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RE: filmscanners: Film base deterioration (was Digital Shortcomings)

Before anyone goes off the deep end on this, it should be remembered that this does not necessarily hold true for contemporary films but only for films from around the 1960s and 70s or before for the most part.  Thus, for images on that film stock, scanning them to CD may be a good idea; but there is no need to panic and rush to archiving on CD-R for images on contemporary films since the newer film bases may last as long or longer  than the CD-Rs.
The problem was also recognized with respect to video tapes.  The U.S. National archives were given video tapes of the various space adventures in the 1960s and 70s by NASA, which were recorded on acetate bases; when the Archives opened the sealed cannisters with the video tapes, they found clear accetate wound around the cores with metalic iron dust on the from the tapes on the bottom of the cannister.  They were totally and permanently lost.
The conclusion that one can draw is that there is no totally permanent archival materials that last forever or, in the case of photographic images, the with certainty will last for centuries no matter what you do.
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-filmscanners@halftone.co.uk [mailto:owner-filmscanners@halftone.co.uk]On Behalf Of Hersch Nitikman
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 3:41 PM
To: filmscanners@halftone.co.uk
Subject: Re: filmscanners: Film base deterioration (was Digital Shortcomings)

Thanks very much, Tony. That was quite an education. I guess that has to be factored into the discussions of the merits of CD-R archives vs relying on the permanence of the original negatives and slides.

At 11:47 PM 06/26/2001, you wrote:
On Mon, 25 Jun 2001 13:10:33 -0400  Isaac Crawford (isaac@visi.net) wrote:

> . B&W
> film has far better archival qualities than the color stuff.

Oh, you might think so ;) - but see below

Nishimura is based at the Rochester Inst. of Technology Image Permananence
Institute, so appears to know his stuff.

It will give anyone who has been taking photos over the past 30yrs the

Warning: Negative base deterioration

If you haven't been using polyester based film (such as Kodak Estar
base films), then I expect that most of you won't have any negatives
left within a few decades. Let me give you the sad story first before
I talk about the whys and hows. I got a call around 1992 or so from
Evelyn New York photographer  known for her coffee table books in the
1950s and 60s of European cities. She called because she went into
her negative collection and found that they were all badly distorted
and the emulsions were lifting off. We had been researching this
problem since 1988 and were very aware of what the problem was. I had
to tell her that her life's work (other than what books and prints
were already out in the world) was gone and there was nothing that
could be done. A few could be saved by special methods, but it's so
labor intensive that of her thousands of negatives, it would only be
worth treating a couple.

Douglas Nishimura Research Scientist, Image Permanence Institute
Tony Sleep
http://www.halftone.co.uk - Online portfolio & exhibit; + film scanner
info & comparisons


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