When I first started getting into film photography one of the hardest things was finding the film I needed. More and more these days stores that would normally carry film no longer have any stock, let alone carry specialized film like 120 or instant. A lot of camera stores as well have been losing business over the last decade so they tend to mark up film that is already expensive to begin with. It’s a really big hump that can prevent people from getting into film photography or giving up due to the cost. So I thought I’d share where I get mine and why I think it’s a great place as I was in this position about 2 years ago myself and was getting super frustrated with finding affordable film. This guide is for people in Canada and United States as I currently live in Canada and I am only aware of North American stores. However the online stores I reference are based out of New York City and do offer international shipping.
- Film: Regular 35 film no frills.
Where to Buy: Local stores, specifically drug stores.
Why: This use to be said about most stores like grocery stores and chain stores like Wal-Mart but more and more these days they will not carry film. Drug stores I find are still really good sources for regular no frills 35 film. Think of any store that has a little section for digital cameras or offers film developing, they will usually have film there too. Plus with the usual weekly sales most drug stores offer it easy to pick up a pack of film on sale and I do find the price is the best around even without a sale.
*Dollar stores have film too although not always trust worthy but it is fun to try right? Plus you can always buy 1 and test it out and if it’s works go and pick up the rest.
- Film: Lomography film.
Where to Buy: Lomography Store or B&H Photo
Why: Lomography film is great, it comes in a wide variety of formats like 120, 110, and 35. They offer various speeds, black & white, red scale, color negative and slide film. Depending on your local store options you may not be able to find this film easily or at all and if you do you may not get the full range of options they offer. Both of these stores offer all varieties and always seem to have them in stock, plus when there is a new type of film introduced both will have them right away .The big reason why I use them as my source of Lomography film is the price difference between online and in store. You will find both stores have the film at the same price as well (for Canadians the Lomography store is in slightly cheaper as they offer free shipping after a certain price). I usually pick mine up from B&H as they carry non-Lomography products as well and shipping to Montreal takes 2 days.
*You can buy lomography film from Urban Outfitters and some photo stores but I notice it’s usually $3-5 more and as long as you are buying more than 1 pack the shipping charges are paid for in the price difference.
- Film: Instant Film (current cameras)
Where to Buy: B&H Photo, Amazon or EBay
Why: B&H Photos carries Fuji film for Fuji’s newer cameras (Instax Mini and Instax Wide) as well as Polaroid Film (which is a rebranded Fuji mini camera basically). They also carry Zink paper for the Polaroid Z340 or Z2300 cameras. What I like about B&H is they usually always have the film in stock and they offer the standard price and for the Fuji Instax mini and wide film they even carry some of the fun packs like the holiday or rainbow ones. However if you are looking to buy in bulk you will want to look at Amazon as they have deals for pack bundles for both the Fuji film and the Zink paper. As well there is a huge community over in Asia for Fuji Instax cameras so they have many different varieties of the instax film there that are not available to buy in North America. EBay will be your gateway to pick that type of film up if you really want some of neat instax film or various bundles (think Hello Kitty and more). Instax mini film also works in Diana instant backs.
- Film: Instant Film (vintage Polaroid cameras).
Where to Buy: B&H Photo, Impossible Project
Why: If you have a vintage Polaroid camera or a Holgaroid that uses pack film you will be buying Fuji instant pack film, it comes in black and white and color (click here for a list of old Polaroid’s that use Fuji pack film). I’ve only found 1 store in my city that carries it and they only carry color so again I use B&H. Best price, usually always in stock, fast delivery, occasionally on sale, what’s better? They also offer on occasion Impossible Project film at the same price as the Impossible Project’s website. Impossible Project film is for Polaroid 600 and SX-70 cameras and is quiet expensive. I’ve never bothered picking up a Polaroid camera that uses that type of film due to the (in my opinion) insane prices but if you have the camera and want to try it out the best place is picking it up directly from the Impossible Project website.
*Urban Outfitters does carry Impossible Project film, Zink and Instax mini and wide film but the film is always priced much higher than anywhere else and their stock and selection varies. I’ve never seen Fuji FP film there however.
- Film: 120 film.
Where to Buy: B&H Photo
Why: I love B&H Photo’s selection of 120 film and my local photo stores usually only carry 2 different types of 120 film.I like exploring different speeds and brands so I really like being able to have access to a variety and they also offer individual roles and packs. Now when it comes to 120 I would try and investigate your local independent photography store if you do have one as you may be able to find a great store that has a lot of offer. I don’t find there to be much price difference between 120 film online or in store. In fact in Vancouver I always bought mine directly from this great independent photography store even though it toke me over 2 hours to the store and back from my house – lol. If you cannot find any store that has, or their selection doesn’t meet your needs B&H is perfect.
- Film: Speciality film
Where to Buy: B&H Photo
Why: Are you sick of me saying B&H? Sorry I just really like them, I mean it helps I don’t have to leave my house to buy and it arrives in a 2 days. Basically though B&H has film I’ve never seen other places, 220, 127, and 16mm film for those with Super8 video cameras. It even has 620 and 828 film (both of those films are simply respooled 120 film but for people who don’t have access to the materials needed to respool their own 120 film it’s great). As well if you need 35 film but would perfer something more than the typical brand or speed they have it and even in bulk. Its a one stop shop for all film and that saves you a lot of time, effort and possible shipping charges.
Well I hope you liked my guide. Let me know if you want to see more of these types of posts in the future!