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  1. #1

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    Keeping It Affordable

    How about a thread on reducing costs associated with film photography - it does get expensive. Here are my tips for keeping it affordable (others please add your tips):

    - For 35mm negatives - get them developed at Target for only 94 cents, next day development only. Buy the $100 photo gift card to save another 20%, or about 76 cents a roll for negs only. Add the Target Photo CD for 2.99 if you need it. Includes both hi and low res scans. Better quality and less expensive than the Kodal CD they also offer. (Kodak has lower res scans, but you get a pretty yellow Kodak disc rather than a red Target disk)

    -Get a Costco or Sams Club membership. Those negs you got developed at Target can be printed at Costco on a top of the line Fuji Frontier using Crystal Archive paper for only 15 cents a frame for 4x6 or 37 cents for 5x7 or 1.49 for an 8x10 or 8x12. Need even larger? As I said, they have the most expensive/best Frontier you can buy, and can do 11x14 or 12x18 prints for only 2.49. Plus, their quality is great, as good as any pro lab. If you have a film scanner, you can get pro color profiles and e-mail in your order, But I figure, why waste Your time scanning when they will do it for you and print it for only 15 cents? Plus, even with my Minolta Scan Elite 5400 top end film scanner, I notice that with high speed grainy film , their scanner and algorythyms do a much better job at reducing grain and smoothing the image out.
    Sadly, they used to do send out slides for 3.19/4.19 a 24/36 exp. roll, but cancelled the sendout program last Fall.

    -For Kodachrome, use the much hated Walmart via their sendout envelopes for only 3.88/4.88 a 24/36 exp roll. But sleep well at night knowing that it is not Walmart, but Fuji Processing and Dwaynes Photo in Kansas getting the business.

    _For Medium Format, again there is a great deal, but you will have to walk into a Walmart store. I hate walmart too, but I keep my consious cleen by remembering that their sendout service is to Fuji Labs. Fuji is keeping film photography alive, and still bringing out new films. I would rather support them, than that over priced pro lab down the street that has sold out to digital and delivers mediocre quality and poor customer service. Even if Fuji were more, I would use them. But the beauty is that they are not. In fact, they have great prices. Check this out: 1.80 for negs developed AND 16 3x5 prints from 120 film. Strangely, it is 6 bucks if you use 220 film with 32 prints. 120 OR 220 E-6 slides for only 4.88. Fantastic deal - and fantastic quality. Use the send out envelopes, and mark the Special Instructions box at the bottom, for example: 120 size C-41 negative film, 3x5 matte prints, 2 week special service. Or, 220 E-6 slide film, 2 week special service. Dont worry, it never takes 2 weeks, usually about a week.

    For 35mm slides, you have 2 choices: Use Fuji Processing thru walmart or get the Fuji Slide mailers. THe slide mailers will get you better looking slide boxes and mounts, both printed with the Green Fujichrome label. Thru walmart you get an ugly black plastic box and 1960's style slide mount printing ("Color Slide" printed in a funny looking red font). Sendout thru the store is 3.88/4.88 a 24/36 exp roll. The mailers are 5 bucks each thru BH Photo or Adorama. To save on postage, mail 2 or more at a time in a larger envelope and postage will only cost 40-60 cents a roll.

    BW (not C41) film - get negs only developed at Fuji Labs thru Walmart. About $1.50/roll. Have best frames printed for 30 cents ea. or so.

    Film - order online from BH Photo and Adorama both out of NYC. Shipping is 5 dollars, so order several rolls at a time. But their prices are unbeatable, as well as a huge selection of films still available.
    www.bhphoto.com or www.adorama.com

    Hope this helps others keep on shooting without going broke or digital. Any other tips would be great.

  2. #2

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    g'day pukalo

    one phrase springs to mind, "false economy"

    you may well save money doing the above, but is it worth it?

    my experience of cheap colour processing is, it's cheap colour processing

    for many reasons a photographer who cares about their work insists on the best processing possible

    maybe you could economise by shooting less and better images

    or shock/horror switch to digital, as i have done for all my colour work, the main reason being the lack of affordable good quality colour film processing and printing

    Ray

  3. #3
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Great suggestions for budget work. One thing to add- for B&W there is no greater economy than processing your own. No darkroom needed, total control, best quality if you are paying attention, minimal investment, and ROI is as fast as you shoot.
    Last edited by JBrunner; 12-21-2007 at 04:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    Gary Holliday's Avatar
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    When I moved to the mainland and needed to find a decent printer. On the phone they said,
    "We are not the cheapest, but we offer the best quality."

    Those were the words I needed to hear. In photography, printing is half the battle in achieving a good quality print. Don't waste your efforts with a cheap printer.

  5. #5
    Snapshot's Avatar
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    I find bulk loading a great way to save on film costs. However, there are some who would argue that the extra work and upfront costs doesn't make it worth while. There is also an argument to be made that there is the increased risk of scratched film. Nonetheless, I was able to purchase excellent film (Agfa Optima II) for $18USD per 30m roll to bulk load and saved quite a bit on film expenses. I've had great success with this 'penny pinching' approach.
    "The secret to life is to keep your mind full and your bowels empty. Unfortunately, the converse is true for most people."

  6. #6

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    In the long term a free printer and processor especially in B&W is best. He/she is called YOU. I take it you will work for yourself for free? OK the peripherals such as equipment and chemicals for darkroom printing will cost you a little but in even the medium term it will pay for itself. I am also assuming you intend to have prints made for the medium term at least. If so, give it a go yourself. Even in old age I assume I will live forever or if not forever then at least so far into the future that I cannot possibly predict an end date.

    The last sentence may well cover the future of analogue photography as well. There's plenty of time to try the " all his own work" strategy. There's even a guy on APUG willing to show you how's its done on video for free and how laid back it can be. He's so laid back that next time he makes a video I expect it to involve a rocking chair. He's called Macfreak or similar but what he wants you to ingest is non fattening and a whole lot healthier than the other Mac.

    There's cheaper and better and combining both and calling it "doing it my way".

    pentaxuser

  7. #7
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    Pukalo, good first post, welcome to APUG.

    I agree with Ray regarding cheap false economy, but in the early days of your colour work I cannot see how you can do it differently. I disagree with Ray on the costs involved with colour film and processing, I still do my own as well as printing.

    Bulk loaded 35mm film is possibly the greatest money saver invented. I've been bulk loading B&W and colour film, continuously for over 30 years. It cannot be beaten for price.

    Doing your own B&W developing will in the long term be the cheapest for you, I firmly believe it will also make you a better photographer.

    Mixing up developing solutions from bulk chemicals is another important way to save money, but not always. Sometimes I don't worry about the slightly increased cost of mixing my own for personal satisfaction and consistency, as those two things are more important to me.

    With 4x5 B&W film I prefer Ilford FP4+. The cheapest and best way I currently know to get this film, is from the USA from Badger in 100 sheet boxes. Doing it this way I can purchase each sheet of film for about 50% less than the best price in Australia.

    Careful storage of B&W paper processing chemicals can mean you save greatly by being able to use the developer until it really is at chemical exhaustion instead of being oxidised out.

    Mick.

  8. #8

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    Labs depend alot on your local places. Last time I checked the Walmart I was near did a fine job on processing C-41. The problem was the person who then handled the stuff. You really need to test and check the place out. OTOH the consumer labs didn't seem that much cheaper then the local pro labs and were more expensive then doing it myself.

    I'm all in favour of bulking loading but colour film doesn't seem to offer the same cost saving. It's nice to save room in the fridge but the cost of a 100' of film seems fairly similar to the cost of pre-loaded.

  9. #9
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Another economy is to move up a format. I have recently moved up to medium format in 6x6. This means 12 frames per roll and a slower way of working. I will still shoot 35mm, but only in situations where a large camera would be impractical or obtrusive.

    <edit> and as said previously, developing your own saves a lot.


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  10. #10
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    Nick, regarding colour film versus B&W bulk loaded, I think to some extent it could be country specific.

    With B&W film (Ilford) the saving is about 60% if you buy at the right time and place.

    With colour neg (Kodak) the saving is about 35%.

    This is with Australian prices.

    With home developing of the film I don't know about B&W as I have never sent any away for developing and within reason, I don't think it is offered. My costs are about $0.40 a roll.

    With Colour film I very rarely send any to a lab, only the very occasional party roll. The cost of developing a C41 135 36 frame roll, is about $3.50 to $4.00 locally depending. This is more than what it costs for me to develop with my own chemicals. My cost currently, is about $2.50 a roll. If I was doing more and mixed and developed at the maximum efficiency of film roll numbers, it comes down to a shade over $2.00.

    Mick.

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