Tag Archives: film

What About Cost

Now you’re probably asking isn’t it expensive to shoot film? My answer is, it depends.

The cost of shooting depends on several factors, price of the equipment you get, price of film, and price of developing and printing or scanning. It is very possible to get a camera, shoot 52 24 exposure rolls of film in a year (that’s 1248 shots in a year), and develop and scan/print for less than a full frame DSLR, mirrorless or compact digital camera. That of course depends on how much you shoot. if you’re going to fire off a couple of thousand shots in a month then digital is cheaper, but if you’re the casual shooter you could pay less in 2 to 4 years that the equivalent full frame digital camera.

Here’s a quick breakdown for comparison:

Starting with an consumer SLR, a Minolta XG1, with two lenses, vs a professional SLR with a lens, the Canon EOS 1V, vs. a “prosumer” DSLR with 1 lens, a Nikon D610, and two professional DSLRs, a Nikon D810 with a lens, and Canon 5D Mk III with a lens, vs. a mirrorless camera, Sony A7 II with a lens. All prices are in Canadian dollars, Source for the DSLRs and mirrorless cameras was Henrys.com and the film cameras was Ebay.

So first I will start with the price of film and developing (with printing or scanning) based on prices that I pay. First Walmart Canada sells 24 exposure Kodak UltraMax 400 in three packs for $14.95, they also sell Kodak Gold 200 in three packs but for these comparisons I’ll use the UltraMax. I get my film developed at Foto Art in Owen Sound Ontario Canada. Currently they will develop and print or scan a 24 exposures for around $13.00. For ease of math I will base the prices on someone shooting 54 rolls for the year. Film cost for the year is $304.08 and developing is $702.00, making a total of 1006.08 for 1 year. For two years of shooting the film costs run around $2012.16, four years is around $4024.32. These prices include taxes appropriate for Ontario.

Next we have the camera prices, these prices don’t include taxes and the Ebay prices only include shipping, not any extra duties or taxes.

Film Camera Price Digital Camera Price
Minolta XG1+45mm & 28-85mm
Camera+Film costs 1 year
Camera+Film costs 2 years
Camera+Film costs 4 years
Nikon D610+50mm f/1.4 $2129.91
Canon EOS 1V+24-105mm
Camera+Film costs 1 year
Camera+Film costs 2 years
Camera+Film costs 4 years
Nikon D810+24-120mm $4199.99
Sony A7R II+28-70mm $2099.99

Next, if you want the quality of full frame but in a compact package, you’ll want a compact camera. For this I’ll put the Contax T2 up against the Sony RX19 II as they are similar.

Film Camera Price Digital Camera Price
Contax T2
Camera+Film costs 1 year
Camera+Film costs 2 years
Camera+Film costs 4 years
Sony RX19 II $4199.99

In conclusion, while the total cost of camera and film and processing can exceed the cost of a digital camera within 2+ years it must be remembered that that cost is spread out over time where the digital camera has to be paid out in one lump sum. Also remember that with digital the manufacturers keep coming out with newer cameras with better image quality, often every year, while you can be sure with any film camera that the quality will be pretty much consistent depending on which film you use. Digital cameras often don’t have a long life expectancy, especially the entry level DSLRs. The main advantage for getting a film camera is that the cost of ownership is spread out in manageable chunks instead of a single amount.

As well, you can often find excellent film cameras for a lot less than what I quoted above. I had seen a Yashica SLR with 3 lenses at a yard sale for $35.00 but at the time didn’t have the money. The film cost can also be less if you don’t shoot a lot of rolls in a year. You also may be able to find a better price for film or developing. Walmart Canada used to develop and scan or print film for $5.00, they no longer do film.

If you really want the advantages and quality of “full frame” but can’t afford the initial outlay for a full frame camera, you can’t go wrong with a decent film camera.

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Why Shoot Film

March down Queen St

One question I get asked a lot after the usual “You can still buy film?”, is “Why do you still like to shoot film?”

Now to answer this I will start by saying that I do shoot digital a lot more than I do film and that is mainly for the convenience, however as mentioned in my previous post, I am moving more into shooting film. Now, I have a few reasons, a lot are sentimental or nostalgic reasons, but some are comfort and usability reasons. I was featured on Shooting Film in their “5 Things I Love About Film“.

So, here we go, why I still like to shoot film:

  1. The colours, especially reds and oranges. Among my favourite subjects are sunsets and the look of a sunset on film is so rich in the reds and oranges. To get a similar look in digital I would have to spend a lot of time in RAWTherapee with saturation and other adjustments and then have to deal with ugly digital colour noise, which brings me to:
  2. The grain, there is something pleasing about the grain of film, even the grain in ISO 3200 film is pleasant to look at. It is something “organic” and fits in with the picture, where often digital noise is harsh, rough edged and even worse, spots of blue, green or red.Wizard in Wood
  3. It is limiting in ways that help you to become a better photographer. While I will always maintain that digital is best for first time learning because you can get instant feedback and not have to worry about the number of shots, that advantage is also a big disadvantage. With film the disadvantage of not getting instant feedback and limited number of shots is also a great advantage because it forces you to think and take your time, not just go and say “I’ll take several shots, different angles, etc, then delete the ones I don’t like or fix them in post.”
  4. Handling of film. There is something soothing and exciting about handling a canister of 135 or a roll of 120 film and loading that sticking a memory card in the camera just can’t match. Same thing goes for handling the negatives versus putting the pictures on the computer.f1000023
  5. This one is a big one. The cameras! There are so many different styles of film cameras out there, but they all have one thing in common, they feel more satisfying to use. You are more involved in the use of a film camera, it’s not just turning it on and pushing buttons. It’s loading the film, winding the film (on those without motors), it’s the feeling of the shutter button or the focus ring or the aperture and shutter controls. (The below picture contains all my film cameras and one digital. Left to Right: Nikon FE, Canon AE-1, Kodak Star 435 converted to pinhole, Pentax Espio 80v, Canon SnappyQ, Kodak Instamatic X-15F, Canon Sure Shot WP-1, Agfa Optima1a/Agfamatic, Minolta XG1, Konica FT-1 Motor, and the digital Canon PowerShot S30)cameras
  6. The waiting to see the pictures. Since there is no display and the film needs to develop, you don’t get a chance to see the pictures ahead of time. Waiting to see the pictures can make it more exciting and make you value and carefully choose each shot before you take it.
  7. The social aspects. Sure with digital you can get the pictures up on your favourite social media site very quickly and get “likes” for them. But with a film camera you get true social interaction before even taking the shot. Everyone is curious about the camera and why you’re using it. Even after finishing a roll, if you get prints made, you get to see the real reactions of people to your pictures.

Well, that pretty much covers my reasons for using film, it’s a fun and social experience that can’t be easily matched. Next we’ll take a look at getting started and what you need to get started.

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Welcome to My Adventure in Film

Penetangore River and Kincardine Lighthouse

First of all, welcome to my blog following my adventures in film photography as I move more and more into shooting film. Film photography has been making a comeback as of late thanks in part to companies like Lomography and Japan Camera Hunter, and various blogs like PDExposures and Shooting Film becoming more high profile, as well as a large variety of Youtube channels that either focus on film photography, like Matt Day Photo, or feature film related segments, such as DigitalRev TV, and also the “hipster” movement. With all that, a lot of nostalgia and some help over the last couple of years from friends, online and locally I have decided to start a return to serious film photography.

This adventure actually started around two years ago when I picked up three cameras at a yard sale for $5. I had seen an old Agfa Optima1a at the local Lion’s Club yard sale and offered them $5 for the camera, not knowing what it was, when all of a sudden one of the workers came up to me and handed me two more and said just take them. The other two were a Pentax Espio 80v and a Yashica point and shoot. I kept the Pentax and Agfa and got rid of the Yashica because it was gummed up. Later in 2013 I received a Canon AE-1, from a friend on Twitter, to replace my old one which had jammed up around ten years prior. Since then I have acquired several different film cameras including a Nikon FE, Minolta XG1, a Canon WP-1, and even an old Kodak Instamatic.

That is all and good, but in my opinion, why collect cameras if you’re not going to use them. So in this blog I will be featuring most of the cameras in my collection minus two that don’t work and the Instamatic which uses 126 film which isn’t available anymore. Along with featuring specific cameras from my collection I am going to discuss why I still like to shoot film, why I think everybody should shoot film along side their digital cameras, and give tips and advice on getting started in film photography.



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