Thursday, December 15, 2011

the incredible Bulk

uhhh, FILM, that is... 100-ft. bulk film roll.

i thought 135 film for analog cameras existed only in the usual 'cartridged' form. you know, the kind that are available these days as 36-shots-per-roll film encased in a hard shell. they also used to come in 24-shot and 12-shot rolls but i hardly find them in this form anymore in these times when digital photography rules. film also used to exist in many sizes and shapes. there used to be 110, 120, 220 and Advantix. i think there may also be other forms i am not aware of. these days, only 135 and 120 are available and they are not exactly cheap.

if you are inclined to explore film photography, you might start feeling the expense and the lack of choices when it comes, at least, to the more popular 135 form. here is where acquiring film in bulk may come in handy.

i first heard about this from another film photography enthusiast friend, Miko, who happened to mention that he rolls his own film. that got me curious and googling and, long story short, i eventually found me a daylight film loader and some reloadable film cartridges on Ebay. the 100 ft bulk film rolls are not readily available in the Philippines either so i hitched an order with some online friends who "group buy-ed" from BH [thanks Francisco Bal!]. i thought i'd try the cheaper Ilford HP5+ while the others went for the Kodak TriX film. you can check out the vid below on how i first rolled my own. please pardon the fumbling.


  1. I think you'll find the HP5+ a better film than Tri-X.
    Ilford makes some excellent films and papers. Tri-X is an very grainy newspaper photographer film. If you can still find Kodak Plus-X it is quite versitle and can be pushed if needed. Not as much as Tri-X but finer grain. T-Max is my choice for general shooting although I prefer BW400CN when I travel since it can be processed in C-41 equipment which gives a good idea of what to expect when back home in the darkroom. Bulk film is the way to go for economy. Good luck and happy shooting.

  2. thanks for the tip Bill M! i'm liking the HP5+ thus far. i've also tried Delta 3200 just recently--i think it's the Ilford equivalent of TMax--and it's pretty good, too. unfortunately, i don't think they have that in bulk. the HP5+ has the extra plus it think for being the cheaper film hence making it ideal for a newbie film "explorer" (hence bound to make much mistakes) like me :-D

  3. HP5 was what they doled out in the photo studio at college. We didn't run to luxuries like special cassettes, just used a bottle opener to uncap used cassettes and took it from there. It is a very forgiving film and you can push it a stop too without greatly harming the tonal range. I tried T-Max for convenience when I stopped developing my own film. The colour lab just ran it through C41 process and I got good results from that too. I did try a few rolls of Tri-X but it was expensive, even back then. All in all, though, I'm one of those people who feel completely liberated from all that chemistry with the growth of digital. I take better photos now because I get more practice. Black and white included. But I'm really pleased you are delving into 35mm film and that there's a community out there keeping the format alive. And the "how to" for bulk loading will come in handy for newcomers!


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