Where to Buy Expired Film

#893. Perutz Primera 100, Olympus Trip 35.
As a follow up to last week’s post on The Hidden Costs of Shooting Expired Film, I’d like to share a list of what I consider to be the best places online to buy expired and rare film.[1]There are many excellent and reputable online film stores I could recommend, but most of them only sell fresh film. In putting together this list, I decided to focus only on resellers who met the following criteria:

  • They offer a wide selection of expired and rare film.
  • They often post example photos taken (sometimes by them) with the film they are selling.
  • They charge a reasonable price for their film.
  • I have purchased film from them on many occasions.
  • I have had good results with most of the film I purchased.

To that end, there are only three online stores that make the cut. Over the years, I have purchased many rolls, many times from the resellers below and have had good results with their film most of the time. Despite the solid reputation of these resellers, there are never guarantees when it comes to expired film! Shop and shoot at your own risk.

'Trio' - kinetic sculptures at the Calgary Public Library
#1825. Ferrania Solaris FG Plus 200, Canon Canonet QL17 Giii. Unicolor C-41 Powder, 3:30 min @ 39 °C.

🔗 Narc Expired Film

Located in Portugal, Narc Expired Film offers a large selection of expired film in a variety of formats and can be found on both eBay and Etsy. I have purchased film here on many occasions and while there are never guarantees with expired film, I have found that most of the film I have bought has given me decent results. Film prices and shipping are both reasonable and Narc offers combined shipping when ordering multiple items. I can vouch from experience that Narc’s customer service and communication are excellent. I received an order once that was missing a roll of film. When I contacted Narc, he immediately shipped out the missing roll at his own expense. New film stock is added regularly and you can find example photos that Narc has shot with the film he sells on his Instagram feed. I find Narc Expired Film to be a great place to shop and I have purchased 35 different film stocks from him. Of those 35, I have shot a dozen rolls and photos from nine have been posted on this blog, while the other 23 are sitting in my freezer. These links will take you to the photos I made using his film.

Photos Shot on Film from Narc
Lancaster bomber
#1158. Imation Scotch Color HP100, Canon EOS 3.

🔗 Labeauratoire

Located in Florida, USA, Labeauratoire is Lance Rothstein’s shop. He carries a lot of rare film stocks that you will not find anywhere else. Best of all, Lance shoots this film himself. His site used to feature many example photos, development recommendations, and a short history of each film, but Lance has recently updated his website, so all of this is currently missing. That being said, you can shop here with confidence. Lance is awesome and offers a great film selection at reasonable prices. I have shot 8 out of the 10 film stocks that I have purchased from Labeauratoire. Follow these links to see my photos.

Photos Shot on Film from Labeauratoire
Art under a bridge in the East Village
#1766. Perutz PR 100, Canon Rebel 2000. Unicolor C-41 Powder, 3:30 min @ 39 °C.

🔗 Les Ateliers de Marinette

Located in France, Les Ateliers de Marinette’s film selection is always changing with “new” film stocks being added regularly. They also sell fresh film, so you can do all your film shopping in one place. Les Ateliers offers a good selection of film at reasonable prices and shipping from France to Canada is the cheapest I’ve found. I have purchased 15 different film stocks from Les Ateliers de Marinette. While the majority of that film is sitting in my freezer, I have shot and processed four rolls. While this is a great store to buy from, I did have one issue with shipping. It wasn’t exactly their fault, but their customer service could have been better. See “The Woeful Tale of Missing Film” below for details.

Photos Shot on Film from Les Ateliers de Marinette
Environmental Education Centre at Ralph Klein Park in Calgary, Canada
#1438. Kodak HCP 5369, Canon Rebel 2000. Xtol (stock), 5:45 min @ 20 °C.

What to Look For When Buying Expired Film

The only way to avoid buying crappy expired film is to be diligent in your research. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the risk when shopping for expired film.

  • Shop at reputable dealers like the ones listed above.
  • Always ask how the film has been stored. Film that has been stored in a freezer for a decade will perform better than film stored for a year in a car that’s been baking in the sun. Frozen film loses its sensitivity very slowly and can often be shot at box speed even if it is decades old.
  • Look for example photos shot with the film (preferably from rolls with the same lot number).
  • If there are example photos, find out how many stops, if any, the film was pushed to compensate for age.
  • Be wary of film that the seller found at an estate sale. It’s almost impossible to know for sure how the film was stored and chances are it isn’t any good.
  • Avoid one-off deals where the seller only has 1 roll they are selling amongst other non-film listings. Especially when they say “I don’t know if it’s any good” or “sold as is”.
  • Choose professional film over consumer film. Chances are that professional film has been better stored over time. Anyone who owned professional film probably knew to store it in the freezer.
  • Choose film that the seller has been willing to use themselves.
  • Choose lower ISO films. The higher the ISO, the faster the film loses sensitivity. Thus a roll of 50 ISO film will age slower than a 1000 ISO film, and therefore will probably give better results.
  • Do NOT buy Kodachrome. This film can no longer be developed.[2]Kelly-Shane Fuller has been experimenting with reviving Kodachrome processing and has had some interesting success. If you really want to try Kodachrome, I’d suggest you reach out to him first. So unless you want a historical souvenir, buying Kodachrome is a waste of money.
#1883. Konica Centuria 200, Kodak Ektralite 500.

The Woeful Tale of Missing Film

Les Ateliers de Marinette often has a wonderful selection of discontinued film and their prices are reasonable. I bought 9 rolls of film from them and they shipped it the very next day.

A month went by and my film hadn’t arrived. The tracking said my package was still being sorted in France. I thought the package may have been lost in the mail, so I messaged Les Ateliers through their website contact page. No reply. A week later, I messaged them again. Still nothing. I figured the website contact page may be defective, so I emailed them directly. This time I got a reply. They said to check my tracking. Lol, my original message said that I already had. Still, I was using Google Translate to help me write in French so maybe it was a translation error? I emailed a reply and, again, there was no response. Getting frustrated, I reminded myself that PayPal has a pretty decent refund policy and so I wasn’t worried about losing my money.

Then, a few days later, the tracking suddenly said “your package has arrived in the country of destination” and “your package has cleared customs” followed by “your package is being given to the local carrier for final delivery”. Except, the location of my package was listed as New Caledonia. Wait… what? I live in Canada, not New Caledonia! New Caledonia is a French overseas territory and an island in the South Pacific. What the hell was going on?! Either the tracking was wrong or my package really was in New Caledonia. Did they mistakenly send my package to the South Pacific? Or was it taking the long way round on a slow boat? I tried emailing La Poste, but postal carriers don’t respond when the recipient inquires about a lost package. Only the shipper can do that. And I couldn’t be bothered emailing Les Ateliers again. I doubted they would help. Still, that PayPal guarantee provided solace. And I was curious to see what would happen next…

A month later the tracking history was replaced with “your package has left France and is on its way to Canada”. I breathed a sigh of relief. A week or so later, the package finally arrived and I discovered that the box had a postal stamp on it from New Caledonia! They actually did send it to the South Pacific by mistake, lol. The irony of all this was that while my film travelled around the world, I was stuck at home all summer unable to travel because of a pandemic! Yet, I was happy to finally have my film.


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