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Author Topic: Film date codes
Brad Miller

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 10-04-2013 02:26 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
This is a dedicated thread (placed here so it is easier to find) based upon the discussion from here.

The following data was archived from Thomas Robinson's website which is here.

KODAK 35mm & 16mm FILM


Date codes are a series of one to three (usually two) symbols on the edge of Kodak film sold in reels or spools. This information is useful to determine the date the film was slit. This is the point of manufacture where the large sheets of raw film are cut and perforated. These date codes are imprinted at that time. Most film, especially color, was exposed and developed within a few years of this date. To figure the date, you first need to determine which Kodak plant made the film. Look at the word "Safety" and search for a little circle or dot. It is between two of the letters, and that is code for which Kokak plant made the film. Once you know where the film was manufactured, you can check the chart below and see the year. USE CAUTION because there are other codes on the film edge that use the same symbols too! The date code is found between the words "Eastman" and "Nitrate" or "Safety". Symbols that appear after "Safety" indicates type of support or other information (for example, two square symbol indicates panchromatic).

Kodak date codes were repeated every twenty years until 1982. For example, the same symbols appear on film manufactured in 1921, 1941, 1961 and 1981.




A small vertical bar is spaced between the words "Eastman" or "Kodak", and "Nitrate" or "Safety". The year symbol usually follows this bar. The distance between the bar and year symbols indicates the first or second half of the year.



The cross symbol was replaced starting in 1932 with a plus sign.

During WW2 the French Kodak factory made film on nitrate base. Edge codes are unknown.

Half-frame numbering on 35mm still films was introduced in 1963. Until then, spools of 35 mm film had one number per frame. The new system has two frame numbers per frame, for example "12" and "12A"

There are several different lists of Kodak movie film date codes published, and one of these appears to be correct for 35mm and 120mm still camera film, both safety and nitrate. I have reviewed numerous versions of this list and checked them against factory records and internal correspondence dating back to 1931. I have been checking these numbers with real film in archives for about five years now. I am a volunteer negative cataloger at the Oregon Historical Society. I believe this list is accurate. I would greatly appreciate any corrections or comments.


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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1869
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001

 - posted 10-04-2013 06:20 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The following is a somewhat easier to follow chart, with credit due to Film-Tech member Jeff Joseph.


If the film is 35mm and marked SAFETY FILM, it was manufactured in 1950 or later. Note that the Dupont list is not a complete list.



Fuji uses a 4 character code, 2 groups of 2, where the first 2 characters are the year of manufacture, and the second 2 characters are letter codes indicating the quarter of the year.

JM - January - March
AJ - April - June
JS - July - September
OD - October - December

So 80-JS (may, or may not have the dash) would be sometime between July and September of 1980.


There is no reliable way to identify the year of manufacture for other film stocks.

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Jock Blakley
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 218
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Oct 2011

 - posted 10-04-2013 11:18 PM      Profile for Jock Blakley   Email Jock Blakley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While it's not very common to come across a Kodak print stock using KEYKODE, knowing the KEYKODE date symbols can be handy for identifying earlier-generation elements either directly or from a print-through.

In the human-readable KEYKODE section between the footage markers, look for something along the lines of "EASTMAN 5279 167 3301 122 KD" where the last part of the string is the year symbol:

DE 1989
LE 1990
EA 1991
AS 1992
ST 1993
TM 1994
MN 1995
NK 1996
KD 1997
DF 1998
FL 1999
SD 2000
TF 2001
ML 2002
NE 2003
KA 2004
DS 2005
FT 2006
LM 2007
EN 2008
AK 2009
TK 2010
MD 2011
NF 2012
KL 2013
DE 2014
FA 2015
LS 2016

Note that DE is used for both 1989 and 2014, according to Kodak's list, but this is moot because AFAIK all KEYKODE markings now have the year in plain-text rather than code.

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