I am based in Singapore. And I am not slow at finishing a roll of film. For example, when Emilia shot film in Taiwan, she used 4 days to finish a roll. Me, I could finish 1 roll within hours.
Singapore is an expensive city to live in, even films and developing price are higher.
But I need to spend as little money as possible. So, in this blog post, I am sharing with you where I buy my films at a cheaper price (than a shop front).
Basically, the most popular place for film shooters in Singapore to get our films is Triple D. Because many people go there to develop films (cheapest in SG so far!). Conveniently, they just pick up new film for their next shoots.
When I first started film photography, I pumped a lot of money into buying films. After a while, in order to save cost, I started exploring different sources.
I only list out what I have personally used and adore. I am still hunting and exploring so I will update as it goes along.
I don’t think I need to say much about Taobao because it’s so popular you must have heard it from your friends. If you are in western country, I am not sure if you have heard about it.
So, it’s basically a China version of Amazon. I believe it’s under Alibaba which is led by the famous Jack Ma. Yes, so their service and delivery are superb!
In Taobao, there are a few popular stores that sell films. Email me if you want the specific stores. In brief, you need to type ‘柯达’ or ‘富士’ or ‘菲林’ or ‘底片’ as keywords to find the film. Hence, the only downside of Taobao is you need to be proficient in Chinese, which I do. Haha. That’s why I have been helping my non-Chinese friends to order!
Of course, even though Taobao is trustworthy, you still need to be aware of scam. What I mean is don’t get blinded by the super cheap price.
What I always do is to look at how many of that particular product have they sold. If it’s ZERO transaction, pass. I only buy from established sellers with good reviews.
Overall, I have calculated, the cost, including shipping, exchange rate and bank charges, is still cheaper than the price in Singapore. Of course, you have to maximise the shipping fee. With minimum $6, you can buy about 20 medium format films.
I got asked a lot of times whether the films will be destroyed due to x-ray scan at the custom. No, they won’t. The photo above was taken on Kodak Color film which I bought from Taobao.
To be honest, e-bay is not any cheaper. So, I don’t understand why everyone kept recommending e-bay. Perhaps we are very far from the USA where most sellers based. Or I am just bad at finding deals.
Anyway, I only buy film that is difficult to source for, or that I can’t find it elsewhere.
Recently, I bought some Rollei 25, the orthochromatic films, here.
Why is every amazing store based in the US? Anyway, I heard my friends recommending B&H and say that their shipping is not ridiculous.
Since Kodak is made in USA, I reckon Kodak should be cheaper.
I am right. To make the shipping worth, it’s good to maximise your quantity of products.
After calculating, the film is, on average, a few dollars cheaper than buying in Singapore.
Recently I just bought some Kodak Tri-X and Pancros from B&H .
I would also suggest buying Kodak Portra because the price in SG is insane! $16+ per roll for ISO 400 36-exposure!! It’s a hell lot cheaper from B&H!
Furthermore, B&H also sells a variety bulk roll films (the one where u decide the length like how you buy a piece of cloth for sewing).
So, after I learn how to bulk roll, I would be able to save (spam) even more!
Of course, there’s no limit in the sources of film. My film ‘friends’ buy from CameraFilmPhoto from Hong Kong, especially since they love Cinestill so much.
Or they ask whoever that go to Tokyo to help them buy (I really don’t like to trouble people).
Or Ruby Photo in Singapore. They have more varieties of black & white films and cheaper than DDD. But I find them quite bad at managing stocks.
Besides all these, there are many online stores where they operate via Facebook page, Carousell or Instagram. Indonesia has lots of Instagram ‘film shop’, whereas so far I only know one from Malaysia where they sell through Facebook.
So the listed few above are the current regular sources of my films. They have helped me to save more (or rather able to buy more). Hence, if you haven’t try them, give it a go. Don’t worry about scanning the films through x-ray. They won’t be destroyed so easily.