Reducing Film Development Costs


As I started taking pictures with my first lomography camera, the Diana F+, one year ago, I didn't realise at first that it can be quite expensive to get medium format film and to let a photolab develop it. So this is what I did in the course of a long lomographic year in order to reduce my film development costs.

This is a contact sheet

As I started taking pictures with my first lomography camera, the Diana F+, one year ago, I didn’t realise at first that it can be quite expensive to get medium format film and to let a photolab develop it. I always used to send the film to normal supermarket photolabs and was drawing hearts and flowers on the envelope with a little remark saying “I know you normally don’t develop medium format film, but only 35mm film, but maybe you can make an exception for me?” :).

Professional photolabs, however, had no problems developing my medium format film, but they did charge quite a lot for doing so.

So, after thinking about it for a while, I bought the Diana F+ 35mm back, which should make things easier, as you can use 35mm film instead of medium format film with it. 35mm film is cheaper than medium format and you can take more pictures with it, so that’s a real good thing. However, film developing costs are still high: the photolab charges extra when it has to develop film with sprocket holes or panoramic shots (which you can take with the 35mm back)- and some photolabs even charge you twice when you took pictures with the 35mm film mask with which you can shoot panoramic pictures with sprockets ;).

For quite a while, I sneaked my way around these high film developing costs by asking the photolab to just make one contact sheet with all the photos (in miniature size) on one sheet; I then scanned it with a high resolution and had normal-sized digital lomo-pictures on my computer.

and this is one of the pictures I scanned from the contact sheet.

But the more often I shot lomo pictures, especially with sprockets, the more I realised that the solution to my lomographic developing cost problems which is both the easiest and cheapest is to buy a negative scanner. I bought the Epson V330photo- which is really good value for a relatively cheap price.
The problems continued though- there is a scanning mask included, but this mask is too small to scan 35mm negatives with sprockets. Hello, 35mm digitaliza from lomography!

A sprocket negative scanned with the scanning mask which was included

And the sprocket negative scanned “properly” with the digitaliza

So, at the end of the day, after a whole lomographic year, all the film developing problems have basically disappeared now:
- the cheapest 35mm films you can get in supermarkets cost 2 euros; developing negatives only is, depending if it’s a black-and-white-film or a color film, 2-4 euros. That means, I don’t have to spend large sums of money anymore on buying film and having it developed.
- buying a negative scanner made it possible for me to ask the photolab to develop the negatives only, so they can’t charge me extra for panoramic/ sprocket hole pictures
- and the 35mm digitaliza allows me to scan my sprocket hole negatives, yay!

The problems I still have to fight with, however, are:
- my negatives are getting more and more and I still haven’t found a good way of storing them
from time to time
- there’s lots of dust on the scanner glass, which means my photos sometimes have white stains on them if I don’t have the patience to carefully clean the negatives and the scanner glass

- my scanner can’t scan medium format, and I do want to use the normal Diana F+ (without the 35mm back) from time to time

But I’m sure I’ll solve these problems as well- and maybe you can help me with solving them by writing another tipster? ;)

written by erdnusskeks on 2011-04-08 in #gear #tipster #development #scanning #film-processing #film #cheap #costs #tipster


  1. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    guter weg. ziemlich günstig, sicher und sieht cool aus:
    du hast jeweils einen film auf einen blick und ich hab jetzt mehr als 1 jahr in einem dieser ordner und noch immer locker platz.. ist also irgendwie für 3000 bilder platz drin :)

  2. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    mir persönlich gefallen die papiernen archivhüllen aber besser als die aus plastik. aber die findet man locker. einfach mal im fotogeschäft fragen, die bestellen für dich. ich hab für 100 blatt 15 oder 20 € gezahlt. und ja, das sind ja 100 filme :D

  3. orangeuke
    orangeuke ·

    I like how you used to give them little doodles :)

  4. atreyuthechild
    atreyuthechild ·

    i think you just persuaded me to look into buying a scanner. I've been struggling with the same expenses for a while too, so thank you :)

  5. xxxanderrr
    xxxanderrr ·

    in Germany, just send all your film through Rossmann. They charge 2.55 for EVERYTHING, be it 120 or 35mm film, e6 or xpro, push and pull processing. 2.55 for everything.
    obviously, then you just get negatives, no pictures. but what you're saving on pictures is the money you can buy a scanner with ;)

    i'm sure there's some kind of grocery store or whatever that does that too in most european countries

  6. lassitude
    lassitude ·

    For storage I dunno where to get them but I used to use special plastic wallets that are a4 and have special compartments in to put negatives. Placing all them in a big folder of my images.

    Great article though, its helped as I slowly get back into analogue.

  7. jodimeetdiana76
    jodimeetdiana76 ·

    I just ordered my 35mm back...can't wait to start saving some money!

  8. odax
    odax ·

    I think I have the same photo scanner :D And I manage to get most of the dust off the glass pretty easily.
    Only problem for me is that film costs around $11 for a 35mm 24exposure, and there's only one shop that still develops photos and they charge $8 :( sadface

  9. santafire
    santafire ·

    For scanner screen and film cleaning, I suggest using those universal cleaning gum instead of micro fiber cloths. It's faster and effective :)

  10. holydarkyfied
    holydarkyfied ·

    Use windows cleaner, those who are in some kind of spray and some absorbing paper, it'll do the job.

  11. nick_a_tron
    nick_a_tron ·

    I don't know how any Lomographer can live without a scanner! Honestly it completely changes everything and shows what your photos really should be like!

  12. okonsten
    okonsten ·

    I thank my job for having 4 big scanners and neg-holders to:)

  13. ktuntranslated
    ktuntranslated ·

    I find these handy for storing negs:
    Then store in a binder :)

  14. luraksa
    luraksa ·

    hey, could you tell me if the epson v330 scans 120mm films too?

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