We are now more than two years into the pandemic. Its effects, exacerbated by supply chain disruptions, climate emergencies, and inflation, are higher prices and diminished product availability.
Film photography is affected by all of the above and more.
Yet the average cost of a 36-exposure 35mm film has gone up by just 3.52%, according to my latest store survey. This isn’t the news many of us want to hear, yet it’s so much better than expected.
Stop reading manufacturers’ price change announcements.
Though I report price change announcements by major film manufacturers whenever they happen, they do not directly reflect on store prices.
Retail businesses make their own decisions about markups. Sometimes, they will eat some of their profit to keep the prices more or less stable. They may order different quantities of film products, choose a different logistic route, or a different fulfilment strategy. Other times they will drop a product or choose another. There’s a lot that the store owners do to keep their pricing attractive.
Whenever I write reports like the one you’re reading now, I visit every store on the list and record customer-facing prices. And amongst those numbers, I often discover a few gems, like:
Films that got cheaper.
There are hundreds of film brands selling emulsions today. And while the overall cost of shooting film tends to go up, some products occasionally get cheaper. For example, eight of 29 film stocks surveyed cost less than they did six months ago.
✪ Note: All prices are in USD per single 35mm film canister of 36exp.
JCH StreetPan 400 — One of my favourite black and white films got cheaper by about 10% since the beginning of the year (81 cents below February 2022 prices).
Kodak Ektachrome E100 — A brand new-ish slide film from Kodak now costs 80¢ less than six months ago.
Ilford Ortho Plus 80 — Got cheaper by 42¢.
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 — Despite Fujifilm’s numerous announcements of increasing prices, one of their films got cheaper, though not by much. A 27¢ drop.
Ilford Pan F Plus 50 — I saw the average price for this film drop by four cents. This isn’t a significant drop, but perhaps you should expect its price to be about the same as it did at the beginning of the year.
Kodak T-Max films — All of the Kodak T-Max films saw 30-50¢ price drops since February.
What else has changed?
You may have trouble finding single rolls of Portra 160 or Portra 400 in 35mm and 120. Though the prices of those films have increased by less than 5%, I’ve noticed that many of the stores surveyed no longer sell singles.
Fomapan Classic 100 remains the best bargain at $5.54 per roll — cheaper than any other film surveyed.
Limitations of this survey.
I can’t possibly survey every store out there. I’ve got time for just eight: Analogue Wonderland, Camera Film Photo, Film Photography Project, Adorama, BH Photo, Freestyle Photo, Macodirect, and Blue Moon Camera. I tried to include stores from North America, Europe, and Asia, but they are all English-language websites.
My store selection also occasionally changes, which can affect things. I’ve also decided to exclude stores and marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart from my list because they tend to have poor availability and some of the worst prices on film in the universe.
Film Price Tracker.
If you’re interested in film prices and would like to stay on top of them, the best way is to subscribe to the free semi-annual reports on film costs.
Meanwhile, consider firing up the Film Price Tracker app before you do your film shopping this year. It’s free, you don’t need to download anything, and it will save you money. All I ask for in return is to please share it with your film-shooting friends. Thanks!