They are more common and more widely available than you might think, and perennially popular too. You can find out more in this Best film cameras in 2019 guide written for Digital Camera World.
Black and white film processing is actually pretty easy, and darkroom specialist Speed Graphic has just made it easier still with the introduction of the Ilford Simplicity Starter Pack. This contains all the chemicals you need to process 2 x 35mm films or 1 x 120 roll film in a handy low-waste kit.
Some black and white photographers never stopped using film, some have come back to it as they realise the results are different to digital capture, and some want to try it out for the first time to see what all the fuss is about.
The Ilford Simplicity Starter Pack is ideal if you already have film processing equipment but you only need the chemicals occasionally. The kit includes all the key ingredients: developer (Ilfosol 3), fixer, stop bath and wetting agent. The fixer and wetting agent can actually be re-used several times. Chemicals are supplied in flexible pouches which can be re-closed and squashed to expel air and keep remaining chemicals fresh.
If you don’t have the equipment needed for processing films, Speed Graphic has that covered too, with the Paterson Film Processing Kit. This includes a developing tank, two film reels (in case you want to process two 35mm films at the same time, three measuring cylinders for measuring and diluting chemicals, a thermometer, a film squeegee and full instructions.
For more information about processing black and white films, check out Ilford’s Beginners Guide to Processing Film – Ilford Photo
The total cost for both Ilford and Paterson kits is around £65, and this is something you can genuinely do at your kitchen sink. You will need a way to get the film loaded on to the developing reels in complete darkness, however, so if you don’t have a proper light-proofed darkroom, you should budget for a ‘changing bag’ too, which will let you load the films in regular daylight.
Once you’ve got your developed negatives you then need to either print them the old fashioned way via a darkroom or lab service, or scan them to integrate them with your digital imaging workflow – but that’s another story.
Price: Ilford Simplicity Starter Pack £14.65, Paterson Film Processing Kit £52.00, Paterson Changing Bag £25.70 (also available in the US at B&H)
More information: Speed Graphic – Online Camera and Photography Accessories Store
Who says film is dead? Not Lomography, obviously, because it’s resurrected an old black and white film (and film style) from the 1960s.
It’s the second of Lomography’s Kino Films and extracted, we’re told, from rolls of cine film produced by a German cine film maker. Designed for moody monochrome movies, the film is packaged up in 35mm film cartridges and has a speed of ISO 100.
This should make it ideal for sunny days, though the new film also has higher contrast than Lomography’s existing B&W Kino Film and higher DMAX (maximum density) for a greater tonal range.
Rolls of Potsdam 100 will go on sale in May 2019 at £7.90 each (you can pre-order now), which doesn’t seem too bad, though you’ll have to add in the cost of developing and printing too, unless you propose doing that yourself. Lomography does offer its own online developing service for those who don’t.
If you want to integrate your black and white film with your digital workflow you’ll also need a scanner. There don’t seem to be any high-end film scanners around right now, but a good quality flatbed with a transparency mode should do a reasonable job, and Lomography makes a DigitaLIZA 35mm film holder to make this easier.
To be fair, it’s unlikely anyone is going to get into retro film photography expecting top-end image quality and it’s more about the ‘feel’ of the film.
Lomography sells a variety of different film cameras, mostly replicas of cheap, cult snapshot cameras of the past, but there’s nothing to stop you using the new Potsdam 100 film in regular 35mm camera. You might have one in your cupboard, for example, but there are still plenty of decent working examples on eBay.
Find out more here: Lomography shop
Film obviously isn’t dead after all. It still has a following amongst artists, hipsters and back-to-basics photographers who yearn for the fallibility, frailty and unpredictability of film.
That’s meat and drink to retro specialist Lomography, which brings the same qualities to its modern recreations of cheerfully cheap old snapshot cameras – though without the ‘cheap’ part.
The film in question is Colour Negative F²/400 film, which Lomography launched last year in the 35mm format. That has, it seems been a huge success, so now it’s to become available in medium format.
According to Lomography, this film produces “refined colours with a beautifully unique, X-Pro feel, and even sprinkles shots with subtle blue overtones in certain shooting conditions”.
This film is available online as a pre-order but supplies are expected to be limited.
More information: Lomography website