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Old Nov 7, 2005, 10:09 PM   #1
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I seem to recall reading somewhere that as film (negatives and slides) ages, the grain size gets larger. I ask because I am in the process of scanning my entire collection of 35mm negatives and slides. I am starting with the most recent and working backward. I have noticed that grain is much more prominent on film that is six years old or older. Is this coincidence or do the grains get larger with age?

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Old Nov 7, 2005, 10:23 PM   #2
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Ummmmm......while many people here are converts from film to digital, you might get a better answer on a more film-oriented forum. Try http://photo.net
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Old Nov 7, 2005, 10:56 PM   #3
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i cannot think of anyway that the film could get bigger with time.. unless somehow it is porous and can take on moisture and swell??
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 1:07 AM   #4
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More likely, the quality of the film manufacture got better. take for instance the old film Tri-X a good old film with an ASA of 400, but grain like golf balls. then compare it with the modern 400 ASA films DELTA or HP5+. Just no contest.
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 2:17 AM   #5
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calr wrote:
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I seem to recall reading somewhere that as film (negatives and slides) ages, the grain size gets larger. I ask because I am in the process of scanning my entire collection of 35mm negatives and slides. I am starting with the most recent and working backward. I have noticed that grain is much more prominent on film that is six years old or older. Is this coincidence or do the grains get larger with age?
I just got through scanning several hundred slides (Kodachrome, a few Ectachrome) that were about 16 years old, and hadn't been stored in the best possible conditions. I didn't notice a grain problem, but most of them had faded substantially; perhaps that might make the grain more noticeable, I don't know. I still have a lot of work to do in Photoshop to repair the color, at any rate.

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Old Nov 8, 2005, 5:59 AM   #6
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geriatric wrote:
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More likely, the quality of the film manufacture got better. take for instance the old film Tri-X a good old film with an ASA of 400, but grain like golf balls. then compare it with the modern 400 ASA films DELTA or HP5+. Just no contest.
I was thinking along that line too. When was it that Kodak introduced their "T-grain" film-- mid-1980s or so? It seems like shortly after that, grain for 400 ISO film got to be about like the older 100 ISO, and not just for Kodak film.
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 10:37 AM   #7
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I just happened to take a look at slides shot 40 years ago. They were kept in proper conditions. A little fading but no grain.

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Old Nov 8, 2005, 8:01 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the comments. The negatives I am scanning have been protected and well cared for. The films used include the following:
Kodak Gold 100
Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Royal Gold 100
Kodak Royal Gold 200
Kodak Max 800
Agfa Optima 100
Agfa Optima 100-2
Agfa Ultra 50
Fuji Reala 100

The Kodak Gold is the worst but that always was a grainy film. Since I have seen the excessive grain on all types of film, I am wondering if I have a scanner problem. I am using a Minolta Scan Dual III at 2820 dpi. I have been scanning a lot of film and maybe it needs cleaning. Since the film moves during the scan, I assume the CCD has a linear array of elements. If any of those were dirty or not working, I think I would see stripes in the scan but I don't.

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Old Nov 8, 2005, 9:41 PM   #9
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I have always believed that once developed, the film was pretty much fixed. I recently got a scanner with film scanning capability, but haven't used it a lot yet. The only thing I can suggest, is that if you are using auto levels or contrast, or additional sharpening, it may be accentuating the grain. The digital ICE feature seems to do a bit of that with mine.

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Old Nov 9, 2005, 6:21 PM   #10
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It could also be related to exposure quality. If your old film was
underexposed more than your new film, you'll definitely notice
that the old film has more grain. Perhaps you began using a new
camera that didn't have the tendency to underexpose images?

As for film grain becoming larger as the film ages, I have never
heard that myself nor have I ever experienced it.

If your scanner is using some sort of automatic contrast adjustment,
then that could be the cause for an increased appearance of grain.
Increasing contrast can increase graininess. Just imagine if you took
a picture of a gray wall, the scanner's software basically thinks that
there must be black and white in every picture and so would stretch
the levels to achieve that. Back when I got a Minolta DiMAGE Scan
Elite 5400II, I noticed this problem when scanning aerial pictures.
My solution is to find a frame that auto-contrast appears to have
handled correctly, then I lock the scanner's exposure on that frame.


-Ted
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