In nearly 20 years of engaging in the photography hobby with my trusted Canon SLR, I have only shot 3 rolls of slide film, all of which were Kodak Ektachrome 100 and one of which has actually been recovered to this day. My original Canon Rebel 2000 was purchased in the spring of 1999, so 2019 will mark my official 20th anniversary taking photographs as art. I have shot and developed quite a lot of black and white film. I did a brief run of developing C-41 color negative film and it was a nice change of pace and one of the most thrilling things I have done with film. There is one thing, however that I have never done.
Firstly, it’s been quite a long time since I shot any slide film at all. I shot my last roll of it in 2000 after the birth of my niece, now beginning her first semester of college. Unfortunately that roll is is one of the two that I have yet to recover.
Secondly, having recently dived into C-41 color negative film developing and experiencing great joy in doing so, it begs the question – why not E-6 color reversal film? Especially given Kodak’s epic comeback with the new 2018 Ektachrome film last month? That leads to the next question – why have two decades passed since I used slide film? The biggest factor is cost – the film is expensive and processing is expensive. For the longest time the chemistry was as expensive as professional lab processing. Fifteen dollars a roll and another ten to develop it is a lot of money to spend on photos.
I have the equipment that I need to develop film already, so the only two things I actually need to purchase are film and chemistry. I wanted to do it on the cheap. Kodak Ektachrome 100 has made a roaring comeback in 2018, but at $12.99 a roll (US), it’s not cheap. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a fine product. The few things I’ve shot on it on the “old” film in the early 2000’s look very good. However, being the first time I’ve ever tackled my own film processing and being an extremely long time since I have tackled the unique challenges of exposing slide film, I wanted to spend as little money as I could get away with.
That leads to the final question: what is the chosen stock for this adventure? Oddly enough, I didn’t go with Kodak Ektachrome. Most places, this film is going for $12.99 a roll. Since I am choosing do do the development myself, I need to buy 8 rolls of film to go with the estimated capacity of the chemistry kit. (The Film Photography Project Store was used here)
- Eight rolls of 2018 Ektachrome film at $12.99 a roll: $103.92
- Unicolor E-6 development kit: $30.99
- Shipping: approximately $20 (higher due to the fact that liquids are being shipped)
- Total cost: Approximately $160 with tax included, or 20 dollars per roll with processing included.
I managed to find 8 rolls of Fuji Provia 100F on ebay for a price of $47. The film is said to have expired in 2007 and kept in frozen storage, so likely it is perfectly fine.
So what I actually purchased was:
- Unicolor E-6 processing kit from the Film Photography Project Store – $30.99
- Three one-liter recycled plastic bottles at 39 cents each from FPP – $1.17
- Shipping: $17.58 (shipping liquids in the U.S. is rather expensive)
- The film from eBay – $47 (an eBay coupon for $5 off made this $42)
- Shipping – $3.50
- ibotta refund of 1.5% on eBay transaction (great app, download it to your phone, get money back on your purchases, and use my referral code “vdcdeem” and earn me some money) – $0.31
- Yielding a grand total of: $94.93, or $11.87 per roll with processing included. Much better!
Why Fuji? Anywhere you look online, both Fuji Provia and Fuji Velvia are legendary films. The Film Photography Project sells government surplus 2004-expired Ektachrome for not much more than what I am paying. But why do more of the same? After all this time why not do something different? I certainly have nothing critical to say about Kodak films. I have almost always used Fuji films for color negative stuff because the color is so much better than Kodak, but the slides I’ve shot have looked very nice and the Kodak negative color film also looks quite nice. Kodak’s black and white films are outstanding. Will Fuji Provia live up to the bright, color-saturated and grainless legends of photographic folklore? We’ll just have to see after everything is shipped.
So stay tuned and watch for photos from this new slide project.
And by the way – this article about my film development methods went live on the “now developing” site almost exactly a year ago. I’d say this is a good addendum to that.
Lastly, I am interested in your experiences. A lot of people have said that they have stretched the chemistry kits well beyond 8 rolls of film, being able to do as many as 20 before any loss of quality is seen. Is this true? Also are your experiences with expired film any different than that of fresh? Let me know in comments.
And shoot photos, not each other!