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How Long does 8mm Film Last?

By Christian Roemer

We all know that no good thing lasts forever. Your 8mm film isn’t any different. In fact, you might be taking your film’s longevity for granted. If you knew how delicate those 8mm reels actually are, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, and instead you’d be placing your order with KODAK Digitizing to convert your old home movies to digital ASAP.

But you’re not here for me to preach to you. You’re here for answers. And I have answers...sort of.
8mm film lasts around 70 years in ideal conditions. Not quite as long as expected, huh?


It turns out that film is a pretty delicate medium, and most films that have been recorded might already be irreparably damaged. In fact, it’s almost impossible to say exactly how long YOUR 8mm films will last.

Film durability can be adversely affected by all sorts of factors. How many times have you watched those movies? Did you play them often through a projector? Did you ever pause on a single frame? What was the humidity like in their storage spot? Did you keep them sealed, or were they subjected to dirt and grime? Did they get a bunch of undue sun exposure?

That’s a bunch of questions, but they can all impact how long you can expect your 8mm film to last. For example, the more you’ve watched your movies, the more likely they are to tear. The heat from the lamp can weaken the celluloid. How much your film has been damaged from viewing is almost impossible to tell.

Many of the other damaging factors have similar concerns. If the film wasn’t stored properly, it could have mold growth that damages and blots out the film. Likewise, sun exposure can white out some or all of the frames. If they got dropped on the ground or handled with bare hands, the dirt and oils from your finger can also reduce the structural integrity of the film.

Long story short, it’s almost impossible to know exactly how long any one particular piece of 8mm film will last. The 70 years estimate is assuming close to optimal storage conditions: sealed canisters, minimal viewing, low humidity. If any of those things didn’t happen, the actual durability could be much lower. If we do a little math and assume that your films came from the mid 60s, they may be getting close to the end of their lifespans.

If we circle back to the opening of this blog, you’ll see what I mean about getting your videos digitized ASAP. We’re not just trying to sell our services--I mean, we are--but there might be a more pressing need to digitize your 8mm than you realize. Given the relatively short lifespan of 8mm film, and compounding how difficult it is to store it in perfect conditions, and then adding on top of all of that how little lifespan might be left anyway, it makes more sense than ever to take the digitization plunge.

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