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The expense of shooting film.

  
 
Desmolicious
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · The expense of shooting film.


I love film. Which is why I shoot it, a lot.

But when people say film is cheaper than digital cuz u can buy a Nikon N80 for $20 (I just did), while a FF Nikon is (for argument's sake) $1000. Shooting film is cheaper! As long as you do not shoot much film.

I've been tracking my film use since Sep 2014. From then until now - 1025 rolls. Some of it colour film, some B&W. Some E6 etc. Just rough guessing it (remember some films are much more expensive than others) picking an arbitrary number of $7/roll of film, that is $7175.


$7175 in film since end of 2014. But wait, there's more! Developing. Only in the last few years I've developed B&W myself. So again, taking that into account, I'll estimate $7/roll for all my C41, B&W, E6.

$7175 x $7 = $50,225. When I came to... I of course realized that does not include the cost of scanning. But I have been scanning myself using digicams for a long while now so just to pretend there is little cost there (I had to buy the camera, lens, stand etc), let's say $2k

$52,000 for 10 years worth of film photography. Ok, maybe saying $5000 a year makes it less painful? Eeeeesh.

EDIT!! Serious math error noted by OregonSun!

Film dev = 1025x7 =$7175.

So total cost is Film $7175 + Dev $7175 + gear to scan $2K = $16350. So $1635/yr.

I seriously feel so much better, thanks for pointing that out (I'll blame it on a long day at work..). It went from questioning my life choices to celebrating them!




Edited on Mar 09, 2023 at 08:05 PM · View previous versions



Mar 09, 2023 at 05:02 PM
retrofocus
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · The expense of shooting film.


Film has become quite expensive in recent years especially when buying rolls of film. Prices for solor negative and color slide films are outrageously high now, but also B&W film prices have climbed up. Reason for it is a mix of companies shutting down film stock (Fuji!) and also making more profit from higher demand for film. I am not shooting as much film as you do, but here are my core principles how I keep the cost of film as low as possible:

+ Roll your own films whenever 100' rolls are available. This cuts down the cost for a roll of 35 mm film down easily in half or more from the $7-9 price. I also more and more moved away from color negative and slide films for cost reasons.

+ Develop and scan your own films. It takes more of your time, but you are then in full control over the process. I enjoy playing with developers and developer ratios which a professional development studio wouldn't do either. Scanning is the process I enjoy the least (especially with color negatives) but also allows getting a high res quality digital photo. Con with doing your own development is storing chemicals and correctly slopping waste (used up fixer) which can be an issue with young kids in the house and/or having limited space available.

+ With available space, darkroom prints are wonderful when made from negatives. Again, this takes time - okay for a hobbyist. Silver gelatin papers have also gone up in pricing - no good way around this.

+ Be selective when shooting film. Sometimes digital is just the better tool for the job IMO. I find 50/50 film vs. digital a healthy ratio. Keeps also cost for film cartridges in check.

+ Don't buy a > $6K film camera.



Mar 09, 2023 at 05:19 PM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · The expense of shooting film.


retrofocus wrote:
.

+ Don't buy a > $6K film camera.


Been developing my own B& W for a while now.

And the above costs do not include any camera!



Mar 09, 2023 at 06:02 PM
OregonSun
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · The expense of shooting film.


Desmolicious wrote:
I love film. Which is why I shoot it, a lot.

But when people say film is cheaper than digital cuz u can buy a Nikon N80 for $20 (I just did), while a FF Nikon is (for argument's sake) $1000. Shooting film is cheaper! As long as you do not shoot much film.

I've been tracking my film use since Sep 2014. From then until now - 1025 rolls. Some of it colour film, some B&W. Some E6 etc. Just rough guessing it (remember some films are much more expensive than others) picking an arbitrary number of $7/roll of film, that
...Show more

Wouldn't your development costs be 1025 rolls x $7 per roll? (not $7175 x $7)



Mar 09, 2023 at 06:15 PM
1bwana1
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · The expense of shooting film.


When I think of the number of frames I shoot that I print, or even post, and amortize in the throw away frames, my cost of good frames would be in the hundreds of dollars each if I shot film.

I better stick to digital.

Imagine the cost of shooting a 30 fps film camera. Yikes!!!! Those birds aren't worth it for sure.



Mar 09, 2023 at 06:38 PM
bjhurley
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · The expense of shooting film.


I'm occasionally tempted to shoot film again, but only 120 as I've never shot in that format before (except for my very first camera, a Kodak Brownie, which might have used 220 not 120) and there are some interesting cameras (e.g. Plaubel Makina 67 and 670). I like the fact that rolls are only 10 frames each, kind of forces you not to waste any shots.

But the expense of film, developing, and scanning, plus the environmental impacts of manufacturing, distribution, chemicals, disposal of materials and chemicals etc. are big barriers for me. Digital has impacts too, of course, lots of materials and energy used to make cameras (and lenses), and electricity for charging batteries and running your computer and monitor for postprocessing. I never print, so that's not in the equation, but still I think film just isn't worth it for me, I'll just admire the work of others.

I shot film from the late 1960s until around the year 2000 or 2001 and spent a lot of time in darkrooms, and don't really miss it except for the final result.



Mar 09, 2023 at 07:11 PM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · The expense of shooting film.


OregonSun wrote:
Wouldn't your development costs be 1025 rolls x $7 per roll? (not $7175 x $7)


ahahaha! yes. oh my don't let me do your taxes!

Your correction noted in the OP. Thank you, I feel so much better!



Mar 09, 2023 at 08:01 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · The expense of shooting film.


Huss - Velvia is something like $25 a roll now and Ektachrome closing in on $20 with black and white more like ten or twelve bucks all without processing. How much are you paying yourself per hour for processing and how much for scanning. For me, looking to the day when my drum scanners won't work anymore and can't be fixed I've started using, or at least comparing a copy set up to see how well that works, and so far it's pretty damned close to the drum scanner but not really any faster as the setup is so different. But to get to that quality level it was a bit more than your outlay - $6K for a GFX100s, about $3K for a Novoflex bellows system and another $6K for a Rodenstock macro. It's kinda like it was 45 years ago when photography seemed too expensive to have as a hobby and the only way to really afford it was to do it as a business. The things change...


Mar 09, 2023 at 08:54 PM
Oldwino
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · The expense of shooting film.


$1600 per year, or $800 per year (which is more where I am at), still seems like a good deal for what I like to shoot, the fact that I am not a paid pro photographer, and that I get to use really cool cameras that I never could afford when they were current…

I have several digital cameras that it would completely happy with, should film suddenly disappear. But until then, I still get more satisfaction and joy using an old 90 year old Leica or even a 40 year old medium format Mamiya.



Mar 09, 2023 at 10:54 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · The expense of shooting film.


I was at the local camera store recently chatting with staff and learned that they offer a C41 prepaid processing service for "only" $30 CAD/roll (don't remember if it was 24 or 36 exposures). IIRC that's film, film processing and scanning with email delivery. I don't think it even included prints. Staff said a huge percentage of customers using this service never even bother to pick up the negatives... they have boxes of unclaimed orders in storage.

At that price, I think if I still shot film I'd only be doing B&W and bulk rolling like Martin (it's also what I did in the 90s when film was much less expensive).

On the digital side I think my annual cost is about $1000 CAD/camera. Prior to a few months ago, the last camera I bought was a 1DXII in 2016 and that was over $6K CAD. I spent half that on its mirrorless replacement but suspect I will replace that one much sooner than six years from now. The way I shoot digital now though would be impossible with film. The last football game I did at 40fps was around 8000 frames. The most film I ever shot at a game was around 40 rolls of 36 exp.



Mar 09, 2023 at 10:56 PM
 


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Desmolicious
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · The expense of shooting film.


Peter Figen wrote:
Huss..How much are you paying yourself per hour for processing and how much for scanning....


When you love what you do it's not work.



p.s. I haven't bought any E6 film in a forever. What I had was donated from other studios who gave me the contents of their freezers as they had switched to 100% digital.




Mar 10, 2023 at 01:34 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · The expense of shooting film.


Desmolicious wrote:
When you love what you do it's not work.



p.s. I haven't bought any E6 film in a forever. What I had was donated from other studios who gave me the contents of their freezers as they had switched to 100% digital.



Huss, it might not be work, and I actually love the process of scanning as you know, but it still takes time and time is the most precious commodity. I sold off all my film gear except for the Mamiya 7 and the fuji 617 and with every piece of gear I'd also toss in a few rolls of film to help get whomever started. I guess that was more generous than I thought. And if I were to shoot with either of those cameras today it would likely be black and white.



Mar 10, 2023 at 02:12 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · The expense of shooting film.


rscheffler wrote:
I was at the local camera store recently chatting with staff and learned that they offer a C41 prepaid processing service for "only" $30 CAD/roll (don't remember if it was 24 or 36 exposures). IIRC that's film, film processing and scanning with email delivery. I don't think it even included prints. Staff said a huge percentage of customers using this service never even bother to pick up the negatives... they have boxes of unclaimed orders in storage.

At that price, I think if I still shot film I'd only be doing B&W and bulk rolling like Martin (it's also what
...Show more

Agreed. I believe that the old saying "for best B&W you have to shoot with film" is no longer valid either. Digital PP and in-camera B&W modes have become so good that the difference IMO is negligible. Well, and on top of the line we have great B&W cameras like the Leica monochrome series which is unbeatable for digital B&W. I doubt film can be better than this - other than a specific grain look B&W film might provide which is difficult to reproduce with digital. Main reason why I still shoot B&W film is simply because I have fun doing it. I enjoy the workflow and also sometimes making prints from negatives in the darkroom. In the end it is simply a personal preference and what kind of photo style is applied. As pure hobbyist, B&W film works well for me. With a business, I would likely fully move to digital for this purpose.



Mar 10, 2023 at 07:02 AM
theHUN
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · The expense of shooting film.


For me, the main benefit of film photography was to slow down and think the image through before hitting the shutter. I was machine gunning it out with my digital cameras, and the results showed.

Film also taught me that grain is ok, that dynamic range is overrated, and that the organic signature of analog can look very pleasant.



Mar 10, 2023 at 08:15 AM
panos.v
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · The expense of shooting film.


It now costs me £30-35/roll of 35mm film. £16 to process and the rest the film. I use a lab to dev/scan, I have no time or space to do it myself and certainly no patience to scan.

I was about to buy 20 rolls for a 2 week trip and realised that I'm looking at a good £600+ of expense. So I finally gave up, bought a 6D for a pittance (£300) and that's that. I'm still tuning the post-processing and I do miss Portra 160 backlit in a winter afternoon but for someone that used to shoot 100+ rolls/year I just don't have the apetite for that cost any more and it is only going one way!

I'm keeping the 4x5 as that was, is and will always be expensive but that's more for the experience and I only shoot a box or two a year. But it is sad...I could go back to medium format but 120 equipment prices (at least the ones worth buying) are just nuts!

Oh..BW...never got along with it, which is purely a function of me not doing my own development. Ever since I bought the M246 I've had more fun with BW than ever before.



Mar 10, 2023 at 10:22 AM
OregonSun
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · The expense of shooting film.


I spend $15-$25 per roll, including lab development, and do my own scanning with a DSLR. I shoot around 40-60 rolls a year. I've got around $300 in scanning equipment (I don't count my DSLR, since I also use it for digital photography). Most of my film cameras are now worth double what I paid for them, so no cost there

Cost hasn't gotten high enough for me to take on developing my own B&W, happy to help keep the local labs in business for now.

I'm lucky to live somewhere with a couple labs still operating, so only a day or so wait to get my negs (E6 takes a week or so, since the local lab sends it down to Portland).

At around $1k/year for film/dev, I could shoot for ten years for the same cost as a newer used digital Leica and a few lenses



Mar 10, 2023 at 10:46 AM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · The expense of shooting film.


Film has always been more expensive, and you had to shoot more judiciously. Even in 2005 it was pretty easy to justify the $8k cameras. IIRC About 30k photos on film cost the $8k on my estimates of probably about $10-15/roll including processing. Although I'm thinking its closer to 20k photos for $8k on film at $10/24 exposure roll. And you could get 4 rolls of fujicolor for $6 at the grocery store or drugstore, IIRC $1.79 from NYC from Korea etc having the cool lettering etc on the packaging!!!

I do need to shoot some though I think.



Mar 10, 2023 at 11:06 AM
wzok
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · The expense of shooting film.


I used to shoot a lot with OM-4T plus many OMZ lenses. I still have LS-4000 and LS-5000 scanners. I stopped shooting film around 2005 when the Canon 5D became available. I was very disappointed with the Olympus E-1. The 12.8mp 5D seemed to be on par with what I might get with film. Although today, with various AI tools, the film might do better than then.

I also have interest in vintage lenses with interesting bokeh. I don't need film for that, many adapt well to the mirrorless.

I'm not sure if it is nostalgia or curiosity, but with my OM-4T and some good lenses, I hope to find out for myself it there is any interest for me. I have several rolls of Provia 100F, my go to film of the past. I have no doubt my A7Riv and lenses way out perform the film. So what is the draw to shooting film? I really can't say. It is a mystery to me. It is easy to get into cost and various justifications, but for now the mystery is the juice.

Topcor 5cm F2 LTM on A7iii:

Sookie Topcor 5cm F2 LTM by Wayne Shumaker, on Flickr





Mar 10, 2023 at 01:07 PM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · The expense of shooting film.


wzok wrote:
I used to shoot a lot with OM-4T plus many OMZ lenses. I still have LS-4000 and LS-5000 scanners. I stopped shooting film around 2005 when the Canon 5D became available. I was very disappointed with the Olympus E-1. The 12.8mp 5D seemed to be on par with what I might get with film. Although today, with various AI tools, the film might do better than then.

I also have interest in vintage lenses with interesting bokeh. I don't need film for that, many adapt well to the mirrorless.

I'm not sure if it is nostalgia or curiosity, but with my OM-4T
...Show more

Great pic of a beautiful beastie!

There are lots of things I really like about shooting film. The results. The tactile response. The process. The nostalgia.

But I also want to get back into digital photography - I have the gear, I just gotta use it. I see ALL the benefits of digital, and of course stunning results. Just different stunning results!

My path back to film was thanks to digital. I bought a Leica M-E (M9) because I wanted a digital camera that frankly had minimal features - as simple as possible like how I used to remember film. The big 'mistake' was that Leica pretty much made sure its M lenses are backwards compatible, so what I bought for the M-E worked on any old film M.
Then it made me notice how cheap other film gear was (at that time). That Nikon I had to sell in college? Pennies now. So an F2AS joined the team. And why that - because Nikon digislrs also work with old Nikon film lenses! And so it snowballed...

Now that I home dev B&W, the fun is even greater, and the costs cheaper. Part of that fun is not having to go someplace, drop it off, wait, go back pick it up etc. And there still is something magical about taking the film out of a dev tank and seeing the images on it.

Still, gonna start shooting more digital. I know I'll like it, again.



Mar 10, 2023 at 01:53 PM
weatherproof
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · The expense of shooting film.


I've seen film prices creep up for the past decade and when I placed my last B&H order for Portra at $15/roll, I told myself that was pretty much it. I'll still photograph family members and friends on film, esp for occasions like weddings and reunions because of the negatives, because there's a physical record somewhere.

However for travel snaps, I'm fine with digital, or even the... iPhone.



Mar 10, 2023 at 02:36 PM
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