Saturday, 21 February 2015

Images stored for the future: Scan old slides before it is too late

How to make sure digital files are kept safe for the future hit the headlines last week. Some commentators compared the permanence of film photography with the difficult problem of ensuring that digital files prepared using particular pieces of software and stored on a particular digital medium would be accessible hundreds of years in the future. However, film photography is not necessarily that permanent, with a number of colour films showing serious signs of deterioration with age.

Two years ago I described how I scanned 4 x 4 cm Super Slides from 127 size film taken in a 'Baby Grey' Rolleiflex and how some Agfacolor CT18 films had deteriorated after 50 years while others were hardly affected.

The other day, I was wondering if I could get a better quality scan of a very small area of one the CT18 transparencies. On rescanning, I found that the rate of deterioration in the slides from that particular film seems to have increased. The colours had faded more and the magenta tinge that was spreading from each edge of the original length of film was deeper.

I do not know why Agfacolor CT18 films have been so variable in their keeping quality. Was it a property of variability in manufacturing, or some problem with poor processing?

Whatever the reason, my advice to anybody having Agfacolor CT18 slides: scan them now before it is too late.

I see 127 rolls of very outdated CT18 are still advertised on eBay but I have no idea who can still process CT18 or if such old film will produce an image at all.