Film is said to be expensive! Might well be, if you don’t factor in the recurring cost of a digital camera (after all you ‘have to’ renew at least every 3 years to be up to the challenge!).161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (12)

Or not?

Film cameras, unless you go for a Leica or the Nikon F6 which are still produced new, range from peanuts to moderately affordable. My Praktica, a thoroughly great camera cost 35€, including the 50mm lens and postage! The Spotmatic SP1000 was 20€!161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (23)

A truly great, very clean and properly maintained Nikon F2 would be around 250€. A good Olympus XA2 can be had for around 40€. And even a very nice Leica IIIa like Oskar is less than 300€!161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (3)

Not in the ballpark of digital cameras at all. So we can manage the running expense of film I guess. At least if we develop and scan at home. It’s a chore but it makes for good time to write a silly blog post about film photography and the keepers on a roll.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (32)

Yes, let’s get back to those keepers.

With digital, people tend to ‘spray and pray’. Take lots of photos and expect some to be OK. At the end of the day you are sitting in front of your computer, trying to sift through dozens if not hundreds of photos.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (14)

That’s fine by me if you like that!

As a silly old film shooter I try to think before hitting the shutter button. I look at a scene and try to imagine how I’d like it to look in the final photo.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (10)

Then I ask myself: “Do I really want that photo?” More often than not the answer is ‘No’. So I stroll along looking for the next challenge.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (1)

I don’t want to ‘make the photo’ in photoshop! A photo is made in the camera. It’s OK or not from the start. All I do, not working in a real darkroom as I should, is adjust the contrast, dodge and burn a bit, and I have to admit that I might even crop a bit. All photos are not perfect after all.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (28)

So out of a costly roll of film, how many keepers can I expect?

I went through my negatives folder from 2016 and chose a sheet more or less at random. I viewed the negatives and re-scanned the best at optimal resolution. How many did stand the test?161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (33)

Eleven photos from a roll of 36 made the cut. Not too bad. The rest are not useless, well most of them apart from a couple shaky ones and one where I hit the shutter by mistake. But they are simply not really good. Though you should never throw them out as I said HERE!161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (30)

In this post I show the keepers from a roll of Ilford HP5, shot in my now sadly deceased Ricoh GR1. Hope you liked them.161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (11)

For the technically inclined, all negatives are scanned on a Plustek Opticfilm 8100 using Silverfast. I ‘developed’ them in Apple Photos and Picktorial like I said HERE. As you can see I prefer them well done with a lot of contrast! And Grain…..161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (5)

Thanks for stopping by!

10 thoughts on “Keepers

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    1. Very true. I think that people are used to the incredible amount of photos they take with their digital cameras / phones and when you apply that number to film…. well, at the end of the money there will be a lot of month left!

      All a question of perspective… and discipline.


  1. The fact is that the film and the development has become more expensive. For my purposes about two times more expensive. In some cases even more. I think it is still on the tolerable level but most likely has became prohibitive for many people.

    The positive side is that we do not need film any more for the mundane tasks like documenting our environment and lives. We can reserve the film only for our artistic needs and like it has been said, the art often requires a sacrifice to have been made.

    This being said, the film is quickly loosing its edge. We can now have digital cameras with an incredible resolution, having a larger sensor with better control over the depth of field has become rather norm than an exception. The noise levels of the some of the latest cameras have became incredibly low and the dynamic range has reached the level that only the film has been able to produce.

    I believe that within a year or two we will reach to the point where when you do get a new modern high end digital camera you really can keep it for years and years without having an urge to upgrade because it has become near perfect on every aspect about the picture quality.

    Even more so you can already today get an used older but very decent full frame DSLR for a very reasonable price. Not for 250 euro but 550 euro will get you one if you are not too inpatient shopper.

    With the film there is another aspect. If you shoot 135 film today then you can go bigger. Medium format will give you larger negatives and bigger gear that will force you to be even more thoughtful. Then there is a large format. Both offer camera systems that will give you an incredible control over your final outcome.

    This is the path that I am on right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re certainly right that from a pixel-peeping point of view digital cameras are king. Dynamic range is becoming great, high ISO noise is non existant…. the recent cameras could last much longer than people keep them. Always factoring in the planned obsolescence of todays appliances and the non repairability in case of failure.

      But if you look at development cost and the basic cost of a roll of film, the prices are rather much lower than say in the eighties, as Jim Grey said above. Compensate for inflation and you’ll see that it’s true. The problem is that we shoot much much more than 30 years ago. But you’re right again, for the casual documentary shot we have digital.

      Let’s seep film for artistic purposes!

      And I still have to find the digital camera that really clicks into place. Even the Fujis with their ‘vintage’ controls and looks didn’t do it.

      As for medium or large format…. I played with the idea already but not yet decided to go down that road.


  2. I consider myself enough fortunate because I can develope a roll and scan it for about 5€ [anyway I’m always ready to unleash my tank…] The dark side of the cost is that the Lab does not refresh the chemical very often… not a problem for my humble photography and I can live with it without too many worries and keep enjoying it forever. of course YMMV 😉


    Liked by 1 person

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