So hard to start up with film!
I have been agonizing over getting back into film. Back and forth and back and forth....over and over and over. I want so much to buy a GF670 medium format film camera. I know I can buy in cheaper but I dont want to do that. I certainly dont want to buy a 35mm camera. I want to get a new medium format camera and the GF670 is it.
Yet all I read about is how the processing part of the film industry is collapsing. My research on where to get film developed in Shanghai China (where I live) is nothing but an exercise in futility. A city of 27 million people has virtually no film developers except super cheapo mom & pops that dont give a damn if your negatives survive the process. Maybe 1 or 2 pro labs, maybe.
I have very little interest in scanning. I want glorious, beautiful, medium format prints. Color prints. Like I used to get 15 years ago shooting 6 X 9. I have shot hundreds of rolls of film in that format and just love the prints you get from that.
My deadline to get this camera is only a few weeks away and I just cant pull the trigger. I wasted so much time on digital and now am facing a dead end.
I post this as a cry for help!
Finding a place that develops and prints can be hard today as you have noticed.
On the other hand, darkroom equipment is cheap and plentiful so why not have a go at it yourself?
If I were living at home in the US, I would do that no question. However, I'm an expat living in China and do not know how long I will be here. Could be 1 more year, could be 5 more years, could be 6 months. I can't start buying dark room equipment in such an environment.
Originally Posted by Jesper
I would suggest that you look around for mail order labs, I don't know what the postal service is like in Shanghai, but in London, that's what I do. I've got pro labs I can walk to easy, but I prefer to send off, it's easier than walking down one day and walking back the next, got better things to do...
If film processing collapses in your part of the would, I'd deal with it when it happens. For B&W, processing yourself can be easy, but the enlarging requires a lot more space and kit. I'd reconsider scanning, I know it's taboo to speak of it on this forum, but scanning medium format can give superb results on reasonably inexpensive scanners.
I will say though, that I don't think you can do any better than a GF670. It's just beautiful to behold, and a statement that in this age of plastic computers for cameras, there are companies making medium format folding cameras. It's very portable and easy to use to, amazing camera really.
I'm also an expat living abroad and I haven't had a darkroom for the past two years (although I recently got some equipment). I've mostly been developing my own film (not colour though) and using a darkroom whenever I head up to Tokyo (once or twice a year). Like you, I have no idea how long I'll be staying here, but photography is important to me, and to that end, I finally have everything I need to set up a darkroom in my house (I just need the time to do it!).
How's your Chinese? Maybe there are photo clubs where probably former film photographers hang out. They might know where to go to get developing done. Have you tried asking at the mom and pop shops? They might know too. Or perhaps cameras stores that sell used gear? It's in one of those mom-and-pop used gear shops that I found 2-hour turnaround developing for all colour film - negative or slides! And this in a city of about 800,000 people. I'm sure Shanghai must have something somewhere.
If not, then how important is it for you to shoot film? Why are you opposed to scanning? I think most photo-finishing places around the world no longer do optical prints -- the negs are scanned and they are printed from that. Perhaps you could develop and scan until you're more sure about what you want. And if not, it either means doing everything yourself, or sticking with digital.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
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It might be possible to get a colleague who speaks Chinese to call China Lucky and ask them.I believe they still make 35mm color film.
not sure if this is any help, but there are a few labs mentioned in this old thread:
maybe some are still around that you can use ...
maybe you should become good friends with one of the mom and pop stores you mention
feed them film and money and they will become your friend too.
if you don't want to do that, shoot e6 and process your own chromes in a unicolor or jobo drum.
you don't need an enlarger or darkroom equipment to speak of, just the drum and a roller,
and you can sell it before you leave china.
and black/white well, that is as easy as just buying some cheap instant coffee and fixer.
go to dpug.com and learn how cheap, easy and good using a scanner is and how
a hybrid workflow might be the way to go, it certainly is for 90% of the color labs out there ...
Last edited by jnanian; 06-12-2012 at 06:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the replies. Isn't anyone going to play devil's advocate though?
Sure. Buy a Sony NEX 7 and forget film!
Originally Posted by RattyMouse
Seriously, though, I'd try to connect with the local film subculture somehow. You might post on this site's forums, sound suitably pathetic/desperate, and see if anyone can help out:
Yeah, i've made 2 attempts to connect to some local film shooters with only marginal success. None seem to print their images which really boggles my mind. I cannot imagine shooting medium format and not printing. I used to love looking at the images I made from my medium format camera and now feel utterly stupid for surrendering that experience the past 8 years or so. You cannot even get optical prints anymore!! My goodness!
Originally Posted by CGW