Sunday, January 30, 2011

The User's Review: The price and cost of film photography in 2011

After many years life without using any photo film, I decided to take some film photos for my two little boys, 2 and 3 years old. I want to portrait them on the film with unmatchable resolution by current digital technology, and maybe it’s unique for them since they will have no such or not many chances later in their life.

Kodak does not produce film as much as they did. In 1/2011, I shopped around locally and online, and found the available brands are Fuji and some shop’s brands such as Walgreens and CVS. I also found Walmart has the lowest prices for film (even lower than online, but their photo centers have disappeared in the shops) (Fig.), and Sam’s has the cheapest cost to develop and digitalize the film.

Fig. A pack of 4 rolls of 35mm color print film and its receipt from Walmart

Since my old film cameras are left in Long Island, NY, I paid $50 to get a used Nikon last film slr model N75 (very nice) locally via craigslist. These days everybody wants to go digital and few wants or keeps film cameras any more. Many of the last-generation film cameras (produced around 2003 - 2004) use the CR2 or CR123A batteries, which are at a price of ~$10 for a pair in local stores. I brought 4 pcs of CR123A including shipping at $4.99 at The table shows the lowest costs for film photography I have paid recently.

Table. Budget price and cost of film photo in 2011 

Item or service
Cost/frame (USD)
Development & print
Battery, CR123A**

*See the figure with a receipt for the 4-roll price.
**Varies among cameras. The cost per frame is based on my Canon Elan 7NE, with a pair of CR123A lasting for ~35 rolls of film with 50 flash use, as claimed in the Canon manual.    

The table tells us:
  1. With an old film camera in hands, you need at least $7 budget to start filming, or $9 to convert into digital images.
  2. To press your shutter once, you must spend 28 cents to see a print later, or 37 cent to see an image on your computer.
  3. Sale tax is extra.

Let me know if you have a cheaper way to film. Thanks.
Today (July 5, 2011), I went to a Sams's Photo Center and was told they do not do film any more. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The User’s Review: Canon PowerShot SX130 IS at USD 32.09

Thanks to Canon for not giving at Thanksgiving of 2010, I brought a brand new SX130 at their right price later. Here is my experience with Canon USA webshop: Found a good deal on a DSLR camera and placed my order thant morning; Checked the order online in the afternoon of 11/29, and found cancelled by Canon. Called Canon and was told it was because of 'a typerror' on the deal price, $150 less than the right one. And promised me a 2nd-day free shipping for the order at the ‘right price’. I told them this was not acceptable, and I was told to get a call from the VP Office of Canon USA within 48 hrs; Later that afternoon, got an email on the cancelled order from Canon; Received the second call from Canon, telling me that no one would get the order at the ‘wrong price’ (why was I told this?) and offering me free shipping on accessories, which I refused again because I just want what I need; On 12/16, Canon sent an email to its customers, saying that they would honor the original order at the ‘wrong price’ or offer other options (they did not tell what the options were in the email); Called Canon on 12/17 and was told that one of options was $150 discount plus 2nd-day free shipping if I went to other items. My final words on this issue are 'Canon knows how' to treat its costumers later.

Since I had brought a DSLR for the holidays, I decided to get a SX130 with the $150 discount (Fig. 1). Should be the lowest price one can get.

Fig. 1. SX130 receipt from Canon

Materials and Methods
Canon SX130 IS, SN 122062011256, made in China and released in 8/2010 (Fig. 2).
Transcend 16gb SDHC card
2 Duracell Rechargeable NiMH AA batteries, 2650mAh


Fig. 2. SX130 Front, with fully-extented zoom, and back with a glass LCD protector

Pros: Powerful 12X zoom, good 720 HD video with continue AF in bright light, good still image quality, 3-inch LCD screen, and acceptable battery life.

Cons: Loss of video focusing in low light, annoying video focus searching in some cases (to solve this issue, I set on a fixed focus),  longer shutter lag (not good for shooting kids), missed flash without auto popup, long process time after a shoot using the kid mode (you will miss the next shoot before the camera gets ready), and low quality of lens (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. An image of curved grids on my window. I checked it and found no any problems.

I like this camera, ok to be around and to record family photo and video. Not small enough to put into my pocket, but much smaller than my SLRs.