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Thread: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

  1. #1

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    Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    I am a newbie in LF photography as the content of this post will soon make evident. While I was writing another post regarding BTSZ I was looking at film prices and was wondering if the price difference between films is worth the money. I have not shot most of these films in LF so I would love to know why someone might spend significantly more money on one film than the other. I understand that some of it depends on the volume of film consumed. If I shoot 5 sheets a month paying 4 times the price for the more expensive film doesn't really make any difference.

    Attached is the spreadsheet I made using Freestyle prices as of today 4/28/14

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    I think Adox makes Arista so it should be kind of like Agfa. Could be wrong.

    The film is cheap. The time and effort you make to create the photo is expensive and irreplaceable. Pick a film you like and learn how to use it.

    Buy a couple of boxes of Arista and a couple of boxes of Ilford (or Kodak or Fuji) and give them a try. You will get an idea of what you like. You might like the cheaper film. Or not.

  3. #3

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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by jbenedict View Post
    I think Adox makes Arista so it should be kind of like Agfa. Could be wrong.

    The film is cheap. The time and effort you make to create the photo is expensive and irreplaceable. Pick a film you like and learn how to use it.

    Buy a couple of boxes of Arista and a couple of boxes of Ilford (or Kodak or Fuji) and give them a try. You will get an idea of what you like. You might like the cheaper film. Or not.
    Foma Makes Arista.

    I love Arista 200 (Fomapan 200) it's my favorite film. The only other 4x5 B/W I shoot regularly is Tmax 100. Although I've been shoting Arista Ortho Litho film and it has a look I kind of like
    Signature deleted as to not offend certain people

  4. #4
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    I don't know about all the present-day manufacturers, but in the past quality control (ie defects) have been a problem with the cheapest films. Therefore, I would stick with Ilford or Kodak.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  5. #5
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    My recommendation is that if you are just starting out, buy lots of the cheap film and have a ball with it. Seriously, go nuts. Learn how the camera works, work out your developing routine, all that stuff. Try out the Zone System or other process, try out development by inspection, and on and on.

    At some point, settle down. Some believe that Pyro is the holy grail of developers, some think it's Rodinal, some use HC-110, etc. Stick with one, maybe two, developers, and know how a couple of others generally behave. You want to create a repeatable process for yourself.

    At this point, start using the more expensive films.

    Now, this doesn't mean that the Arista films are trash. It's just that it's whatever Freestyle has purchased and packaged under their brand. The film may change manufacturers from lot to lot. At one time it was Efke, another time Kodak, another time Foma. You don't know, and they aren't telling.

    Efke had problems with their coating process, and finally they couldn't exist in the current market. Foma is hanging in there. I haven't tried their film, so I don't know about their quality. Both Ilford and Kodak are top-notch for quality.

    When I started LF in the late 90's, I started learning using Polaroid sheets, because I didn't have a darkroom. I didn't even start loading film holders until I moved into an apartment where I could make a light-tight seal around the bathroom window. I used Kodak ReadyLoad and Fujifilm QuickLoad films. All of that is gone, but since I have a light-tight space, I don't mind.

    I also posted the same figures as you under the thread complaining about the price of Kodak TMax. Yes, the price of Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 is high, but the film is unique for its reciprocity characteristics (low light). It's also the current king of fine grain, Kodak's marketing notwithstanding. Some people prefer Kodak, some prefer Ilford, both are good.

    But if you want to see high price, look at the price of color film. That stuff is not cheap, but it's all we have. Fujifilm supplies E6, and Kodak supplies C41. That's the division, brought on by what the market decided to buy. And E6 really isn't selling that well.

    So it all depends on what you want to do. If the cheap stuff works out for you, that's fine. If you need something cheaper, you can use x-ray film.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  6. #6
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dakotah Jackson View Post
    Many buy specific films for the way they 'look' and how responsive they are to filtration and development.
    You find a film that gives you what you want in your prints - why would you change?
    Exactly.

    I shoot Acros in 4x5, with Ilford FP4+ as a backup, and only FP4+ in 8x10 because Acros is not available in 8x10.

    I love the way Acros looks. FP4+ is also very nice, but not as nice IM(-H)O.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  7. #7
    Ron Miller
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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller View Post
    Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    My recommendation is that if you are just starting out, buy lots of the cheap film and have a ball with it. Seriously, go nuts. Learn how the camera works, work out your developing routine, all that stuff. Try out the Zone System or other process, try out development by inspection, and on and on.

    At some point, settle down. Some believe that Pyro is the holy grail of developers, some think it's Rodinal, some use HC-110, etc. Stick with one, maybe two, developers, and know how a couple of others generally behave. You want to create a repeatable process for yourself.

    At this point, start using the more expensive films.

    Now, this doesn't mean that the Arista films are trash. It's just that it's whatever Freestyle has purchased and packaged under their brand. The film may change manufacturers from lot to lot. At one time it was Efke, another time Kodak, another time Foma. You don't know, and they aren't telling.

    Efke had problems with their coating process, and finally they couldn't exist in the current market. Foma is hanging in there. I haven't tried their film, so I don't know about their quality. Both Ilford and Kodak are top-notch for quality.

    When I started LF in the late 90's, I started learning using Polaroid sheets, because I didn't have a darkroom. I didn't even start loading film holders until I moved into an apartment where I could make a light-tight seal around the bathroom window. I used Kodak ReadyLoad and Fujifilm QuickLoad films. All of that is gone, but since I have a light-tight space, I don't mind.

    I also posted the same figures as you under the thread complaining about the price of Kodak TMax. Yes, the price of Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 is high, but the film is unique for its reciprocity characteristics (low light). It's also the current king of fine grain, Kodak's marketing notwithstanding. Some people prefer Kodak, some prefer Ilford, both are good.

    But if you want to see high price, look at the price of color film. That stuff is not cheap, but it's all we have. Fujifilm supplies E6, and Kodak supplies C41. That's the division, brought on by what the market decided to buy. And E6 really isn't selling that well.

    So it all depends on what you want to do. If the cheap stuff works out for you, that's fine. If you need something cheaper, you can use x-ray film.
    I think this is pretty much the natural progression I took to where I am now. And I agree with buying lots of cheap film and having fun and experimenting. With forums like this, the ramp up time is quicker than it was 20 years ago. Quicker doesn;t mean better, just quicker. He, he, he.

  8. #8
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    I pick a film because I like the look it gives me, not because it's cheap. If it's a cheap film and I like the look then great!

  9. #9

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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    For the most part I agree with those who say that price isn't the issue. However, there is also a case to be made for the fact that many of the cheap films are inconsistent in manufacturing quality. I had one good box of Shanghai and the next one was covered with tiny specks where the emulsion was flaking off. I usually have a WHOLE lot more tied up into getting there and back than I do in the film. I stick to Tri-X and HP5 now (with an occasional foray into FP4).
    Michael W. Graves
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    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  10. #10

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    Re: Are Film Price Differences Worth The Money?

    Let's say we go on a photo shoot: we might drive a distance and spend considerable money on a tank of gas, or two. We might get a meal somewhere. We might stay overnight and pay for lodging.

    If we add up those costs, the difference in the price of film may become less significant.

    If we consider the effort we put into the process (especially with large Format), the time and attention we pay, then the difference in price may diminish even further in importance.

    When making photos, every step is a link in the chain. From evaluating the subject to framing and displaying the print, all the steps matter.

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