Did the cost of developing film just skyrocket?

I still occasionally shoot on 35 mm, and last week took a roll to get at developed at Walmart. 24 frames, single prints, plus a CD.

I picked it up today and they charged 13 bucks. In the past when I got a film developed there, it was $5 or $6, including the price of a CD.

When I pointed this out to the attendant at the photo counter, she said they recently just raised prices. Still doubling the price seemed pretty steep.

I realize that digital photography has driven the old film business into the ground, and that it’s getting harder to find a place that will develop film. But is a doubling in price justified, or is Walmart just ripping me off?

Supply and demand. The fewer places develop film, the more it will cost.

I’ve been shooting a lot of film recently, although I develop at home so it costs a lot less. For processing, I use Peak Imaging, who are representative of the price in the UK; they charge £4.44 for a 36-shot 35mm roll, £4.13 for 120. £4.44 is $6.95. But you have to factor in postage costs, because very few places develop film any more in the UK, and you have to post it off. And bear in mind that this is processing - not prints - with the assumption that you’ll scan it yourself.

Film itself is more expensive than it was, I believe because global silver prices went up recently, and also there’s less demand. Looking back through my emails, I see I paid £2 per roll of Kodak TMAX 400 back in 2009 (from the now-defunct Photoglossy) whereas the price now, from 7DayShop, is £3.99, or about £3.70 if you buy a five-pack. £3.99 is $6.25.

I surmise that your local supermarket used to have a minilab that could develop film on-site, but they’ve got rid of it, and they have to post it off as well, which increases the cost. This is one of the reasons why I learned to develop film at home. I bought a developing tank, some Rodinal, some noxious fixing chemicals, and I followed this guide. Unfortunately this is no use for colour, which is a lot harder.

Even my dad’s bought a digital camera. Kodak recently discontinued their entire slide film line, and presumably over the coming years the amount of different film types will go right down (Kodak will end up with Ektar, Portra, TMAX 100 / 400, TRI-X, and Fuji will end up with Acros 100, 400H, 160C, remains to be seen whether they keep Velvia 50, which is popular but not enough to support the whole E6 processing industry). Ilford will have their range, dunno about the Eastern European / Chinese industry. Given that the cheapest Chinese film isn’t much cheaper than T-MAX I suspect that film is one of those things that can only be so cheap and not any cheaper.