16mm films
Advanced Search

Film Grading Terms and Practices

Grading film is not a standardized science throughout the film-collecting hobby as I have experienced it. Here is an attempt to be fair and balanced if not biased towards strictness when grading film prints. The descriptions below are based on my limited experience, and other collectors may have small points to differ with. But, here is what I generally mean with the terms of grading prints. Of course, every print has its own context of wear as it affects the screen image, so I cannot simply use one or two word terms to give a buyer a true understanding of a film print's condition. Please feel free to read the detailed condition descriptions for film prints to understand the context of why film prints are graded as they are. A print could be downgraded for one flaw and otherwise be a higher grade than listed. For instance an otherwise Excellent film with a two minute scratch at the end, would be listed at Very Good or worse. I don't grade the other way around by stating for instance that it is in "Excellent" condition but has "a 2 minute emulsion scratch near the end that doesn't bother me because it's such a cool film".

Physical Wear and Condition Terms
These basic terms describe the physical wear and printed in wear on an individual film print. It does not always include printing quality issues such as poor lab work on original prints, dupe-prints, reductions, or Kinescopes. Sometimes poorly printed original prints, dupes, reproductions from early paper print copyright records, and kinescopes are all that exist of a title on 16mm. The printing history in my opinion is a separate issue from physical wear or even printed in wear from the printing negative. If there is a defect that begs attention, like a major printing defect, it will be reflected. Issues of contrast, film grain, soundtrack hiss or volume from duplication, are dealt with separately and openly, and known non-originals will always be identified. Therefore a film's description that has minor wear might be "Extremely Good / Dupe Print" with an expanded explanation of the low sound and slightly exaggerated contrast in the condition report.

Simply means I donít know because I have not screened it and taken notes on it or my notes may not be conclusive enough to grade the print. If I list a film with an "Ungraded" condition, it is not because I donít want to tell you the gory details. Rather, some titles simply are simply not worth taking the time to grade. For instance, I may not screen and/or make a full report for every commercial or cheap TV Show I list. But these can be in Excellent condition or they could have been damaged. Pay attention to the other characteristics that I list in the grading process such as what film stock it is printed on, if it is a kinescope or a known dupe, or has Vinegar Syndrome. Also, check the condition report, as it may have some information but not be complete enough for a condition grade.

"Mint" and "Near Mint" or: How I Got Fed Up and Banned the Word "Mint"
As I have said elsewhere, I donít use these terms. "Mint" is a magical term for an elusive dream print. As far as I can tell, the only film exempt from a condition description is one that has not been graded. There is always a minor imperfection. Likewise "Near Mint" is even less precise. Near perfect tells us nothing, as it is all a matter of perspective. Which is near zero, 1 or .000001? I consider these terms film condition propaganda.

Excellent Plus
This is a film print with almost no wear to be seen on screen. The wear that is permissible is a very infrequent, light line visible on screen. There should be no non-lab splices. There may be surface wear like brief speckling, but not damaging the emulsion. Scratches, warping, shrunken film, perforation stress, repair or damage, or non-lab splices are not allowed. Of course Vinegar Syndrome is not allowed either.

This is a film print with very little visible wear on screen. A film in Excellent condition could have very light and infrequent lines or rain lines that do not stay. Speckling of surface dust is allowed. Splices are only allowed in very limited quantity (one or two per 1600' reel) and should not be visible on screen missing multiple frames. Slight warping is allowed only if it does not affect onscreen focus, (i.e. the film still lays flat in the gate.) Perforation damage or repair is unacceptable for Excellent conditioned prints. There can be no significant scratches (you might find a case where a tiny scratch is brief enough to not downgrade), heavy or continuous lines, or Vinegar Syndrome allowed in the Excellent grade.

Extremely Good
This is a film print that has very little wear to distract the viewer. This is truly an in-between grade, with such a gap between what is tolerable in a Very Good print and in Excellent prints. What differentiates this from an Excellent or better print is the amount of surface dirt and lines. Only extremely brief emulsion scratches are allowed in an otherwise Excellent print. Other reasons a print may be downgraded from Excellent or higher are: it may be repaired with more splices than an Excellent print, or have short sections of perforation repair on an otherwise Excellent or Excellent Plus print. Otherwise such cumulative film damage would not be permitted in this grade.

Very Good
This is a film print that has seen a projector enough to have wear visible to most viewers, but not wear that would be intolerable to a forgiving collectorís eye. Most casual viewers wouldnít even complain at some lines seen on screen or a light scratch on the edge of the frame that does not last the entire reel. Splices, perforation repair and slight stress are allowed. The film runs without incident and is not missing footage beyond a handful of slight jump splices. Light rain lines are common with Very Good grade prints. Often higher-grade prints with more than the briefest amount of emulsion wear or with more splices than average are downgraded to Very Good grade.

Good Plus
This grade is a print that has visible wear and a few flaws that cumulatively keep the print from being listed as a Very Good graded print because a collectors eye would be distracted a few times too often. The gap between Good and Very Good is just too great not to have an intermediate step. Perhaps an extra, more noticeable jump splice with a sentence cut short is noted, or a title card or credit is cut short or multiple, non-severe, short scratches are visible that just canít be tolerated by a strict collector are visible. An accumulation of defects allowed in Very Good in one print would demand downgrading to Good Plus grade. This grade should still run without incident in a well-maintained projector.

A Good graded print would be a film print that runs without incident in well maintained projectors but has significant drawbacks for a discerning collector. The film is still enjoyable to watch with a forgiving crowd, but worth upgrading in the future for a serious collector. Emulsion scratches are the most common reason films are graded Good, as well as jump splices, warping of the film base resulting in minor loss of focus, longer sections of perforation repair or stress (but not loop-failing stretches of torn perforations), heavy dirt lines, and such. Often these prints donít have all of these defects (thought they might have a little bit of all of it), but they have a combination that results in a generally worn look to the print. Obviously many Good graded prints would be in higher grades but for a serious flaw, such as a missing end credit, longer than usual jump splice or bad scratch. Some collectors consider this acceptable others donít. Good prints are commonly well-worn rental prints that have seen some poorly maintained projectors and uneducated projectionists. Certainly worth owning, good prints are for the collectors who love the content despite the defects and for those prints too rare to be found at an affordable cost in a higher grade. They are also often sought for upgrading prints that have missing or damaged footage. If a film is rated "Good" grade, please read the condition report to find out why, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Not all prints are honestly gradable as "Good" or better. A Fair graded print is one that will probably run on a projector but not really be worth running by itself unless it is a highly loved or rare subject. Major defects would include multiple and/or heavy scratching, warping out of focus, shrunken film that creates jitter, excessive lines, perforation damage, multiple jump splices and the like. A fair print may have some stretches of footage worth seeking to replace footage in an existing damaged or incomplete print. Pay attention to the film condition report on Fair graded prints. You might find unique footage that you can use or replacement footage for another print, or it could be a strange title that itches that scratch you've always had.

I hope not to list any film in Poor grade. A Poor graded print would only be of value for its uniqueness or some other unforeseen reason. Usually this is worth the trashcan after a viewing, if it makes it through the projector. Poor prints could include prints with water damage, major emulsion problems, badly stripped sprockets, warping beyond normal projection conditions or severe incompleteness. If it is graded poor, and you want it, then chances are there wonít be another buyer willing to take it off your hands any time soon.

Definitions of Common Film and Film Damage Terms

A line is a black streak of dirt on the film base or emulsion side of the film that obscures the frame. Lines can generally be cleaned off the film with film cleaners like Filmrenew or Filmguard or other solvents, but they can hide emulsion damage beneath them. Often wet-gating (running a film wet with a solvent like Filmguard or Filmrenew) can temporarily make lines disappear. Lines can vary in thickness from razor thin to quite thick and the amount they distract. Lines most often occur on films that have been run in projectors with film paths that have not been cleaned or when they have been improperly cleaned or inspected.

Rain Lines
Rain Lines are lines that are not continuously present on the frame, so they pop in and out, like a dripping faucet compared to a running faucet. Often this can be with multiple lines at a time, causing a sprinkling like effect on the image. When I say a film "rains in and out" I mean it is not continuous like a running faucet, but "raining" like a dripping faucet.

Scratches occur when a filmís emulsion side has been literally scratched away. This is most commonly in the same streak pattern as a line. Usually when projected you can see the plowed up emulsion on either side of the scraped line of film if you look closely. Think of a plow in a field, It piles up dirt on the sides of the furrow. It is the same with scratched emulsion. You cannot clean a scratch away, but cleaning can remove excess emulsion that has been plowed to the sides. In color films emulsion scratches can appear in different colors, as it is a disturbance of layers of color, but if the scratch is deep enough to remove all the emulsion it will appear white. In black and white films scratches appear from grey to white, as the black and grey emulsion has been removed leaving the clear film base beneath. Often a light scratch on a black and white film will only be visible in particular areas of the print, since the emulsion's deeper density for a dark image in one area or frame could hide the effect that could be more noticeable in an area or frame with less emulsion for a more subtle image.

Film Base
This is the raw stock that the film is printed upon. Usually the film base is made of acetate or Mylar (also called "Estar"). Acetate film base is susceptible to Vinegar Syndrome. And, while Mylar film base is not susceptible to Vinegar Syndrome, it is considerably more prone to scratching than acetate.

Emulsion Side
This is the less glossy side of printed 16mm film where the color or black and white information is adhered to the film. The emulsion is a layer on the film-base that can be scratched more easily than the film-base it is impressed upon.

Acetate is the most common film base for 16mm film. It is made of acetic acid and water mixed in the right conditions. It is susceptible to Vinegar Syndrome. See "Vinegar Syndrome". Acetate film stock can be torn by hand and can be spliced with film cement or tape.

Mylar or Estar
Mylar film stock is a newer film stock that has been commonly used since the 1980s. It is not susceptible to Vinegar Syndrome. Mylar is also much stronger than Acetate and will not break by hand force. It is more susceptible to emulsion scratching than acetate based prints though. Mylar film can only be tape spliced.

Vinegar Syndrome
Vinegar Syndrome is a chemical reaction that occurs in Acetate based film stocks. Acetate is basically made from mixing acetic acid and water together in the right conditions. When film is stored in poor conditions such as high heat or humidity the film base begins to chemically deconstruct. Acetic acid is given off from the print, which smells like vinegar. The acid given off will eat away at the film creating a chemical reaction that will not stop. Vinegar prints should never be stored near non-infected prints, as the chemical reaction will spread to acetate nearby. Vinegar syndrome will shrink the film base and cause warping as the film base deconstructs microscopically in an uneven manner. Eventually the filmís focus will be compromised and the sprockets will not match up and the film will become brittle. Cool, dry, circulating open air storage is best for preserving prints for vinegar syndrome. As of this date there is no conclusive way to stop or reverse Vinegar Syndrome. Better storage conditions will lengthen the life of a print for months or even years, but the film will eventually be unprojectable, crystallize and then turn to goo.

Warped or Shrunken Film
Warping of film is due to film shrinking with age. As it shrinks the film base does not shrink evenly creating a random wavy pattern. Warped film will often not wind tightly onto the projectorís take-up reel. The shrinkage also affects the spacing of the film perforations. When a film shrinks enough, the perforations will eventually fail to match the projectorís sprockets. Shrinking can also cause perforation repair tape to no longer align. Often warping is common with IB Technicolor film prints because of the three-color process of film printing. This has less to do with significant shrinkage as the two extra layers of color in the three-color process often shrink at different rates than the film base causing the film to buckle slightly and warp. Film warp can be relaxed by treating them with film cleaning solutions such as Filmrenew.

Perforation Repair and Perforation Tape
Perforation Repair is professionally done with perforation tape to cover damaged sprocket areas on the film. This is a clear or white perforated tape that is cut to the width of the sprocket area on 16mm film and applied too the film with a specialized sprocket repair device such as a PerFix machine. The benefits of perforation tape is that it helps preserve footage that otherwise would be spliced out or further damaged by being run with stressed sprockets. The drawbacks are that the adhesive can ooze out into the film image area and that when the repair is on both sides of the film, it will lift the film slightly out of the focus plane in the gate during projection.

Splicing is the process of joining two pieces of film together. Usually splices are present because film has suffered some damage and needs to be rejoined or when heads and tails of the prints have been cut (sometimes removed) and new leaders have been spliced in. The exceptions are Lab Splices (see "Lab Splices"), which are a part of the printing process. There are two basic types of splices, cement and tape. Cement splicing is only applicable to acetate film stock and involves a solution of acetate and acetone applied to the ends of the film and dried, gluing them together using a wet cement splicer. Tape splices are applied using tape splicers of various brands that cut the film ends and join them together and then apply perforated tape over both sides.

Lab Splices
Lab Splices are splices that join sections of film as they were printed in the lab. Since film printers cannot print unending rolls of film, every 10 to 20 minutes there will be a lab splice, often marked by a dot in the upper corner of the film frame a few seconds before and after the splice. These are not considered defects in the film, as they are original.

Jump Splices
Jump Splices are splices that have been put into a film with missing footage noticeably visible on screen. Most splices involve missing frames, from one or two to a good deal more. Some jump splices are minimally invasive, cutting off a word of dialogue or bar of background music, and others skip larger sections of film with an entire scene change occurring in the missing footage.

Original Print
An Original Print is a film print that was printed from the official negative release of the film. Technically the vast majority of films were not originally printed in 16mm; therefore most 16mm prints are official reductions from the original 35mm film negative. Therefore, the film printing techniques and original negative condition can vary and resulting prints can have near 35mm quality of detail and film grain or be less than spectacular.

Dupe Print
A dupe print is an unofficial print that has been copied from a 16mm source. Dupe prints tend to have less contrast detail than originals, lower sound output from the soundtrack, and more pronounced film grain. Along with lower sound output, the film sound in dupe prints often has a hiss distortion in the optical track. All this said, in rare cases dupe prints are all that remain of some titles, and often dupe prints that are carefully printed can look nearly like an original or even as good as a lesser printed original.

Reduction Print
Reduction Prints are a source of confusion for 16mm film collectors, and I donít claim to be an expert in identifying them. Simply put, Reductions are 16mm dupe films printed down from 35mm source prints. By the exact definition all 16mm films that were originally shot on 35mm (i.e. 99.9% of them) are reductions. In 16mm collector terminology though, a reduction is an unauthorized dupe from a 35mm positive print source rather than the original 35mm negative. Reductions can look and sound almost as good as original prints and they can have more severe contrast and distorted sound. It all depends on the printing techniques.

Kinescope Print
A Kinescope Print is a film-print from a video original, most often used in television broadcasts. Put simply, a kinescope is a film shot from a video screen source. That said, when a film exists in a kinescope print, it is almost always the only film source available for that title. Most often used for television productions that were shipped to television stations that did not have video broadcast capability or for syndication broadcasts of live shows. Kinescope quality can vary from quite good with a noticeable video grain to higher contrast and quite grainy. Examples range from 1950s TV live broadcasts like the Ed Sullivan Show harsh gleams from stage lighting playing with the contrast, to nice, clear 1980s British prints of The Muppet Show which was shot on video before Great Britain has converted from 16mm broadcasts.

Network Print
A Network Print refers to a television print that has its original national commercials still intact from the original air date of the television show. Usually it will be from the network's first airing of that particular show, and not a syndication print from reruns. Prints for reruns were struck without commercials for the local stations to splice them into the print. But occasionally prints from syndication survive with commercials spliced in. I consider any print with the commercials intact from a television broadcast to be a network print, but the ones from the first air date would often have a sponsor logo in the credits or "brought to you by" slugs in the credits. Often network prints are kinnescope prints of live shows shot on video with commercials printed in, and often can be black and white prints of films that originally were shot and broadcast in color.

Film fading is generally only associated with color prints. Some film stock dyes tend to fade and become clear over time. Kodak Eastman prints are known for this defect. In the case of Eastman prints, the blue dyes are the least permanent and begin to fade out over the years. Some Eastman prints hold their color better than others but it seems all will fade to a reddish tone, perhaps eventually becoming clear. Other common film stocks that fade are Kodak SP, Kodak, 3M, and early FUJI film stocks, though Kodak SP and early FUJI tend to fade less than Eastman.

Low-Fade refers to film stocks that will not fade very much over time. Eastman LPP (the replacement stock of regular Eastman) has a predicted shelf life of 50 years or more without obvious film fade, but it is not guaranteed to be a non-fade stock. Other low-fade film stocks include AGFA, and later FUJI film

Generally, there are two film stocks that are considered color fast, Non-Fading stocks. IB Technicolor and Kodachrome. There are a few variations of Kodachrome stock, such as Eastman Reversal too. These film stocks hold their color with vivid richness. These are highly sought after film stocks, as the color rendition in these processes is superb.

Optical Soundtrack
With the invention of sound film, the standard of how to record sound on film prints had to be developed. What became the standard is called the optical soundtrack. The optical sound track is located in the area off the film is opposite the sprocket area on sound film. Different versions work the same principle. Sound information is printed into this strip next to the image. A light is passed through this strip, and the amount of light that comes through is translated into sound, therefore it is refered to as an "optical soundtrack".

Magnetic Soundtrack
A Magnetic Soundtrack is a soundtrack in the form of a magnetic strip that is glued to the soundtrack area of the film. The sound range is broader with magnetic soundtracks. They reproduce sound in a more dynamic range at both higher and lower frequencies than optical soundtracks. Not very common in 16mm film, magnetic soundtracks are most likely to be found in alternative 16mm film applications. Scopitone Music films from the 1960s used magnetic soundtracks because of their higher music fidelity and made only to be played in specialized jukebox style film machines. Home movie enthusiasts had the option of adding sound to their otherwise silent home movies by recording to a magnetic track. I have also seen news footage and other unreleased interview footage with magnetic soundtracks. The other use for magnetic soundtracks is to apply a thin strip alongside an optical track for the purpose of adding a second language track to the film. Usually magnetic sound films will have a balance stripe on the other side of the film to promote even winding and a level focus plane in the projectorís gate. Most 16mm projectors cannot play magnetic soundtracks. Common projectors that can play magnetic soundtracks are high end pedestal machines and portables such as the Elmo Xenon models CL-350 and CL-550 and EIKI projector models codes ending in "-2" which were specifically magnetic sound added machines. Other manufacturers made magnetic soundtrack models as well or offered upgrade kits to add the function.

Print Ratios
The ratio of a film refers to the comparative scale of the height to the width of the film frame. Various formats were used over the decades of film history. Laymen refer to the basic two types as wide screen and non-wide screen. I use three terms to simplify the confusing and conflicting terminology used by the general public, collectors and technicians: Flat 1.33:1 Print, Letterboxed print, and Cinemascope print.

Flat 1.33:1 Print
Technically all film prints that do not require an anamorphic (Cinemascope) lens are flat. The term is used because it suggests that no distorting is needed to view the image in it's proper format. But, when I use the term "Flat" I am describing non-letterboxed flat film prints with a ratio of 1.33:1 (4x3). The standard 35mm film ratio is 1.37:1, and the standard for 16mm film is very close to that at 1.33:1 or 4x3. This is also the standard for non HD television use. All films shot before 1954, excepting experimental films and some of the very early era silents, are 1.33:1 ratio. In the 1950's to combat television widescreen projection techniques were employed to make the screens bigger and more impressive than what was available at home on the television screen. Unfortunately many films that were shot intended to be screened as widescreeen or cinemascope ratios have been panned and scanned or cropped on the sides to fit a 1.33:1 frame. This could have been done for television use, but it seemed to be common practice for many film libraries to get films in this adapted format as well. See "Letterboxed Print" and "Cinemascope Print" below for more information.

Letterboxed Print
A Letterboxed Print is any wide screen ratio print (greater than 1.33:1) that does not require an anamorphic (cinemascope) lens to be projected. Letterboxed prints use masking either on the print's frames or in the projector to create the wider than 1.33:1 ratio. Usually the print is masked on the frames with the use of back bars between frames. They appear as black bars on the top and bottom of the screen when projected creating a widescreen effect in the remaining image. Sometimes prints that were shot for widescreen projection are not cropped on the print. In 35mm they require a different ratio aperture plate when projecting. These plates are almost never used in 16mm, but none-the-less these prints sometimes tend to appear in 16mm. The best one can usually hope to retain the correct ratio is to make a secondary plate to be put between the lens and the screen to crop the image or to use black masking on the screen. Common letterboxed ratios found on 16mm prints are 1.66:1 and 1.85:1. Occasionally a cinemascope ratio print will be printed in letterboxed format in its original 2.35:1 or wider ratio. But often films shot in cinemascope that are reduced to 16mm letterboxed prints end up with a smaller ratio closer to 2:1 or 1.85:1. Some collectors refer to these prints as "Adapted Scope Prints", but I find this confusing and misleading to the buyer who will assume the term "scope" means 2.35:1.

Cinemascope Print
A cinemascope print is a print that requires an anamorphic lens to project the image correctly. 16mm cinemascope prints are almost always 2.66:1 ratio. Cinemascope was introduced in 1954 as a 2.66:1 ratio format for 35mm film. But as the film technology adapted itself to make room for more soundtracks on the 35mm film frame, the standard quickly moved from 2.66:1 to about 2.35:1. 16mm cinemascope prints never evolved in this way. They remained at the 2.66:1 ratio even when the 35mm original prints became 2.35:1, and thus the resulting 16mm prints are cropped on the top and bottom resulting in the loss of aproximately 6.5% of the top of the image and 6.5% of the bottom of the image when compared to the 2.35:1 original ratio 35mm print.

Color Film Stocks
I owe much debt to Paul Ivester's guide to identifying color film stocks for much of this information, but I wanted to add some personal experiences to his, so I have taken what I have learned from him and my own experience. Please check out his guide for more info.

IB Technicolor
IB Technicolor ("IB Tech" for short) film was produced from the 1940's until the 1972 or so. IB Tech film is arguably the most highly prized film stock by collectors. The color is brilliant and fade resistant. Technicolor is a type of film stock, not a credited process. Many ignorant sellers see the term listed in the credits of a film or referenced in the technical details of the film and assume their print is an IB Tech print. This is not usually the case. The Technicolor filming process used a camera with a prism that divided the light coming into the camera into the 3 component color spectrums and captured each onto individual rolls of film. The three negatives were then put together to create the final color film. Thus it is often referred to as three strip Technicolor. IB Technicolor can be identified by a number of clues. First all IB Tech prints from 1950's on have slate grey soundtracks. This is a B&W silver process. In the 1940's the silver used in making the soundtracks was prohibitively expensive and thus the soundtracks were recorded using the blue dye instead (see "Blue Track IB Technicolor" below). Another tell tale sign of IB Tech film is that on the emulsion side of the print, the three layers of color create an etched look on the surface of the film when light is reflected upon it. There will appear to be an etched line around titles or between the blue sky and a red barn because these different colors are printed in different planes of the film's emulsion. And, IB Tech films printed in Britain have the word "Technicolor" printed onto the perforation edge, making those easy to Identify (see "British IB Technicolor" below). Other than British IB Tech prints, technicolor prints will not have any writing on the perforation edge of the film, which can be either clear or dark grey.

Blue Track IB Technicolor
IB Technicolor film in the 1940's used the cyan (blue) color to record the soundtracks due to the high expense of silver in this time period. It has been noted that these soundtracks can be accompanied by a vomit like smell that some collectors confuse with vinegar syndrome, but this is not the case.

British IB Technicolor
IB Technicolor film printed in Great Britain has the word "Technicolor" printed in the perforation edge. It is held that the British Lab produced higher quality registration prints than the US labs. This is debatable though.

Single Rank IB Technicolor
Single Rank IB Technicolor film refers to the way in which the film was printed onto 16mm stock. Single Rank prints were printed using one set of pins holding it in place during the registration process of the film. All 16mm prints with clear perforations from before the 1960's are single rank prints, but after 1963, when Double Rank printing came about, it seems that single rank prints began to appear with dark grey perforation edges. This can confuse, and I don't use this term much because of that.

Double Rank IB Technicolor
Double Rank IB Technicolor film refers to IB Tech prints that were printed using two sets of pins during the registration process. It is generally held that these prints have higher quality registration of the 3 color process, but this is debatable. In 1963 it was introduced and always had clear perforations. It is difficult to determine if a film from before 1963 is double or single rank because they could have been printed anytime after the original printing, including after 1963. I don't use this term much because of the confusion.

Kodachrome is a reversal process stock that was introduced in 1936 and seems to have been used until the 1970's (and perhaps later as a home movie stock into the 1980's). The color on Kodachrome is fade resistant but the contrast seems to be higher than IB Tech stock. It is identified by the black perforation edge, the sulfite brown sound track and the words "Kodachrome Saftey" printed in light or clear lettering in the black perforation area. Some very early kodachrome film stock from before 1939 is reported to have a fading problem, but by 1939 this was corrected.

Eastman Reversal
Eastman Reversal Stock is very similar to Kodachrome filmstock with many of the same very desirable color qualities, being fade resistant and occasionally somewhat high in contrast. It is identified by it's slate grey sound track (like Technicolor) and the words "Eastman Rev. Color Safety Film" in the perforation area. It uses the Kodak date code system, found at the Historic Photo Archive.

LPP (Eastman LPP)
Eastman LPP film stock is considered a very desirable "low-fade" film stock. It has exceptional color retention and is comparable to modern AGFA filmstock in quality. It has been in production since the early 1980's. It is marked "Eastman LPP Saftey" on the perforation edge of the film, except for films printed after the early 1990's. From then on, LPP film has not been marked on 16mm films. It uses the Kodak date code system, found at the Historic Photo Archive.

AGFA film stock, also known as "Agfa-Gevert" film stock is considered a "low fade" stock. Modern prints from the 1980s and later have exceptional color retention, comparable to LPP film, but the earlier film can fade. I don't have any exact dates as to when the chemistry changed. It is marked in the perforation area with the lettering "AG 1S" or "AG 2S" or just "1S" or "2S". These markings have no significance as to the quality of the printing as far as I know, and there is no date code printed onto this filmstock.

This is a reversal process stock that is often confused with Kodachrome. Usually the word "Anscochrome" is found on the perforation edge. The anscochrome stock that appeared in the 1940's fades, but this seems to have been corrected by the 1950's.

Fuji film stock is similar to Agfa film stock, in that the modern Fuji film stock is low fade, but that the older Fuji film has problems with fading. There is no clear date when the chemistry changed to my knowledge, but I consider most FUJI film from 1980 and later to be truly low fade. I know that the Fugi film from the 1950's and 1960's can and has faded, tending to turn somewhat purple in tone. There is also a problem with this film stock developing what collectors call "Fuji Rot" that appears as green dots as the emulsion is damaged over time. This does not seem to occur in other film stocks. The date code for this film stock is printed onto the perforation area as the last two digits of the year, so a 1970 Fuji print would have the number "70" printed on the sprocket edge.

Kodak SP
Kodak Sp film stock was introduced sometime in early 1970's and stands for "Kodak Special Process" film. I don't consider this a "Low Fade" stock, but some of it has held up very well for me, looking as nice as LPP. But most of it tends to turn brownish in hue. It is labled "Safety Film Kodak SP" on the perforation area of the film. It uses the Kodak date code system, found at the Historic Photo Archive.

Eastman film is a film stock that has been used from the early 1950's until about 1982. It is known mainly as an unstable color film stock. The dyes used all fade, but the red dyes are the most stable leaving a pinkish or red toned image over time. Sometimes the blues and yellows don't completely fade, and later stock can have better color retention. There is no such thing as Eastman 4B film stock, which some sellers claim is a low fade film stock. It stems from a confusion of a code from the slitter used to process the film that resembles a "4" and a "b" at first glance. All Eastman stock will fade over time, but many films were only printed on this film stock. It was cheaper than IB Technicolor film to use and thus many films from the 1950's and 60's were never released on any other stock, especially if they were not reprinted in later years. Most foreign scopitons, TV commercials and TV spots were only printed on Eastman stock and never reprinted. It is marked on the perforation edge of the film using the wording "Kodak Eastman Safety Film" in different combinations, but always including "Eastman" and never "LPP" (see LPP above). Sometimes the lettering is faded, so you may have to look closely. It uses the Kodak date code system, found at the Historic Photo Archive.

Kodak Color
Kodak Color is a film stock I have occasionally encountered, and it always had the same fading characteristics as Eastman film stock. See "Eastman" above. It is identified by the word "Kodak" on the sprocket edge with the words "Safety Film" but no "SP", "Eastman", or "LPP" visible. It uses the Kodak date code system, found at the Historic Photo Archive.

3M Color
Like "Kodak Color" above, the 3M film stock I have occasionally run into. It is identified with the text "3M" on the sprocket edge. It seems to have the same fading characteristics as Eastman, most of it being red. I know of no date code system for 3M film stock.

Black and White Film Stocks
Currently I track the following black and white film stocks, Kodak B&W, Ferrania B&W, Gevaert B&W, Gevaert Belgium B&W, Eastman B&W, FUJI B&W, AGFA B&W, AGFA Gevaert B&W, 3M B&W, Dupont B&W and Ilford B&W. But I am do not consider myself to be versed enough to know what qualities one can expect from one black and white film stock over another. If you have information, please share it with me and over time. If I can confirm the info, I will add information concerning each stock as time permits.

Also, please contact me via the "Contact Us" link at the top right of the page with any corrections to the above information. And again, I thank Paul Ivester for his openness to sharing his research on color film stocks. Please check out his online guide for more info.