Shooting film is fantastic, but sadly in recent times the cost of film has been increasing, lead by Kodak who have announced a number of price increases across all of their film stocks. As a result of this, I have decided to put together a quick guide on how to save money while shooting film.
1. Half-frame cameras
Half-frame cameras are a great way to get more shots out of each roll of film. As the name suggests, they expose each image on half a frame of 35mm film. This means you will get twice as many shots per roll of film. A 36 exposure roll, for example, will allow 72 photos on a half-frame camera.
35mm frame vs. half-frame
The Kodak Ektar H35 is a newly produced a half-frame camera that has been popular, however I would recommend that you avoid it. It is made from plastic, including the lens which means your images will be less sharp. A better choice would be a refurbished vintage camera such as the Olympus Pen, Canon Demi or Yashica Samurai series. They are better built and have glass lenses so can produce better quality images. If you are interested in purchasing a half-frame camera you can check here
to see if we have any in stock.
Half-frame cameras do have their limitations, the smaller negatives do mean more grain in your images. Here are some sample half frame images taken on a Canon Demi:
Images were taken on a Canon Demi using expired Afga Vista 400
2. Expired film
Expired film is a great way to shoot film on a budget, I do it myself all the time. As the rolls have passed their use by date they are cheaper, but can still produce some great images. You can find out more information on shooting expired film in this blog article
, and we often have expired film available to purchase here
3. Embrace black & white
Black & white film stocks are cheaper than their colour counterparts. I know that I am guilty of always picking up a roll of colour film and leaving the black & white film sitting in the fridge. But when shooting in overcast conditions, especially during the winter months, black & white film can actually produce better results. It takes a bit of practice to get used to shooting in black & white as your need to focus more on the composition rather than the colours. But when it comes to saving money this could be a great option! Some of my favourite black & white film stocks include Ilford HP5, Ilford XP3 and Fomapan.
Here are a few of my favourite shots I have taken on black & white film:
4. Shoot in good lighting
One of the most important aspects of all photography is lighting. Shooting in good lighting conditions can improve your images and therefore make the most of every exposure on your roll of film. Golden hour is typically regarded as the best time of day to shoot as the lighting is not too harsh and it provides a warm tone to your images.
Golden hour vs. Overcast image
5. Low resolution scans
Most film labs, including The Film Safe, will give you the option between different resolutions that your images can be scanned at. If the aim of your photography is to share it on social media then low resolution scans should be acceptable. I would recommend that you use this service and also choose to have your negatives returned to you. If you then decide you would like one of the images printed, that negative can be re-scanned.
All UK customers of JFR Film will receive a 30% discount code off development & scanning at The Film Safe which means even more savings!
You could also choose a development-only service which is usually much cheaper, and then scan your images yourself. However, unless you already have the equipment needed for this, it may actually work out more expensive.
I hope you have found this article useful and hopefully it should give you some ideas of how to shoot film while on a budget!