Expired Kodak Vericolor 160 in the Pentax 645

Shooting expired color film, even when it’s always been stored frozen, is such a crapshoot. When you’re fortunate, you get mild color shifts and slightly more noticeable grain. At the other end of the fortune spectrum, you get unusable photographs.

If you have many rolls of the same stock from the same source, sometimes you can keep adjusting the exposure index at which you shoot the film, roll to roll, to dial in best results.

The giant stash of expired films a reader sent to me some time ago included a couple three rolls of Kodak Vericolor 160. I put the first of them through the Pentax 645 not long ago, on an evening photo walk along Main Street in Zionsville. I used the 75mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A 645 lens that came with the camera. Here’s the best image from the roll. It’s well exposed, even if the in-focus patch is a little off, leaving that first chair slightly out of focus.

No seating at Auberge tonight

The sun was low enough in the sky that the west side of the street was completely in shadow, and the east side of the street was partially in shadow, partially in light. The Vericolor 160 did not deal well with this, even though I overexposed it by one stop (EI 80). Some images were not salvageable. This one was barely salvageable.

Front porch

The lab I used included a note with the emailed link to the scans — “Whew! These were rough lol. I would probably shoot the rest of that 120 at +3 over base ISO. These were mostly pretty dark.” The next time I shoot this film, I need either to be in full sun, or to overexpose it a lot more — maybe EI 25.

In front of the brewery

It’s a good thing that I enjoy the process of shooting so much, or I would feel like this whole roll was a waste.

Black Dog Books

Whenever my subject was in full sun, exposure was fine and noise was minimized.

Green bench

I shot many of my usual subjects on this walk. There’s something comforting about knowing that I have reliable subjects that just work, even if it does lead to a lack of variety in my output.


Kodak made a number of different films under the Vericolor name over many years. This roll of film was labeled as “Vericolor 160” with the code VPS. The only other Vericolor film I’ve shot was Vericolor III, also an ISO 160 film that crucially also carried the VPS code. I think these are the same film.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but I tag film-photo posts with the film(s) I used. I do that mostly for me – that way, I can easily find all of the posts that involved a particular film. But I’m not sure how to tag this one. I have an existing “Kodak Vericolor III” tag, but this film is not labeled Vericolor III. Maybe I just need to change this tag to “Kodak Vericolor (VPS)” to cover all bases.

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19 responses to “Expired Kodak Vericolor 160 in the Pentax 645”

  1. 100 Country Trek Avatar

    These photos are so amazing. Anita

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  2. Tam Avatar

    You’re inspiring me to get back into the routine of shooting film again.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’ll feel that way right up until you see how much film costs now.

      1. Tam Avatar

        Alas, I’m sitting on a bunch that I need to get to shooting if I don’t want to start blogging about expired film.

      2. Gabor Avatar

        Yep, and processing too. After a 15 or so years hiatus until about 2021, I was hit as if by Mike Tyson. And THEN, my go-to film, Velvia RVP50 and RVP100 was nowhere to be found, with a waiting list and a $30+ price. I did, and still have a few rolls expired in 2005 or before, never stored in the fridge, so I used them. Processing had to be sent out of state, doubling the price of THAT since the turn of this century, not knowing what I would get back. Here’s something I found interesting and a pleasant surprise: among the few rolls of Velvia 35 and 120, 50 speed turned out normal, 100 the slightest warm tint to it but acceptable even after 2 years in the camera, exposed! One Provia 100F was a ruined magenta that has lost about a half a stop of speed.

        Now, I don’t condone letting your film expire, but if you have some Velvia Pro sitting around getting old, it may still be useful; an amazing, special film to begin with, with an apparent shelf life beyond anything else. Use it, but if you’re hunting for UFOs or Bigfoot, I advise to use fresh.

        I did order 3 rolls back in July, as they become available sporadically: for some woke reasons and pressures, Fuji were to stop production. Demand is really high though, so hopefully it will remain available. Yes, three rolls, in the fridge, 18 months to marked expiration, about $110 with shipping. Go fund me😄

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I have one roll of RVP 50 (in 120) in the freezer. I bought it new, but it’s expired by now. I really ought to shoot it. Too bad autumn has already peaked. Maybe in the spring I’ll load it into my Yashica-12, attach my close-up lens, and photograph new flowers.

          I don’t anticipate buying more slide film given the outrageous expense.

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Good here to remember that Vericolor was a professional grade film for portrait photographers. As such, it was really supposed to be considered “dead” on its end date, even if frozen. Your mileage may vary, but all pro films in studios were generally tossed or given to the assistants after the dead date. In addition, and I think mentioned on here before, as a portrait film, Vericolor was formulated for people using it for controlled lighting situations, and in many cases many portrait studios were still using old lighting schemes and equipment, including large “pan” lights with a spun glas cover for minor diffusion, hence the film was formulated to handle contrasty or “hard” light and soften it. I remember using Vericolor for commercial uses back in the day and being disappointed on how “flat” it seemed, no “juice”. A lot of portrait studios were the last to use umbrella or soft box lighting, so this film was perfect for them!

    Having said that, the photo of the chairs looks great, if a little blueish, which may be part of being expired.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have had very good luck with Vericolor in the past. With enough overexposure, it still looks good. So I’m not sure why this roll failed so miserably.

    2. tbm3fan Avatar

      Sounds like best to shoot this film at high noon on a clear sunny day. I believe this was in some of the film I sent but haven’t tried yet. Since Jim did the pioneering (way to go) I can adjust based on what you said. Am I also to gather that being professional it has a shorter life than our everyday films? I just shot Kodacolor 200 (fresh) and Agfa Vista 400 (20 years old) in a garden using a macro on each camera. Hard to see any color difference between the two other than what one might say due to speed and different emulsions.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        TBM, Kodak would only guarantee correct speed, contrast and color on professional films kept frozen until use. They used to test it, and when it was ready, they would send it out, and most often, it was kept in a fridge at the dealer. Amateur films like Kodacolor were shipped “green”, meant to shift closer to “correct” sitting on a loading dock somewhere until it got stocked and basically within range to be correctable in printing (not transparency film, tho, there was professional transparency and amateur transparency shipped green as well). As Jim has stated on here before, the most fantastic film was the old Kodacolor Gold 100, which was available in 120 as well, and pros I knew back then, that needed a color neg for some reason, would most certainly prefer Kodacolor Gold 100 over Vericolor. Gold 100 was far closer to professional transparency film than Vericolor.

      2. Jim Grey Avatar

        I agree — full sun for the rest of this Vericolor.

  4. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    What was that window with the faux(?) shutters? Someone’s house or a commercial building? That’s a neat frame. If I ever get to Indianapolis, I’ll make sure to go to Black Dog Books, you’ve taken a few of pictures of it over the years.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s a house that has been converted to a commercial property, an antique shop. There are a few such houses in the business section of Main Street in Zionsville!

  5. Martin Cutrone Avatar
    Martin Cutrone

    Nice images, Jim. I like the colors and sharpness of the bright sun images.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Gracias amigo!

  6. Martin Cutrone Avatar
    Martin Cutrone

    Forgot that I shot some old Vericolor in 4×5 in the past, and I think I exposed it ISO 25, with decent results.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is clearly a film to well overexpose.

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