My Roll of Film Came Out Blank: Help Guide

It's the dreaded email none of us want to receive, or you've spent your time developing at home to reveal... a blank roll of film! Well, it's not the end of the world, and this article is here to help you find out why your roll of 35mm film has nothing on it.

Illustration of camera and roll of film

Why is my roll of film blank?

There are many reasons as to why your roll of 35mm film may be blank. Read through the headings of this article to find out what could be the issue with your roll of film, or with your camera.

It may be due to the developing chemicals used, an expired roll of film, over or under-exposure, or an issue with your camera. There are easy ways to rule out different issues and pinpoint exactly what went wrong.

Even if your roll of film is blank, we recommend getting it back from your lab as it can help you to diagnose your issue!

Image from roll of 35mm film

My roll of film is completely black with no images.

There is good and bad news here.

If your roll of film is black with no images, it means the film was exposed to light at some point. This either means your camera shutter is working and the roll of film was over-exposed, or your roll of film came into contact with light when developing it. 

How can you tell the difference between whether it was an issue with your camera, or an issue with your developing? 

You will need to look at your actual physical negatives to diagnose the issue.

It comes down to the borders of your film. Every roll of film has a border that has the details of the type of roll of film on it. For example, it may say "Kodak Gold" and the frame number on it. 

If the black on the frames leaks over onto the borders of the film and there are no gaps between the frames on the roll of film, it means your roll of film was exposed to light during the developing or when unloading it from the camera, not when you had the film in the camera and were taking photographs with it. 

If the overexposure happened in the camera, you would only see the black on the frame of the negatives and not on the film borders. 

In summary: if there is black on the film borders means it was over-exposed during developing or when unloading the roll of film. If there is no black on the film borders, it means your camera shutter over-exposed the roll of film. 

If your camera is over-exposing, this may be due to the shutter being stuck open, or your light meter not being accurate. We recommend sending it in to us for a service or repair. You can get in touch with us by clicking the button below.

Roll of 35mm film

My roll of film is completely clear with no images.

This is kind of the opposite of the issue above. In this case, your roll of film is completely clear with no black bits on it, and it has the numbers and writing on the film borders present. 

All rolls of film have writing and numbers on the edges of the film to tell you the manufacturer and the frame number. You will only see these when you have the physical negatives back from your lab.

This means your roll of film was never exposed. This could mean that you didn't load the roll of film correctly, so when you were taking photographs, the roll of film was not advancing or being taken by the camera's take up spool. 

Or it could mean that your camera shutter is not working, and the shutter is not opening at all to allow light to reach the roll of film. 

We recommend sending your camera in for a check-up so we can diagnose any issues that may need to be repaired. You can do this via the link below.

There is nothing on my roll of film, not even on the borders.

Okay, you've gone through the two other options and you're here. 

There is absolutely nothing on your roll of film. There is not even anything on the film borders. 

This means your roll of film was not developed correctly or your chemicals were expired. If you developed at home, keep practising and re-read your instructions to make sure you got it right. 

If your roll of film was developed by a lab, get your money back! They clearly haven't followed the developing procedure correctly. 

In need of a camera repair?

We offer repairs for a variety of 35mm film cameras. Get in touch with us if you think your camera may be in need of repair.

If you like what we do, but can't buy a camera from us, please consider buying us a cup of coffee! It helps us to keep these resources free, consistent, and accessible. 

Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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