Jun 22, 2022 - Business

Film photography's resurgence is leading to huge price increases

AA displayed Canon AE-1 35mm film camera.
A Canon AE-1 35mm film camera. (Photo by Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Just a few years ago, Emanuel Cole wondered how much longer his Cary photography store, The Fotoshoppe, would offer film processing.

But today, all of that has changed, as hobbyists and young people are increasingly taking up the once bygone medium.

  • "To be honest, we are probably doing twice as much" film processing as before, Cole told Axios.

What's happening: The resurgence is causing huge price increases and a higher barrier of entry into the hobby.

  • A five-roll pack of Kodak's Portra 400, one of the most popular films, now costs $65.95, up 37.4% over the past year, according to the Amazon price tracker CamelCamelCamel.
  • Film cameras, like the Canon A2E and the Nikon N8008, saw their prices shoot up by 80% between 2019 and 2021, according to KEH, a camera reseller.

Yes, but: Cole says people seem willing to pay the price for the experience of film.

  • "People always tell me that they are doing it for the feel" of shooting on film, Cole said. "That it has more of a grain and contrast."
  • One customer told Cole she recently paid $140 for a five-roll pack.

What they're saying: "I think people really like [film] because there's more suspense," Lindsey Cash, a wedding photographer based in Raleigh, told Axios. "You take a photo, and then you have to wait to get it developed, whereas we just have so much instant gratification with our phones and digital cameras."

  • "I think we all have so much digital clutter these days" that it's nice to be limited to a certain number of photos per roll, she added.

The rise in film photography is similar to the increasing interest from younger generations in another form of analog media: vinyl records. In 2021, vinyl record sales were at their highest level in three decades.

  • And just like vinyl offers a slightly different audial experience, film has visual differences than a high-resolution camera or smartphone.
  • "A lot of people just feel like [film] looks better. The colors kind of effortlessly look good," Cash said.

💭 Zach's thought bubble: I took a simple point-and-shoot film camera and a couple rolls of Kodak Gold 200 on my honeymoon. Not every shot was great, but film definitely provided more depth and texture to the photos.

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