I buy all my film and chemicals locally. there is even some use gear such as enlargers available. I think the local art school and journalism school help. Sometimes I need to special order large format film but I can usually do this through a camera store.
I like my "local" camera store, but it's nearly an hour into town and on the third busiest street in the city. I usually go there when I have other business in the area. The overhead is high and so are the prices. Even considering shipping and handling, I spend less money buying online.
I've never had a problem buying on line. I've found packages at my stoop with chilled film inside them even in the summer. (I live at the same latitude as Algiers!). My biggest problem is the cyclic nature of inventories, such as last year when I wanted some Oreiental Seagull VCFB Warmtone and everyone was out for 4-6 months. My photo store doesn't carry Oriental, so I didn't bother going into town for it.
I'd pay a premium to be able to hold equipment in my hands and see how it works before buying it, but the used market in my area doesn't exist. I don't own a camera newer than twenty years old.
I live in a pretty remote part of B.C. The nearest photostore (actually a drug store) which used to stock chemicals, paper, film etc now doesn't carry film at all. The next-nearest place is an hour and a half drive, and has two photo stores. It's hit and miss as to what they have or even if their open when you get there. So, I'm relying on mail order more and more. Some from the U.S., some from Eastern Canada.
Certainly puts a crimp in my impulse buying, but it's ok if you can plan ahead a bit.
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284
Those of us in Salt Lake would like to point out, however, that Jason shoots very large formats, such as 8x10.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
We can get anything we would like from at least 3 local vendors, and although they are also heavy into digital (and why not?) they carry a very nice supply of Ilford photo supplies at one, Kodak at another.
I can always get anything up to 4x5 but have to order larger sizes and I would, of course, need to use places like The View Camera Store (www.viewcamerastore.com) for ULF and odds and ends. This is no problem because their prices are better than the local places and have more knowledge about ULF and the like.
We still have 2 of the best color labs in the west as well and the ability to get wet color prints (c4) [but who would with all that lovely black and white out there ].
Couple years ago was not so tough
Two years ago I lived in Sub-saharan Africa and I could get lots of film using postage stamps...127, Kodapak, 4x5, etc. One old guy at a photo processing shop called his younger employees around to give them a lecture on the film from my Solaris 126 cartridge...they'd never seen such perforations.
There was even Tura film available from a place in an industrial park who would send me an order (Didn't much like the film though)
Also lots of expired film in refridgerators. A coleague and I bought hundreds of boxes of 120 Neopan SS dated best before 1993 until it was all gone. The stuff was fantastic.
Now I'm in Ontario, and I see there are new brands of 126 and 127 available that weren't around 2 years ago. I also play with polaroid 4x5 when I feel rich...I didn't know it was still around. Not that I don't acknowledge an availability problem, but there are still lots of emulsions and formats that I've yet to get around to.
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Two things I used a lot (Kodak Tech-Pan and Panalure paper) have gone completely, but otherwsie, we have two pro level dealers within 20 minutes drive and I don't have much trouble getting anything I want.
Like you, I live on an island, in my case Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean.
Originally Posted by arigram
There is only one professional processing lab left here, and it is in San Juan, fifty miles away. They are also the only remaining source for film and camera equipment. But their business has fallen drastically, and honestly, I don't see how they are hanging on. It is a family business, and as the owner is aging, I'm sure it will disappear when he retires. They can no longer process sheet film or E6 roll film; I have to send it to the States. They stock a very limited supply of color film, and almost no B&W. I bought a few rolls of Portra the other day, and one of the employees joked about it, asking me if I were buying it "just for old time's sake."
I buy most of my supplies and all my B&W film and paper from the States, mostly from Calumet, and some from B&H. USPS Shipping is prompt from both, and orders arrive in 3-5 days. The postage amounts to about 10-20% of the cost of the merchandise, depending on what I order and how much.
As for improving the analog market, I have no suggestions except to keep shooting and try to convince others to do the same. If the demand is there for film, paper, and cameras, someone will supply it.
It has gotten to the stage here that there are only 2 places in town that sell large format film (4x5). When they do have stock the range is limited, and the cost is extremely high. If they dont have what I want, it takes me less time to order and get it delivered from the US than to order what I want locally and wait for delivery. The price is usually only 20-30% of what I pay locally too. 35mm and 120 film I buy locally as there seems to be a greater availability, and I havent had to order stock in as yet. The price is also greater than the cost of an order from the US.
They do usually stock basic chemistry though. As a result I buy my chemistry locally. If I cant get the chemistry I want locally, I buy from interstate and get it shipped.
Black and White paper is also ordered from the US due to the availability problem and also in some cases to price differences.
If there was a place locally where I could rely on supply I would use it even though the cost is higher. I only started ordering overseas when I couldnt get stock locally.
I can get a fairly good supply of Ilford films, paper and chemicals from our local Jessops which is a bit of a surprise since I live on a small island of the south coast of England. There are also two independent shops which are 99% digital which also have Ilford stuff but at about twice the Jessops price which is a shame because I would prefer to use a local shop if possible.
I have bought film by mail order with no problems but I wouldn't expect UK to UK delivery to be a problem or expensive.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
I've never had a problem getting or processing film and certainly don't feel like a hermit. I get out a lot too and speak with other humans in person. That helps.