ILFORD’s photographic paper range is loved by photographers. It is a world-famous range and leading in the industry for its technical innovations. This means it doesn’t come cheap so a frequent question is about the ILFORD photographic paper shelf life.
You might have discovered an older batch you had hidden away. You might be thinking about purchasing some. Someone might be gifting you their old stock.
So let’s have a look at the considerations when it comes to ILFORD photographic paper shelf life and what you need to take into account.
What’s ILFORD photographic paper shelf life like?
The official line from ILFORD is that their papers don’t have a best before date. They don’t print one on their packaging and they don’t offer any hard and fast answers as to the shelf life of their paper.
Why not? There are lots of factors that contribute to the shelf life of ILFORD paper. The quality and the longevity of the paper is susceptible to all sorts of outside influences.
So ILFORD don’t offer a best before date because it’s perfectly possible that improperly cared for paper would go bad before then, and well cared for paper would last much longer. You wouldn’t be able to use the best before date with any confidence anyway. So they don’t provide one.
A lot of this falls to the dealer or retailer that sells the paper to you. ILFORD photographic paper should be kept in a cool, stable environment. If the temperature fluctuates, if it is allowed to get damp, the paper will spoil quicker. Really it should be kept refrigerated to prolong its shelf life and quality.
So you can see how paper that is properly cared for will last longer than paper that isn’t looked after properly. Older paper could be of better quality than more recently manufactured paper depending on how it has been stored.
ILFORD papers that are over ten years old have been used with perfect results. Sometimes even older. If they have been kept in immaculate conditions there’s no reason why the paper can’t last that long.
At the same time, people have bought newer papers from vendors that has turned out to have problems.
What if your ILFORD paper is bad?
It’s the high-tech chemical treatments that make ILFORD paper so great to work with. They also make the paper a constant chemical reaction. There’s a lot going on in there! So its environment needs to be kept as stable as possible. Just like you put your food in the fridge to slow its decay, you can slow the aging of your ILFORD paper by keeping it cool or in the fridge too.
If the paper is bad there might be fogging, cracks, or damage visible on the surface or edges of the paper. When printed you might see these amplified, there might be a blue tint or unexpected colors showing through.
If you recently bought the paper you should return it to the dealer. If not – if it was your own leftovers you found, or someone else’s – there might still be hope. You can try adjusting the color profile or just lean in to the creativity of the unexpected results.
ILFORD paper needs a bit of TLC but in return you can get years of fantastic results. The ILFORD photographic paper shelf life just depends on that TLC.