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  1. #1
    arigram's Avatar
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    Do you feel like a film hermit?

    I was going to post this either here or at the Philosophy subforum. I guess its fine either way.

    My question is:
    How many of you, do you really buy your material off the counter of a local photo store?
    My guess is not many.
    How many of you, have absolutely no trouble with mail order?
    By that I mean, its almost as good as buying off the counter, shipping is almost non existant, delivery is fast and you are all the time satisfied with the status of the product.

    Then, how many of you, struggle for their materials?
    And I am talking about your basic supply of film, paper and chemicals.

    Most chemicals don't come in powders and its not easy to find high enough quallity bulk chemicals to make your own, provided the formulas exist for what you like. Ilfosol-S for example, my favorite developer comes in a tiny bottle, is liquid, keeps very little and its closed-source.
    Film makes sense to order only in large quantities, which means that you must have the money upfront, plan ahead and able to store it. Plus, if you just need a few rolls for an emergency you are screwed.
    Paper, its problem being really its weight. The larger it is or the bigger the quantity the larger the shipping cost.

    How about your equipment buying or mentainance?
    Buying by order is usually not a problem, but some things you need to have in front of you to decide if they are what you're looking for.
    Take cameras for example. Ergonomics is very important, not just the specs.
    To buy a camera bag, I had to fly to Athens (the ticket is a lot more expensive than flying to the UK) so I could really see and feel the product. I looked at four different ones before deciding.
    I was lucky with the Hasselblad, it feels good in my hands, but others don't agree. They can try it out before they buy or return it, I couldn't that easily. And now it seems not at all. Even for basic mentainance I have either to forgo the guarantee and pay an old technician of Hasselblad in Athens or send it to Denmark. And that guy is not gonna live for ever and don't think anyone's gonna replace him.

    Here in Crete, there is only in one place I can buy film, chemicals and paper and the owner passed away recently after a long fight with cancer. He was a really good man and helped me a lot. His wife took over but it seems she's having trouble with it and they have a big tax debt. If it closes, I don't know what I'm gonna do.
    I will have to start to order all of my stuff from Athens or Germany. So far, only PanF+ in 120 I needed to order because it doesn't exist in Greece.

    Speaking of which, support is fading away. There are atleast four serious ("pro") stores in Athens that carry analog materials, including one dedicated to BW (Tetenal mostly) but they don't carry everything.
    The Greek representative of Ilford doesn't seem to be interested much in the british company's products as they carry only a small selection and don't care to expand their stock.

    I had orders from Athens that took months, orders that were wrong or incomplete or orders that never came.

    But, I guess, I am one of the lucky ones. I may live on an island, but I am in an EU country, shipping from the contintent is relatively cheap and have no trouble with exchange.

    I would like to hear from those who really struggle and feel they almost doing a heroic act. Going digital would make much more sense but they aren't.

    So, what's your story? Where are you? Is it difficult to get stuff?
    What would be your suggestion in improving the situation considering the analog market?
    aristotelis grammatikakis
    www.arigram.gr
    Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
    no digital additives and shit




  2. #2
    jstraw's Avatar
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    My local camera store still has a darkroom department (though it continues to shrink). It makes me wonder how many folks in my neck of the woods are still using a darkroom. It would be my preference to buy everything from a local retailer. I'd like to support them. The problem is, most of things I use, they don't carry. It wouldn't matter if they did though. Their prices aren't just higher than I can find online. I'd expect that and gladly pay a small premium to support them. But they charge anywhere from 150% to 400% of the prices I find online. I succumb for items like...oh, a small bottle of photoflo...or some negative sleeves in a pinch but at those prices, they're on their own.
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In velit arcu, consequat at, interdum sit amet, consequat in, quam.

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Here on this little island the streets are paved with silver. I'm extraordinarily fortunate in this regard.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Except for very some basic things, for the darkroom, I must mail order. I have had no problems.

  5. #5

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    Here in the middle of the USA, in the moderately small community I live in, I have had to order everything for decades. I am used to it. Fortunately shipping here in the USA is fast and relatively cheap.

  6. #6

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    In my city, Zaragoza (population 700,000), 120 film is impossible to buy. And 35 mm is very limited, not Velvia or Provia here, just some Ektachrome E100G, Sensia and the usual consumer grade colour negative films. I can buy some Plus-X in 35 mm, and some Ilford HP5, but that's all.

    I buy film in Barcelona, althoug when I run off I'll begin ordering slide film to BHPhoto. It's by far cheaper than in Spain. A 120 roll costs me about 8 euros. If I order 20 rolls to BHPhoto I can buy it for half the spanish price. B&W prices are very similar so I'll continue buying it in Barcelona. I can travel there in less than 4 hours for 23 euros, cheaper than the shipping costs from USA, and I can take a walk in the Ramblas and see old friends of mine.

    I guess I'm the only one buying B&W paper in the city, because when I go to the shops I always see the same stuff, and the holes I left last time I bought... They're not taking new stock, and as I only like FB paper I have to buy it in Madrid or Barcelona now. The same about chemistry. I order it to a B&W specialized shop in Gijon or buy it in Barcelona when I go there.

    Recently I have begun to develop my slides at home. In my city there's no one decent lab, and pro labs from Madrid and Barcelona ruin my slides from time to time, so I have not much options. Anyway, I like it.

    I buy new equipment in Madrid (I can travel there in the same time and the same cost than Barcelona), because it's cheaper than Barcelona for medium format. I ordered there my last supply of paper too, Forte Fortezo Musseum as Ilford Gallerie is no more available in Spain, but reading that Forte is closing it's factory I guess I have to find somewhere to order Ilford Gallerie again over the net.

    I'm beggining to get used to order thing all over the world. My second hand Jobo CPE-2 came with a paper drum and a not working thermostat, so I had a little adventure. Jobo processors have never been well known in Spain, only a few photo clubs and enthusiasts used it, so now is imposible to find them, with the exception of some high end models I can't afford anyway. So I ordered the E-6 kit to BHPhoto, then I discovered I can't use the paper drum for film, and that the roller block only works with paper drums, so I found a provider of spare parts in Luxemburg, I bought there a 1520 tank and the rollers, meanwhile I noticed the thermostat was not working ok, so I asked JOBO US Technical service and they adressed me to a german technical service who sold me the thermostat replacement.

    I don't feel like a hermit, I fell like a warrior fighting an endless combat against the world. But people from my region are known for being stubborn, if I say "I'll use film" be sure I'll do even if I have to be the last man standing.

  7. #7
    jstraw's Avatar
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    I should add that when J&C reopens, I will be in a position to support them as a retailer, not as a mail-order business, since they are an hour away by car and it's a place I go regularly for shopping trips already (nearest Costco is there).
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In velit arcu, consequat at, interdum sit amet, consequat in, quam.

  8. #8
    Alex Bishop-Thorpe's Avatar
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    There's a great array of photography stores here locally, 4 of them I can think of off the top of my head that all sell traditional stuff, and the other has a ridiculous amount of film on show. I suspect the local arts school has a part to play in this, since a year of analogue photography is a required part of the course before you do anything digital.
    When I can get into the city I buy off the shelves, usually I save that way anyway ($25 a pro pack of Velvia in 120, on special), but so far as convenience goes, being an hour and a half away from those stores I usually just buy online.
    The Analogue Laboratory, or 'so you built a darkroom in an old factory in the industrial zone'.
    Blog thing!.

    Worry less. Photograph more.

  9. #9
    Black Dog's Avatar
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    I've bought most of my materials from Silverprint in London for years, simply because they were the only supplier for stuff like Forte paper and film in Blighty. Also they're handily located just round the corner from Waterloo station.I could buy film in all sizes up to 5x4 in Salisbury when I lived in Wiltshire, but large quantities I normally bought on culture vulturing trips to London or by mail order. Now I'm right out in the sticks I have to mail order everything, though luckily I brought a big pile of stuff over with me. Anyway, I can always get friends to be mules for me............
    "He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves: and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said 'Poor old Baggins!' and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy till the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long "- JRR Tolkien, ' The Hobbit '.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by arigram View Post
    ...your suggestion in improving the situation considering the analog market?
    Well, I'm in rural France -- SERIOUSLY rural -- and can't buy anything in any quantity or at a sensible price much closer than Paris (300 km away), and Parisian prices are for the most part so high that it's cheaper to order from the UK, especially Mailshots (www.mailshots.co.uk). Tell 'em I sent you and you should get good service in Greece too. For anything out of the ordinary, Silverprint in London is unbeatable and Martin is a REALLY nice guy.

    This is the future, I think: fewer and fewer outlets, and the only chance to see/handle kit at camera fairs/dealer shows (such as Bievres in France or Focus in the UK) or a few good secondhand dealers e.g. (in the UK again) Bernard Hunter in Bristol and Camerex in Exeter or equally few good new dealers such as Robert White -- plus of course specialists such as Linhof and Professional. Or deal direct with e.g. Eddie at Gandolfi.

    Mind you, the same is true of digital, unless you want happy-snap cameras.

    I've had very few problems with mail-order.

    Cheers,

    R.

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