Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Pound-o-nomics – The Cheap film myth but why you should still buy

Most of you will know a bargain always tempts me so that’s why I shoot shed loads of AVP200 from Poundland isn’t it ? But actually AVP200 can work out more expensive than you think but I still think you should buy it and here’s why !!!

This is actually a hard post for me to write but I feel I need to clear the air here. I genuinely do feel Poundland have helped the film renaissance here in the UK. They are one of only 2 stores you can find in most UK towns that usually sell film (like the other Boots, not all branches stock film) and made my life a heck of a lot easier when I got back into film. They also continue to save my bacon when I’ve run out of mid speed film (Ta your Blackpool branch the other week). For all of these reasons I encourage you to pop in once every so often and by a 24 exposure roll of AVP200  even if it’s not your 35mm drug of choice.


Morning Glory Abridged
AVP 200 on a Hanimex 35SE. 2017

It might not be quite the bargain you think it is (credit to Flickr user Stuart Lloyd for pointing this out ).  You might end up paying more in the long run using it.

It all comes down to development costs. Pretty much every lab charges the same to develop a 24exp as a 36exp roll and depending on your choice of labs even developing a pro level film can work out cheaper. Basically in the long run as 3 rolls of 24exp will yield the same as 2 rolls of 36 exp and what you save on cheap film rolls, you start to loose on paying for an extra D&P cost.

Fujifilm Neopan 400CN & Ilford XP2
Fujifilm Neopan 400CN & Ilford XP2. Must be good because they’re Professional & Super. And they can work out cheaper than your AVP200 in the long run !!!

I could spend forever searching for the cheapest film available for comparison but life is a bit short so I’ll use and give us some comparisons films. First out is Fujifilm C200 (yup basically AVP200)  which at the time of typing  you could buy a 10 pack of 36exp for £22.97 (or £2.30 a roll). Next we have Kodak Colour Plus 200 36exp which for 10 rolls for £25.69 (or £2.57 a roll) is another popular budget choice. A bit more will buy you lomography 100CN at £12.20 for 3 rolls (£4.07 per 36exp roll). Thew monochrome C-41  Ilford XP2 was intended as a high mid-range  choice at £29.99 for 5 rolls (or £6 a 36exp roll) but oddly you could find Portra 160 at just a shade more as our pro film at £33 of 5 (£6.60 per 36 Exp roll)

Now let’s look at the total cost including processing. I ‘m just using a simple cost per roll (you’ll be able to work out your own costs from this table). For the comparison I’ve used 3 rolls of 24 exp AVP200 versus 2 rolls of 36exp other films

Film +£3/roll
AVP 200
24exp  x3
£12 £18 £24 £30 £36
36exp x2
£10.60 £14.60 £18.60 £22.60 £26.60
Plus 200
36exp x2
£11.14 £15.14 £19.14 £23.14 £27.60
36exp x2
£14.14 £18.14 £22.14 £26.14 £30.14
36exp x2
£18 £22 £26 £30 £34
36exp x2
£19.20 £23.20 £27.20 £31.20 £35.20

Okay so things do depend on the costs a bit but even if using a really cheap lab that offers  £3 a roll process (a few UK services will offer that for D&P only) our AVP 200 is not the cheapest. Its C200 online equivalent saves you over a quid and Kodak’s cheapest is just under a quid cheaper. The mid range and more pro films still work out more expensive at this range but a few pounds more processing a roll and things get more interesting.

By the time you go even a few pennies north of £5 a roll D&P even mid price consumer films start to become cheaper

Even Portra actually become cheaper to use once the processing cost go over £11 a roll (that might sound a lot but for one of the pro labs in the UK for D&P plus scanning things can easily go over £11). Beyond £11 a roll you even get into the realm of saving more (£15 a roll would make Portra over £4 cheaper all in !!)

Lady in Waiting
Lubitel 166 Universal with Kodak Portra 160 (okay I know 120 film) 2014

Of course if the legendary 36 Exp AVP200 rolls turn up again in poundland this all goes out the window (I suspect that is increasingly unlikely).

Equally please don’t stop buying the 24exp rolls at poundland !
Okay it might work out a bit more expensive in the long run but if it ain’t commercially viable for them they’ll drop it and that will take us down to only one high street provider and that means less choice for us and less hook for new folk getting into film.

And that’s a shame. I’d have been dead in the water in Blackpool without it.



13 thoughts on “Pound-o-nomics – The Cheap film myth but why you should still buy”

  1. Great point. Over here in the US the cheapest I can get AV200 (in Fujicolor 200 guise) is $2.50, so the math even works out more in favor of 36-exp rolls of “better” film. (Though I’d argue the Fujicolor 200 is actually good stuff on its own.)

    1. We’ve been fortunate for sometime here in the UK with A discount store called Poundland selling AVP200 for a quid (around $1.25-1.30 at current rates) but not suprisingly they’ve mainly sold the 24exp (there was a brief legendary spell when 36exp was sold about 3 years ago but the consensus was their supplier ran out of 24exp and had to honour the contract).

      Of course this argument falls down if you can get the 36exp.

      I’m still keen folk despite this keep getting the odd roll. In most towns the only shops likely to be selling film are Poundland and Boots (Read Walgreens)

  2. Alan, an interesting exercise in costs. We know that economies of scale play a part here, and I felt it would have been useful to have included a cost per print, and have included a comparison column for one film. For example comparing AVP 200 with C200 we get total costs of £4 and £5.30 but C200 offers 50% more prints for far less than a 50% increase in costs.

    However, we know cost isn’t the be all and end all for some users. It is convenience. And this is where the 24 exposure film can have an advantage, and it may be sufficient for a family day out, for example. In my film days I’d sometimes find I’d run out of genuine subject matter part-way through a 36 film and then be faced with a dilemma: do I waste the remaining film to get it processed immediately, or do I wait until the next photographic opportunity presented itself? Invariably, it was the former as I wanted to see the results without delay.

    It should also not be overlooked that in the period leading up to the ubiquitous high street mini-labs providing much competition when colour d&p became so cheap, processing costs were quite expensive for the average man in the street, so the shorter length cassettes of 20 exp (generally for b/w) and 24 exp for colour served a very real purpose.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Good points Terry – there’s also the issue that some cameras don’t tolerate bigger rolls very well. That includes some modern in production cameras like the VUWS clones and also older cameras from early 60s back. The unfinished roll isn’t an issue for me with full frame cameras but does explain why Hal frame cameras like my Oly PEN EE 2 end up stuck in the bag for months

  3. I agree with Terry B – 36 exposures is too many most of the time. In fact, I would occasionally use 12 exposure film if it was still available.

    My film use is generally either for testing a ‘new’ camera or for a specific photographic project and 24 exposures is plenty (or too many).

  4. Dear alan,

    Canny blog article:)
    But just to let you know, Poundland has discontinued the sale of AVP200 to its stores:( I received a tweet from them 4 weeks ago telling me that:( Not sure if its still available via their website, but the minimum purchase is £100(with free p&p), which is a bit too steep for me.
    As regards to the cost of developing film, my 135 colour lab of choice(Max Spielmann) charges £8 for 24exp, £9 for 36exp(dev & print). But cost is a minor issue for me-its convienient for me to use Max Spielmann because they are located in Newcastle City Centre:)

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Thanks Marcus – bit of a bolt To hear the news from Poundland but we have been there before with them at one point saying discontinued only for it to come online later (mind you that usually happens at Xmas)

  5. Thanks for this Alan, a very useful comparison.

    I remember doing a similar thing when I was looking to buy a batch of Superia 100 which was available in 24 or 36exp rolls.

    I ended up buying a batch of each – the 36exp as it was a bit cheaper plus the 24exp because I just prefer shooting 24 frames at a time with film somehow.

    Like others have said, often with 36exp film I’ve got to maybe frame 27 and then the remaining shots have been a bit more half hearted just to finish the roll.

    Which is odd because with digital I can easily go on the same kind of photowalk and shoot 100+ images.

  6. I will agree with your point on the 36 versus 24 rolls. I do the same just for the money – although I do worry about some plastic cameras working harder to rewind the larger rolls. I send away for 100% of my film so I’m not really limited with what they have(which would be 3 to 4 rolls of film total locally). As much as I would like to support Film Photography Project here – they reroll at 24 rolls so I just order film they have exclusively. Agfa Vista is pretty good really.

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