Get into film! (part 2)

Read on for part 2 of the primer, where we cover branching out with different film types and scanning.

Minolta X-570; Kodak Portra 400; c41

If your test roll came back okay, you’re probably super stoked at this point (as you should be)! It’s time to try out a crap ton of different film stocks to see what you like! Black and white, color, high speed, low speed, daylight, tungsten, slide, go bananas! I just have one tip here, buy single rolls as you are trying new things. Once you find something you like, then spam the multi-packs.

Here are some starter ideas (if you don’t already have an idea of what you want):

  • Black and white: try Kodak Tri-x and Ilford HP5. These are the big 2, if you are just starting out in b&w. If you like Tri-x, give Tmax 400 a shot. If you like HP5, give Delta 400 a try.•
  • Color: you should still have 2 rolls of Superia X-tra, but give Kodak Portra (160, 400, or 800) and/or Cinestill 800t/50d a try, too.
  • Wanna get nuts? Try anything from Revolog haha.

Let’s check in with the Mr. Reasonable spend tally:

📷: $140 Canon AE-1 Program + 50mm 1.8

🎞: $16 Fuji Superia X-tra 400 (36 exp) 3-pack

🎞: $6 tri-x

🎞: $5 HP5

🎞: $11 Portra 800

🎞: $12 Cinestill 50d

🧪: $144 Develop and scan 7 rolls via snail mail (hmm, developing and scanning is getting a bit high, isn’t it? More on this below) with the test roll at a lower scan resolution

💸: $334 all in

Minolta 650si; Cinestill 800t; c41

If you’re still interested in shooting film on the regular at this point, it’s time to start playing the long game. It will let you get more control over the process and cut down on costs. Scanning the negatives yourself is the first step and will give you more creative control.

A flatbed scanner is a reasonable option. You will need a negative holder (unless you opt to wet mount, which I won’t get into). The Epson v600 is what I use and it comes with a 35mm holder and a medium format holder. They are flimsy, but get the job done. The scanner comes with Epson’s scanning software, but I use a program called Silverfast. Silverfast has different ‘optimizations’ for specific film types, which you may like. I started out using them, but now I just make my own adjustments.

Scanning your film will allow you to control how it is digitized and add your own touch of style to that process. Crop where you want, adjust brightness, etc., but another plus is resolution. At the $18 develop/scan baseline cost, scanning is free and the files are not very large. When you scan yourself, you can get more detail by choosing the resolution and file type.

Oh, I’d recommend buying a box of vinyl gloves, to avoid fingerprints anytime you handle negatives.

Here is our updated Mr. Reasonable spend tally with a pause button on film and dev. costs:

📷: $140 Canon AE-1 Program + 50mm 1.8

🎞🧪: $194 Film and dev. to get moving

🖨: $200 Epson v600

💿: $50 Silverfast scanning software

💸💸: $584 all in

Bonus accounting nerd stats:

🧪 $21 per roll to develop and scan at a lab

🧪 $18 per roll to develop and scan at home

🖨💿: Scanner and software pay for themselves after 84 rolls (long game)

Minolta X-570; Revolog Tesla I; c41

Coming up next in part 3, the final step to becoming self sufficient… developing!

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