Purveyors of cheap film Lupus Imaging probably best know for Poundland’s finest Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 colour negative film but the company also sell APX true B&W film which is argueably the cheapest pre rolled B&W film available in the UK
How does this perform and for the budget shooter does it make cost sense given B&W D&P costs ?
Lupus don’t seem to make their own film. Most of you will know that Vista plus is actually Fujifilm C200 and Vista 400 is also made by Fujifilm. Current (2013 on) APX films (both 100 & 400 ISO) appear to be made by Harman the parent company behind Ilford and Kentmere brands so we should be in safe hands. I’ve been told off on forums for using the term rebadging – Harman don’t rebadge their products so this must be a purpose made emulsion. Pre 2013 APX films were probably old Agfa APX stock (a B&W film made by the defunct company) and is a completely different fish.
Spec is hard to come by – made harder still by the fact the agfaphoto website seems to list the old emulsion. Thankfully more can be found on Lupus’s website but the specifications beyond developing the stuff is pretty minimal – really just storage advice and the fact you can shoot at 50 or 200 ISO.
It can be sourced very cheaply if you’re lucky. Amazon periodically sell a Brick of 20x36exp rolls for just over £50 (yup that’s £2.51 a roll just a pound more than the equivalent of using AVP200 at 24 exp). Even if that’s not a go-er it can be sourced for about £3.80 on eBay. But enough about the costs for the mo… How does it perform.
I should state from the outset I don’t home process but I get pretty consistent results with this stuff in the labs I use. The film as you would expect does however produce different results depending on what development method and chemicals you use.
My own opinion is that it is a reasonable film with fairly fine grain and medium contrast. As I the other B&W stuff I shoot are mainly 400 ISO , it is difficult to give a fair comparison as they’ll benefit from faster shutter and smaller apertures, but most others seem to to enjoy using and usually have a similar opinion although others do describe as grainy although that’s not my experience. Not in the same league perhaps as the best from Kodak or Ilford but not bad.
In terms of budgeting the cost of film is just one component – you still need to process and scan it. If you home develop it is a no brainier B&W chemicals are usually cheaper and easier to use and you can even brew your own (that said C-41 kits are not that pricey)
But for those of us without the resources, space, time and/or inclination it is off to the lab. To make a real-life comparison we’ll compare the total cost of film & processing at either ASDA or 3 UK postal labs for APX 100, Ilford’s C-41 B&W XP2 Super and Vista 200. I’m ignoring any bulk/frequent user/NHS staff etc. discounts they offer – this is the walk in price off the street for 1 roll for develop only no scanning (I list scanning costs below). I’ve picked Digitalab a pro-lab in Newcastle, AG Photolab a well established outfit and popular with the ISF UK crowd in Birmingham and new for me Snaps Photo from Bournemouth. They all offer different approaches and suspect they would argue this is reflected in any cost differential between ’em.
To give a range I’ll use the 2-3 values for each film based on current market prices and for ease for the mail order companies I’m listing the walk in price. For most it’ll cost around £6 to send and get back your films irrespective of number so I’d add about a quid a roll based on you sending 6-7 rolls (AG Photo do a free mailing slip so the cost would be nearer 50p)
|ASDA||AG Photolab||Digitalab||Snaps Photo|
|APX100 at £2.51/roll||N/A||£6.50||£7.96||£5.51|
|APX100 at £3.80/roll||N/A||£7.79||£ 8.25||£6.80|
|XP2 at £4.51/roll||£6.51||£7.50||£9.96||£6.51|
|XP2 at £5.48/roll||£7.58||£8.47||£10.93||£7.58|
|AVP200 at £1/roll||£3||£3.99||£6.45||£3|
|AVP200 at 3x £1/ 24
exp roll ÷ by 2
|AVP200 at £3.50/roll||£5.50||£6.49||£8.95||£4.50|
* All Costing at bottom
The cost differential between using APX100 and C-41 B&W can be marginal in the main and if you get really cheap APX there is a saving to be had. Only moot point is the convenience of a walk in lab for most is lost (a pretty moot point for me in lab free Dumfries – ASDA Carlisle literally is the closest walk in lab for me)
The inclusion of Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 (AVP200) is more than just a comparator. You can crossprocess this in B&W chemicals and obviously some folk digitally alter the image (not my thing but there’s an example below of the latter). And yes there is a saving to using AVP200 potentially but not as much as you might think unless you shot the rare 1 Quid 36 exposure rolls.
Leaving aside that and coming back to APX100. What we have is a bargain priced and reasonable mid speed B&W film that even once you factor in lab processing won’t break the bank
- Lupus Imaging Film Data sheets
- Kodak BW400CN my favourite but now gone C-4 B&W
- Agfaphoto APX100 Review at Shoot Film, Ride Steel Blog
Pricing data based on real online cost on 27th April 2015
Film (all inc P&P costs)
- Agfaphoto prices based on lowest Amazon price as per article and on day lowest eBay pricing.
- Ilford XP2 low price of £4.51 was based on eBay seller price of 10 for £45.10. High price of £5.28 is based on 2 rolls on Boots buy on get one half price at £6.99 a roll or 2 for £10.48
- AVP cost based on rare 36 exp rolls seen at Poundland. A more realistic cost of processing 3 roll of 24 exp divided by 2 is also included (to match 36 exp of other products) as is the lowest in date 36exp pack cost £31.50 for 10 therefore £3.15
- ASDA currently do just C-41 processing for £2 a roll. They will scan onto CD for £2 at a 2MP resolution and at stores discretion put up to 5 roll on one CD for that cost
- AG Photolab charge £2.99 for C-41 and £3.99 for B&W. Scanning starts at £4 a roll. Note they offer free mailing label for incoming orders
- Digitalab ab charge a flat £5.45 for all process. Scanning starts at £3.10 a roll.
- Snaps photo charge £2 for C-41 and £3 for B&W processing. Scanning starts from £1 a roll for B&W and £1.30 for C-41