View Full Version : A good place to buy factory-fresh film?

John Cook
11-May-2005, 09:35
During the 1960's when I was in school in LA, I shopped at Bob Gamble Photo Supply on Santa Monica Boulevard. In fact, I bought my first Leica M4 there, brand new, for $400. But thatís another story.

Their claim to fame was that all stocked film and paper were stored in and dispensed from large stainless steel and glass-doored coolers, like the ones now so common in the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket.

A few years ago I saw an ad from Calumet, guaranteeing all film shipped in an order would be from the same emulsion. I wonder if they still do that.

I have lately been purchasing film from B&H in NYC. They are close to New England, so the traumatic UPS trip is only overnight. And the price is always the lowest.

But such a sloppy ragtag bunch of film! If I order a twenty-roll ďbrickĒ of 35mm, I instead get a sandwich bag of un-boxed rolls without enclosed factory instruction sheets, obviously stolen out of a 50-roll pro-pack.

Today I received 100 sheets of 4x5 Tri-X. Each 50-sheet carton had completely different graphics, a different emulsion number and expiration dates exactly 12 months apart. Perhaps you really do get what you pay for.

Does anyone still sell fresh, factory-sealed film and paper, all from the same emulsion? Perhaps itís time to re-think Calumetís slightly higher prices...

Where do you shop?

Mark Sampson
11-May-2005, 10:28
Just >perhaps<, there's a relationship between Calumet's "slightly higher prices" and their level of service. Why don't you just ask Calumet about their film and shipping policies? They have a toll-free number. There's a famous quote from the 19th century writer John Ruskin about people who only shop for the lowest price, and how those people are the "lawful prey" of their suppliers.

Jim McD
11-May-2005, 11:04
I make a pilgrimage to Hunts Photo in Melrose Massachusetts for my film (they have other New England locations, too). They have a good selection of fresh film, and will special order what they don't have.

Paul Butzi
11-May-2005, 11:29
I buy film from various sources.

Locally, I tend to buy from Rainier Photo Supply (they do mail order as well, see www.rainierphoto.com (http://www.rainierphoto.com)). They've always given me great service, fresh film, and happily accomodated my various requests like "100 rolls of 35mm TMY all from the same emulsion lot".

Online, I buy film from Badger Graphic Sales (www.badgergraphic.com (http://www.badgergraphic.com)). Like Rainier, I've always gotten great service, incredibly swift shipping, and great prices. In more than one case, Badger has saved my butt by coming up with film for a trip at the last minute when I could find none locally.

11-May-2005, 13:30
I buy my Velvia 50 from B&H, it is about $20.00 less than Calumet and Calumet has a store about 35 minutes from me. I only buy one box at a time since I shoot more b&w (from J and C) than color.

Eric Biggerstaff
11-May-2005, 14:07
I buy my film from Calumet despite the higher price as they have a great and knowledgable staff.

B&H has better prices (although many times Calumet will match the price if you ask) but I think Calumet is worth the extra few bucks for the service. Everytime I have had a question, need assistance or have an issue they are quick to respond and make it right for me. So they have earned my business and loyality.

There are few local retailers in the Denver area who are not bad, but I still shop at Calumet.

Just my 2 cents worth.

David A. Goldfarb
11-May-2005, 15:46
I buy film from B&H, but I'm local, so I can get it over the counter.

E-mail Henry Posner, who is in charge of customer service, about your film order, and he'll set things right. I'm sure there are people who get mail order from B&H and request that all film come from the same emulsion batch.

I've had excellent service from j&cphotography.com if East European films are of interest to you.

John Cook
11-May-2005, 19:45
I took Mark's suggestion and e-mailed Calumet customer service. The following answer arrived in just a short while:


We can help. All of our product comes directly from Kodak, with complete packaging.

At times we will sell individual rolls, more often this is done in the stores- we never ship this type from our warehouse without being clear as to what it is.

As far as emulsion / lot numbers ( for paper) we do try and match these numbers as best we can.

With the date code you can ask us to ship the longest expiration possible- weíll note this for our warehouse when they finalize the order.

All items ship from our Chicago warehouse, where items are packed for anything- we all know accidents happen in the freight channels- good packaging hides it well.

Any further questions, feel free to ask.

Steve Smith

Internet Sales
Calumet Photographic
890 Supreme Drive
Bensenville, IL 60106


I may have to put Steve on my Christmas card list this year.

No answer yet to my complaint from B&H.

Ted Harris
12-May-2005, 10:23
A second to Badger Graphic Sales for fresh film. Generally their prices are the same as B&H. Of course, in the case of either one you do need to be clear that what you want is film packaged for the domestic market ... not gray market film that could be from who knows where.