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how can you afford film anymore?
Old 03-18-2016   #1
iridium7777
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how can you afford film anymore?

so i left my film rangefinder about 4 years ago, being 100% film shooter prior to that.

it's crazy that Leica film RF prices stayed the same and I was looking at second hand M6s and MPs out of curiosity... and then I started looking at film developing and scanning prices

Seems like most Walgreens where i used to do quick develop/scan only for about $4.99 no longer even have film machines.

I've found a few specific Film developing places but their prices now range from 10$/roll to develop/scan for lowest resolution to 20$/roll develop and scan for resolution for 8x10.

And then I've looked at prices of film... my beloved Fuji either does not exist anymore or the prices are about 10$ roll of slide and at minimum $5 per roll for color film.

at these costs it'll run me about 15$-20$ per roll to shoot film. I looked through my old photo journal and i did about 50 rolls per year, so that's $1000 per year and probably things are going to keep getting more difficult and pricier.

is film becoming more of a nostalgic side hobby that's only sustainable on the side, or those that do majority of film now develop and scan their own to keep the costs down? seems like mainstream options are dwindling...
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Old 03-18-2016   #2
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What do you shoot now? Mostly digital?

IMO, the cost of film and processing reflects the reality of the market. The number of users is a minuscule fraction of what it used to be, therefore it's unrealistic to expect the 'cheap' options that used to exist, based very much on high volume and low margins, will continue to exist. For example it looks like Fujifilm is doing its best to let everyone know it wants out of the film market (except maybe its Instax film segment) by constantly cutting product from its film catalog. Manufacturing and developing film in small runs is costly in respect to time and resources, especially if the infrastructure was designed for high volumes. The market has been and is continuing to shift to small scale production which is somewhat less efficient, but should at least be more sustainable. Combined with fewer users spread around the world, it's only to be expected that prices will go up.

That said, I believe there are still options available to save yourself some money, though at less of a convenience for yourself. Yes, it involves home processing and scanning. Keep in mind, what you may save in material costs, likely will be lost in time commitment. How long will it take you to process and scan a roll of film? $20 might still be worth spending to free up some of your time.

$1000/year is also still less than buying a full frame digital Leica.
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Old 03-18-2016   #3
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yes, for the last 4 years i've been fully digital and printing at home.

like you say, the realities of shrinking market are now seemingly obvious to me, simply checking by how much the landscape changed in the last 4 years.

i also agree about the time vs. cost proposition, i personally have no interest in doing my own development (never did it before) and investing in scanner options and scanning film myself. 4 years ago reading on the forums here the scanner options were drying up, i couldn't imagine what it would be like today, i imagine you almost have to maintain a separate obsolete, by now in terms of OS, computer just to keep some of the options running.

$1000/yr may not be bad, but i still think it exceeds most digital camera depreciation rates, even for digital leica.

also, looking at the leica MP values which stayed the same, $3K+ it still seems crazy to me that film cameras can commend such prices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rscheffler View Post
What do you shoot now? Mostly digital?

IMO, the cost of film and processing reflects the reality of the market. The number of users is a minuscule fraction of what it used to be, therefore it's unrealistic to expect the 'cheap' options that used to exist, based very much on high volume and low margins, will continue to exist. For example it looks like Fujifilm is doing its best to let everyone know it wants out of the film market (except maybe its Instax film segment) by constantly cutting product from its film catalog. Manufacturing and developing film in small runs is costly in respect to time and resources, especially if the infrastructure was designed for high volumes. The market has been and is continuing to shift to small scale production which is somewhat less efficient, but should at least be more sustainable. Combined with fewer users spread around the world, it's only to be expected that prices will go up.

That said, I believe there are still options available to save yourself some money, though at less of a convenience for yourself. Yes, it involves home processing and scanning. Keep in mind, what you may save in material costs, likely will be lost in time commitment. How long will it take you to process and scan a roll of film? $20 might still be worth spending to free up some of your time.

$1000/year is also still less than buying a full frame digital Leica.
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Old 03-20-2016   #4
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How can I afford the cost of film processing? First off, I shoot 100% B&W. If I were a coulor shooter, my answer would be much different. Heck, even when I do shoot digital I convert the shots to B&W in Lightroom using film emulation plug-ins!

So, for B&W film photography, there are many great films available at very reasonable prices. Check Freestyle, B & H, and even JCH (Japan Camera Hunter) for great deals on film. I then process my own film at home, buying chemicals in bulk and using them until they are exhausted. Once processed you have a choice; scan them and print on your ink-jet printer (I don't find that economical) or you can print in your home darkroom. In any case you can scan the results if you want an electronic file.

Home darkrooms need not be expensive, and once purchased will last a lifetime. Besides, it's a blast!

Why bother with all this? While many will say the new 36 Mp cameras will surpass film in quality, they are making a digital file. 0's and 1's. There is no depth to these perfect files. With film you are making an analog image, which is imperfect. That's what makes it perfect.

Just try it. Not at Walmart, but in your own home. Start with a film changing bag, and some small quantities of chemicals. You may just end up liking it.
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Old 03-20-2016   #5
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How did you afford it in the past? There was a increasing drop in film prices during the past twenty years, as it got into pressure from digital, but before that, film was at least as expensive as today...
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Old 03-20-2016   #6
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Hi,

I think film is cheaper these days and processing not much dearer and it includes a scan on a CD.

Not much dearer means an eight pound deal (25 years) now costs me nine pounds. But that compares a 2 day lab with a 1 hour service and it's from memory...

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Old 03-20-2016   #7
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Same as Helenhill.
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Old 03-20-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevo View Post
How did you afford it in the past? There was a increasing drop in film prices during the past twenty years, as it got into pressure from digital, but before that, film was at least as expensive as today...
Well, I've always processed my own film in my home darkroom, starting in the mid-sixties. I have never found film or processing to be onerously expensive. But I don't smoke either, maybe that's why I can afford film! lol
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Old 03-21-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevo View Post
How did you afford it in the past? There was a increasing drop in film prices during the past twenty years, as it got into pressure from digital, but before that, film was at least as expensive as today...

maybe i'm not that old, i started doing film photography in '07, i'd say seriously or at least more frequently.

as i said, back then i could buy a plethora of fuji's film selections, in bulk, that would keep the cost to around 2-3$ per roll, now these either don't exist or cost 5-6$ a roll.

i could develop and scan at walgreens, costco or target for something like $4.99 for low res, now my options are 10$ for the same.

slide film was perhaps the most expensive, but i still don't think i paid more than 6$ per roll, now they seem to be $10+ per roll. i used to buy these pre-paid enveloped from either B&H in like a 10+ pack where fuji would develop the film and i think it was around 5$? i don't even know what or whom would do slide development for me now.

i never shot B&W, and reading through the comments that's the most affordable solution, but for what i did it seems that color options easily doubled in price and have become less available
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Old 04-06-2016   #10
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10 bucks per roll is adjusted to inflation price. At film days of OP, one pint of beer was one dollar, now it is close to ten.
And if you never learned how to DIY, it was always expensive. At home we switched to digital for family pictures in 2007 because roll film was expensive to buy and process at the Walmart lab.

I switched to cinema film as color film. It is something like $40 or less per 100'. Processable at home in ECN-2 and C-41 kits. Also not very expensive.

Fuji 250D at ECN-2 kit at home.




BW film is cheap and plenty.
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Old 04-06-2016   #11
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I wouldn't be shooting as much film as I do if I wasn't mostly B&W and able to do DIY scanning and dev.

I haven't done any color dev at home but that's the next step. I figure I've scanned enough with my $100 Canon Canoscan 9000F that it's down to .30c/roll and dropping, my HC110 developer costs are near nothing, fixer is similarly cheap and I don't have too many walls to hang images on so if I print something, it's being sold for a profit.
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Old 04-07-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I switched to cinema film as color film. It is something like $40 or less per 100'. Processable at home in ECN-2 and C-41 kits. Also not very expensive.

Fuji 250D at ECN-2 kit at home.
Sigh... Not a solution... I've posted numerous times about this.

Cheap for you but taking money away from Alaris. If everyone moved to cinema films demand for portra and ektar would drop. Prices would increase further and eventually we will see the emulsion dropped. Support your still films in production.

I keep costs down by shooting mostly BW. I process and scan my own like most people here. I'm also a very selective shooter so a roll lasts me quite some time. I think this is key to saving money.

OP, you are looking at the most expensive options out there. I don't buy fuji film anymore because it's far too expensive. There are wonderful replacements for Fuji, Kodak being one of them.
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Old 04-09-2016   #13
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I haven't shot color film since Costco stopped processing it. I moved to digital for almost all my photography. However, I have some fine 35mm cameras and I shoot B&W only with them. I develop it myself at the local college darkroom and scan it on my Epson V700. I haven't made a darkroom print in 30 years or more.

I love film as it's what I grew up with but I love digital far more so 10 rolls of B&W in a year would be a lot for me. Film is now an anachronism but it has it's place and is worth the small cost IMO. My 1966-7 Leica M4 is about 50 years old and shoots as well today as it did when it was new. Think we'll ever be able to say that about a digital camera?
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Old 04-09-2016   #14
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These days you don't use film because it is "cheap" or "convenient" but because you either like the look or the experience. You either think it is worth the cost or it isn't. It seems it isn't for you.....

Your going at this completely wrong - one could as easily ask "how can you afford a digital rangefinder", a mirrorless is much cheaper - or "how can you afford a mirrorless camera", just use your phone.

I pay €5,- to get my 120 developed, that is much, much cheaper then buying a digital MF camera for the few times I use MF....
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Old 04-10-2016   #15
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I would rather pay $11 to develop a roll of film then pay that much to see a crap movie. Just saying.
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Old 04-11-2016   #16
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I pay $18 per roll including developing, scanning I do myself. That's far from cheap in my opinion but I shoot film because it's fun, not because it's cheap. I looked at what it would cost to bulk load my film as I've heard it's cheaper, the difference was $1 dollar per roll. Not really worth it but it might depend on what film you use.
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Old 04-11-2016   #17
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I like rangefinders and I like bw street photography. The cheapest digital Leica RF is $1000 and it is not 135 format. It can't give me ISO3200, while I could easily get it from HP5+ film.
I have working M4-2, paid $650 for it couple of years ago. CLA is what? $200 every ten years?
How much is repair cost for Monochrome with corrosive sensor gamble at $3000 cost for used camera?

And you are telling me what film is expensive, while for $50 I have 100' roll of HP5+ from September to March for everything I want, no self-limiting, lots of prints made with BW IQ better what any digital camera and availability to print under enlarger at the countertop in the basement, no real darkroom. You have to buy enlarger only once, it is not unsupported absolute after five years and it costs next to nothing these days.
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how can you afford film anymore?
Old 04-11-2016   #18
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how can you afford film anymore?

I process myself, print the contact sheets and control prints in my lab (24x30 till 40x50cm) and I also work with a darkroom technician who prints my exhibitions and prints for sale. Tip to afford film - shell out big time once to fill your fridge till the top and time to time buy a brick or two... If you are not shooting 400-800 rolls per year you will find out that film is cheap. I scan small control prints, almost never the negatives so and I don't need fancy film scanner. I would rather ask how one affords silver bromide paper anymore as there is where it gets ugly
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thanks for your replies
Old 04-14-2016   #19
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thanks for your replies

i guess if you're looking at it from B&W perspective and do your own development then yeah.

i think i've shot 1 roll of B&W and i never developed because run of the mill labs wouldn't do it, so i was 100% color shooter and would be coming back to color only.

with regards to using kodak vs fuji on a 20$ process i may be saving $1-2, at most, so not that much of a difference.

I did find a local university/"photography center" where for $35/mo you get access to all their development, scanning, editing and printing equipment. i have no interest in doing my own color development but that would cap my cost of a roll of film + development to maybe under $10 and the remainder i can do at this place. a few bills a year cheaper, i guess if i shoot even more rolls then it'll pay off.
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Old 04-14-2016   #20
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Film prices have remained constant, pretty much since the 1930s. A couple years ago I looked at prices in magazines and accounting for inflation, film prices are almost about what they've always been.

That said, in 35mm I mostly shoot slides. I get Agfa Precisa which is a few cents over $10 a roll locally, vs. Fuji branded films which start at $14+ I don't scan every roll I process since I don't feel the need to show off everything I make. But I also only shoot about 1 roll a month.

In 120 I buy 5 packs of C41 film, and mostly shoot 645. These I always scan (unless I suspect the roll was ruined or contains nothing of interest). I usually go through about 2 rolls a month. Not a big deal.

Digital, I do if I expect to shoot lots of photos, for instance when taking a trip. Otherwise I only ever take the DSLR out if I know I'm out of film.
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Old 06-14-2016   #21
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*I* remember when gasoline was $.29 per gallon...

It's a hobby.

With best regards,

Pfreddee
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Old 06-14-2016   #22
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I can afford to shoot film nowadays the same way I always afforded it in the past:

- make my film and processing costs a higher priority than other things
- don't shoot so much film that it overwhelms my budget

My budget is different from what it was in the past when all I used was film, and the cost of film and processing has risen as well. But the same principles apply.

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Old 07-20-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addy101 View Post
These days you don't use film because it is "cheap" or "convenient" but because you either like the look or the experience. You either think it is worth the cost or it isn't. It seems it isn't for you.....
You've captured my sentiments perfectly.
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Old 07-20-2016   #24
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After 10 years of exclusively shooting digital I went back to film 120 and 35mm. The costs don't seem too different to a decade ago. Sensible choices in film can control costs. Fuji Acros 100 for 35mm is at least double the cost of other films such as Ilford . By bulk rolling film costs can be pegged back a bit. Home processing B&W costs less than £1 a film. Even using expensive DDX the cost be roll is under £2.
I've even started E6 processing.
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It costs about $0.80 per shot!! Not including the camera or lenses.
Old 07-25-2016   #25
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It costs about $0.80 per shot!! Not including the camera or lenses.

As I am now shooting film and having them developed and scanned at TheDarkRoom (Ilford), I estimate that every time I push the shutter costs me about 80 cents. I can bring it down to about 55 cents if I develop it myself (not printing it yet). It could cost about $0.26 every time I shoot my M8, or $0.35 every time I shoot my M9 (depreciation of those two cameras is big). Both consume time, I found that I was spending more time at the computer than shooting with digital. Now, I do not shoot as much, but with more thinking thoughts/process and cut down the computer time.
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Old 07-25-2016   #26
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Quote:
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As I am now shooting film and having them developed and scanned at TheDarkRoom (Ilford), I estimate that every time I push the shutter costs me about 80 cents. I can bring it down to about 55 cents if I develop it myself (not printing it yet).
That makes it upward of 20 whatever per roll of processed B&W film. About twice the EU rate. What currency are you talking about, AUS$?
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Old 07-25-2016   #27
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Quote:
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That makes it upward of 20 whatever per roll of processed B&W film. About twice the EU rate. What currency are you talking about, AUS$?
US$20 per high resolution scanning for 35mm roll
US$5 to $6 per roll (36 frames)
US$6 shipping per roll
____________
US$32 per roll developed and scanned loaded on the Internet

32/36 = $0.89 per frame.
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Old 07-25-2016   #28
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Hi,

FWIW, if you already have a film camera then you can go on using it and - in my case - the local lab for a lot less money than buying a digital camera as good as the film one, a printer, software and a film scanner...

And it seems to me that a decent digital camera costs a lot of money, lasts a few years and then is scrap.

Same with the printer and the cartridges cost more than a film, CD and a heap of 5" x 7" prints...

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Old 07-26-2016   #29
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I shoot with both film and digital. Putting equipment costs aside (and we all know if your choice is Leica film M's you're equipment prices are stable) it's the ride you get with film. Not just going from point A to B.
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Old 07-30-2016   #30
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I think film will continue to be sought after for both the experience and the look - particularly 35mm b&w scanned. I afford film by developing and scanning it myself. I really like developing, which I began doing just four years ago and would like to do wet printing as well - if I had the space for a darkroom. The other way I afford film is by keeping my digital costs down. I buy new cameras sparingly and only when they are on sale.
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Old 08-08-2016   #31
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I still have rolls in my freezer from FreeStyle: rebranded Arcos short dated that I purchased for $1.89 a roll; and I still have a Tri-X (Arista Premium) that I only paid $2.89 a roll. I did like Boris in post 18 and filled my freezer because the price was right. B&W film only.

Next I keep my processing costs low by doing it myself.

Understand that at one point I was shooting on average 150 rolls a month, so even the cost of my one shot developer had to be contained because that became a big expense. I ended up figuring out how to make Diafine work for me so the cost of development became the cost of a few pennies of fixer that I bought in bulk to keep my costs low. Understand that Diafine gets reused and is not a one shot. Also it does not require replenishment. My cost of processing is almost nothing.

Basically I still maintain low costs because I took advantage of sales; I bulked up; I lowered costs; and I used economy of scale to my advantage.

Even at current prices that are about double for film my costs are not a lot. Film still is not that expensive if you decide to control your costs.

As far as scanning (something I thought I would never do) I had two old laptop computers laying around that did not get thrown out. One is a 2008 Mac Ibook that will make a great dedicated scanning computer. I ended up finding a deal on a Nikon LS 8000 ED a particularly good scanner that is kinda slow. Excluding the initial outlay of capitol expense of the scanner, the price of scanning becomes zero instead of an accumulative ongoing expense that adds up.

There are many ways to lower prices that make film still afforable if you want to.

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Old 08-10-2016   #32
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I still shoot B+W 35mm film on occasion.
The film cost is $5 per 36 exposure roll of Tri-X.
I process it myself for about $.40 worth of chemicals, usually 2 rolls at a time.
After a careful inspection with a loupe, I'll scan (with my refurbished $99.00 Epson V500) only those negs that look promising.
That eliminates about 50% of the negs.
So, my final cost per usable scan is about 29 cents.
Color C-41 35mm film costs a bit less...about $4 per 36 exposure roll.
I have a local lab that processes and scans the entire roll for $10, so the final cost per scanned image is about 78 cents, calculating the same 50% hit rate.
Film vs. digital is a trade-off, , because quality digital cameras always depreciate rapidly, while film cameras don't.

Here's a billboard ad for Santander Bank that appears on some New Jersey Transit Stations. I think they are trying to ride the hipster film wave. Looks like a Canon FT-QL.
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Old 08-31-2016   #33
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At university, I used to buy self-spooled rolls of HP5 from the fashion department for £2/roll, and processed it myself, and scanned it at studio.

You are right, film is not cheap, but digital is far more expensive for me. With film, although I wish I could shoot every day but I don't, is cheaper overall within the x number of years that a digital camera is released till a new version appears.

But why buy something I hate shooting on and don't enjoy
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Old 09-02-2016   #34
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Permit me to imagine an alternative universe where photography had been digital from the start...........and now someone invents this strange stuff called "film"..........

Yes, you can get cracking photographs with film, but you can only use it once and it's not cheap, especially the larger stuff you need for really good quality photographs. Not only that, you can't see if your pictures have worked until you've had it "developed" which is another process you have to do yourself or pay extra for.

The film itself is really fragile and - get this - has to be handled in total darkness when it's un-rolled or taken out of it's cassette. Even when it's "developed" you can end up with mould growing on it if you're not careful.

This "printing" lark also has to be done with special equipment under a weak red light in a dark room such that you can hardly see what you're doing, in addition to having to inhale the fumes from the chemicals you use.

And then when you make a print, you have to do test exposures and "develop" these too before your final print because, like film, you can't see what you've got until it's too late correct mistakes without essentially starting again.

If that wasn't bad enough, you have to manipulate / edit each individual print unlike with digital where you make all the changes once on the file you're going to print from while sitting in a nice airy room with a cup of tea or coffee.

And, of course, you have to pay for the chemicals and paper even though you'll waste most of it making test prints.

Remember also that in this alternative universe, film cameras have just been invented, so there are no secondhand bargains to be had.

I could go on, but I think you've got the gist of the argument by now.



In this universe, would anyone - except the wealthiest and most enthusiastic - be ready to take the plunge and "go film"?

Last edited by justsayda : 09-02-2016 at 06:25. Reason: Missing word
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Old 09-02-2016   #35
sevo
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In this universe, would anyone - except the wealthiest and most enthusiastic - be ready to take the plunge and "go film"?
Well, artists, nerds and the extravagant probably would. Not everything is converging towards the most comfortable solution. For more than a century there have been far more easy and healthy ways for getting down from Montblanc than wingsuit flying, nonetheless the latter has been invented and grown popular in recent years.
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Old 09-02-2016   #36
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Once you get your workflow down, film is cheap and quick. I prefer this workflow than to the one I use for my digital setup (to each their own). Plus, I enjoy the whole process. From finding a former pro camera from the 70's for a whopping $20 that comes with a nice, sharp, fast prime, to the tactile feel, to the delayed gratification while I wait to develop the film, to feeding my pakon scanner, to watching the negs show up digitally that require almost no digital manipulation in post (compared to all my digital files, blahhhh) to finding out that if my negs aren't right, it was my fault with some part of the workflow and I must figure it out. And at the end of the day, I spent less than $5 on fun.
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Old 09-02-2016   #37
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FWIW, when digital came along I had a perfectly good outfit and a neat little pocket P&S and couldn't see the point of abandoning them. Plus film was vastly superior to the early digitals for a long time and a lot lot cheaper since I only had to buy film and not hand over thousands to get a 3 megapixel outfit...

And, as I pointed out above, film and labs' prices have slowly dropped in real terms.

Regards, David
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Old 09-10-2016   #38
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Well, artists, nerds and the extravagant probably would. Not everything is converging towards the most comfortable solution. For more than a century there have been far more easy and healthy ways for getting down from Montblanc than wingsuit flying, nonetheless the latter has been invented and grown popular in recent years.
I am the artist and nerd you speak of
Most of us art people went through traditional methods of photography at university. This is the reason why film still works for me.
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Old 09-10-2016   #39
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In this universe, would anyone - except the wealthiest and most enthusiastic - be ready to take the plunge and "go film"?
Couldn't say. Never lived in that world. I would hate to live in your world.

I love the world that I do live in.

We are currently living in a golden age of photography. There have never been more wonderful ways to create photographs of things I see or imagine I see.

Of course, if you spend all your time imagining alternative worlds you will never get to enjoy the one you actually live in.
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Old 09-22-2016   #40
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I run about thirty black and white films a year through my home darkroom. The number is slowly growing.
I run about 4 times that many digital color pitures a year through my camera and computer and some are even printed. It feels like I make about the same number of physical prints and it feels about as costly. So what?
A few years ago I didnt do film, I had a growing family and no time or money. I took pictures with a compact.
My daughter draws and paints about the same amount of digital and analog drawings and paintings a year. After a bout of digital she longs for a canvass and opposite.
I write in my paper journal, and my wordpress blogs. Probably about the same amount.
I use a mac and a pc, powerpoint and keynote, gmail and outlook, etc etc.

I dont think to much about which is better, it think about how they support my interests, and I pay the price of doing it because it is valuable to me. Not because the cost of one is lower.

Also, I was on the verge of buying a fuji X-pro 1 for cheap the other day because I was curious about exchanging my x-e1. But then I decided to spend a third of that money on film instead because I was running low.

I guess I was'nt curious enough.

I need to sell a few cameras that are sitting unused. And get a film evening going at my university department. I hope to print two books of digital work within a year, probably just for myself.

The point of all this is we do stuff for curiosity, engagement, feeling, materiality, esthetics, communication and fellowship. It film does not tickle these feelings you are not obliged to worry about it. Go do whats worth it instead.
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