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  Photography Forum: Photography Help Forum: 
  Q. How to tell if 35mm film has been used or not??

Asked by Scott Danner    (K=54) on 6/9/2004 
I bought a camera and it came with a few rolls of film and I don't know if they have been used or not. If they haven't been used, I want to use them, and if they have been used, I'd like to get them developed. Just out of curiosity, Cause the guy I bought the camera of off was a good photographer.

Is there any way that I can tell if they have been used or not?

Can I unroll it and see if it has any images on it or not?

Will normal house light ruin 35mm film?

Will the sun ruin film?

Thanks for your time!


 Raoul Endres   (K=2676) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
Yes, ANY light will ruin the film.

Usually, most cameras will totally rewind the film, so that there is no film sticking out of the canister (the lab will need to open the canister to get it out).

If there is a bit sticking out, other than developing the film, there is no way to tell if it has been exposed.

What type/model of camera is this?

 Scott Danner   (K=54) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
It's a Canon AL-1. Thanks for the info. I'm new to film and I got a lot of learning to do.


 Raoul Endres   (K=2676) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
The AL-1 as far as I know is a completely manual camera, which usually means you rewind the film manually - and then the film is normally all inside the canister when it comes out.

If there is a strip of film sticking out of your canister, chances are it's unexposed new film.

If not, it's definatly exposed film.

 Andreas Wolkerstorfer   (K=5090) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
hm. two other cases are possible: rewind the film in the camera manually - hear the end of the film and stop winding - so sticking out film but exposed. Second case: Unexposed film is winded into the canister without any camera.
No way to find it out with these facts.
I would ask the photographers about his usual rituals loading film ...

 Nasos Efstathiadis   (K=611) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
Since you say that the guy from whom you bought the camera is a serious photographer, then I suspect that there's no way that he could've given you used and unproccessed films which HE shot.

P.S. ANY light will ruin the film. Not the entire roll, but the light-exposed frame(s)

 Jeroen Wenting  Donor  (K=25317) - Comment Date 6/9/2004
And you couldn't tell anyway from looking at unprocessed film whether it has been exposed or not.

 Ray Heath   (K=4559) - Comment Date 6/10/2004
these answers are very confusing, some are absolutely silly and wrong, what is more important, saving a couple of dollars or creating your own art works, just throw the films away and buy new rolls, your whole premise is just silly

Roger Williams
 Roger Williams  Donor  (K=86139) - Comment Date 6/13/2004
I tend to agree with Ray that there's not much point in risking the waste of 24 or 36 photo opportunities to save a couple of hundred yen. There's another factor you haven't considered, too. The film might be seriously outdated, in which case you will get muddy colours. False economy!

A more useful question to ask is "How can I tell if I've exposed this cassette or not?" If you ALWAYS wind the film completely back into the cassette, then you'll ALWAYS know. But it's also usually possible to tell if a film has been used because the "tongue" that pokes out gets crinkled as it is poked into the slot on the take-up spool, and new unused film doesn't have this crimp. Hope this helps.

 Lily White   (K=17) - Comment Date 5/11/2018
I use Fujifilm and Ilford, and I find that they have the tab, ramp and about 2 sprocket holes of the full width film outside of the casing, as new.

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