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I’m traveling to Spain via airport from Detroit, Michigan in the USA and I plan on bringing five or six packs of polaroid film with iso800 along with my pic-300 camera. My confusion lies with how I get the film through security. I’ve read that putting film in checked luggage is a bad idea and that you should put it in your carry on and request that it be hand checked. The problem with that is that I really don’t want to take a long time and cause a delay. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks

Asked by smell-bad

I’ve discussed traveling with film many times (in fact, Richard Mosse recently explained how he travels through Africa with cases of Kodak Aerochrome) and for most people if you are not shooting professionally, you can get away with putting your film through the security X-ray. The exceptions to this are medium format film, instant film and film which is 800 ISO or higher. So…. in your case requesting a hand check is pretty much your only option.

It generally doesn’t hold things up that much, and if it does your film is worth it, so who cares what everyone else thinks. If you want to speed things up, I would recommend putting everything in a gallon size ziplock bag which you just hand over.

And do not check your film. Checked bags go through multiple x-rays. 

Hope that helps :)

Hey! super quick question - I'm going to be in New York for a couple weeks over new years and would love to know if you or your followers know of any good little stores to buy 35mm film!? I know I can go to B&H, Adorama or Calumet and places like that but I'd rather go to a smaller, independent place. Any help would be awesome! thanks :)

Asked by toallthings

I was a big fan of K&M camera, mostly because it was my school supply store when I was living in New York. It’s been a while since I was there however, and there are probably plenty of other small options that I am not aware of.

Anyone with recommendations, please feel free to add in the comments!

Hey Rachel, you recently said that your go-to B&W is Ilford FP4, is that just for 35mm or for 120mm also? if not - what are your prefered 120mm films :) thanks.

Asked by toallthings

Hi! For black and white, I definitely use Ilford FP4 the most in both formats. However, when I shoot medium format I also tend to shoot color most often (don’t really know why) in which case my go-to film is usually Fuji Provia.

I'm looking to invest in an MF film camera, but not a toy one. I need a lens that can do more than just zone focusing. And by "invest," I should clarify that I'm on a budget of about $300 (maybe more). I snooped on your "Babies" and it seems like you use your Kiev 88 a lot. I've done some research online, and I've found some Kiev 88's and 60's, Pentacon 6's on Ebay for less than $300, but further research has lead me to websites such as KEH, where the product is guaranteed to work. Thoughts?

Asked by sarahaddison87

Hmmm…. let me start with the Kiev 88: I do use mine a lot, and it works great for me. However, they are apparently notorious for light leaks and from what I’ve seen/read online, I happen to be lucky to have a light-tight Kiev 88. I also happen to be obsessed with clunky Russian cameras… which is a personal thing, because it’s SUPER heavy FYI. 

There are actually quite a few medium format options out there, and in fact, the other day I came across this article on Bronica medium formats and why they are a great deal: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/10/bargain-medium-format.html

Of course, now I want one… but that happens with every camera I see.

Other options would of course be Pentax (645 bodies will probably run more in the $400 range) or even a TLR.

Obviously, purchasing from KEH will be more expensive than eBay but in my opinion the benefits outweigh the extra cost. For a Kiev 88 I would purchase from an authorized dealer versus eBay; I list a couple on the Links & Resources page.

If you do find a great deal on eBay from a reputable seller who offers a guarantee, why not. But it’s important to read the fine print; camera sellers usually specify whether the camera has been tested… and always beware of the phrase “as is.” Read the sellers reviews and policies to see what they cover.

Hope that helps :)

Hey, great photos. I saw that you live in Paris and I was wondering where I can get my 35mm stills developed and scanned. I've gone to one lab here and they butchered my negatives. What lab do you use?

Asked by babywaeli

I use Atelier Publimod (26 rue Sevinge in the 4th). They will not ever ever ever butcher your negatives, but they will charge you professional lab prices.

Hey, I know you've probably already been asked this before, but I couldn't find it in your FAQ. Where is a good place to get cheap film online, (possibly in bulk)? I know of freestyle, but do you know any other good sources?

Asked by ianmurph

Hi! That’s because it was hiding in the Links & Resources section ;)

Here is a comprehensive list of places to buy film online (As of 2012): http://istillshootfilm.org/post/24128349136/where-to-buy-photographic-film-online-as-of-2012

Hello, I am a photography graduate who has just moved to Paris. I photograph almost al of my work with film. I went to a lab near where I live today and they told me it would be 16€ to develop each 35mm film. I saw your link to your lab Atelier Publimod but couldn't work out prices on their website as my French is not very good yet. Do you have a rough idea how much they charge to develop and scan to disk 35mm film? Love the blog by the way. Thanks, Kim

Asked by kimspirati0n

I believe it’s around 10 euros for a development only of black and white (35mm) and slide film, and 8.50 for color. I have no idea what they charge for scanning, as I have my own scanner.

Some people may consider this expensive, but it is the reality of shooting film today. If we want it to be more affordable like it was in the past, we all need to go out and buy/develop more!

UPDATE: To some of the comments, I would like to specify that Publimod is a professional lab and one of the few which continues to do dip and dunk developing. I’m sure those of you who want to spend 5 euros or less can find a 1 hour photo lab to do it for super cheap, but not a true professional one.

I love your shots with the Woca and Fuji Provia film. However, I have been shopping around for a Woca without any luck. Do you think a regular Holga would work just as well? And as for the Fuji Provia, it is expensive, and slide film intimidates me, as I have never used it before. There is nowhere locally that develops it, so I would have to send it out to get developed, and would preferentially want it to be cross-processed, right? To get those great, saturated colors? Thanks for the help!

Asked by sarahaddison87

Thanks so much! My Woca has been a go-to camera for a long time… Unfortunately, a regular Holga will not produce the same effect, as a Woca is a plastic camera with a glass lens. That is what distinguished it from the original Holga when it came out. I had a little look online and apparently the re-released equivalent is the Holga 120GN (G for glass), which you should definitely be able to find.

For Fuji Provia, I won’t lie to you… nothing but slide film gives results like slide film. Plus, sales are declining so you (and everyone who reads this blog) should go buy a few rolls anyway :) Slide film is expensive, but if you’re shooting 120 it costs far less to develop than a roll of 35mm C-41.

If you’re cross processing, then you don’t need a lab that does slide film in-house, just C-41. Fuji Provia gives saturated colors with regular and cross-processing. Here’s a profile I posted on how it looks with various shooting and processing conditions: http://istillshootfilm.org/post/26422578400/photographic-film-profile-fujichrome-provia

If you decide to process as E-6 then yes, you would need to find a lab to which you can send it. Many labs do this, I’ve added a few on the Links & Resources page.

Hope that helps and let me know what you decide :)

This may be a bit of a silly question, but does the Mamiya 645 take square pictures? I know the Kiev and Hasselblad do, but I can't find either in my price range. Looking to find a medium format, non-TLR camera for under $300 that will shoot square. (Have shot 35mm and Holga for a year, but not a fan of Holga) Thanks!

Asked by aprintedbutterfly

It’s not a silly question :) The Mamiya 645 has a format of 6 x 4.5… so not square. Have you considered a Kiev 60? It’s a medium format SLR and shoots 6x6. You should be able to find one for under $200.

What are your favourite photography books?

Asked by positivedisintegration

Oooh that’s a hard one… For learning about photography, I have previously posted a film photography reading list, which includes many of my favorites. For collections of photographers’ work, I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. Here’s a list of what’s in my immediate view as I am typing this:

  • Disciple & Maitre  - Joel Peter Witkin
  • Helmut Newton - Sumo
  • Diane Arbus (Aperture edition)
  • Man Ray (early works)
  • American Photography of the 1970s

What are some film cameras you recommend for general picture taking, yet not so elementary as the disposable camera? I want to improve my skills, but I also want one that will last, and is not too expensive.

Asked by onceuponawildflower

I would recommend anything in the Nikon, Canon, Pentax family that is 35mm, fully manual and was manufactured before the mid-90s. You can currently buy amazing film cameras for absolutely ridiculous prices (not sure if that makes me happy or sad.)

I previously did a guide to buying used and vintage film cameras, or you can check out Popular Photography’s list of 10 Film Cameras Worth Buying Right Now.

Hope that helps :)

Hi, I recently bought a toy camera from the thrift store. It's a Weston wx-7. I shot an entire roll of film using this camera, but when I developed it, there was nothing on the roll. Do you have any idea what the problem might be? It was only a test roll, so it's not a big deal, but any help would be appreciated. Thanks :)

Asked by thezerowinter

Well, it could be several things…. it’s hard to tell without having the camera in front of me. It could be a problem with the shutter or it could also be a light leak situation. If the film was blank, as in with nothing on it, that means there is no light hitting the film. That would signal a problem with the shutter, lens or basic mechanics of the camera. If your film came out completely black, that means too much light is hitting the film, which happens a lot with plastic and toy cameras. If that’s the case, you can try using black electrical tape to cover all of the seams.

re: your scanner advice, the Epson V700 is virtually identical to the V750 and a useful amount cheaper. I have one, it's great, although the 35mm film holder could be better. Also, in the UK it's generally the case a that for any given film, 120 is cheaper *per roll* than 35mm.

Asked by adventuresinfilm

Thanks for the extra info!

Since following you for some months now I have decided to sell my back up m4/3s body in order to buy a film scanner and b&w developing supplies. I've got my old Canon AL-1 and my new(to me)Canon Canonet Glll QL17. I was wondering about buying and developing medium format film and if it is a lot more expensive than just doing 35mm film because I am trying to decide if I want the higher quality 35mm film scanner or if medium format isn't too much to shoot with I would get a flat bed for future use

Asked by fearlessmirrorless-deactivated2

Hi! That’s great news :) While film scanners seem like a major investment, they are so worth it it’s not even funny.

Medium format film can be both more and less expensive, which I realize makes no sense. Let me explain:

Let’s say you shoot one roll of 35mm slide film and one roll of 120 slide film. Most people have their 35mm slides cut and mounted (personally, I do not). 36 plastic mounts (for a 36 exposure roll) costs far more than zero plastic mounts for a roll of 120 slide film. So, in this case, the developing costs less for medium format.

On the same note, labs that use hand developing or dip and dunk developing tend to charge less to develop medium format film because it’s less of an effort and takes less time. At my lab, developing a roll of 35mm color film (with no contact sheet) costs €9,50 while a roll of 120 color film (again with no contact sheet) costs €8. Drop of 10 rolls of film to be developed and that’s a significant difference.

Side note: for those of you who just said to yourselves, “OMG  that is soooo ridiculously expensive,”  get over it. Chemicals and paper cost more now than they ever did before and professional labs are taking the beating. If we as film consumers want to be able to purchase and develop our film, we need to support the professional labs that make that possible.

But back to medium format vs. 35mm. We can establish that developing on it’s own is more expensive for 35mm, however purchasing 120 film is far more expensive… which basically makes them even out.

If you’re having difficulty deciding, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How big to you want to be able to make your final prints? 
  2. What camera do you want to use?

Those tend to be my deciding factors.

For scanners, unless you’re looking at throwing down a few grand on a drum scanner, I would definitely recommend a combo flatbed/35mm/medium format. I use an old Canoscan 8600F but am seriously considering replacing it for the newer Canoscan 9000F. It does 35mm and 120, black and white, color negative and color positive. I have also heard great things about the Epson V750, but I have never tried one. The Canoscan runs in the $150-$200 range, while the Epson is at $700-$800 (depending where you look online.)

Hope that helps :)