What Ruins 35mm Film?

Written by zoe van-de-velde
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What Ruins 35mm Film?
35mm film was first marketed by Kodak in 1934. (roll of 35mm film image by PeteG from Fotolia.com)

35mm or 135 film was first marketed by Kodak in 1934, and is named 35mm because of its width. Processing of 35mm takes place in a darkroom where the film canister is opened up and the unexposed film is wound onto a spool and placed in developing fluid, washed and then placed in fixing fluid for a set length of time. The film is then hung to dry before it can be used to make photographic prints.

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A 35mm film should never be exposed to light. Once you have loaded the film into the camera and wound it on to start the film, close the back of the camera and do not reopen it until you have completely finished the film and wound it back into its canister. The tin canister protects the film from light.

What Ruins 35mm Film?
35mm film exposed to light will be ruined. (light on image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)


35mm film will degrade if exposed to extremes of heat, such as if you are in a very hot country or if the film is placed on or near a radiator. Film should be kept at normal room temperature. Many photographers put 35mm film in the fridge or freezer to store it for longer periods of time and even past its expiration date. If you do this make sure that you allow the film to return to normal room temperature before putting the film inside the camera. Condensation will affect the film quality.

What Ruins 35mm Film?
Heat will degrade film quality. (white flame heat image by siloto from Fotolia.com)

X-Ray Machines

Airport X-ray machines can have an effect on undeveloped 35mm film, particularly the high intensity scanners. The machines can create a "fogging" on the film. ISO 400 speed film and higher is more likely to be affected. A newer kind of X-ray scanner is being used more commonly in airports and this has been proven to increase degradation and fog on film. The only answer to put the film in a clear plastic bag and request a hand inspection. This may be refused and the film may still be put under the scanner. A lead lined bag is used by some photographers, but this again does not guarantee that your film will be protected.

What Ruins 35mm Film?
X-Ray scanners at airports can cause film to "fog". (x-ray of arms image by Tammy Mobley from Fotolia.com)


Getting your unexposed film wet will certainly ruin the film. Water will leave spots and if you have dropped the film in a bucket of water, the sea or a muddy puddle, this will now be unusable. Keep your film dry at all times.

What Ruins 35mm Film?
Water will make 35mm film unuseable. (Clean water and water bubbles in blue image by Suto Norbert from Fotolia.com)

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