It’s film price update time! Every so often I’ll run these numbers to see what has changed. If you have a hypothesis, you have to experiment to verify it, and then you have to repeat it to see if it stands up. Or so some science prof told me once a long time ago.
I’m not going to cover what equipment you need to roll your own, or develop at home again. It’s one time cost that you can amortize if you want to. I don’t enjoy math like that, you weirdo.
Are you ready kids?
Here we go!
Vision 3/ ECN-2
There are more options on the market than before, a step in the right direction.
Clocking in at just $18 is the reining champion of inexpensive dev kits, Eric at Conspiracy of Cartographers. Also the holder of the most obscure user name reference, he has gotten 20 rolls developed out of his kit. I usually stop at 15, making the cost of this kit $1.20 per roll. I use a vinegar stop bath, which adds about 8 cents a roll, and the presoak to remove remjet uses baking soda which is about 3 cents per roll.
Cinestill has a new simplified kit I haven’t tried that comes in at $30, but the literature claims it is only good for 8 rolls. That gives us a cost of $3.75 a roll. The presoak is not included, so add 3 cents a roll for that.
Flic Film from Canada has a 1 liter kit for $44 that develops 16 rolls for a cost of $2.75 a roll. They also offer a monster 5 liter kit that can handle 80 rolls for $108, leading to a cost of $1.35 a roll. These kits include everything, so no additional costs can be incurred.
Color bulk rolls are as follows: 5207/250D is $108, 5203/50D is $98, 5213/200T is $108, and 5219/500T is $108. These prices have been pretty stable for the past year. Rolling your own in to canisters gives you 18 rolls per 100ft bulk roll, which is $6 a roll for everything but 50D. That stock is $5.45 per roll.
Individual color film rolls are way up. Cinestill 800T is pretty much 5219 without remjet and costs over twice as much at $16.49. For individual 36 shot rolls: Ultramax is $12.99, Portra 800 is 17.99, Ektar 100 is $18.99, Portra 160 is $15.29 and Portra 400 is $15.79.
Holy crap, those prices jumped a lot.
Black and White:
Kodak 5222 is steady at $120 per 100 ft for $6.66 per roll. Throw the horns to honor their consistency.
For comparison: TMAX 100 is $168 per 100 ft or $9.33 per roll, TMAX 400 is $175 per 100 ft or $9.72 per roll, and Tri-x 400 is $190 per 100 ft or $10.56 per roll. Ouch. In individual 36 shot rolls, they are all $13.
Kodak’s HC-110 is still $44 per bottle, and Ilford Rapid Fix is $16 per 500ml bottle. Throwing in the cost of a vinegar stop bath, it’s still 74 cents per roll in Patterson tanks. Using a Jobo stretches this farther and reduces the cost even more.
Unicolor kits are $30 and develop 15 rolls so the math is simple there. $2 a pop.
Using cine film is still a clearly cheaper alternative. Film costs for color ECN-2 are less than half of even the cheapest Kodak C-41. Home development is cheaper than C-41 as well, except for the Cinestill kit. There’s not a lab out there that can compete with the costs of home development. Black and white development costs are the same, but 5222 costs significantly less. If you want to save more money, you can go with cheaper stocks in 100 foot rolls like Foma.
So there is it folks. How to keep your film costs under control and not hurt your wallet quite as much. Get after it!