Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Latent Image


Hi all...

I shot some tests this morning which I need to keep over until Monday, due to the fact that my local lab is closed over the weekend...(Hey it's Switzerland...).

I’ve read that the latent image on cinematic film material is much more instable than what one might expect from still photography material. is this true? If so, ought I to refrigerate the film over the weekend? Does it really matter, considering we're talking about a 48 hour period?

Thanks for your input,

Francesco Krattiger
Zurich/New York

Your material will be fine, just don't sit the can on top of a heater or something foolish like that. It can't hurt to stick it in the fridge if that makes you more comfortable, just stick the can inside a bag to protect it from messy spills.

Mitch Gross

Francesco Krattiger wrote :

>does it really matter, considering we're talking about a 48 hour period?


From what I've been taught the latent image begins to degrade immediately.

So if the film isn't going to the lab for two days, it is a good idea to refrigerate it. How much of a difference it will make, I don't know.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A.

Since I left film school and returned to Spain I have never had the neg. processed in a few hours as I was used to. It hadn't mattered how much I have begged production to send the exposed stock to the lab immediately, not even repeating and repeating to them the lab would develop the stock immediately no matter how later that service would be paid and it was the most recommendable, not only because of image degradation, which is not urgently critical as long as you keep the stock refrigerated, but because if anything has gone wrong with the shooting, it is extremely important to get it processed and informed about by the lab so any problem can be traced as soon as possible. To no avail (most of times it would be too expensive or tough to send to the lab so often). All my shot negatives had taken at least a week to process, ten days to two weeks in average, sometimes as long as six weeks; certainly, it was kept refrigerated in the meantime as far as I know.

Well, several times there were problems (which therefore affected most if not all of the footage) with the raw stock itself, with the camera, lens, processing,...but never any self evident image degradation (then again, what could I usually compare it to?).

Arturo Briones-Carcaré
Madrid (Imperial Spain)

Thanks for the replies to my question. from what I gather, I’ll just keep it refrigerated and not worry about it too much...


Francesco Krattiger
Zurich / New York

>From what I've been taught the latent image begins to degrade >immediately.

We are talking about a slow loss of the latent image which manifests as a loss of density. In my experience the blue-sensitive layer is more affected than the others. A delay of two days might result in your negative printing back at 1, possibly 2 printer lights less. The loss rate tails off - so the first few hours are when the latent image fades most rapidly, maybe a whole printer point overnight!. (That's one seventh of a stop camera exposure). As days continue, the change slows down considerably.

In two days I don't think you need to worry.

I'd be more concerned about the risk of condensation damage if you deliver it to the lab still frozen and they process it without letting it warm up in the can.

The weekend's passed now, so it's an academic point.

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia

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