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.

Support your Indie camera stores!

Why?  Because they provide the best service, and exist mainly through your willingness to go to them.  I’ve been doing that for a while, but when I agreed to shoot a show for a friend of mine, I planned on taking them to the *ahem* local drugstore chain (that wants to buy up every good corner location in America, it seems), because my friend needed the pics ASAP and Drugstore Chain could do it quick.  Well, it turned out not to work that way.

I drop them off, I figure 3 rolls in 2 hours wouldn’t be pushing things, get some other stuff done and come back for the film to find out they didn’t scan my negatives, so I was charged $6.00 per roll just for development.  Wow.  So the conversation with the lady in the photo department (the same one I know from years back) went something like this:

“I wanted these scanned, but there’s no cd.”
“I asked you if you wanted them printed, you said no.”
“I don’t want prints, but I did want my negatives scanned.”
“Well, ‘print’ means ‘scanned.'”

So, clearly a miscommunication, but it’s one that cost me time, and I had the option of waiting 30min for the negatives to be scanned (which would have made me late for my class that day), or picking them up when I got back, which would have been about 5hrs later.  Not good options, considering I only went to them in the first place because I wanted them done fast so I could send them off to my friend.  Perhaps my own fault with a lack of communication, but I decided the bigger mistake was not taking my film down to the real camera store in the first place.  It’s cheaper, and their scanner is higher-resolution.  Win-win.

My local indie camera store isn’t local, it’s about an hour from my house, but it’s close to my classes.  They’re getting so much business right now that if you drop film off on them unannounced, you might have to wait until the end of the day to get your film back.  Still, I’d rather go there than anywhere else; they know me by name, and they know the definition of the word Scan.  And hey, they sell lenses pretty cheap too, I picked up a wide-angle for my Pentax.  There’s really no need for me to ever go anywhere else.

One more story: A year ago I was going to my cousin’s wedding so I called around Shreveport for a camera store that did film processing.  No luck!  I did have a good conversation with an owner of one of the camera stores, and evidently the drugstore chains back in the early 2000s were undercutting the competition by so much ($1.50 for film processing and scanning?  Wow!) that they drove most of the camera stores in Shreveport out of business and the only ones that survived now only deal with digital photography.  Of course, once they killed the competition, the drugstores drove the prices back up (mine charges $9.50 for processing and scanning).  I wonder how many people they drove to digital by doing this?