Where to Buy Film Stuff
It's not always easy to figure out where to buy film & film-related items, much less to find the best prices on them. Here is a list of links to online retailers (in the United States) who sell the stuff we need as 21st century film photographers! I will try to keep this up to date but please email me with suggestions or corrections!
F I L M , C H E M I S T R Y & A S S O R T E D S U P P L I E S
I buy nearly all my film, chemicals, digital needs & miscellaneous do-dads from B&H Photo & Video in New York City. They usually have what I'm looking for & they sell it cheaper than anyone else. Because I live a couple hours south of NYC, I find their shipping rates & times to be excellent. I tend to buy hundreds of dollars worth of items from them at a time so as to save on shipping, which is nearly always faster than scheduled. B&H now offers FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $49.Adorama
If B&H is out of stock on something or just doesn't carry it, I check Adorama. Often I will even create the exact same shopping cart in each store in separate browser windows & total them up to see which one will be cheaper to buy everything that I want. Sometimes B&H will be cheaper & sometimes Adorama will, depending on what I buy & how quickly I need it shipped. Adorama also tends to offer free shipping on colour films that are sold in Pro-Packs such as Kodak Portra.
I wish I could put Freestyle at the top of my list. They are truly the film photographers' store, stocking not only all the normal brands like Kodak, Fuji & Ilford but they also carry Agfa, Rollei, Adox, Eco Pro & other great underdog brands. They really cater to the film shooter & stock all kinds of neat items. I often thumb through their catalogs just to find products that I never knew existed. They are located in California and I'm on the East Coast so my shipping costs are higher & because they're a specialty shop, they charge a bit more for everything than B&H or Adorama. That said, if the two giants don't have something I need, Freestyle probably does. Recently B&H stopped shipping Kodak HC110 so I buy mine exclusively from Freestyle now.
I recently place my first order with FPP but have been following their YouTube videos and Podcasts for quite some time. This is a business that is REALLY trying to give back to the film community. If you want a WORKING Polaroid camera AND learn how to use it, this is the place to go. But they also have a very healthy stock of popular films as well as some oddball stuff like cinema film spooled for use in still photography cameras. FPP is located in New Jersey so their shipping costs are extremely low for me in Maryland. As to if you should order from Freestyle or FPP, it may come down to what side of the country you live on!
C A M E R A S & L E N S E S
I buy many of my cameras, lenses & accessories from KEH & highly recommend them to any film enthusiast or photog on a budget. They specialize in used camera/lens sales & also do repairs. They use a grading system to give you an idea of the cosmetic & functional condition of items & offer a SIX MONTH WARRANTY on everything. This is pretty unheard of when buying used/vintage cameras. And they make mistakes. Sometimes I've gotten items that were not in the condition described but they are super friendly about returns/exchanges & even pay shipping on them. I have bought numerous Nikon, Pentax, Olympus products as well as miscellaneous lens hoods & caps from them with great success. A friend of mine went through quite a debacle buying Leica gear from them though so I don't think they are the best for that but if you are buying your first K1000 or Nikon FM, get it from KEH & you can concentrate on learning to shoot, not trying to see if your vintage camera works or not!
Collectible cameras stocks many fewer items & tends to sell more quirky, less mainstream cameras than KEH. They have a 35 day warranty, which is still pretty great. I purchased both my Leica M6 TTL & Leica IIIc from these guys. The M6 was perfect & the IIIc had some issues but Ed, the owner worked them out with me by having the camera repaired despite my being outside of the warranty period. He is very friendly & knowledgeable.Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest
Maybe you own a couple vintage fixed lens rangefinders like a Canonet or similar but are looking to step up your game & pick up an interchangeable lens RF that is a bit more usable, Voigtländer cameras & lenses are quite a deal more affordable than Leica, & the bodies offer some more appealing design features (such as a sensible film door!) While Voigtländer products are now made in Japan by Cosina, Cosina is a major player on the front of keeping film alive by offering many economical film-dedicated products in a digital world. You can buy these products from the big photo stores but you'll get the best advice & information about these cameras from Stephan Gandy's website. He is also a good resource for the repair of these cameras & lenses & I believe that he gets new product releases ahead of the big stores.
If you're not finding what you want at the above sites, I sometimes find good deals in the used departments of B&H & Adorama but these businesses don't seem to have as high standards for checking classic cameras as the aforementioned. Still, they sometimes are cheaper & have reasonable return policies. Don't forget to look for local shops that sell vintage cameras. Camera repair shops will often have a For Sale section & photography shops that sell new gear may have a used section. Look around, find your valid resources before resorting to eBay, Craigslist or Goodwill!
B A T T E R I E SWein Cell Batteries
If you shoot with an early Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Yashica or countless other classic cameras that originally required a mercury battery, Wein Cell zinc air batteries are a must. Some people add resistors to their cameras in order to use the higher voltage, more common 1.5 volt button cells & in other applications, Energizer hearing aid batteries from the pharmacy will do the trick but if you just want the correct & proper camera battery without stuffing your camera with aluminum foil, you want a Wein Cell. I bought about 20 MRB625's a couple years back to keep my Nikkormats & OM-1 alive & shooting. Camera shops usually charge more than if you just buy directly from the website.
Did you just pick up a Polaroid folding pack film Land Camera at a thrift store or flea market? Want to test/use it but don't feel like doing the battery conversion yet? If you can find the original 4.5 volt battery anywhere, they usually want $12.99 or so for it but RadioShack lists it for $7.99! At that price, why bother doing the fabled conversion at all?!
D A R K R O O M S U P P L I E S
Kodak B&W Darkroom Dataguide
I am unaware of a current version of the Kodak B&W Darkroom Dataguide. This copy was put out in 2001, however, if you are starting to process at home for the first time, with or without prior experience, I consider this book a cheap, long term investment. Some parts of the Dataguide are no longer valid as some films, papers & chemicals are no longer available new, however, everything that Kodak currently sells/makes is covered by the 2001 edition of the Dataguide. It will also provide directions for processing, how to troubleshoot results & how to correct various issues. I've been processing my own film on & off for about a decade but I still keep this book on hand every time I start processing.
I have tried to use probably all the current 35mm & 120 film developing tanks & reels currently on the market in the last 10 years & I find the Dot Line DL6041 which contains DL6042 reels to be the absolute easiest.
The professional choice of tank & reels are metal Nikkor style as they better maintain temperature, use much less chemistry & are metal so they don't break with use & last much longer than plastic tanks. HOWEVER, like many photographers, I have always struggled to get the film to go on these reels perfectly 100% of the time. For me, anything less than 100% is a threat to my photography because often you don't know you loaded a reel wrong until after your film is ruined. The plastic Patterson reels are not that much easier to load in my opinion. I spent countless hours in our darkroom in college helping other frustrated students load their film on Patterson reels after multiple unsuccessful loads. Seeking the best reel, I tried everything I could find & the Dot Line was like the proverbial breath of fresh air. I have NEVER mis-loaded a Dot Line reel & have always been able to load them faster & with more confidence than any other reel. The reels can also be used in Patterson & some Omega (though I find the Omega tanks to be leaky) tanks.
Yes I'd prefer a good metal tank & reel but the bottom line for me is making it as easy as possible to process my film without damaging it & the Dot Line tanks & particularly the reels deliver in this regard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do a lot of push processing, like I do, I have found these Dot Line Reels, for some reason can damage film rated over 400 ISO by leaving a wavy black line down the center of b&w negatives that have processed for a long period. I see this issue erratically when pushing 400 to 1600 and 3200 to 6400. I currently use Paterson reels for any film rated over 400 ISO.
R E P A I R T O O L S & P A R T SMicro-Tools
Here is where I find many of my camera repair supplies. Anyone with more than a couple classic cameras should have items like Pliobond for re-gluing leatherette & rubber as well as a set of small screwdrivers to keep the exterior screws tight & of course there are the light seals! They sell some great literature on camera repair & maintenance also.Is the Leatherette Peeling off Your Camera or Rubber Grip Slipping off Your Lens?
Pliobond is what professional camera repair techs use to re-glue leatherette & rubber to cameras & lenses because it is strong but can be removed without harming the surfaces later. Some camera repairs & adjustments involve removing the leatherette so you're going to cause someone big problems if you reapply it with super glue as many amateurs will do. The fumes that come off this stuff are crazy so be mindful of that & remember that a very very little bit goes a long way so don't make a mess of your camera with excessive adhesive.
When I get a camera whose leatherette is falling apart, I like to buy new material from these guys. Micro-tools sells some basic stuff also but if you really want something high quality & in the style you want, Camera Leather probably has it. All their coverings function more or less like stickers. Remove your existing leatherette, peel the back off the new covering & carefully slip it into place on your camera. No gluing or cutting. A favourite covering of mine is Griptac which is a very grippy rubber material that, in black, doesn't look noticeably different from standard black leatherette from a distance but makes the camera very very easy to hold securely. I don't like to use straps so it's nice to use a covering that ensures a good grip on the camera. I keep wanting to get some red alligator for my Nikon F2sb...