Average Film Price Down 2% Since Jan 2021

Believe It or Not, Shooting Film Got a Little Cheaper!

4 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .

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Every six months, I scour across eight popular film shopping destinations looking for price changes and record them in a searchable database. It takes a lot of work; the reward is much-needed financial guidance for those who love to shoot film but can’t afford to waste money. This is the first complete report and analysis that goes deep into those numbers.

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On average, shooting 35mm film got cheaper in 2021.

Despite the pandemic, shipping industry troubles, another Fujifilm price hike, and the discontinued Velvia 100 stock in the USA, 35mm film got a little cheaper — on average. While this is not the case for all the stocks and formats, there seems to be some hope that we can spend a few extra frames this summer without denting the wallet.

35mm film price trend charts, recorded semiannually between November 2018 and July 2021.

Three years ago, I chose a handful of popular 35mm film stocks that seem to fly off the shelves. Since then, the average film price went up by 32% — until 2021 when it went down by 2%.

Many factors may have gone into this favourable recent change. It could be due to the growing popularity of film photography lending to more competition amongst the stores and manufacturers. The shock of the pandemic may have forced some businesses to focus on online sales, which this survey examines. Or it could be the changes in the currency and financial landscape as a whole, which I discuss in a bit more detail below.

Not all film got cheaper. Fujicolor C200 gone up by nearly 20%, and many of the popular Kodak and Ilford emulsions got more expensive as well. But for the most part, many great emulsions have either kept at the same level or even went down a few points. The trend of skyrocketing film prices seems to have slowed down considerably — for now.

The cheapest 35mm film.

Fomapan Classic 100 has been the cheapest 35mm film on the list since I started tracking the prices in 2018. There was only one time when it yielded to Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 by one cent in December 2019, which has since been corrected by an enormous price increase that followed (+32%, then +1%, and finally +24%). Kodak Colorplus 200 is the cheapest colour emulsion this year.

The most impressive price drop has been on Fujicolor Industrial 100 rolls (discontinued last year but still sold in some shops) that feature Japanese-only writing, gritty grain, and a signature Fujifilm colour. That is if you can find it. It went down by a whopping 36% compared to six months ago.

The most expensive film on the list is Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50 that’s been hovering around that spot since the beginning. Now that Velvia 100 is off the market in the United States, it may get even pricier.

The future of film prices.

It’s hard to imagine emulsions getting any cheaper going forward, considering the turbulent year we’ve been having. That just wouldn’t make sense in the modern economy. It may still be possible but don’t hold your breath — and keep in mind that the price increases I’ve seen typically range between ten to twenty percent while the decreases are just two percent in total. One thing’s for certain: summer 2021 is a great time to buy and shoot film.

How the price data was collected, notes, and limitations.

This survey is limited to a selection of certain 35mm film stocks, all of which are 36-exposure single packages. The world of medium and large format film may paint a different picture, though I would expect the trends to be somewhat similar.

I did not consider bulk pricing and listings that appeared to be obvious price gougings. Walmart is guilty of listing third-party vendors who are asking ridiculous amounts for an otherwise easy-to-find film stock. Nevertheless, I thought that including this retailer in the list is important as it covers parts of the market that dedicated film retailers like Analogue Wonderland differ from considerably.

In addition to the above-mentioned stores, I’ve also surveyed Adorama, Buy Film Canada, B&H Photo, Film Photography Store, Freestyle Photo, and Macodirect. To get the data, I went to each website and searched for film manually without using any scrapers or automation tools. This is because many of the sites’ terms prohibit such use, and some, like Adorama, have mechanisms that throw captchas when they suspect that I’m behaving like a bot.

As I went through the list, I took the first price available, meaning that I would use the “on-sale” prices and record prices for out-of-stock items if the website listed them.

The sites listed their items in British pounds, US dollars, Canadian dollars, and euros. To make my calculations for the trends and comparisons, I’ve converted them all to Canadian dollars based on up-to-date currency data.

As you can probably tell, this article, along with the app that lets you search through the data in a nice interface, is a lot of hard work. They are both free, and there are no ads. So if you found this stuff helpful, please don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on Twitter or drop me a line with any feedback you may have.