Science-Backed Tips for Saving Money on Film in 2024

Based on a 5-Year Retailer Survey

6 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .
Film price inflation graph for Nov 2018 — Jan 2024.

Two months ago, Lomography kicked off a 30% price drop on medium format film. Other manufacturers and retailers, including Kodak, followed suit. I loved seeing that. Cheaper film means more film, right?

Unfortunately, the 135 format did not see such a discount. In fact, 35mm film became noticeably more expensive over the course of the past year. A roll of 36 exposures today costs, on average, 8% more than it did last year.

That should not come as a surprise: inflation drives prices up. But there are still lots of opportunities to spend less and shoot more.

I wrote this article to help you save on film without compromising on quality while supporting the businesses you like. I think it’ll be most helpful for creative professionals and avid amateurs who depend on this stuff.

➜ Free Download: Film Price Inflation Nov 2018 — Jan 2024 (PNG)

How being price-aware can help you save money on film.

We are lucky to have well over a hundred film brands and types to choose from. Unfortunately, this amount of choice makes it difficult to tell exactly how much it costs to shoot film. Just because your favourite roll is more expensive at one particular shop, doesn’t mean you have to eat the cost or have less film to shoot.

This guide uses data collected over the past five years across eight specialty online film retailers on the most popular and available film stocks. The data I’ve collected since November 2018 is a better representative of a photographer’s shopping experience than the public outcries that follow Kodak’s, Fujifilm’s, and Ilford’s numerous announcements of film price increases — because film shops price their products based on demand, which means they do not have a standard markup.

To put it simply, consider the Costco hot dog. It costs $1.50 — the same as it did back in 1984 — forty years ago! There’s no doubt that the company is subsidizing the costs of making the hot dog, distributing it across the stores, and paying their employees to serve it. It’s a popular item that gets tons of folks into the door buying more stuff.

For some shops, certain films can be a Costco hot dog. As more and more people join the global film photography club, retailers and producers find ways to keep costs low despite the skyrocketing prices of raw materials.

The data I’ve collected reveals the best deals on 35mm film. To make it even more helpful, I’m combining it with what we learned about black and white film a couple of months back to help you save more money on monochrome emulsions. And for the first time ever, I’m showing you the best places to shop for your favourite films online today¹.

¹​ — The “best places to shop for film” insights are available for GOLD members.

35mm films that got cheaper.

Despite the flack the brand gets, Kodak managed to lower its prices across the retailers. ColorPlus costs a dollar² less today than it did six months ago. Kodak Tri-X in 35mm also went down by 80¢, and UltraMax got cheaper by almost 60¢.

Update (January 30, 2024): Kodak announced a 30% drop for Tri-X in 35mm! Details.

That said, you may want to pay attention to your receipt when shopping for CineStill 800T, CineStill 50D, Kodak Portra 160, Kodak T-Max P3200, and Lomochrome Purple. All those films went up by $1.32-$1.58 compared to what they cost six months ago

² — US dollars in this article. See Film Price Tracker for numbers in your currency (CAD$, USD$, EUR€, GBP£, JPY¥, THB฿).

The best places to shop for film online in the US, Europe, and Hong Kong.

Shopping for film locally may give you the best deal. I’m pro-supporting small businesses down the street. Many film retailers and some producers are also small businesses that you may like to support. Even if it costs a little extra, the money may go towards making more of the products that you like — which could be a worthy cause for you.

You can support your favourite business more efficiently by picking films that cost less without compromising the quality of your work or your budget.

But if there’s a film brand you favour and you live near the US, Europe, or Hong Kong, you’re most likely to get the best deal by shopping at one of these specialized online film shops: Analogue Wonderland, Camera Film Photo, Film Photography Project, Adorama, BH Photo, Freestyle Photo, Macodirect, and Blue Moon Camera. All the above shops carry large film selections and ship internationally. They are highly rated and known by the online photographer community internationally. Photography is their business.

Below are the price charts for 28 popular 35mm/36exp. films at each shop. If you live next to one of these shops, you’ll probably get the best deal.

✪ Note: Please keep in mind that if your credit card is in a different currency than the one posted at the shop, you will get charged extra. You will also be charged taxes — either local if you’re in the same country as the retailer or the duties + processing fees that vary across countries and shipping providers on top of these prices. The prices listed include sales discounts at the time they were gathered (Jan 15, 2024). Bulk price discounts are not included. I’ve also included prices for out-of-stock films if they were listed at the stores — but I constantly update this list by removing dead stocks.