Home Open Account Help 235 users online

Railfan Technology > Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives


Date: 10/09/16 08:14
Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: railpix

I have about 15 or so rolls of old 35mm b&w negatives wound tight as a spring stored in Kodak 35mm metal cannisters dating back to my mispent youth in the early 1950's.  I have tried several ways of trying to hold them flat enough to scan, including rewashing and hanging them out to dry, cutting them into two or three frame segments and using cheapie holders.  I would like to salvage what might be worthwhile without damaging them any further in hit or miss processing. Looking for thoughts and suggestions on what has worked for those that have dealt with this problem.



Date: 10/09/16 10:20
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: CharlesVarnes

Possible help may be available from the Northeast Document Conversation Center E-mail Your Preservation Questions website.

“NEDCC provides free preservation advice to institutions and individuals worldwide. Each year, NEDCC answers more than 1,200
phone and e-mail inquiries about general preservation issues ranging from insect infestations to best practices in digitization. This
free service is partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

If your question is not answered in [color=#4444ff]Frequently Asked Preservation Questions[/color], fill out the form below.
Please note that accented letters and the following characters are not recognized: < > & ~ ^ © ™”

https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/ask-nedcc/preservation-questions

Good luck.

OCV



Date: 10/09/16 11:28
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: Frisco1522

I had the same problem with some from the early '40s.  They were like coils of spring steel and had gotten scratched over the years.
I finally cut them into single frames, bought some snap together 35MM 2x2 plastic mounts and mounted them singly.  Worked like a champ.



Date: 10/09/16 16:27
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: JDRumley

You might try rolling them up the other way, placing them back into the canistersfor a while. Make sure they are completely dry first and leave the canisters open.



Date: 10/09/16 16:35
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: Ray_Murphy

Put them in archival plastic negative sleeves and press them flat for a few weeks.

Ray



Date: 10/11/16 01:00
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: Margaret_SP_fan

Best to follow the advice of professionals who have
lots of experience dealing with old curled film.  They
know what really works and what does not, and why.



Date: 10/11/16 05:43
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: TCnR

Doing a Google search turned up some info from Kodak about using a humidifier to uncurl the film without cracking the emulsion. Suggest investigating that approach before acting. This seems to be a fairly common thing to do back in the day, so there is some history to work with. I understand it happened with archived movie film as well.



Date: 10/11/16 10:03
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: colehour

I suspect that you could re-wet the film by letting it soak for a while and using a wetting agent. Then you could hang it up to dry as if it had just been processed. However, I would imagine most of us no longer have wetting agents or film clips, although one could improvise. 

Another thought would be to place it in a closed container with wet paper towels (film separated from the towels, of course). 

 



Date: 10/11/16 12:10
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: TrackOne

Caution, soaking is not going to correct this problem.  You cannot soften brittle plastic film backing in water. It is not soluble. And the gelatin emulsion could be forever  damaged if you wet it.  As previously mentioned, cut the film into strips of six frames (not individual) and inset into archival notebook sized pages. Then store flat. The film will eventually flatten out in a few months. 
tom

PS Wetting agents prevent water from beading up on the film and leaving water spots after the final rinse. It has nothing to do with softening the film itself.
 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/11/16 12:14 by TrackOne.



Date: 10/11/16 12:54
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: colehour

TrackOne Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Caution, soaking is not going to correct this
> problem.  You cannot soften brittle plastic film
> backing in water. It is not soluble. And the
> gelatin emulsion could be forever  damaged if you
> wet it.  As previously mentioned, cut the film
> into strips of six frames (not individual) and
> inset into archival notebook sized pages. Then
> store flat. The film will eventually flatten out
> in a few months. 
> tom

You're probably right, and I don't think I've ever tried this since I've never had badly curled film, although I have re-wet and dried film that ended up with spots on it after processing. Curling and brittleness are caused by the loss of moisture and solvents in the film base, and perhaps partly because the emulsion and the film base expand and conctract at different rates. Also, I'm aware that wetting agents don't do anything to soften film -- they only promote even drying and elimination of spots and streaks

I tried to find out what Kodak recommends, but could only find some information on problems with movie film. Here's one item from the Kodak site:
  • Film shrinkage cannot be fully recovered. That fact is troublesome because perforations are carefully placed along the length of the film, and any change in their spacing can become a problem. As with brittleness, the loss of moisture and solvents in the acetate base is the root cause. Again, polyester is less susceptible to moisture loss and has no residual solvents. You can often replace lost moisture by proper conditioning and storage; you cannot restore solvent losses. Therefore, you must be concerned about any storage or handling condition that leaches either moisture or solvents from the film.
Here's the URL to the entire article on the Kodak site:

http://motion.kodak.com/motion/support/technical_information/storage/handling_of_processed_film/default.htm#clean

I might add that it's important to get truly archival film sleeves. I had some that simply disintegrated after a number of years, while others are just fine some 40-50 years later. 
 



Date: 10/11/16 13:23
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: Frisco1522

From my experience, nothing worked that I tried.  Tried reverse curling the rolls, hanging them with weights on them, cutting them into strips of 6 and keeping weight on them and probably some others.
As I said, I finally ended up cutting them into single frames and bought some snap together plastic slide mounts and single mounting them.  That worked and they can be filed just like slides.



Date: 10/14/16 22:32
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: railpix

Thanks for all the feedback!

I tried the suggestion relating to cutting a single negative and mounting it in one of a few 35mm plastic mounts that I had lying around.  Turned out pretty good on the throwaway (not RR related!) test negative, but I will need to get quite a few more holders if this turns out to be the best solution. I thought they should/might separate easily for reuse after scanning, and found that was very dificult to do with any degree of success.
I also tried something I didn't know I even had, a 3 frame holder made of two pieces of paper fastened together I had bought when I got some other holders years ago.  Worked out fairly well, but I had to do a lot of photoshop work to delete the scratches and other marks.  Will be doing more investigating and promise to give feed back and a few results if I come on to something that really works for me.

Again, thanks for all the input!



Date: 11/06/16 04:49
Re: Help! Old, Old, Curled 35mm Negatives
Author: donstrack

I had exactly the same problem with 2,300+ images on 35mm rolled negatives. I tried several solutions, including hanging the film with weights for two weeks, but the curl was persistant. I ended up cutting them into strips of six negatives and scanning them in my Plustek film scanner, because the top and bottom parts of the Plustek holder were held tight not allowing the film to re-curl while being scanned. Here are some photos of the process:

http://donstrack.smugmug.com/Tech-Talk/Emil-35mm-BW/

Here is my description of the process:

http://utahrails.net/tech-talk-photos.php#scanningemil

About a year later, an additional eight rolls were discovered and I tried a slightly different approach. I still used the Plustek strip film holder, but used blue masking tape to hold the two parts of the film holder tight. I then laid it on my Epson flat bed scanner, and used Vuescan to scan the negatives. It worked great, and went faster than using the Plustek. I like the workflow, mostly because Vuescan and Epson seem to be a better match. I was a bit concerned about focus because the different distance between the glass and the film in the Plustek holder, but it acually seems do a better job focusing.

Don Strack






[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1024 seconds