Can you resist a bargain?

For some time now I’ve been trying to reduce the variety of different film stocks I use. For black and white, my current favourite is Ilford FP4+, of which I have 100 sheets of 5*4, about 30 rolls of 120, and a couple of rolls of 35mm in stock.

That’s not because I think there’s anything magical about FP4+; it’s more because I think that trying out different film stocks is a bit of a distraction from finding the most photogenic subjects and composing them to the best of my ability in favourable lighting conditions.

This attempt to reduce the variety has faced many diversions when I decide to buy something else without a logical reason. The latest diversion occured when I was in Boots and decided to have a look at what film they had in stock. I didn’t have any great hopes because they seem to have stopped the “3 for 2” offers which bought their film into a reasonable price range. Today however my eyes settled on a box of three Lomography Lady Grey films which were marked as £5.00 for the box. A quick check on my phone showed that a typical selling price was £14-£18 so I started thinking about whether this was cheap enough to tempt me away from the FP4 path.

At one time it appears that Lomography Lady Grey was repackaged Kodak film. Some people say it was TMax and some say it was Tri-X. But the box states “made in Czech Republic” so that means it can only be Fomapan 400. At full price, it would be cheaper to buy original Fomapan than a re-packaged version.

I made my way to the checkout with the film, still a little unsure. Would I actually shoot the film ? I knew that I had a roll of FP4 in a Praktica that had been partly used for about 6 months and a roll of TMax 100 in a Mamiya ZM, stuck at frame 1 for even longer. There was a delay at the checkouts and I thought about dumping the film before completing the purchase (and just buying a meal deal). But the film remained stuck in my mitts and was handed over to the cashier …. who rang it in as (drumroll!) £2 for a roll of three, 36-exposure films.

So now my regrets were over and I could convince myself that 66.6p per roll was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

That doesn’t mean to say I’ll actually get round to using it within the next two years. I still have four rolls of Agfa Vista 200 film from the days when Poundland sold it for £1 a roll but I actually managed to get a sealed brick of 10 films for a £1, ie 10p for film. Even at that price I’ve not found the occasion to actually shoot the film.

2 comments

  1. Gosh I think I need to get out more. Got so frustrated looking for film in Oman, I would just buy 30mts of T-max & Fp4+ before leaving UK, then spend a couple of days loading my own, back in Oman.
    If I could get short dated film, all the better.
    Two bath development usually compensated for any contrast or loss of speed problems. Although a Kodak rep told me that their film would be good for 3 to 5 years after use by date if stored in freezer.
    I have some that is 15 years out of date & still good. I just made sure it got to room temperature slowly.
    Never thought of Boots, so thank you.

  2. Hi David, up until about 2010 Boots used to sell rebranded slide film which was Fuji Sensia 200. It cost about £7.50 including processing and mounting and they had a 3-for-2 offer so you could get three rolls for £15. Those were the days.

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