1415318561_8619b7fd71_o
Back when summer wasn’t summer without Kodak (Pic: Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr)

th article in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

I try and take photos every weekend. Even when the weather is grey and dull, you can still find something worth capturing. And shooting on film makes me stand out from the crowd. The most common question I get asked, apart from “Can you still get it processed?” is “Do they still make film?”

They do, even if, for many people, the digital revolution killed film stone dead. And you can’t really blame them. The bricks and mortar, high-street photo chains tend to concentrate on DSLRs and digital accessories. Film, if they still carry it, tends to be kept behind the counter, freeing up all that valuable floor space for all those bits and bytes.

The number of films – and even film manufacturers – has dwindled, but appears to be reaching a natural level for those who still want to use it. But this will only continue if photographers keep buying new film.


Buying new film can be expensive. Fuji’s rapidly shrinking range of slide films – Provia and Velvia – now cost around £11 a roll in the UK; slides are a fantastic medium, it’s not something most photographers can indulge in except for special occasions.

Many photographers may only have a limited budget for their photography, and if they shoot film they not have to factor in the cost of the film, but also of getting that film developed and scanned. So how do you make sure that you’re helping keep film photography alive and not running yourself into debt in the process?

2042925537_36e5d95b05_o

Buy the films you absolutely love new. When you start shooting film, it’s a good idea to try as many films as possible so you can find ones that suit your style. When you find them, buy them regularly.

I buy a lot of expired film, especially old slide films that are the best for cross-processing. But there are a few varieties I won’t buy secondhand; Kodak’s Tri-X and Fuji Superia 400 print film. Tri-X is the most incredible black and white film (and it’s been in production for more than 50 years) while the Superia captures fantastic golds and reds. I want both companies to keep making those films for as long as possible.

8955827589_ca7df9986b_o
Fomapan 100 is one of the cheapest black and white films you can buy

Buy them in decent amounts. Don’t just buy the odd roll here and there; it’s better to save your money so that you’re buying 10 or 20 rolls at a time. That your local store or online retailer has to order them again, and that means the factories have to keep churning them out to keep up with demand. Look at this post by street photographer Eric Kim – he’s a big fan of Kodak’s Portra 400, and buys it in bricks (he also saves up all his films to develop in one go, which is something we’ll explore later).

15886430095_760a099743_o
Lomography 100 is a beautifully saturated colour film

There are bargains to be had, even now. If you’re really strapped for cash, consider shooting black and white on the range of Foma films from the Czech Republic. They can be had for around £3.50 and probably even less if you’re buying in bulk. They’re great films; the 200-speed film is a really useful speed with fine grain. And Lomography’s own-brand range of print films are a good call aswell; they come in packs fo three and are available in 100, 400 and 800. Their 100-speed film is fine-grained and has saturated colour, designed very much with the company’s range of cameras in mind, but perfect for any film camera. There’s a richness to the colours that I’d normally only see in slide films.

The resurgence of interest in film photography has had some surprising results; Italian film-maker Ferrania folded in the mid-2000s after the digital revolution, but recently announced it was returning to production, making the old 100-speed slide film that was also known as Scotch Chrome. Former Ferrania employees have got the old factory back working because they sensed there was a gap in the market. Good things can happen when you vote with your pocket.

21
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Eugene ErdozainwjlonienKenny Carwasheugene802TAZMPictures Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ani Trone
Guest

I’ve tried to like the expired film thing but I just cant. I love the rich tones and dynamic range from a new roll of film. Although I don’t shoot as much as I would like being just a hobbyist, I still would rather spend that extra couple of bucks to get the full benefit from a fresh roll of film.

RA Friedman
Guest

After using a lot of different films, I settled on 120 Tri-X for just about everything. It’s reliable, easy to process and pretty forgiving. The Kodak quality control is excellent. I usually have about 50 rolls in the ‘fridge and I rotate my stock, putting the newest film in the back and shooting the oldest film first. Hopefully the price won’t climb too much too fast and they’ll keep on making it.

carloscameracorner
Guest

I have two rolls of Fuji 64T in the fridge that I’d like to use for xprocess. Should I use a filter for this tungsten film?

jeanmarcschwartz
Guest

Take a filter 80 A to balance in the light of day. In crossed processing, the result will give pale red tones.

But summits a try without filter also on the 2nd film.

Bob Dungan
Guest
Bob Dungan

In the last few months I have fallen in love with shooting Arista.EDU (foma) ASA 100 in my Argus Seventy Five. I respool 120 onto 620 spools for the Argus. I ordered ten rolls and think I will order another 30 rolls to take me through the summer. I also buy 100 foot rolls of Orwo UN54 and N74 in 35mm.

Tim
Guest

Great post Stephen. I love the look and feel of film, but I hope that enough others do as well. Digital looks just too artificial.

Radu Serbanescu
Guest

For those of you living in Europe, see if you have DM Drogerie Markt stores in your country. They have the DM Paradies 200, which is a nice cheap film for day to day use. I think it is a rebranded old Fujifilm emulsion.

Radu Serbanescu
Guest

For those of you living in Europe, see if you have DM Drogerie Markt stores in your country. They have the DM Paradies 200, which is a nice cheap film for day to day use. I think it is a rebranded old Fujifilm emulsion.

Phil Stefans
Guest

For the budget conscious shooters try Shanghai GP3 in Caffenol. Simply gorgeous tones and probably the cheapest medium format film/developer combination you’ll come across.

Ralph Smith
Guest

I remember finding package of the same Kodak film in my grandmother’s basement. Interesting to consider actually using itl.

Ralph Smith
Guest

I remember finding package of the same Kodak film in my grandmother’s basement. Interesting to consider actually using itl.

TAZMPictures
Guest

If you can order from the US, Freestyle Photo makes a budget black and white film called Arista EDU that is good to learn the basics or test a camera out. And the pictures turn out decent too!

TAZMPictures
Guest

If you can order from the US, Freestyle Photo makes a budget black and white film called Arista EDU that is good to learn the basics or test a camera out. And the pictures turn out decent too!

eugene802
Guest
eugene802

Great article. I have just started getting back into shooting film and love the look. I have tried Kodak Ektar 100 and Ilford FP4plus so far. What is the best way of scanning 35mm film?

wjlonien
Guest

Eugene, there’s a Finnish photographer named Pekka Potka, who tried all sorts of film scanning, from the cheapest to the most expensive drum scanners. His conclusion after several years was the cheap “slide duplicator” (you get holders for film strips as well) in front of a good macro lens (he used the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm/2.8).
Sadly, his site isn’t anymore, but you can still find him in the internet archives.
HTH (just odered and received my Polaroid slide duplicator, some 30 Pounds at amazon.uk),
Wolfgang

Eugene Erdozain
Guest
Eugene Erdozain

Thank you very much, Wolfgang. I have recently got myself a Plustek 8200i which seems to work well. I will try the macro lens method sometime, thank you again for the tip.
Eugene

eugene802
Guest
eugene802

Great article. I have just started getting back into shooting film and love the look. I have tried Kodak Ektar 100 and Ilford FP4plus so far. What is the best way of scanning 35mm film?

wjlonien
Guest

Eugene, there’s a Finnish photographer named Pekka Potka, who tried all sorts of film scanning, from the cheapest to the most expensive drum scanners. His conclusion after several years was the cheap “slide duplicator” (you get holders for film strips as well) in front of a good macro lens (he used the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm/2.8).
Sadly, his site isn’t anymore, but you can still find him in the internet archives.
HTH (just odered and received my Polaroid slide duplicator, some 30 Pounds at amazon.uk),
Wolfgang

Eugene Erdozain
Guest
Eugene Erdozain

Thank you very much, Wolfgang. I have recently got myself a Plustek 8200i which seems to work well. I will try the macro lens method sometime, thank you again for the tip.
Eugene

Kenny Carwash
Guest
Kenny Carwash

If you’re in the UK, most Poundland stores stock 24 exp. rolls of Agfa Vista Plus 200 for £1 each.

Kenny Carwash
Guest
Kenny Carwash

If you’re in the UK, most Poundland stores stock 24 exp. rolls of Agfa Vista Plus 200 for £1 each.