A Guide to Archiving and Storing Film - Trust Me Shops

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A Guide to Archiving and Storing Film

A Guide to Archiving and Storing Film

B&H explora - All posts
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You might hear it all the time: "Protect your prints by storing them archivally" or "This paper is archival-rated for X years" or "Keep your film safe by storing it in an archival box." Whatever it is, it's easy to gather that you need to store your tangible photographic media in archival conditions to prolong its lifespan to the fullest and to ensure it looks just as good in several years as it does today.

What Is Archival?

The term "archival" is thrown around a lot in the world of storage and display methods for film and prints, but what does it really mean? It can generally be understood as the use of tools and methods to maintain a stable state and purity of your media, without introducing contaminants or otherwise physically degrading elements into your media. Without getting too scientific and chemically specific, a key term to look for in storage means is "acid-free," which generally indicates the material has a pH value of at least 7 and is more alkaline than acidic. When materials are more acidic, with pH values below 7, media can discolor, fade, and generally deteriorate in quality over time.

Shooting film is great, but developing your film is even better.

When something is considered "archival," this typically means it comprises materials with a high level of alkalinity. Some manufacturers may claim their storage boxes, folders, sleeves, or paper types are "archival for up to so many years" or "color-fast for X-number of years." These claims are reassuring but shouldn't necessarily be taken literally. Tests, such as the Photographic Activity Test (P.A.T.), use accelerated aging methods to estimate archival lifespans of materials; however, time proves to be ultimate test, in the long run. These tests also do not fully account for all variables of various storage conditions, but they do serve as a consistent representation and a guide as to whether or not the storage material will negatively affect your media.

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