So this tradeoff is a universal concern, right? And it affects the art of film photography in a big way.
I had a look through the prints of my first two rolls from my 35mm expeiment the other day and they are just not publishable. My fault really. I had them processed at a well-known chemists and to be frank, it is clear they do not care two hoots about how much I like the quality of the print. So I found a professional lab in Herefordshire, UK, not too far from me. They are very well priced for a professional lab but they charge double what the chemists do and I only get negatives and scans for that!
So essentially, to get 36 scans of the quality I am going to be happy with, I will end up paying north of £20 per roll, which includes the purchase of the roll itself. That’s 60 per shot, give or take.
Now I am VERY lucky because I can, every now and then, use the darkroom at school for developing only Black and White prints. That’ll be good fun, if I can find the time and then scanning them in through the school’s scanner will take me forever. I know it will. I’ll enjoy it but it won’t be time effective at all so I’ll do it once or twice and then realise that it is not worth the effort for 35mm exposures. And I ought to contribute to the cost of the chemicals really…
Is all of this worth the effort for 35mm prints which are different but not noticeably different to digital to most eyes…?
At least with Medium Format film, the quality will be clear. The developing and scanning charges are the same at the lab I have found but that’s for 16 shots per roll of 120 film. So now the cost goes up to approaching £1.50 per shot. My wife won’t be happy if she gets hold of this, so I’d better learn fast and I had better make this pay for itself, fast. You can see why so many don’t make the leap “back” to medium format film photography.
But I think brides will love their most important of days (and the dress) captured on medium format film and that benefit far outweighs the cost to my mind. That is a tradeoff I am willing to risk.