exactly how I feel…

How do you feel about picking up expired film like this? What about the physical feel and look of those tiny coloured boxes and canisters?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

13 thoughts on “Sugar Rush (Why This Big Kid Has Such A Sweet Tooth For Expired Film)”

  1. FG+ is a lovely film when you nail the exposure. Dan with the added lottery fun of guessing the age (tend to by a batch and bracket half the first roll and shoot the other half at 100 ISO – if not then to over expose 1/2 to 1 stop usually sees me right). Ferania FG+ was also sold as Super HD 200 which you occasionally see and often has a ’09 ish expiry.

    There are some rolls of FG+ 400 out there. My experience with them is they tend to be older still ~ early mid 90’s. I would recommend batch buying again but usually you’ll see just one or 2 rolls mixed in with FG+ 200. I’d bracket at 100 ISO or less and doesn’t tend to do as well

    1. Funny you should mention that, I plan to head out later today with some expired film and I already decided to do what you’ve suggested too with the bracketing.

      It’s not worth starting with box speed with expired film (I often over expose fresh film!), like you say I’ll probably start ISO200 film at ISO125 then shoot it another half and full stop over that.

      My Contax 167MT is excellent for this, very flexible – and very quick with its continuous shooting.

      I just decided I’d rather have say 12 well composed and exposed shots our of a 36exp roll than 36 well composed shots that are unusable due to horrible underexposure.

      It’s a good way of further reducing the risks with expired film. If you stick within ten years or so especially, very few rolls are going to turn out unusable with this approach, and most will yield very rewarding results. As you know!

  2. Excellent article Dan and a very enjoyable read. Your images are well composed and the colors are rich. I collect expired film but don’t often shoot with it. I enjoy collecting vintage films in near new condition (outer box) for the history of it. I recently purchased a batch of Fujicolor 100 (12 exposure rolls) that expired in 2010. I plan on shooting the first roll at 50 and see what develops. Your article reminds me to load the film and get at it! Thanks.
    R/ Chris

    1. Thanks Chris. I hadn’t considered that people collect expired film purely as a historical object as it were but I can see the appeal. Just the packaging with many films is very colourful and enjoyable to look at. Do you go for specific ranges or just collect what comes along?

      The FujiColor should be fine. I’ve used Superia 100 and Superia Reala 100 that’s expired 10 years plus, and got very pleasing results, it’s lovely film.

      If you have a camera that lets you bracket easily it might be worth trying one roll at say ISO 50 then half a stop or a whole stop either side. You’ll then have a better idea of the ISO the film works best at for your tastes.

  3. Which reminds me I got a roll of 120 size B&W Ferrania film at home expired some time in 1958 which I was thinking about throwing inside my Rolleflex from 1957 some time next year when the film passes it’s 60th year overdue :))
    Don’t know if or how it will work, but I’ll give it a go and see what it may return to me.

      1. That’s true enough. One can do nothing but try, in my opinion anyway. I might open the box in a nice way though, and put it up on a shelf somewhere 🙂

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