I noticed yesterday that I was down to just two rolls of 35mm and about six of 120. Rather than shell out straightaway for some new material I thought I'd have a quick look round some of the secondhand sites to see if there was any being offered for sale.
As luck would have it, there was some 35mm HP5 Plus where offers were being invited. I bid £20 for the nine rolls thinking that was reasonable - £2 a roll and the same for postage - only to be told that the seller wouldn't part with them for less than £30 plus postage.
Fair enough, they're her films and she's free to charge what she wants for them. I've noticed similar prices, sometimes higher, being charged on other sites including Ebay for secondhand film. It seems some photographers think of film as a commodity like a camera case where there's nothing to go wrong with it and it's as usable as the day it left the factory. They're oblivious to the potential pitfalls involved when buying secondhand film.
I can't get my head round this thinking. In the case of the HP5 Plus above, it was out of date next year so it wasn't too fresh. For all I know, it could have been sitting in the glove compartment of the seller's car for a couple of years or in the kitchen cupboard next to her oven. Or maybe it's been through an airport scanner half-a-dozen times. Who knows?
The seller certainly knows but I've never, ever seen film advertised on the used market that hasn't been stored in a freezer - or at least a fridge. How much faith should you put in that? And it's not as if I'd have a guarantee if it turned out to be badly fogged.
So my view is that while I'm OK with taking a punt at £2 a roll, if it gets withing touching distance of the retail price then you can forget it: I'll just buy new. And that's why I'm still sitting here nursing a roll of Tmax 400 and another of Adox CHS 100 II. Or maybe I've got it all wrong and people are happy to pay approaching three-quarters the retail price for secondhand film?
Anyway, if you have any black and white film - 35mm or 120 - that you're not going to be using for whatever reason and you haven't been put off by my low ball tactics then please ping me an email. The link is in the left-hand column.