The Last Roll Of Film

As you probably know, these days I enjoy making photographs with cameras from the golden age of the digital camera

But from 2012-2017 I shot extensively on film too, mostly 35mm, but a fair amount of medium format with my Holga 120N too.

The reasons I stopped shooting film in early 2017 are multiple. 

Near the top was the cost.

Although I used fairly cheap supermarket processing, which equated to about £4 a roll, when you add in the purchase cost of the film, at the minimum in the heyday of Poundland AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 at £1 a roll, this still meant £5 a roll all in.

Most months I’d shoot 10-12 rolls, so it was costing £50-60 a month.

When the Poundland Vista Plus supplies dwindled, the next cheapest was expired Fujifilm Superia 100, which bought in bulk was around £2.50 a roll.

Plus the £4 processing, makes £6.50. Or £65-78 a month at my preferred shooting rate.

It just wasn’t sustainable for me.

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Another significant factor was discovering old Pentax DSLRs with CCD sensors like the K10D (which I bought in 2017) and the K100D and K-m, which I finally bought examples of last year, 2019.

Their lovely sensors, combined with Pentax’s wonderful lenses, started to give me images that, whilst not indistinguishable from film photos, had huge appeal in themselves, especially in colour.

So what was my final roll of film? 

Rummaging back through my Flickr archives it seems the last roll I shot and uploaded was expired Truprint FG+ 200 in my then favourite film compact, the lovely little Olympus LT-1.

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I still have a couple of 35mm film cameras, my Contax 139 Quartz and Asahi Spotmatic F, and few rolls of that expired Superia 100 in the freezer.

But I can’t see me shooting film again any time soon.

How about you? What was the last roll of film you shot, and when? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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36 thoughts on “The Last Roll Of Film”

  1. Bit of detective work for this one but I have the answer… June 2002!
    Location was Nice and Monaco, the firm held a ‘sales meeting’ there for us after the successful year of new launches of digital products into the thriving and hungry digital market, but notably the uniquely diminutive and first ‘folded optics’ 2.1 megapixel Minolta DiMAGE X (https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8470280799/throwback-thursday-minolta-dimage-x).
    I remember that because all the sales managers took their freshly issued sample one, which I did as well, but I supplemented that with my Dynax 9. Which was quite a bit bigger and heavier.
    I think the DiMAGE A1 came not long after, so those Monaco pictures were the end of film for me.

    1. I’m surprised it was that long ago actually, I thought you’d shot film far more recently. So did you switch from the Dynax 9 to the DiMAGE A1 and never look back?

      1. Well the 9 was my own but sold, having sat on the shelf unloved for a couple of years, to fund my own Dynax 7D… Working for Minolta and then Konica-Minolta, I used the whole range of digitals, (as you know, the 7D was a long time coming) providing sample pictures to dealers etc.
        I never actually owned any of them (until the 7D later) but yes, the A1 and latterly A2 were in my personal usage more often than not for a long while.

      2. I had the 5D last year, as you might recall, before it gave up the ghost. Shame because there was plenty to like about it. Did you find Minolta cameras pretty flaky when you were working for them? Most of the ones I’ve had with any electronics have been! Many of the late Minolta film cameras are great, I just don’t trust them as too many gave up. And then I tried the 5D and that didn’t last five minutes either.

      3. The 7 and 7hi were the worst, mainly for battery life and power problems… just too hungry for the rechargeable battery tech of the times but otherwise pretty solid.
        I was only really dealing with the ‘delivered faulty to the dealer’ problems though, I never really had the same knowledge of fault developed in (or out) of warranty claims after it was with a customer.
        All mine were fine is all I know!

  2. My most recent roll was on Sunday 22 March 2020, which I got developed just before the coronavirus lock-down kicked in, but I’ve got two cameras with rolls in progress too.

    I agree that it’s expensive when compared with digital photography, but I enjoy the tactile nature of shooting film – choosing a film stock, the process of loading the camera, winding on after a shot (depending on camera – some do it themselves), then the sweet anticipation of waiting for the results, and finally the (usual) pleasure at seeing I’ve created something I like.

    I don’t have any other expensive pastimes – I don’t smoke, rarely drink, don’t gamble and my other social outgoings are relatively low (photobooks are a weakness though!) – so the cost isn’t really an issue for me.

    As my local lab has now closed it’s walk-in reception area, it will now mean I have to post films to them (and pay for return postage on my negatives) so it has gotten a little more expensive for the time being, but I can reduce that by waiting until I have a few rolls to get processed at once. I’m also thinking about getting around to learning how to develop myself now that we have these restrictions in place.

    I’m also likely to be doing a lot more in-and-around-the house shooting for awhile too.

    1. I just got back into film photography (that’s how I discovered this blog), so I’ve got two cameras with film in them, and just sent in a roll for processing yesterday.

      I realize that film is going to be “more expensive” than digital, but when the per-shot cost of digital is practically free, yeah, film is going to cost more, no matter how you slice it. I’m paying $3-6 per roll of film, which isn’t cheap-cheap, but I don’t remember it being that much cheaper when I worked in a camera department about 20 years ago. My local lab (just two miles away!) does good work and is inexpensive–developing and scans is about $10 for color, $13 for black-and-white. Like fishyfisharcade I’ll probably get into home developing at some point, so my developing costs will be lowered.

      I realized that I was going to be spending money going back into film, but I wanted to try something different. I wasn’t getting much joy out of the Lumix compact digital anymore and didn’t want to go for a DSLR or other more advanced digital. I’m constantly amazed at the shots I’ve been getting with film. And I’ve not had the annoyances I’ve had with some of my digital cameras–that Lumix would corrupt your SD card after awhile, if you forgot to take it out, and I had a Canon Power Shot that wouldn’t save the date no matter what, so it’d prompt you to reset it every time you turned it on.

      So I’m going to stick with film for now. I’m not saying I’ll never get another digital camera, maybe I’ll find a decent one for cheap. But for now, if I need the immediacy of a digital shot, I’ll just use my iPhone.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts Shawn.

        Portland sounds like a great place to live. Over the last decade or so when I’ve explored different topics more deeply, like minimalism and bicycles for example, sooner or later it seems to lead me back to Portland!

        I do relate to that magic of film – and getting hooked on buying different cameras, as each one is magical in its own way.

        I think increasingly we’re hearing about the gap between the process of digital and film users widen, and how more and more film photographers are developing their own film, scanning themselves, making prints, going all in.

        So you’re immersed in the whole experience, not just using a film camera, then having the negatives scanned as digital images and ending up essentially in the same place as if you’d just made digital images with a digital camera.

        It’s like if you were going to write a letter to someone by hand, you wouldn’t then just scan it and email it to them, you’d fold it, put it in an envelope and post it, to maintain that whole tactile and hand made experience.

      2. True, it seems like a lot of work to just end up with a digital result. Though initially I was getting the rolls made into prints! It’s just that, everything is shared digitally nowadays. And yeah, it would be “easier” to just use a digital camera.

        But sometimes the easiest route isn’t always the best route.

        Digital is too easy—snap tens to hundreds to thousands of images without thinking. I’m much more thoughtful with film, because it costs something. Granted, not everything I shoot on film is amazing. But I try to think if the shot is going to be worth it.

        I am thankful for digital, because i shot a lot of pics, and learned how to be a better photographer that way. But I look back at when I primarily shot digital, and I had one good shot for every 5 to 10. And I edited every good shot in Photoshop. With film, I want to crop in the camera, and not worry about post-processing.

        And I still do write letters the old-fashioned way. I did some this week!When was the last time you did that?😉 That would be a good question to ask everyone.

      3. One of the benefits I found from shooting film is when I returned to digital (in fact I never left, I shot both for years) it helped me far more considered and discerning with what I shoot. I was never one for multi shot spray and pray photography, but it helped me tighten up even more.

        I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter by hand, but I know two of our kids did just a couple of days ago to send to grand parents. 🙂

      4. Shawn, are you using Blue Moon Camera? My Sister-In-Law lives in PDX and I’ve been planning to stop in there next time we visit.

      5. I use Citizens Photo. Blue Moon is cool, but Citizens is two miles away and near my business mailbox. Blue Moon is in St. Johns which is about ten miles away.

  3. Some time in 2006. I used a disposable film camera and developed the photos at Boots lol. Way before i got seriously into photography. After that it was all digital for me 😃

      1. Sometimes I’m curious but it never gets to a point where i want to actually shoot on film. It’s a completely different, mush slower and a more expensive process. Even though it could be a more rewarding one, I still don’t have that need to switch to film. Maybe one day, you never know! Cheers

  4. It’s been a while…
    My issue is 100% the cost. You still have the local market development, here that’s done! There is one lab near me that processes film – and it’s about a 30 minute drive from my work, or 1 hour from home… and for the most basic scan+single set of prints, it will charge you $17.99 plus tax (since it’s local it has tax, in the US there’s this crazy thing where over the internet you don’t pay sales tax if you buy from another state… it’s killing brick and mortar shops but that’s a different topic…)
    So for about $19.33 plus the cost of gas, it ends up being over 20 dollars to develop a single roll of film – and then you add 4-10 dollars for a roll of film (that’s from the cheap Fujicolor 200 that I don’t like, to something like Ektar or Portra which I do like…) and you just spent 30 dollars on 36 exposures! That’s almost a dollar per exposure.
    You can get things developed online for cheap but 1. they won’t give you your negatives back, and 2. the development and scans are horrible. We tried it at Wal-Mart a few years ago when my mom visited and she wanted to use disposable cameras. None of the pictures looked good, not a single one. And those cameras are fool-proof…
    The better mail options will cost you about 10 dollars – plus a couple to ship it, and then if you want prints and/or your negatives back you have to pay another couple of dollars for them to send, which is only fair. So for a develop+scan with your negatives back you end up paying about 14 dollars, plus the cost of the film you’re still paying over 20 dollars for 36 exposures.
    The Sony DSC-P200 that I bought for my younger son last year cost less than any of these options…
    I’m sad to say that unless you really want film and you are willing to pay for it, that film has priced itself out of being a viable option for the hobbyist.

    1. Chris, I didn’t realise was quite so expensive over there. I had an Fuji Instax for a while which worked out at something like 50p per photograph, and I was super cautious then! At least with instant film you pay up front, and know you’ll get your prints almost immediately – and for no further cost.

      As you say, the fact that you can buy a very capable digital camera for the price of just one or two rolls of film, it becomes an easy choice. The amount I spent in a typical month I could buy something like my Lumix LX3 for, and it’s all the camera I ever need. A DSLR with zoom lens, even less, like my K100D plus Pentax-F 35-70mm, which totalled about £45 I think.

      Anyway, this wasn’t really meant to be a film versus digital debate but I guess that was inevitable!

      1. As long as the comparison is in the area of cost, I see no issue… if you go towards what people perceive to be the “better” medium, then we’ll probably have an endless debate.

      2. Hi Chris, yes that wasn’t a debate I intended to open with this thread, it was more about sharing the last roll of film we shot, and why.

  5. I loved Vista Plus, especially when Kodak stopped selling Gold. I totally agree with the K10D / K100D!! That’s why I went digital as well, the sensor put out film like quality.

    1. Thanks Frank, yes those cameras were complete game changers for me, even though it was only fairly recently (2017) I discovered them, over a decade after they were first made!

  6. I’m still a film shooter. one side effect of hunting cameras at thrift stores is that I’ve often come across accessories and other items that have really reduced my overall costs. I’ve found a brand-new Canon 9000F scanner at a local thrift store for $10, as well as tons of accessories like lens filters, developing tanks and reels and chemistry containers. I recently acquired a Canon 8600F scanner for $12 in its original box, with software CD, manuals and scanning masks. This one will stay in the closet in case my 9000 dies.

    The scanner and learning to do my own B&W processing gave me the biggest overall benefit in terms of savings.

    I have one shop near me that will develop and cut my 35mm C41 color film for $5/roll. The other shop near me does my color 120 for $12/roll. The dev and scan prices for these shops are $10 and $16 respectively, so I’m saving $5/roll by scanning it myself at home. The Canon does an excellent job, especially with higher end film like Portra, Ektar, Superia, etc..

    So largely, I’ve traded time for money (isn’t that always the case?) but its a labor of love, so I don’t mind.

    1. Thanks for your input Rob.

      I had the same Canon I think. Scanning just did my head in though, just so laborious. I didn’t want to spend 90 mins shooting a roll of film then another 90 mins scanning and processing the images. So I switched back to paying someone else to scan, and eventually drifted fully into digital when this became too expensive to justify.

  7. I am shooting Ektar 100 in my canon eos 7 (or elan 7e in U.S. and 30v if I am not wrong in Europe) I am half roll since the last year. I use it when I travel but sadly not much chances for it. My next roll will be a Kodak ColorPlus 200, but it is each time so expensive that seems I just will import more ektar 100 films. I like sunsets and golden hour so I like more the Kodak colors for the hours I use. I will shoot till the laboratory ceases to develop negatives.

    1. You’ve shot half a roll in a year? That’s what you call Slow Photography Francis!

      This was the paradox for me with shooting film, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to do more, but couldn’t afford to do it. I probably could have justified two or three rolls a month financially, but would have found the lack of shooting frustrating.

  8. I have a roll of Fuji C200 in one of my Contax 139Qs. a roll of Ektar 100 and some expired Portra 160VC in film back for my Mamiya RZ67. We are in lockdown here in New Zealand, so getting film to the lab might be difficult for the while, so I have broken out the Canon EOS 1100D which fortunately is a much better camera with a Contax Zeiss manual lens attached. But my preference is still to shoot film as long as it is viable and I can afford it. I just prefer the process and the look.

  9. My last roll was two days ago. I got back into photography after decades away last year. That was not my intent. I simply wanted better pics of my garden than I could get with an iPhone 4s. Years ago I had dreamed of owning a Minolta 7000i, but couldn’t afford one then. So, when I decided to try a camera for garden shots, I bought the Minolta that I had longed for. Now I’m into photography in a way I never was before. Fortunately, I have access to a darkroom for enlargements and develop and scan at home.

    https://earthsunfilm.com/why-film/

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Jerome.

      I had one of those Minoltas, excellent cameras! Very interesting that you took that step to a film camera from an iPhone rather than something in between like a DSLR or mirrorless.

      I know you’re into film now, but I had a couple of Sony DSLRs, the a100 and a350, and they have the same mount as your Minolta (Sony bought Konica Minolta and kept the lens mount and most of the lenses) so you could use your Minolta AF lenses very easily, if you wanted to go that route in the future.

      Hang on, I just read your post, looks like you’re doing this with a 5D already! 🙂

      1. Yes, I intend to shoot every generation of Minolta SLR from the SR-7 to the Maxxum 7D–wish fulfillment from my younger days. So, I’m not against digital, but I do very much enjoy darkroom time.

      2. I think I’ve gone through that with a number of things – “wish fulfilment from my younger days”. Like with Star Wars figures, collecting those I never had as a child but always wanted when I was old enough to be able to afford more. And fairly recently, buying a couple of Specialized mountain bikes I always drooled over when I had a fairly low end Carrera back in the days I was riding all the time.

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