As a long time digital photographer, I recently started a project that involves shooting 35mm film. You can find a few of my Street Photography digital images here: www.instagram.com/dspaedt. If you’ve read my previous blog post Where do you begin? you’ll know that I’m now at the point where I own a 35mm film camera (Minolta SRT-101). Before purchasing the camera I made some assumptions. And you know what they say about assumptions. Hopefully, by reading about my troubles I can save you a little heartache if you choose to shoot film.
Next, I purchased a couple rolls of Ilford XP2 Super 400 film. I picked this particular film for two reasons.
1. I enjoy creating images in black and white.
2. This particular film uses the C-41 development process that is the most widely used processing system for color films. However, Ilford XP2 Super 400 is a black and white film that can be developed using this chemistry.
I thought I was so smart. I assumed I’d probably get my first roll developed at Costco or worst case the local specialty camera store and they would post high-quality scans of the images. I thought I would then download the images I picked for a small fee. We all make mistakes. While shooting the first roll I discovered that no one locally, not even my local camera store, would develop film. My only option was to send it out. I was shocked to find that if I wanted quality scanned images plus development that this would cost me $10 – $17 per roll. I had no idea the prices would be so high. This cost makes me wonder if film will be able to survive. I’ve been shooting digital for over a decade and the thought of paying $15 for 24-36 exposures about stopped my heart. However, I was determined and I pressed on. Fortunately, I was able to find a lower cost workaround. But for someone starting out with no equipment, the path from film to images can be quite costly.
This mistake on my part led me to two discoveries.
1. mpix will still develop C-41 film (only) for about $5 per roll; returning the developed film to you included.
2. Scanning of negatives using a quality DSLR is possible and at least equal in quality if not superior to using a consumer scanner such as the common Epson V700.
I already own a DSLR and I started considering if I could utilize it to scan my own negatives. But more about that in a future blog post. That’s enough for now and I’ll leave you with another one of the first film images I created. Again, my disclaimer “The image is nothing special, but because the Minolta SRT-101 was produced at least 40 years ago, I decided to shoot a test roll using most of the camera’s shutter speeds and confirming the camera’s light meter against a handheld reliable light meter.”
My Film Beginnings Project has also intrigued me to try using other 35mm film cameras along the way. If you have a working 35mm film camera that you no longer use please take a look here to see what I’m thinking. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.