Total cost of one roll Super 8 film in 2020

Back at the end of 2018 I compiled all the information I could find about pricing of film/developing/scanning, looking at different film labs and scanning houses.  I don’t know everything, and there are probably developing labs and scanning houses I don’t know about, but these seem to be the main ones.  All values rounded up to the nearest dollar. Prices for D94 and ECN-2 developing.  In a few cases I’ve included some E-6 prices, expect to pay more for the film and the processing.  Shipping prices not included as they vary, the same with hard drives, but it must be said that those are extra expenses that must be taken into account.  Some labs will sell you a hard drive for a markup, but it’s always cheaper to buy your own to send in.  These are all labs and scanning houses located in the continental USA.  For the entire world I suggest this great list of film-related businesses.

So let’s get this out of the way first: The cheapest place to buy fresh newly-manufactured film is directly from KODAK.  The annoying thing is that they keep changing their online store every year so as you’re reading this maybe it’s up and maybe not, you’ll just have to click the link and see; I will try to keep the link updated.  You an always call 1(800) 621-FILM.  Kodak charges $30 for b/w reversal and color negative stocks (with a 30% discount if you’re a student, so about $21), Ektachrome is $40.  I don’t know why so many people buy from standard retailers other than general laziness.  Admittedly there are extra shipping charges with Kodak and to ship one roll by itself costs about $9-10 but that’s the same whether you buy 1 roll or 20.  But let’s look at a few other places:

Film Club of America: Tri-X $30 (currently on-sale for $27), 50D/200T/500T $33 (free shipping)
Mono No Aware: ORWO U-54/N-74 $25, Tri-X/50D-200T/500T $30, E100 $40 (I have no idea how much shipping is and they don’t necessarily have an online store, you would have to fill out their contact form)
Film Photography Project (FPP): Tri-X/50D/200T/500T $33, E100 $46 (shipping varies by quantity, $3.50-21)
B&H Photo and Video: Tri-X/50D/500T $33, 200T $35, E100 $46 (free shipping, but added sales tax)
Adorama: Tri-X/500T $37, 50D/200T $38 (free shipping on all)
Pro8mm Process/Scan package: Tri-X/50D/200T/250D/500T $58 ($33+25 processing which you’ll need anyway), E100 $70 (plus shipping)
Freestyle Photo: Tri-X $35, E100 $48 (plus shipping)
International Film Brokers: Tri-X/50D/200T/500T $33, E100 $42 (+7 shipping for 2 carts, varies for larger quantities) Tri-X $41, $500T $41, E100 $55 (at least when I last checked…I’m sure the price can fluctuate a bit)

You get the picture.  So on top of this you’ll have to get the film developed, and scanned to digital, unless you know enough about cutting/splicing as well as owning an 8mm projector.  If so I doubt you need much help from me.  It should also be noted that Film Club USA and Mono No Aware are non-profits, and FPP makes a lot of donations to photography programs all over America.  Adorama and B&H do things a bit differently when it comes to charging sales tax vs. charging more for the item sometimes, it usually ends up the same.

I was also given some information about regular 8mm film AKA Double 8, FPP started selling some and there’s also International Film Brokers.  Sometimes it’s not apparent who manufactured the film (though the only ones to my knowledge are Kodak, ORWO, and Foma), it’s slit (usually) by a third party, and the supply is low.  If you’re interested in Double 8 you’ll have to compile your own information.

FULL PACKAGE DEALS (film/processing/scanning)
FPP: 2K $93, 4K $103 (not really a combo deal but they do sell all three)
Pro8mm: 2K $98, 4K $118, 6.5K $158 (Ektachrome 2K $118, 4K $138)
Spectra: HD $125

PROCESS AND SCAN PACKAGE DEALS (not including cost of film)
Cinelab (student rate): 2K $46, 4K $63
Cinelab (regular rate): 2K $55, 4K $75
FPP: 2K $60, 4K $70
Pro8mm: 2K $75, 4K $88, 6.5K $128

So basically add whatever your film cost to that to get the total price, and compare to the full package deals offered above.  Here are a few examples of what you should expect to pay using multiple sources, though still to be factored in are hard drives and shipping.  There are so many options for that that I didn’t bother including any.

And then the old “PROCESS AT ONE LAB AND SCAN AT ANOTHER” (including cost of film from Kodak, presented as “Process”/”Scan”)
Spectra/Coyle (student rate & no telecine prep): 2K $56, 4K $61
Cinelab/Coyle (student rate): 2K $59, 4K $64
Spectra/Coyle: 2K $65, 4K $70 (no telecine prep)
Cinelab/Coyle: 2K $70, 4K $75
Cinelab/FPP (student rate): 2K $74, 4K $84
Cinelab/Gamma Ray (student & cheapest rate): 2K $74
Pro8mm/FPP (student rate): 2K $76, 4K $86
Pro8mm/FPP: 2K $85, 4K $95
Cinelab/FPP: 2K $85, 4K $95
Pro8mm/Cinelab: $85, 4K $105
Cinelab/Gamma Ray (student rate): 2K $92, 5K $108
Cinelab/Gamma Ray: 2K $98, 5K $117

PROCESSING ALONE (without film or scanning)
Dwayne’s Photo (Parsons, KS): $12 (E6 only, I’m listing because it’s the best price I’ve seen; prep for telecine is $2 extra for up to 8 rolls)
Spectra (North Hollywood, CA): $20 (E6 $20) (no prep for telecine)
Cinelab (New Bedford, MA): $23 (E6 $28) (student rate, with prep for telecine)
Yale Film & Video (Valencia, CA): $24 (E6 $26) (no prep for telecine)
Cinelab: $25 (E6 $30) (regular rate, with prep for telecine)
Pro8mm (Burbank, CA): $25 (E6 $25) (with prep for telecine)
Kodak Film Lab NY: $25 (this is according to people that have called them; they do not advertise that they process super 8 film)
Spectra: $44 (includes minimum $24 prep for telecine, assuming one is shooting 8 or more rolls of film that cost is $23 per roll)
Yale: $47 (includes minimum $25 prep for telecine, I think that’s ~$24.50-25 per roll on volume but is listed as $50 per hour, no other info)

Nicholas Coyle Film Film & Video Transfer (Denver, CO): 3K/2K $15-25, 6.5K/4K $20-30 (4K scans coming mid-2020) ($.30-.50, $.40-.60 per foot)
Gamma Ray (cheapest scans): $28 (SDR, ProRes422HQ)
Film Photography Project (Fair Lawn, NJ): 2K $30, 4K $35 ($.60, $.70 per foot)
Cinelab (student rate): 2K $30, 4K $45 ($.60, <$1 per foot)
Cinelab (New Bedford, MA): 2K $30, 4K $50 ($.60, $1 per foot)
Negativeland (Ridgewood, NY): 2.5K $32 (>$.60 per foot)
CinePost (Marietta, GA): 2K $35, 4K $45 ($.70, $.90 per foot, and some good volume discounts)
Gamma Ray (Allston, MA): 2K $43, 5K $62 (HDR ProRes4444HQ)
Movette (San Francisco, CA): 2K $44 ($.66 per foot but a minimum order amount of $44, otherwise would be $33 per cart)
Pro8mm (Burbank, CA): 2K $50, 4K $63, 6.5K $100 ($1, $1.25 and $2 per foot)
Spectra: HD $80

There are volume discounts applicable for each place I think, I didn’t take that into consideration as much because I’ve never shot enough for that to matter…yet. Still, I doubt that it’s likely to change the labs’ placement here.  All film processing costs include the prep for telecine.  I consider 2K to be the lowest acceptable resolution, and have also included the maximum resolution available, either 4K or 5K.  Pro8mm is offering a 20% discount if you’re not in a hurry and can wait 4-6 weeks.

Kodak Digitizing Box can be found here.  No info on what resolution, and it takes 4-6 weeks turnaround.  It’s a pretty new service but I thought I’d at least mention that it’s an option.  It’s $80 for two reels. It’s possible they’re sending everything to Pro8mm, but I don’t have enough information for that.

There are a few home scanning machines available new, the cheapest being the Wolverine (~$400) and the Reflekta (~$900), but they have low build quality and low resolution.  I know some people still say the top resolution of Super 8 film is about 720p and there’s no need to scan beyond that, but those people are largely idiots.  It has been proven that you’ll get sharper and more detailed images scanning in higher resolutions even if you’re viewing at standard 1080p HD, plus you’re future-proofing your scan as well.  Here are a few articles pertaining to this:
Busting the Resolution Myth
Is Transferring Super 8 Film to 5K Overkill?
Now for $400 you could transfer 26 rolls of Super 8 film and higher quality, so there’s no way it’s practical for small projects.  And if you shoot a lot?  Then you’d probably want something that can’t damage your film for starters, so don’t look at the Wolverine.  Maybe if you shoot enough that you’d spend $6500 in scanning, then look at the Retroscan Universal.  And you still wouldn’t be getting the same quality as is available with the latest scan that can cost as low as $15 a roll.  So if you care about what your footage looks like, then cough up the money for a good 4K/5K/6.5K (or at least 2K) scan from a reputable lab; you’re doing a disservice to the reputation of super 8 film otherwise.

Special thanks to the members of the Super 8mm group on Facebook who have chimed in on a few options that slipped by me.  I’m taking most of my information off these companies’ websites where pricing is advertised, though special mention should go to Gamma Ray Digital for taking the initiative and providing me with a PDF of their prices, the price sheet I have is dated 2017.  There seems to be an option for everyone with them (and they have a reputation as the best scanning house on the East Coast, if not the country). I’ve put up a few different options but it’s based mostly on what options personally interest me.

Some things of which to take note:
-Cinelab has some pretty good pricing, cutting some especially good deals for students that get the develop & scan package.  However, I know from experience that they are not very communicative and can make mistakes scanning.  I’m also hearing a lot from people that they take a long time to scan the film; a good problem I suppose, meaning that just that many people are shooting it!  A lot of people will have their film developed at Cinelab and sent to Gamma Ray Digital for scanning, as they are both located in Massachusetts about an hour away from each other.  That said, it’s still in the same ballpark price-wise as the package deals I listed.
-The Film Photography Project got into scanning just a few years ago, and while their prices started out extremely good ($20 for 2K or 4K, plus volume discounts), they’ve since raised prices significantly, though still under what a lot of other labs are charging.
-There was a film lab in Denver called Cinemalab, maybe 2 hours away from me but unfortunately it closed down between my first and second projects.  One of Cinemalab’s former employees, Nicholas Coyle, inherited some of their equipment and has built his own scanner from that, and can offer 2K super 8 scans at $15 a roll, the best deal I’ve yet found.  He also pointed out to me that one doesn’t necessarily need to get Spectra’s prep for telecine, so for one roll of film without it, that’s only $20, and that makes it probably the most affordable option, though quality may vary.  He’s in the process of buying a Lasergraphics Scanstation 6.5K scanner so will have the option for 4K (or 6.5K overscan) by mid-2020, plus he’s extremely flexible with lots of different options available.  For comparison, his best-light 4K scan costs the same as a standard HDR 2K scan from FPP.
-Pro8mm is considered the industry standard, and as you might be able to tell you’ll pay for it too.  I also assume you’re paying for the cost of living in Southern California.  Since Technicolor and DeLuxe don’t have any Super 8 services, large Hollywood productions go to Pro8mm as their default lab.  Back when the only film stocks available in Super 8 were Kodachrome 40 and Ektachrome 160 they were buying professional 35mm color negative stocks from Kodak, cutting them down to 8mm, and loading them into cartridges.  Since discontinuing Kodachrome and Ektachrome Kodak has basically followed their model.

Super 8 camera: Bauer A512

We interrupt your regularly scheduled cowboys to bring you this gear porn post.  As it’s the time of the year when I try to get another short made I’m thinking about super 8 film and cameras again.

I’ve been lusting after one for a while, thanks to Ignacio Benedeti’s blog.  In fact a year ago just after I finally took possession of my S609XL I’d bought one off the ‘bay, but it ended up being broken.  So I kept looking at others waiting for the right deal and finally pulled the trigger.

Say hello to my little friend!

I’m so happy to finally have this one.  It will be going to Andre Egido for CLA and modification, but it is fully functional and ready to shoot.  In fact, it looks like it just came out of the box!  There were a few dusty spots and it’s probably been in someone’s attic since the early ’80s, I don’t think it was used much.

Made in Germany.  Deutschland uber alles!

So what’s different about this model compared so my S609XL?  For starters, it has a slower lens.  Actually from what I’ve read is has a sharper lens.  It’s all metal, and unlike the 609 which was made to a certain price point in Bauer’s Malaysian factory with a lens made in Japan, the A512 was made in their German factory and I’m sure the build quality is second to none.  It has a variable shutter, ostensibly for creating fade ins/outs but can be used as an exposure compensation, or to create some really strange motion if the shutter angle is closed way down, a la Gladiator or Saving Private Ryan.  I won’t be able to take full advantage of that until I get a manual ASA selector installed, but it’s coming at this summer.  The shutter angle is at 150 degrees (sometimes erroneously listed as 180 degrees) so it automatically gives sharper images over any of Bauer’s XL models.  I suppose it would have been nice if they had given us a variable shutter opening to 220 degrees, but I wasn’t asked.  The last interesting feature is an automatic bulb setting for very low light–the camera will expose every frame for as long as it needs to, and changes with the light, allowing for some great timelapse shots at night.

There’s no such thing as a best super 8 camera but this one is another great tool to have for most applications.

It’s not all bad news: the price of Kodak film has already dropped

I was looking at the prices of film, hoping to stock up for Summer in the next month or two, and was happy to see Tri-X selling for $6.50 a roll, down from the current MSRP of $7.  I really should have recorded the price it was going for earlier in the year because I can’t remember how much more expensive it was, maybe $7, or was it $7.50?  Anyway all the stores like Adorama, B&H, Freestyle, etc, sold at MSRP for a while and now the price is going down a bit.  The T-Max films are about $0.50 above Ilford Delta, Tri-X is about $1 over HP5.

As mentioned previously, it wasn’t the end of the world.  With the Dollar continuing to inflate and the price of silver still going up I doubt the price of film will be cheaper than December 2019 prices but the increase isn’t as drastic as people have been fearing.  I just priced out what it would cost to buy last year’s film order right now and the best price was only about $12 more, so not the end of the world when considering that it was a 23-roll order: about $0.50 more per roll, buying from FPP instead of Freestyle.  Right now I don’t know if I want to buy 35mm, super 8, or a combination, but with the whole Pandemic there’s not much going on in the tourism industry right now and my large format class is effectively dissolved…

Project Part 3 Outtakes – Advanced Photography (redux)

This bunch fits into two categories:

Ones I printed that we decided didn’t fit into the main themes/categories of the project, or were not as strong/have technical issues, but are still nice.

Ones my instructor had liked but I decided not to print because I’d already printed 25 images and only needed 15.


Project Part 3 – Advanced Photography (redux)

This is when things really started to come together.  After meeting with my instructor for a one-on-one critique we were able to separate most of the pictures into three categories:

Cast of Characters

Shots from the Road

Gawkers as Spectacle

What also helped is that by this time tours had picked up a lot.  I was working more and had more opportunities for great photos.  One of the suggestions from last student critique was that I needed to ride along on other drivers’ tours and that accounted for four of the shots, in all three categories.