Is Black and White Film Cheaper Than Color? Yes, But Not In The Way You May Think

With all of the focus lately being on digital photography and new technology, it is easy to forget that there is still great value in developing your film. There is just something special and unique about the film development process since it involves your own hands, rather than sitting and staring at a computer screen. However, there is a cost to developing your own film and you may want to know which type of film is cheaper when starting out. Because black and white style film requires a different process to turn it into a negative than color film, it is important to know the cost before beginning.

While color film is easier to find online and in stores, black & white film is less expensive to buy, but black & white film can be more expensive to have it developed through the mail. However, black & white film is generally less expensive and much easier to develop at home than color film. This is why it often recommended to have color film developed through the mail and develop black & white film at home.

If you enjoy photography and want to start developing your own film at home, it is important to understand the cost associated with developing your own film at home, where to source your film at a reasonable cost, and the cost and best places to get your film developed including what they offer. We aim to answer those questions and more below. 

The Cost of Developing your Own Film

When thinking about developing your own film it is important to understand the entire cost. To develop your film at home you will need to some important items. Some of these items you may find in your house to save you some money but there are specialty items you will need to purchase to develop film. This upfront cost can seem daunting at first, but remember that almost all of these items can be reused over and over once they are purchased other than except for the film chemicals.

a darkroom in a bathroom
A Home DIY Darkroom Set Up In A Bathroom.

Upfront Cost of Developing Black and White Film At Home

See this article I wrote for the required equipment and the steps to take to develop black and white film at home but in general you will need the following items to develop black and white film at home:

  1. Film – black and white 35mm or Medium Format – around $7 a roll of 36 exposures
  2. Bottle Opener (to open the 35mm film canister) – $5.99
  3. Developing Tank and Film Reels (this one can do both 35mm and medium format film) – $33.70
  4. Measuring cups / Graduated Cylinders (for mixing developing chemicals) – $8.99
  5. Distilled water (I recommend getting this at your local store rather than online) – $24.69 (12-pack of 16.9 oz bottles)
  6. Stainless Steel Thermometer (for measure your developing chemicals) – $11.99
  7. Drying Rack with Film Clips (you can also use string over a bathtub with shower curtain rod and clothespins) – $17.99
  8. Clothespins, heavy paper clips, or large chip clips (to hang the film while it dries) – $9.99
  9. Scissors (to cut the film from the canister when placing it into the developing tank) – $10.99 (pack of 3)
  10. Plastic Funnels  (to help pour your developing chemicals in and out of the developing tank and storage bottles) – $5.81
  11. Rubber Gloves (keep you hands from getting chemicals on them – optional, but recommended) – $29.99 (black nitrile, box of 100)
  12. Apron (to keep your clothes from getting splashed with chemicals – optional, but recommended) – $12.99
  13. Kitchen Timer (you can also use a phone or a watch with a stopwatch function) – $7.99 (two-pack)
  14. Running water (I recommend a bathroom sink) – free
  15. A Dark Room (you should find this at your house, I recommend a room without any windows like a basement bedroom or bathroom, if this is unavailable then I suggest the changing bag listed below) – free
  16. Film Changing Bag (to use when placing the film from the film canister into the developing tank) – $22.88
  17. Bottles to Mix and Store Developing Chemicals – $34.99 (4-pack with lids)
  18. Black and White Developing / Processing Chemicals:
  • Kodak Developer (develops the images on your negatives) – $15.97
    • Powder – Makes 1-Gallon
    • Develops 16 rolls of film when not diluted, 8 rolls of film when diluted with water 1:1
    • For black and white photography only
  • Kodak Stop bath (stops the development process) – $19.85
    • Liquid Form – Makes 8 Gallons (dilute with water at 1:64)
    • Each mix will stop 20 rolls each so around 2500 rolls of film if mixed a liter at a time
    • For black and white photography only
  • Kodak Fixer (makes your camera film not be affected by light) – $17.89
    • Powder From – Makes 1-Gallon
    • 100 rolls of film per gallon
    • For black and white photography only
  • Wetting Agent / Photo-Flo (helps limit water spots on your film when it dries) – $17.99
    • liquid – 16 oz. bottle
    • Use only a cap full with the water in the development tank (around 600ml) – When used in this way it will do 190 rolls of film
    • Can be used on both black and white and color films

The estimated total cost for black and white film equipment and chemicals: $288.99 (without optional items)

However, the overall price could be lowered significantly to around $146.45 if you found things around the house to use like scissors, bottle opener, kitchen timer, paper towels, thermometer, distilled water, measuring cups, clips for hanging drying film, rubber gloves, funnels, or an apron.

NOTE: Remember that once you use any items to mix, store, or pour developing chemicals it is not recommended to use them around food again.

Upfront Cost of Developing Color Film At Home

See this article I wrote for the required equipment and the steps to take to develop color film at home. For color film, you would also need to purchase the items listed above for black and white film except for the processing chemicals since color film uses different chemicals to develop. The chemical kit below is what you would need along with the immersion water heater below.

The estimated total cost for color film equipment and chemicals is: $345.23 (without optional items)

However, the overall price could be lowered significantly to $181.82 if you found things around the house to use like scissors, a bottle opener, kitchen timer, paper towels, thermometer, distilled water, measuring cups, clips for hanging drying film, rubber gloves, funnels, or an apron.

Iford Pop-Up Darkroom

Ilford Pop-Up Darkroom
Source: Ilford

The darkroom company giant, Ilford Harmon, recently announced a new portable pop-up darkroom that is basically a tent that is light tight and can easily be set up and taken down in which you can make prints or develop film. The pop-up darkroom will be 7.2 ft (2.2m) tall and has a space inside of 4.2ft x 4.2ft (1.3m x 1.3m) which is big enough for a table for your enlarger and chemicals so you can develop film or make prints. It has a protective mat so it won’t ruin your floors if used indoors. It also has a built-in air vent at the top and bottom to help with air circulation.

Ilford Pop-Up Darkroom In Bag
Image source: Ilford

The entire thing fits in the supplied storage bag and measures 26.6in x 9.8in x 9.8in (68cm x 25cm x 25cm) and weighs 17.5lbs (8kg). The pop-up darkroom will go on sale in November of 2021 and will cost around $265 USD. See this website for more information.

Ilford recently also announced a darkroom starter kit in partnership with the company Paterson that offers everything that is needed to make a print, except for an enlarger and a safelight. This will cost around $150 USD and includes the following:

  • 1 x Ilford Multigrade RC Deluxe Pearl Paper 8×10” 25 sheet box
  • 1 x Ilford Multigrade Developer 500ml bottle
  • 1 x Ilford Ilfostop 500ml bottle
  • 1 x Ilford Rapid FIXER 500ml bottle
  • 1 x Paterson 1200ml Graduate Cylinder
  • 1 x Paterson 150ml Graduate Cylinder
  • 1 x Paterson Chemical Mixer
  • 1 x Paterson Thermometer Small (9”)
  • 3 x Paterson 8×10 Trays (Red / White / Grey)
  • 3 x Paterson Print Tongs (Red / White / Grey)
  • 1 x Paterson Micro Focus Finder

Black and White vs Color At Home Developing Cost

As you can see above with the prices of the equipment, it is more expensive to purchase the equipment to develop color film. Even if you use things from around your house to save money, it is still around $40 less expensive for the equipment and chemicals to develop black and white film ($146.45 for B&W vs $181.82 for color film)

On top of the upfront price difference, another cost related to the developing chemicals makes color film more expensive after purchasing the equipment. The kit to develop color film I recommended above will only develop about 8-10 rolls of film. The black and white chemicals recommended above will develop around 16 rolls of film before more chemicals are needed to be purchased. In addition, if you want to develop more color film, you will need to purchase another kit at around $50 since the recommended, like most color chemicals, are only reusable in limited amounts. However, since black and white chemicals are much more reusable, you would only need to purchase more developer (around $20) until you develop 84 rolls of film before you need to buy more fixer at around $20 (about 5 more times) – with both the stop bath and Photo-Flo chemicals lasting way beyond that.

Hopefully, you can see that although there somewhat of a large upfront cost for the required equipment for developing both color or black and white film at home, it makes more sense to develop B&W film at home rather than color film because of how many rolls of film each type of chemicals can process.

Best Black and White Films To Buy, Price, and Why

When starting up photography it can be hard to know which film to purchase. We’ve listed below the most recommended films and why along with the best prices.

Black and white film is unique because it removes the color we are so used to seeing and abstracts our world. It is my favorite type of film for portraits. The Candian photojournalist Ted Grant even said, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”

With black and white film, like all camera film, quality matters. Below are some of the best-known brands of black and white film for both 35mm and medium format as well as in both individual prices or prices in bulk.

Which Black and White 35mm Film Should I Buy?

We recommend the following options for beginners because of their price, consistency, longevity, and exposure latitude.

Note: When purchasing film is I recommend doing a cost analysis for each film you plan on buying so you can see how much each picture will cost before developing ($6.99 for a roll of film with 36 exposures + $3.99 shipping works out to be $.30 an image before tax). This can be a good way to compare prices among different stores.

  • 35mm Black & White Kodak Tri-X 400TX – $44.95 (7 rolls with 36 exposures per roll from Amazon.com or $19.99 for a 2-pack with 36 exposures each since)
    • This works out to be $0.17 an exposure with the bulk option since free delivery is included
    • The 2-Pack works out to be $0.27 an exposure
A roll of 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400TX black and white film
  • 35mm Black & White Ilford HP5 Plus 400 – $54.99 – (7 rolls with 36 exposures per roll on Amazon.com or just $18.48 for 2-pack with 36 exposures each)
    • This works out to be $0.21 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
    • The 2-Pack works out to be $0.25 an exposure
A roll of 35mm Ilford HP5 plus black and white film

Which Black and White Medium Format (120) Film Should I Buy?

Both of the above brands from Kodak and Ilford also make the same film sized for medium format cameras. One thing you will notice is that medium format film is cheaper than 35mm film overall. However, remember that you are getting less than half of the number of frames with medium format film (36 exposures with 35mm vs 3 – 16 exposures with medium format film depending on your camera). However, you are producing a larger negative which translates to more details and higher resolution with medium format than with a 35mm camera. Since most medium format cameras take 16 frames that is what I’ll use for the cost calculations below.

  • Medium Format Black & White Kodak Tri-X 400TX – $37.95 – (5-pack with 16 exposures per roll from Amazon.com or $10.99 for one roll)
    • This works out to be $0.47 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.68 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A box of 5 rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400TX  black and white medium format film
  • Medium Format Black & White Ilford HP5 Plus 400 – $34.99 – (5-pack with 16 exposures per roll from Amazon.com or $5.95 for one roll)
    • This works out to be $0.43 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.07 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A box of Ilford HP5 plus 400 black and white medium format film

Why Should I Buy Black and White Films?

Both options will produce sharp images with fine grain and work well in various lighting conditions since they are both right in the sweet spot of light sensitivity (they both are 400 ISO). Even though Ilford HP5 film can be found online as the less expensive of the two, it has less contrast relative to what you’ll get if you use the Kodak Tri-X 400TX film with more subtle tones (not to be confused with Kodak 400 T-Max which is a different product. See this comparison between 400TX and 400 T-Max for more information). Kodak Tri-X 400TX Tri-X film is generally the more popular choice for black and white photographers (especially photojournalists) because of its stronger contrast and high exposure latituded. While both films respond well to pushing and pulling but Kodak Tri-X tends to handle overexposure better. However, you can’t go wrong with either choice as both are able to produce great images. Here is a fantastic comparison between the two 35mm film stocks from TheDarkroom.com

To save even more Money, see the following bulk prices:

For Ilford Black and White Film
For Kodak Black and White Film

Best Color Films To Buy, Price, and Why

Color film is different than black and white film. The development of consistent color film was available to the public later than black and white film so it is a newer process. With color film, you need to make sure what you are getting before you buy it because quality does matter. Color film is more sensitive to temperature variations than black and white film and it is important to find a reliable source that you can trust.

Which Color 35mm Film Should I Buy?

When purchasing film is I recommend doing a cost analysis for each film you plan on buying so you can see how much each picture will cost before developing ($6.99 for a roll of film with 36 exposures + $3.99 shipping works out to be $.30 an image before tax). This can be a good way to compare prices among different stores.

Here some of the best brands of color film, complete with estimated prices and reputable places to find it. When purchasing color film, you’ll usually find the best prices online, and we recommend these film options for beginners:

  • 35mm Kodak Portra 400 – $52.95 – (5 rolls with 36 exposures on Amazon.com)
    • This works out to be $0.29 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
A roll of Kodak Portra 400 color 35mm film
  • 35mm Fuji Pro 400H Color Film $69.99 – (5 rolls with 36 exposures from Amazon.com)
    • This works out to be $0.38 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
A roll of Fujifilm Pro 400 H color 35mm film
  • 35mm Lomo Color Negative 400 ($23.90 – 3 rolls with 36 exposures from Amazon.com)
    • This works out to be $0.21 an exposure for the bulk option since free delivery is included
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.68 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A roll of 35mm color negative film by lomography.

Which Color Medium Format (120) Film Should I Buy?

Both of the above brands from Kodak and Ilford also make the same film sized for medium format cameras. One thing you will notice is that medium format film is cheaper than 35mm film overall. However, remember that you are getting less than half of the number of frames with medium format film (36 exposures with 35mm vs 3 – 16 exposures with medium format film depending on your camera). However, you are producing a larger negative which translates to more details and higher resolution with medium format than with a 35mm style camera. Since most medium format cameras take 16 frames that is what I’ll use for the cost calculations below.

  • Kodak Portra 400 Medium Format ($46.79 – 5-pack from Amazon.com)
    • This works out to be $0.21 an exposure for the bulk option.
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.68 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A box of 5 for Kodak Portra 400 medium format film
  • Fuji Pro 400H Medium Format Color Film ($69.99 – 5 rolls with 36 exposures from Amazon.com)
    • This works out to be $0.21 an exposure for the bulk option.
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.68 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A box of fujifilm pro 400H medium format film
  • Lomo Color Negative 400 Medium Format ($23.90 – 3-pack from Lomography.com)
    • This works out to be $0.21 an exposure for the bulk option.
    • The individual roll works out to be $0.68 an exposure (assuming you get free shipping from Amazon.com)
A box of 3 Lomography Color Negative 400 Medium format film

Why Should I Buy Color Film?

All three options produce sharp and colorful images but Kodak Portra 400 is still the number one choice for film photographers because of the faithful recreation of skin tones and beautiful overall color saturation. The film overexposes well while creating softer, warmer, more pastel colors which is difficult to recreate with a digital camera without post-processing/editing. Kodak Portra 400 also works well in many different lighting situations and the fine grain makes it great for digital scanning. However, it can be more expensive compared to other films.

While Fuji 400H has never been as popular as Kodak Portra 400 it is a solid professional film that has many of the same great qualities as the other films recommended. It overexposes well like Portra 400 creating softer more pastel colors, great for portraits, sharp, and has a fine grain that works well for scanning. Beause of it’s consistency it is used in shooting weddings. However, Fuji Film Pro 400H does tend to have a green tint when it isn’t shot in natural light and it tends to be more expensive than Portra 400. In addition, Fujifilm recently announced they are discontinuing Fuji Film Pro 400H in both 35mm and 120mm formats in 2021 but you might be able to still find some available but I imagine the lack of supply will affect the price difference even more.

Lomo Color Negative 400 is another great option for color film. Its main advantage is that is much cheaper than the other films. However, it has fine grain for scanning which appears sharp, and has cult status for its consistent color reproduction with a lot of contrast and vintage feel (though it is not as revered as Porta 400).

Cheap Color Film Alternatives to Kodak Portra 400

While Portra is the king of color film it can be very expensive if you shoot it a lot. Because of this, there has been a following growing for cheaper color films like Lomo Color Negative film. Kodak UltraMax 400, and Fuji X-TERA 400 are two other alternatives to Kodak Portra 400. These films also have the advantage of being found online as well as in a drug store or Wal-Mart, which is something you can’t say for all the films above (even the black and white film). Though, unlike Lomo Color Negative film you can only find these in 35mm format.

Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm film – $44.99 (5-pack of 36 exposures per roll from Amazon.com – Works out to $0.24 an exposure)

A roll of 35mm Kodak UltraMax 400 film with 36 exposures
  • This film has been growing a following lately because it is great for shooting outdoors in bright sunlight and has a great amount of saturation overall but especially in blues as well as strong contrast. It also handles overcast days as well as artificial light well so it well suited for general photography, portraiture, and landscapes. However, the grain structure isn’t as fine as Portra, Fuji 400H, or Lomo Color Negative Film so the grain is more noticeable. It doesn’t handle underexposure well but does hand overexposure well so it is recommended to overexpose it by 1-stop (set your camera to 200 ISO and develop it as 400 ISO). It is also only available in 35mm format but it is much cheaper than the other color films mentioned and can be found locally at drug stores and Wal-Mart.

Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 35mm film – $47.99 (5-pack with 36 exposures per roll from Amazon.com – Works out to $0.26 an exposure)

A roll of Fujifilm X-TRA Superia 400 film with 36 exposures
  • Like Kodak UltraMax 400, this film has been growing a following lately because of how great it is for shooting outdoors in bright sunlight and produces contrasty images with saturated colors leaning more towards cool magenta and green-ish tones. Because of this, it is better for more general photography and landscapes. However, unlike like Kodak UltraMax 400, the grain structure is ultra fine so it scans well with very fine grain. This has led some people to compare the way the image looks to being digital. It is only available in 35mm format but it is much cheaper than a lot of the other color films mentioned and can be found locally at drug stores and Wal-Mart.

The Best Places To Purchase Film

Other than the cost of equipment to develop your film as well as developing chemicals, camera film is another part of the process to consider. While there are plenty of reasons to still buy film, that does not mean you can just rush out to your neighborhood drugstore and find every kind of format. In fact, it is currently difficult to find more than 35mm color film at many physical stores like Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens. Availability, quality, price are all considerations when determining where to purchase film.

Here are a few tips to think about when purchasing film:

  • Be mindful of shipping costs and taxes because they can add up.
  • Be aware of shipping times if ordering from another country. This is especially true with online stores like Amazon.com, Ebay.com, but also applies to Wal-Mart / Target.
  • It’s hard to know how the film was stored and this can make a huge difference when it comes to color film. This can be especially true when ordering from online stores like eBay. So, be wary of these stores when purchasing color film for consistency since it needs to be stored in a cool and dry place (some places even refrigerate film to keep it fresh). I personally have found color film ordered online from places like Amazon, B&H Photo Video, Freestyle, and Adorama to be perfectly fine.

B&H Photo Video

B&H Photo Video, named after its co-founders Bilima and Herman, is one of the largest photography stores in the world – the three-story store in New York City and has over 1,000 employees and over 400,000 products – this place has quite the assortment of film to choose from and cameras to shoot it with.

They have all of the popular types of camera film like color and black and white 35mm, medium format (120), large format sheet film plus infrared film, and unique formats (like 110 cartridge film and 620 foll film) while usually at the best price. They even have 77 different types of instant film. You can get many popular brands here like Kodak, Ilford, Arista, Fujifilm, and some brands that aren’t as well-known such as Rollei, Lomography, Cinestill, Foma, and KONA. You can also find film sold individually as well as in bulk to save some money. The website is easy to navigate and find what you are looking for.

B&H Photo Video currently offers a student and teacher discount program which can save you money on many purchases.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com is another great option for purchasing photographic film. You can find all sorts of color and black and white film here including 35mm, medium format (120), large format sheet film (4×5), instant film (for polaroid and fuji cameras), some specialty films like 110 cartridge film, and even infrared film. They also have popular brands like Kodak, Ilford, Arista, Fujifilm, Polaroid, and some brands that aren’t as well-known like Lomography, Cinestill, and JCH. You can find film sold individually as well as in bulk to save some money (like this pack of black and white film from Ilford). If you have an Amazon Prime membership you can also save big on shipping. You can also set up a recurring purchase and delivery for your film and film developing supplies so you never run out.

If you are a student and don’t have an amazon prime account, then I suggest signing up for the Amazon Prime Student account. It comes with a 6 months free trial and continues afterward for half the price.

KEH Camera

KEH Camera is a website and store based out of Smyrna, GA (USA) that has been in business since 1979. Their main focus is buying and selling used photography and video gear. Some of their used gear can be as much as 40% off retail with up to 60,000 products available on their website alongside new gear. They also offer a 180-day guarantee on most items. They also have a fantastic repair program and their website is easy to navigate to find what you are looking for.

KEH Camera doesn’t have as much of a selection of film as the Amazon or B&H, but they do have the most well-known formats like color and black and white 35mm, Medium Format, and Large Format film, instant film, and the most reliable brands like Ilford, Kodak, Polaroid and Fujifilm. You can find film sold individually as well as in bulk to save some money. They also have a student discount program and free shipping on orders over $49.

Film Photography Store

The Film Photography Store grew out of a podcast that started in 2009. They offer the most different types of film than any of the others mentioned. Like the others, they offer color and black and white 35mm, Medium Format, and Large Format sheet film and instant film but they also special films like infrared film and films that are only sensitive to blue light. They also offer some more esoteric formats like 110, 620, 220, 127, and APS. Like the other stores listed, they offer the more familiar brands like Ilford, Kodak, Polaroid, and Fujifilm but they also have some that are not as well known like Cinestill, Lomography, and their own brand of special handrolled color and black and white films. You can find film sold individually as well as in bulk to save some money. The website is also easy to navigate to find what you are looking for.

One of the coolest things they offer is an adapter to shoot 35mm film in a medium format camera.

eBay

eBay.com is a place that needs no introduction. Although you can find a lot of expired or old film, you can also find new film for affordable prices as well. This is a great platform to search for any film you might need since it puts you in direct contact with suppliers worldwide in regard to new film. On eBay you can find color and black and white film in 35mm, Medium Format, Large Format sheet film including every kind of camera film you may require at decent prices.

However, you need to be careful because when purchasing color film on eBay. Color film is susceptible to variations in temperature and should be stored in a cool, dry place for the best performance and this cannot always be confirmed when buying from places like eBay.

Adorama

Adorama started in 1974 and, like B&H, is located in New York City. They sell more than just photography and video supplies but that is how they got started. Like KEH, you can sell your camera or video equipment with Adorma and purchase used equipment as well. They even have a rental program.

You can purchase all kinds of color and black and white film on Adorama.com including 35mm, medium format (120), large format sheet film, instant film (for polaroid cameras), some specialty films like 110 cartridge film, and even infrared film. They carry popular brands like Kodak, Ilford, Arista, Fujifilm, Polaroid alongside brands that aren’t as well-known like Dubblefilm, KONO, Revolog, Lomography, Cinestill, Rollei, and Foma. You can find film sold individually as well as in bulk to save some money. This company recently redid its website and it looks great and is now much easier to navigate.

Adorama has a loyalty program as well where you can receive free 2-day shipping among other perks as well as a student discount program.

FreeStyle Photo

FreeStyle Photo started in 1946 and is located in Los Angeles, CA with an online store as well as a physical store. They mostly offer photographic cameras, film, and darkroom supplies and are well known for their alternative process selection for developing film. The website is easy to navigate and easy to find what you are looking for.

FreeStyle Photo has one of the largest selections of photographic film online. You can purchase all kinds of color and black and white film here including 35mm, medium format (120), large format sheet film, instant film (for polaroid cameras), some specialty films like 110 cartridge film, and even infrared film. They carry popular brands like Kodak, Ilford, Arista, Fujifilm, Polaroid along with some brands that aren’t as well-known like Dubblefilm, KONO, Revolog, Lomography, Cinestill, Rollei, JCH, and QWD.

They don’t currently have a student discount or loyalty program but they do offer film processing at their physical store location. See this link for more details.

Antique Stores

While this might not be your first thought of where to get film, it is possible to find old and expired color film at an antique store for very cheap. Expired color film (around 10 – 20 years old) can still be developed with modern processes which is why color film is still relatively worth something. However, over time color film degrades if not stored properly (for example, in a cool, dark place) and will be unpredictable and inconsistent. However, it can be fun to develop this film if you are shooting low-risk subject matter because you don’t know what you are going to get.

If you are interested in shooting with old or expired film, see this article that I wrote for tips on how to shoot with old or expired film and get results you’ll be happy with.

Where to Get Your Film Developed Online?

Kodak Kiosk in Australia in the 1950s where you could purchase cameras, film, or get your film developed.
Kodak Kiosk in Australia in the 1950s where you could purchase cameras, film, or get your film developed.

While it can be somewhat expensive upfront to develop black and white film because of purchasing the necessary items and chemicals to develop it, over time it can be cheaper to develop your own black and white film at home rather than sending it out to be developed. Color film on the other hand is more difficult to develop at home because it has less latitude with temperature variations during the development process. The color process also requires more equipment and chemicals than black & white film but it can be done. Therefore, it can be more worthwhile to have your color film sent out for development.

If you want the best quality films, you will want to avoid the neighborhood drugstores or big box stores like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart since they generally only carry color film and in limited ISOs. Also, if you have them develop your film you won’t get your film negatives back at these stores, the digital scans are mediocre at best, and you have to wait a while to get your scans and prints back.

Instead, consider one of the places from this article about where to get film developed or scanned, other services available, and how much it costs. Also, see this article for tips on how to securely and safely mail film to the online film developer and the cost.

If you are interested in learning how to develop your own film at home, see these articles I wrote about what you’ll need and the steps involved to develop black and white film or color film at home. In addition, if you’re concerned about the chemicals involved with developing black and white film at home, see this article I wrote about developing film at home with safer and more environmentally friendly methods.

Sources: 

Lee

My name is Lee and I love photography and learning. I received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 2010 and have worked as a university professor for the last 10 years in addition to being a working photographer. I started this website to learn more about digital and film-based photography and to provide a resource for all of my students.

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