Shooting Expired Velvia 50 in 220 from 1997

Shooting Expired Velvia 50 in 220 from 1997

Published by Dave Roberts on  February 13, 2023 under Film Photography Tips and Tutorials and tagged Expired Film, Fuji Velvia, Fujica GSW690ii

Getting hold of the now defunct 220 film (Shanghai excepted) is getting increasingly difficult, so I had to resort to buying highly expired Velvia 50 from around 1997. At least I got a batch of 4 so I can shoot the rest with some idea of what to expect (and yes, the others could still behave totally differently)

That wasn’t my first choice, as E6 is an expensive game and the double length of 220 film compared to 120 means you’re going to lose a lot more shots if the film turns out to be useless. Rather than shooting it as 30 frames in an ETRSi, which again is a lot of shots to lose and a lot of shots to take for a test roll, I threw it into my Fujica GSW690ii so I’d only have to shoot 16 frames which I could easily sacrifice on one outing.

It’s a shame that 220 is discontinued as being twice the length of a regular 120 roll so you get 30 shots in 645 format or 16 shots in 6×9. It was discontinued due to a lack of demand as it was often used by wedding photographers, and when they went digital the market collapsed. I reckon the market today is totally different as mere hobbyists like myself have ended up with what was originally pro level gear and would be interested in the resurgence of 220. However, it’s unlikely to happen as the cost to re-start production has been said to be prohibitive and un-economic. I suppose we should be grateful that we can still get a good selection of 120 film and hunting down rolls of 220 on eBay keeps me out of trouble! I’ve got a small stash of around 20 various rolls over the last year, so that’ll keep me going.

Here are the best shots from the roll – or at least the most representative of how this expired film performed.

How to shoot expired Velvia 50 

As we know, expired slide film doesn’t lose speed, so the conventional wisdom is to always shoot E6 film at box speed and hope for the best. So these were all shot at the usual EI 50.

So I took the beast of a Texas Leica for an outing around Llyn Peris and Padarn near Llanberis in Eryri (Snowdonia), on a good day for walking but not so great for shooting, especially something as saturated as Velvia! There were a few stinkers as well, but trying to walk and shoot with a GSW690ii and light meter just isn’t always the best idea. This is camera that you need to take out at those viewpoints, grab a coffee and wait for the right light, there are other better options for documenting the action.

How did the Expired Velvia 50 shots turn out?

I didn’t expect much from these shots, but was very pleasantly surprised with the result. Some of the first shots were a bit muddy, but that could well be on me and it wasn’t really a great day for photography. There is also some magenta discoloration, but this wasn’t too bad towards the final shots on the roll. I’m not sure, but it seems like the further into the roll I went, the better the results. I’m not sure if the light was just better for the final few shots and the conditions on the first day out just made setting the right exposure more difficult, and Velvia can be particularly difficult to expose properly.

With another 3 rolls in the freezer, I’ll update this post with some more images in some brighter conditions – though I’d say that after this first roll I wouldn’t want to use it on anything mission critical. I recently shot some from 2007, and that came out almost like fresh, but those will have to wait for another post.

The roll was lab processed and scanned at high resolution.

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