Shopping around for film

Sometimes when I am out using a film camera, passers by ask “can you still get film for that?”, which makes me wonder why they think I’m carrying the camera about and pointing it at things and pressing the shutter button, if I couldn’t get film for it.

Newcomers to film photography often ask the much more sensible question “where can I buy film ?”

It has to be said that it’s not too easy to buy film in shops any more, but it is very easy to buy it online.

The suppliers

Here are the web addresses for nine suppliers (all in the UK) that I have personally bought film from:

These are NOT “affiliate links” and I don’t get any financial benefit from listing them. Neither is this anywhere near a complete list of UK film suppliers, as it is limited to those I have used and who provided the goods I ordered in the time scale expected.

Most of these suppliers also have physical shops so you’re lucky if you happen to live near them.

Occasionally I do a little price comparison exercise to look up the prices from different suppliers before placing an order. Today I looked up prices for the two films that I use most:

  • Ilford FP4+ – an ISO125 black and white film
  • Kodak Portra 400 – an ISO400 colour negative film

I calculated the prices for 10 rolls of each film, and also checked the postage costs. All these suppliers (except for 7dayshop) charge postage separately to the product cost, and the minimum postage cost does vary. Hence you need to consider both in the price equation.

Because of postage costs, it’s not really worth buying just 1 roll of film online. However when you buy 10 rolls or more, then the varying postage costs become less of an issue.

The overview

The graph below is intended to summarise the extent of price variation amongst the 9 suppliers studied. The red and blue lines which are the prices for Ilford FP4+. You can see there is some variation in price. However there is much more variation in the prices of Kodak Portra 400, represented by the purple and green lines.

The details

The graph does not identify the individial suppliers, but the supplier specific costs are shown in the following tables. I’m not going to say too much about the findings as you can draw your own conclusions.

I will just conclude with three comments:

a) Most of these suppliers can provide a wide range of film-related products, such as chemicals, paper, and negative storage. Sometimes the suppliers who are not the cheapest for film alone can become more attractive if your shopping basket includes other items.

b) Most of these suppliers can also supply a wide range of other films, as well as the ones I chose to check the prices for. 7dayshop provide a much narrower range of film, covering Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji.

c) Kodak Portra 400 seems to be particularly expensive at the moment so I personally will hold off buying it in the hope that the prices will drop. I have purchased 5-packs of 120 Portra 400 for less than £25 in the past. That’s one reason to buy at least 10 rolls, so that you can pick your time to buy the next batch.

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