To Fridge Your Film Or Not To Fridge Your Film?

To Fridge Your Film Or Not To Fridge Your Film?

I see this question being banded about a lot, especially now that we've entered the pre-apocalyptic era of this climate crisis we find ourselves in.

Yes, the world is ending, slowly but surely we are all  burning to death. But we should still be worry-free when it comes to keeping our Portra 400* fresh, shouldn't we?

*other extortionately priced colour films are available.

Should I keep my 35mm or 120 film in the fridge?

To answer this properly, you first need to understand the fundamentals of how film works and its basic make-up.

Put simply; a roll of colour film is made up of the following from the bottom to the top:

1) A bottom light absorbing layer

2) A layer of clear acetate (cellulose)

3) A substrate layer for adhesion (to help stick the next layers to the film base). A primer, if you will.

4) Several layers of emulsion (silver halide with various filters that are sensitive to various 'colours' of light)

5) A top layer of gelatin, which largely protects the emulsion (layers of silver halide) from scratches and abrasion).

Now, silver halide is a chemical compound that is sensitive to light. When exposed to light, silver crystals form creating what is called a 'latent image', an invisible image that sits on your roll of film awaiting development that turns those silver crystals on each dye layer into your 'negative'. (The size and fine-ness of these silver deposits is what results in film grain, also.)

Anyway, that's pretty much how film 'works'.

But do I need to keep my bloody film in the fridge or what?

Short answer is no; you don't NEED to.

Long answer is; it depends on a variety of things. Each roll of film has an expiry date, because over time those layers of silver halide become less and less sensitive to light. Exposing your roll of film to a variety of things, such as extreme heat, sunlight, certain frequencies of light (like x-ray) can act as a catalyst to the silver halide becoming less sensitive to light. The less sensitive to light your film is, the more light your film needs to be 'properly exposed', but there's obviously a limit.

Expired film (meaning film that is either past it's expiry date or has expired due to exposure to extreme heat or any of the above) will usually show colour shifts, away from how it would have normally looked, because each colour filtered layer of emulsion depletes in its sensitivity at different times. Expired film can also just appear severely underexposed or 'fogged', due to the layers of emulsion not getting enough light.

So, do I need to put my fucking Portra in the fucking fridge or what? Fuck sake, Jack!


If you plan on buying it fresh and shooting it quick, then no, you don't *need* to. If you plan on storing it for a bit and want to give it the best chance of staying fresh then sure, keep it in the fridge.

Oh yeah, don't get it wet either. And don't feed it after midnight, or maybe that was Gremlins?

But what if I want to soup it? What's souping? Just don't fucking do that. We probably won't process it, and for the most part it looks a bit shit. It's best you don't ask, to be honest.

Ultimately, just keep it out of the heat. Keep it out of direct sunlight, and away from moisture and you'll be fine.

If that's a fridge, then cool. But if not, a cool, dry place is all you need.

Cool. 😎❄️

Written by: Jack

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