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November 23, 2021

DPReview's Broken Gift Suggestions For Film Photographers

DPReview.com has shared its Buying guide: The best gifts for film photographers in 2021 and since DPReview is among the more reliable photography websites, I thought I should see what they listed.

  1. Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow Film: 400ASA black & white film. It's priced in British Pounds (£5.00 = US$6.69), but it's not available from the company website which seems to be the only place selling it. You can only pre-order it now. They claim it will be available for shipping in November, but it's already the 23rd. Chances of actually getting this before Christmas are indeterminable. It used a Kickstarter campaign for funding. They say the film itself is "made by a company with more than a century’s experience in making film." It's probably not Kodak, so that leaves Ilford as the manufacturer. Finally, the descriptions do not mention if the film canister is DX-encoded. If it is not, then the photographer will have to set the ISO manually. Does the photographer who is the intended recipient of the film use a camera that can manually set ISO? My suggestion? A roll of film, but not this one and not the kind you can buy at your drug store, unless your drug store is Hunt's Drug in Melrose, Mass., and I don't think they sell drugs anymore.
  2. Tetenal tablet developer. Does your photographer develop their own film? If not, then this would be useless to them.
  3. Kodak-branded metal travel cases for film made by Retopro. (Note the spelling: Retopro, not Retropro). Comes in two sizes. One for 35mm film, $25, and one for 35mm and 120 (medium format) film, $29. Does your photographer friend shoot solely 35mm or do they shoot 35 and 120? These could be useful to some, but I like film containers where I can see what kind of film it is without having to open up a box.
  4. LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back. Does your photographer friend use a Graflok-equipped 4×5 camera? Then they might find this $149 item to be useful. Unfortunately, the Lomography website is accepting only pre-orders with a promise to deliver (in the USA) in December. European orders won't be delivered until January.
  5. The Pixl-latr, a device to hold negatives or slides so they can be scanned. This gift could be for anybody who has negatives or slides that they want to scan. The Pixl-latr alone is not sufficient for the task. One also needs a DSLR camera (at least 20mp, I'd say) and some device to hold that DSLR (a copy stand or a tripod) and a light source. The Pixl-latr is £37.49 (US$50.16) and ships from the UK. They suggest you could use a smartphone instead of a DSLR, but I have serious doubts that a smartphone could focus on an image that is close enough to the lens to fill the frame. Myself, I use the Essential Film Holder which also ships from the UK and is more expensive. When I bought the Essential Film Holder, the Pixl-latr wasn't available yet. One advantage I can see for the Essential Film Holder is that it is lined with a low friction material so you can slide strips of negatives through it safely. The Pixl-latr requires one to lift up a piece of it before sliding the film or your precious, irreplaceable negatives will be scratched. A bit of a design weakness.
  6. The Analogue WonderBox - Film Subscription Box which is six rolls of 35mm film sent every other month for £50.00 (US$66.91) per shipment. Yes, this is another UK site, even though DPReview is not a British site. It's owned by Amazon and uses American English, but some Anglophile must be picking these gift suggestions. There is a shipping charge for orders outside the UK. These films will cost you more than $10/roll which is expensive. You can get a better price from any ordinary film source like B&H where you have 542 films to choose from at prices ranging from $4.49 to $561.50 (for a 50-pack of Ilford XP2 film). The highest price there for a single roll of 35mm film is $28.95 for REVOLOG Snovlox, a black & white film "characterized by a white color effect reminiscent of snowflakes." Here's a review with some sample images. I'd suggest NOT buying either the Snovlox or the Analogue WonderBox for any of your photographer friends.
  7. Polaroid Now+ i‑Type Instant Camera for $149.99. This looks a little more interesting than the popular Fujifilm Instax cameras. The photographer has more means to control the Polaroid by connecting it to a smartphone, and it comes with five actual, physical filters—not the internal, digital filters found on other cameras. Film prices start at $16.99 for a single pack (eight exposures) of color or black & white film.
  8. Chroma 5x4 Field Camera. WTF? This is an inexpensive large format camera and you need to know your photographer friend very well before you try gifting this camera. First, I'm not sure it's actually available to buy. DPReview links to the camera's Kickstarter campaign from 2018! There it appears to be £250 (US$334.48), but there is no way to order one. The last update on Kickstarter is dated October 4, 2021, and it sounds like he's still working off the backlog of existing Kickstarter orders from more than two years ago. Here's a review of the camera. The Chroma 5x4 Field Camera is not to be found on Chroma's website.
  9. Intrepid Compact Enlarger, if your photographer friend has a darkroom. Available for £280.00 (US$374.61). Another UK product, and this one says it's available for pre-order with a current lead time of 12 weeks, so your holiday gift will be delivered next spring.

Filed under Photography,Shopping | permalink | November 23, 2021 at 02:45 PM

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