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Buying guide: The best gifts for film photographers in 2021

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The best gifts for film photographers in 2021

Do you love film photography, or are you shopping for someone who does? If so, you’re in luck, because film photography is making a comeback and manufacturers are bringing a modern touch to the more analog art form.

To save you some time this holiday season, we’ve combed through the best film photography products we’ve come across throughout 2021 and created this fun little buying guide. From 35mm panchromatic black-and-white film to tablet developer and modern photo enlargers, we’ve got the best 2021 has to offer for film photographers who are looking for a little something in their stocking.

Note: Gifts are listed in order from least to most expensive.

Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow Film£5 a roll – 35mm panchromatic black-and-white film

Earlier this year, Kosmo Foto announced the release of Agent Shadow, an ISO 400 panchromatic black-and-white film stock. Inspired by the noir imagery, the film is fine-grained at ISO 400, but produces substantial grain when pushed as high as ISO 6400.

Currently, the film is only available in 35mm format with 36 shots per roll. Rolls start at £5 and a minimum order of rolls is required. You can order them directly from the Kosmo Foto website.

See our Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow sample images gallery

Tetenal tablet developer – Starting at €22.85 – Easy to store film chemicals

Chemical manufacturer Tetenal, which nearly became insolvent back in early 2019, is back and better than ever. In addition to bringing back a solid product lineup in 2020, Tetenal also released a new type of developer and fixer earlier this year.

Unlike other developers, which either come as a concentrated liquid or powder that needs to be mixed up in hot water, this new product comes in tablet form, making it easy to store and make on-demand. The Parvofin developer tablets are a reformulation of a black and white developer the company previously manufactured, but brought up to modern safety standards. The accompanying SuperFix fixer tablets are what appears to be a newly formulated rapid fixer with a multi-year shelf life.

Being able to purchase developing chemicals in tablet form should make it easier to develop photos on-the-go to streamline your workflow or even avoid having to send your undeveloped rolls of film through a scanner at an airport. Tetenal has a comprehensive guide to making their developer and fixer using these tablets on their website. The Parvofin developer and SuperFix fixer can be purchased from Tetnal’s website for €29.20 and €22.85, respectively.

Retropro 35mm and 120 film cases – $29- Kodak-branded travel cases for your film

If you plan on traveling with more than a roll or two of 35mm or 120 format film, you might want a safe and convenient place to store the film before and after use. Enter the new Kodak-branded film cases from Retropro. These licensed carrying cases are inspired by the old metal film canisters used by Kodak before the 1970s and neatly keep up to eight rolls of 120 film or 10 rolls of 35mm film securely in place during travel.

The base is made of aluminum while the top is made of steel. As Kosmo Foto notes, Kodak’s old ‘[film] canisters were painted in colors and carried a lot of joyful memories.’ These new cases are available in an array of colors, including yellow with red or blue lids, silver with a yellow lid, black, beige and olive. The canisters retail for $29 each and can be purchased on Retropro’s dedicated storefront.

LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back – $40 – Turn your 4×5 camera into an Instax Wide camera

Meet the LomoGraflok 4×5 instant back, the world’s first back for 4×5 cameras that works with Fujifilm’s popular Instax Wide instant film. Designed to be a substitute for Polaroid’s peel-apart film, which was discontinued back in 2016, the LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back makes it once again possible to capture test shots on 4×5 field cameras.

The device is mainly constructed of plastic and is powered by four ‘AA’ (LR6) batteries. It features a frame counter and an automatic ejector, which pushes the Instax Wide film through a set of rollers to spread the chemicals across the frame to develop the photograph. The LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back is available to purchase for $150 from Lomography’s online shop.

The Pixl-latr – $55 – A better way to digitize negatives

One of the most annoying struggles faced by analog lovers is how to get high-resolution, high-quality digital versions of their slides and negatives. One of the best non-scanning solutions is to photograph film using a digital camera and a macro lens. But how the heck do you hold them in place and ensure even lighting?

Thankfully our good pal and DPR’s Film Photography Talk forum moderator, Hamish Gill, invented a solution. The Pixl-latr, originally launched on Kickstarter, is a modular film holder that works with most film formats (up to 4×5) and features a semi-translucent back to diffuse light. It’s a simple, versatile and effective solution for anyone who owns a macro lens, a digital camera and a tripod.

Another solution is the Nikon ES-2. It’s a little more straightforward to use than the Pixl-latr – it attaches to the end of a lens – but is also nearly three times the cost ($145) and only works with 35mm format film.

Analogue Wonderland film subscription box – $65 every other month – A reoccurring 35mm film subscription box

Who doesn’t love getting a parcel filled with fun surprises in the mail on a reoccurring basis? UK-based Analog Wonderland is bringing the concept of the ‘curated subscription box’ to 35mm film lovers everywhere. Once signed up, subscribers will receive a box every other month (depending on the length of subscription). Each box contains six different rolls of 35mm film, curated from a selection of 100.

Not only is this a fun way for film lovers to try new emulsions, but it’s also a way to connect with other 35mm shooters. Each month all subscribers receive the same film stocks, and Analog Wonderland provides an online space for folks to both discuss their results and compete in friendly competitions.

Polaroid Now+ – $150 – A real Polaroid camera with smartphone connectivity

Polaroid’s new Now+ camera takes inspiration from the original Now I-Type instant camera and adds a collection of new features powered by your smartphone. When paired via Bluetooth, to your Android or iOS smartphone, the Now+ works alongside Polaroid’s free app to open up special features, including: Aperture Priority, Double Exposure, Light Painting, Manual Mode and Tripod Mode.

The Now+ also comes with a lens filter kit that includes five filters that you place in front of the lens: starburst, red vignette, orange, blue, and yellow. The Polaroid Now+ is available now in black as well as white versions, plus there’s a Blue Gray version that’s exclusive to Polaroid’s online shop. All versions retail for $149.99/€149.99/£139.99.

Chroma 5×4 Field Camera – $350 – A compact, lightweight 5×4 field camera

After spending 15 years developing one-off custom cameras, Steve Lloyd decided to manufacturer a production 5×4 camera using modern materials and technologies. By eschewing more traditional designs, which are made almost entirely of metal, Lloyd opted for laser-cut acrylic. This allows the cameras to not only have an array of fun and unique colors, it also keeps the entire build light and modular.

The camera works with standard 5×4 double dark slides and uses a clever back that attaches to the back of the camera using magnets. The bellows can stretch up to 300mm and works with focal lengths between 65mm and 280mm. Despite this, the camera folds down to just 21cm x 18cm by 11.7cm, making it small enough to throw into a backpack if you’d like.

Intrepid Compact Enlarger – $380 – A modern, compact LED darkroom enlarger

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? The enlarger might be as old as negative photography, but the Intrepid Enlarger has brought it into the 21st century with a new darkroom enlarger they call ‘a total rethink of the traditional darkroom enlarger.’ This compact enlarger can be mounted to nearly any tripod or copy stand and works with both color and black and white films to make prints of nearly every negative you can get your hands on, from 35mm to 6×9.

In addition to creating a more compact, lightweight design using modern materials, Intrepid also uses LED technology. Doing so allows for incredibly precise adjustments to color balance, contrast and exposure, all without the need for additional filters. The timer controller even has a USB port for updating firmware when new releases are pushed live.

The Intrepid Enlarger kit retails for $380/£280 and includes the enlarger, the timer controller, a power supply and an array of negative carriers for 35mm, 6×6, 6×4.5, 6×7 and 6×9 negatives.

Thanks for reading!

And there you have it, the best film photography gifts in 2021, sure to bring a smile to the faces of emulsive eccentrics everywhere! Happy holidays and happy shooting, from the analog nerds here at DPReview.


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