What Causes Green Lines on Film? The Surprising Answer


Have you ever shot film and seen green lines on the side during the scanning process? Some of us, believe it or not, like to embrace that as part of the beauty of film. It can be something that adds to a photo in a different way than something like CineStill’s Remjet layer removal issues. Some folks blame the green lines on the development process, but that’s not the reason for it. We’re going to tell you what’s wrong.

We’ve had this issue happen to us a few times. But luckily, it’s pretty rare for us and for film cameras in general. However, something should be said for loading a camera properly. Some cameras are easier to load than others. Even if you’re an experienced Leica shooter, sometimes the loading process can get messed up. We get our film processed by Blue Moon Camera, who does an incredible job. So here’s what’s wrong.

It Was Pulled Too Tightly

The main culprit of green lines on film arise from issues involving how tightly it was pulled. Sometimes, if film is pulled too tightly in the advancement process or in the rewind process, the tension will create green lines. I’ve had this happen to me with lots of vintage cameras that weren’t well maintained. Sometimes the film rips, but if it doesn’t, then you’ll get these green lines.

So how do you prevent it?

When you’re rewinding the film with a manual mechanical camera, be sure to press the film release button. Then steadily and carefully start to rewind. Make sure you’re using the arrows on the film rewind and turning the right way. No matter what, do not let go of the winder. Sometimes the film can be released a bit more, and that can cause some tension problems. Instead, slowly keep at it until you’ve fully wound the film back into the film canister.

Once it’s fully wound, you’ll hear a small click. Sometimes you’ll also feel the film’s pressure change. My paranoia makes me continue to wind it a bit more just for good measure. Typically, I wind for around 10 more seconds or so.

In the end, slow and gentle pressure will ensure the green lines issue doesn’t happen.

If You’re Shooting Older Film, You Have to Be More Gentle With It

Are you shooting with expired film? Expired film is more delicate. You often need to overexpose it and treat it very carefully. Consider how it’s been treated. Was it kept in the fridge or freezer? If so, then it’s been preserved better. Was it thawed out correctly? How old is it? The older the film, the more likely it is that you may get green lines on it.

As a rule of thumb, if the film is more than two years expired, I’d be more careful with it. Even after a year and six months, I’d be a bit more cautious. That isn’t a long time, but it can surely affect how the film needs to be treated.

Shooting With a Camera That Automatically Rewinds the Film

If you’re shooting with a camera that automatically winds the film back, then you can’t really do much of anything here. If it becomes a recurring problem, then I’d take it in for servicing to check the motors. Sometimes to prevent green lines on film, all you need to do is use some compressed air to clean out the motors. At other times, you need to do a lot more work on it.



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