Published on May 18th, 2013
In the only shop left in Hobart where I can buy Ilford film the prices are steep. I’d pay AUD$10.50 for a 24 frame roll of Ilford Delta 100 and my selection choice would be between Pan F 50, Delta 100, FP4 124 and HP5 400. I could probably buy Tri-X 400 at a Kodak store in the city centre but it would be as expensive. So, instead of paying through clenched teeth, I bulk load my film.
If you haven’t been introduced to this way of purchasing film there is nothing mystical or esoteric about it. You only need a bulk loader and a 100 foot roll of film with a few canisters to pre-load that film into. And you’ll need a darkroom bag to fill the bulk loader – or a pitch black room. The savings can be substantial.
I now have four bulk loaders kept in a refrigerator – two were sub-$10 purchases from online groups and I found another two locally (for free). Each is loaded with one of the following films – Ilford Pan F 50, Delta 100 and FP4 125 and the last one has a fresh roll of Kodak Tri-X 400.
A roll of film can cost as low as $30 (sourced online) or as high as $100 (sourced locally). My suppliers of choice at the moment are B&H via their online store because they’re fast, competitive and have a good range for selection. A recent order cost just under $190 (including the $38 shipping fee) and it took from Thursday night to Tuesday morning to travel all the way from the United States to my suburban doorstep in Tasmania. That’s a globalisation WOW.
For that money I got 100 feet of Delta 100, 100 feet of Tri-X 400, a five pack of 120 rolls of Tri-X 400 and four plastic reloadable film canisters. That’s not bad considering I’ll fill close to 30 rolls of 24 frames for between $55 and $70 plus shipping. Let’s call it less than $3 per roll of film compared to $10.50.