Very expired Tri-X of unknown provenance on Expired Film Day

March 15 was Expired Film Day. I prefer my film to be fresh. But when fellow photoblogger (and EFD instigator) Daniel Schneider sent me two rolls of expired Tri-X to shoot that day, I went all in.

Daniel hand-rolled this Tri-X from a 100-foot box he came upon. He didn’t know how old it was and expressed concern about how it had been stored, so he recommended shooting this ISO 400 film at at ISO 100 or maybe even ISO 50. That said a lot — Tri-X is a mighty resilient film. Stored at room temperature, well-usable images can be made from it for decades. Stored cold, it behaves like new virtually forever.

I made time on Expired Film Day to shoot just one of the rolls. I used my Nikon F3 and my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens, which is a great combo for walking around and photographing whatever I find, which is what I did. I still worked in Zionsville then, so I went over to Lions Park and photographed the Little League practice diamond. This is my favorite photo from the roll.

Home Plate

I shot this roll at ISO 100. Every photo was underexposed. When I shoot the other roll, I’ll shoot it at ISO 50.


Still, I like the dystopian look of these photographs.


I also walked through the Village in downtown Zionsville as I burned through this roll.


Ooo, a little sprocket ghosting in this photo of Main Street.


This photo’s composition is terrible, but I love the way the light plays across the building. MOBI was my previous employer; I left there late in March to join a new company as Director of Engineering.


I finished the roll with a couple quick shots at my desk. I seem always to have a couple rolls of film here either waiting to go into a camera or waiting to be mailed to the lab.

Film cans

One last shot, of the lamp next to my monitor. I love the ragged edge at the bottom, an artifact of this being the last shot on the roll.

Lamp at the tail

I’ll be back for Expired Film Day in 2018. Maybe I’ll find something off-the-rails expired, like Ansco All-Weather Film from 1965 or Kodak Vericolor III from 1982.


6 responses to “Very expired Tri-X of unknown provenance on Expired Film Day”

  1. paulwaynemoore Avatar

    refreshing, wonderful insight to see when we are in a digital fast world, thank you for sharing.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My pleasure!

  2. Mike Avatar

    Seems like an interesting and worthwhile experiment. I thought that shot of the playground lion was particularly nice. I’m usually struggling in using my old film cameras to eliminate what seems like a vast number of variables, so I have never been very attracted to the idea of using expired film. However, I think it is good to take an unknown road once in a while to see what it might lead to.
    I actually do have a large quantity of Portra and microfilm which was given to me some years ago and have been thinking lately about giving it a try. Even though I have no knowledge of the film’s age or storage history, the fact that I have a large enough quantity to allow some experimentation with shooting and processing makes it seem that my need for predictability could be met.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This was more fun than I expected it would be, as similar to you I like to know what I’m going to get when I shoot. And so much of what I see with expired film doesn’t appeal to me: the color shifts, the ghosting, and so on.

      Previously I’ve shot expired film when I couldn’t get fresh film, such as when I shot 110 several years ago. At that time, the Lomography people had not yet introduced their films in that format, so I found some expired Fuji 200 on eBay.

      And I’ve shot expired film when it fell into my hands. Sometimes a roll shows up in the bag of a camera I just bought, for example. I’ve forced myself to use it as test rolls for old gear, cameras I suspect I’m going to like, because I’m likely to follow it up immediately with another roll, which will be fresh.

      I used my F3 and that 35mm lens for this experiment deliberately because it removed so many variables. I feel assured that the “off” qualities of the resulting photos are due to the film, not the camera.

      You are onto something with your thinking about that Portra. If you shoot enough of it, you will learn its ways and be able to get the best possible results from it.

      This week is Polaroid Week and in a similar spirit I have chosen to shoot my last two packs of FP-100C. I am shooting both largely because I seldom shoot instant, and it takes me 7 or 8 shots to get the hang of the camera and film again. I just shot and scanned the first pack; the second is in the camera. I’ve shaken off the dust and hopefully now can do solid work.

  3. Carlos Galo Avatar
    Carlos Galo

    In photography over fifty years using expired and very expired films of all kinds.
    Black and white, color negatives, slides and all kind of different formats from Minox to 8×10. As of this date negatives and prints in an excellent shape. So go ahead, do not be afraid of using them and keep on shooting.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      👍 Sounds like you have lengthy experience here!

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