Unexpected Adventures with Ilford FP4+ Expired Film

I have never used expired film or used a bulk loader until now. Not however for any particular reason, probably just because I simply didn’t feel the need to. I had been given a bulk loader and a handful of reloadable cassettes in a collection of darkroom gear by a retired professional. He no longer used them, or any of his other film developing gear, and donated a few choice morsels to my growing stock pile.

Having had no plans on using it, it went in the cupboard in my darkroom, probably never to be seen or used again. However. On one of the many visits to my regular camera shop, we got chatting about bulk loading and a recently found stock of expired film. Much is written and posted about expired film. I never really understood the hype. so when I was asked. ”Want to try this? It’s Ilford FP4+ Expired Film.” I have to admit, I was not overly excited. “We have no idea what it’s like. It’s old cine stock, rolled emulsion side out. So you will need to convert it.” 

Now, It’s no easy task, re-rolling 200 feet of film by hand. Grappling around in a dark bag. I converted about half a roll (and used several expletives in the process), just managing to get enough to fill the loader.

I’ve never shot any expired film, let alone 20-year-old stock, I put a call out to the analogue community. The advice received yielded a good starting point. Start somewhere between 50 – 100 ISO. Next I rolled two short films. One film I metered successive frames at 50, 64, 80,100 and 125 in turn on the same shot. The other I shot a box speed and push processed as if 200 ISO. All processing done in Ilford Ilfotec LC29. Scanning was as always done for me by Truecolour Imaging in Luton.

Below are some of the results. 

After this little exercise, I shot a full roll that is metered for 50 ISO therefore will be push processed as if shot at 200 ISO n my OM1. This essentially equates to the other piece of advice given of one full stop every decade of expiry by  Matt Evans (@mattevansphoto) via Instagram. This offsets the fact that almost all the first frames suffered from varying degrees of under exposure. I think that it is amazing that 20-year-old stock can still be found and produce more than acceptable images.

I really like the look of the images that have resulted, they have an almost timeless quality with a soft light feel. It also seems to have added some extra contrast to the sky, perhaps that was the push development? The few portraits I have made with this stock look beautiful, more to follow.

Cheers for now!

If you want to keep in touch with my work, you can visit the links below.


Metered at ISO 125 and push processed as if shot at ISO 200
Exposed at ISO 125 and push processed for ISO 200
Exposed at ISO 125 push developed as is ISO 200
Metered at ISO 50 developed at box speed spec
Breakwater at Seasalter Metered at ISO 50 and push processed as if ISO 200. Probably a touch over exposed on the needle too
Metered at ISO 50 and push developed as if ISO 200
Metered at ISO 50 and push developed as if exposed at ISO 200

Published by julianhiggs

A returning film photographer, darkroom builder and book maker.

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