Best Bargins On-Line to Buy Film
Here's the latest basic question from a very green greenhorn. I am sure all of you figured this question out light ages ago, but I am young and need guidance.
Still haven't won the clearinghouse sweepstakes since my last post yesterday -- a.k.a. I am still poor, even poorer today knowing that my truck needs to get a new catalytic convertor to pass my state's emissions test
Anyhow, I want some B&W film -- and want to find the best bargain around. As I mentioned earlier, I am far from being a pro, but I am looking for some general purpose, all-around BW film to shoot with my 35 mm Cannon EOS-Elan II, then develop and print later in my homemade darkroom. Maybe 20 rolls to begin with? Will be shooting with the only lens I got -- 28-80mm zoom lens that came with the camera. I figured 400 speed is the way for me to go -- get some Kodak or Ilford stuff. Want to do outdoor landscape shooting, maybe use it indoors for get togethers, parties, etc. In a word, I am not an artist by profession and ain't expecting to sell these prints for hundreds of dollars, or put them on a slick developed homepage gallery -- just like photography, darkroom work, and feel I have a good eye.
So, here are the questions:
Is 400 speed the way for me to go (still getting my feet wet)?
What brand/type would you recommend?
What brand/type is the most affordable?
Is Ebay the way to go?
What are the other best-bargained sites for buying b&w film?
For buying paper and chemicals?
All thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
A source for cheap (bulk)film: http://store.ultrafineonline.com Besides the regular B&W film brands they also sell their own.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
Far from being an expert myself, I decided to go with bulk-loaded rolls of Ilford Delta-400. Here in Quebec City, a roll of 24 exp was $6.50. I went onto eBay, found a bulk-loader and 10 (new) Kodak cassettes for $25. 30m of Delta 400 goes for $55.
I went with Delta-400 because it is my favourite film in terms of flexibility. Should I need a roll of something else, I'll go and pick one up.
Long story short, I did the math and bulk-loading works for me!
As for paper and chemicals, I have a couple of choices in town, and all of it is fairly reasonable price-wise. Again, I am no expert, but I would imagine that apart from bulk-loading, there are probably no really significant ways of saving money.
A great deal depends upon what you will be taking pictures of. If your work trends to photojournalism, sports or animals, 400 ASA would be a wise choice. If you want architectural, landscape, or found objects you will use a slower shutter speed, so 100 ASA will get you decreased grain and more satisfaction in the darkroom as those 8x10 or larger prints get pulled from the hypo.
As a start with 35 mm, I would suggest you learn how to use a tripod and a cable release. There aren't very many grains of silver on a 35mm piece of film (compared with LF) and you want your negatives as sharp as possible. Unless you aspire to be the next Cartier-Bresson, take some time with composition and camera placement. If you have no tripod, a broomstick with a 1/4-20 stud screwed in will make a serviceable monopod for stability.
You seem anxious to get started, and don't have money for a bulk loader and bulk film--it's a fabulous money saver, but you have to spend a lot to save a lot. Most large camera stores near a school cater to students and sell a generic-priced film that is cheaper than TMax or Tri-X. There may also be a price break if you buy a brick or half-brick. You might ask if other impecunious customers would go in with you on a brick. A store such as this can also help with bulk chemicals that are far cheaper than the Kodak and Ilford brands.
Good luck, happy experimentation. Post your work.
you are probably going to get a hundred different options; but this is what i suggest to my students. Start with a 400 speed film as it tends to be more forgiving. Either HP5 plus or Tri x.
Bulk loading is certainly cheaper long term, it is not cheaper up front as you will need to get a bulk loader ( tons on ebay) some reuseable cassettes (may or maynot be cheap, depending on the type. Once you have these items the cost will go down.
There are mixed reviews about bulk loading, it seems to be one of those things that you love or hate.
Freestyle carries several re-branded films and re-spooled Ilford. Of course there is always B&H or Adorama. Word has it that they no longer carry gray market film which is cheaper than the US version, but you could check it out.
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For landscape photography with 35mm, I would suggest a slower film. You will, or at least should, be using a tripod anyway, so why not reap the benefits that a slower film has in the 35mm format.
Originally Posted by Huram
400 speed would be better suited for your party shooting.
When I was shooting 35mm, my favorite film by far was Tri-x. For slow film, I would suggest one of the Efke's, 100 or 25, available from J&C. Efke is excellent, as is it's price.
Try Freestyle Photo, http://www.freestylephoto.biz/e_main.php.
Their .EDU line of film is cheap. Repackaged Efke. The standard Arista line is Iflord.
For outdoor landscapes, 100 ISO would be better, indoors the 400 will be fine.
Brian... are you sure that the Arista.EDU is repackaged Efke? If it is why don't they have it in 50 and 25 speeds? And why is Efke only sold in 25, 50, and 100 speeds? Also, if I remember correctly it says that Arista.edu is made in Hungary, not Croatia. Anyway... Arista.EDU is a good baragin, and so is bulk loading film (and if you don't want to do the rolling, Freestyle sells bulk-loaded Ilford for a good price. -Grant
Besides the traditional B&W films, try Ilford's XP2 Super (make sure it's "Super"; I bought 30 rolls at a great price and found out it wasn't "Super". Plain XP2 just isn't the same). It has great latitude, so can be used indoors (up to 800 asa) and out (I usually shoot it at 250 asa). Many labs can process it...it's chromogenic, so is processed just like color film. Ritz Camera charges around $3 (without prints, which come out lousy anyway). Just be sure to request they not touch the negatives with bare hands; fingerprints are difficult to remove. Unique Photo sometimes has specials on 3-packs, otherwise I usually get it through B&H. Good Luck!