Where are you located?
Are my credit card numbers secure?
Where can I get my 126 "Instamatic" film processed?
Where can I get my 127 film processed?
Where can I get film and processing for my 16mm submini camera?
What exactly is Frugal Photography?
What is the difference between High Resolution film and High Definition film?
Is expensive equipment worth investing in?
Where are you located?
Our office is in Calgary, Canada. Our merchandise is stored in a warehouse in Nampa, Idaho, and orders are shipped from there.
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Are my credit card payments secure when I buy from you?
Your payment is processed by NetBanx (formerly Optimal Payments) of Montreal.
When you click the order button on these pages, you are taken to a secure server which hosts our order processing software. The card number you enter is transmitted from your browser to Optimal using SSL secure encryption, and is stored in encrypted form on the Optimal server. This is the same method that governments and banks use to transmit private information across the Internet.
Your card number is never stored elsewhere, either on paper or on computers, in any form, and is never transferred over the Internet by e-mail or over any non-secure connection. We keep your order on file, but not your credit card number. If necessary (for example, to process a full or partial refund), we can retrieve your card number from the Optimal servers for a few weeks, but after that time it is no longer available to us.
Your payment information is archived by Optimal in encrypted form on their secure storage for as long as banking regulations require.
We believe this security system is equal to the best offered by any other retailer, anywhere.
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Where can I get my 127 and 110 film processed?
Your best bet is to open the Yellow Pages and call photofinishers in your area. Most labs that were operating in the last half of the 1990's should be able to accommodate you.
If they can't, click here for mail order sources.
Bluefire Murano 160 is processed in standard C-41 chemistry, so any lab that can process 120 roll film will be able to develop it for you, although they may balk at printing it.
If you're shooting 127 black and white it may not be quite as easy. First, check your Yellow Pages for photo labs that cater to professionals. Find a lab that processes black and white film. Tell them your film is 46mm wide (127 size roll film), and that normal processing is 7 minutes in D-76. To print your negatives, or scan them, they'll probably need to make a cardboard mask.
Back to topWhere can I get film and processing for my 16mm submini?
If you can find an empty cassette, you can reload it in the dark with 2-foot (60cm) lengths of movie film. Check your camera: some require double-perforation movie film, some require single-perf, and some will work with unperforated film.
If you can't find a cassette, many of these cameras can be loaded and unloaded in the dark. Place the rolled-up 16mm film in the supply chamber and tape the lead end of the film to the takeup spindle. If a light-proof "dark bag" is part of your travel kit, you can have a lot of fun with your submini with relatively little inconvenience.
Your local one-hour lab may also be able to process your film. Explain to them that it's the same width as 110. However, don't give them your cassette! They will probably throw it away. Remove the film yourself and give it to them in a light-proof container.
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So...what exactly is frugal photography?
Frugal Photography is...
A 14-year-old schoolgirl with a $60 Pentax Spotmatic and a drugstore lens at f8, on a tripod and with a lens shade will almost always get technically better images than an experienced pro with a $1,500 35mm camera who is hand-holding a shot.
Of course there is more to successful photography than "technically better images." That's why the schoolgirl hasn't put the pro out of business yet. And, of course, there are many great images that can only be taken if you are hand-holding your camera.
Nonetheless the moral of the story is true: the money you spend on a camera and lens is not the money that gets you technically excellent images, shot after shot. For that you need a way to hold your camera rock-steady, and some way to shield the surface of your lens from flare-causing light. You have to use a reliable light meter, and use it correctly. And you need to practice, practice, practice.
The frugal photographer acquires good, inexpensive equipment, and includes a light meter, tripod, and lens shade in his or her kit.
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You will get consistently good work from the materials you choose, no matter what their price range, if you master their use. There is no other way, and there are no shortcuts. It's your mastery that makes your photographs, not the money you pay for film and paper, or pixels and inkjet ink.
It follows, then, that it makes sense to see what inexpensive materials can do for you before you turn to expensive materials.
Start with a few rolls of the film you want to try. Experiment and learn how that film behaves in different lighting conditions.
If you're using black and white, learn how it works with yellow and green filters. Test the film with several developers, that give you a range of results. Then settle on the ones which come closest to achieving your vision.
Shoot in different kinds of light, and learn to predict what happens.
Learn to use color film with a few, basic filters — warming filters for when you're shooting in shade or florescent light, a polarizer to give you control over reflections, and possibly even cooling filters if that's what will help you achieve your vision.
In the unlikely event that only a premium-price film or paper will give you the photographs you want, then that should be your choice. Frugality does not require that you avoid expensive materials, only that you avoid spending more than you need to.
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There are three not important, and three important factors in photography.
Want to make great photographs? Here's how.
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In the early 20th century, press photographers used 4x5 cameras that had to be loaded with sheets of film, one sheet at a time. There was no opportunity for multiple shots, or bracketing exposures. On a fast-breaking news story, you only got one chance to get a photograph. The film they used was generally something like Super XX, equivalent to an ISO 160 or 200 film today, which gave good results outdoors at a medium aperture and 1/200 of a second, or indoors with a flash bulb.
The way you kept your job was to turn up at the newsroom every day of the week with good, high-quality news photographs. Legend has it that an eager amateur asked one of these pros what the secret is to getting consistently good results, and the pro replied, "5.6 and be there."
His point: the picture you get in average light, with average film, exposed at an average setting, will always be better than the one you miss because you were fiddling with your camera and wondering what Ansel Adams would do.
Learn your light. Use a light meter, shoot a lot of film, and get so you can recognize what exposure to use in what kind of light. Learn when to open up or close down a stop or two. Get so you can go out with your camera set at your favorite speed and aperture, and get consistently good shots. Practice, practice, practice.
Carry a camera everywhere. A 35mm or 120 size camera will probably be too bulky, so get a shirt-pocket camera, either a decent used manual 35mm like an Olympus XA, or a submini like a Yashica, Minolta, Steky, or Minox. Now that 127 film is available, you could start using your grandfather's compact folding camera again -- some of them are considerably smaller than most 35mm cameras, yet they give you much larger negatives. Even a decent automatic APS camera, like the tiny Canon Elph Jr. or the hugely under-rated, equally tiny Vivitar xm-1k, will do — it at least lets you practice composition.
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Cameras are easier to use if film and processing is widely available. But if the camera you have uses unusual film, you don't have to spend to replace it. You can still use it.
If it takes an unusual film size, re-load or re-spool your own. If the film you're reloading gives your local lab the heebie-jeebies, process it yourself.
Develop your own film:
You don't need a darkroom. All you need is a way to load a roll of film onto a processing reel in the dark. A room that you can temporarily darken is just fine, as long as it gets truly dark. So is a dark-bag, which shouldn't cost more than about $20 (and which can also be used for reloading film cartridges).
You don't need expensive stainless steel processing equipment. Find a plastic tank in good shape at a used-camera store or a yard sale. Pay $1 to $10 for it. Or buy one from Frugal Photographer. If you don't run over it with your car, it should last forever. Most of them can be adjusted for film sizes including 35mm, 127, and 620/120.
If you're shooting black and white, processing your own may be your only real option. Few labs will process black and white any more. If you're shooting color, be aware that processing at home might become expensive — if you don't do a lot of it, you wind up throwing out a lot of chemicals that have gotten too old.
Print your own film:
You'll need either a darkroom, permanent or temporary, with an enlarger and lens, or a film scanner and ink jet printer.
A used enlarger with a decent lens will cost about the same as a good scanner and a suitable low-cost printer — somewhere around $250-$500 US, more or less.
If you have the choice, a scanner and printer may ultimately be the better choice. It takes much less room. It's often easier to get good results with a scanner and a computer program like Adobe Photoshop, with less experimentation and wasted materials, than it is with an enlarger. Something to keep in mind — surprisingly, scanning and ink-jet printing is neither faster nor cheaper than darkroom work (see below).
If you will regularly be making enlargements greater than, say, 8x10 inches, then you have to weigh the cost of a large-format printer against the cost of building and equipping a darkroom. And you must factor in the simple and straightforward fact (it's a fact, not an opinion) that traditional silver-halide paper prints have a "look" that even the best inkjet prints usually can't duplicate, no matter how good they are (and they can be very good).
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You'll constantly be asked to buy into camera technology. Just say no.
You'll be invited to join some brand name cult or another. Just say no.
You'll be asked to help someone justify an expensive lens by pretending you can see an important improvement in image quality that, in fact, isn't there. Just say no.
You'll be attacked by gangs of equipment nazis who will try to browbeat you into getting rid of your useful, inexpensive equipment and buying new, brand-name equipment. Just say no.
You'll be tempted to use autofocus, which can be useful for some specialized disciplines like sports photography, but which is generally not useful. Just say no.
You'll be tempted to select your equipment based on the specifications printed in a brochure or on a web site, or recited by a salesperson, instead of based on actually trying and testing it. Just say no.
Satan will tempt you to feel that you're missing out because you don't use Leica, or Nikon, or Canon, or Hasselblad. Just say no.
If you already have, and use, Leica, Nikon, Canon, or Hasselblad, you might be tempted to appear more frugal by getting rid of it and moving downmarket. Just say no.
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