How to Buy Film on eBay

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How to Buy Film on eBay

While digital cameras are a popular choice, many photographers still prefer to use traditional film cameras when taking shots, either as a hobby or for professional purposes. While some will argue digital is better and others will argue for film, it is generally accepted that film consistently produces better quality images as digital cameras simply do not have high enough resolutions. Film advocates also cite control over image processing as a major advantage over the two. Camera film is widely available in camera stores and online through websites such as eBay.

Why Buy Film on eBay?

There can be many benefits to buying camera film on eBay. Firstly, the choice is often much greater than can be offered in a camera store, which may primarily stock 35 mm film to meet normal demand and requirement. Photographers looking for a more unusual format may find their options are greater on eBay. Secondly, film can often be purchased for prices much more affordable than camera shops can offer, which leaves budget available for further photography supplies.

Choosing Film on eBay

There are a number of factors to think about when it comes to buying film on eBay. While photographers will need to decide exactly what sort of film they require, they also need to take into account the seller. If possible, look to buy from a seller with good feedback to reduce the risk of having a negative buying experience.

Film Colour

Many amateurs believe that buying a colour camera means that they can only shoot colour photographs, but that is not true. The colour of photograph is determined by the film used, not the camera itself, so using colour film will produce colour images, and using black and white film produces black and white images. Film listed on eBay is categorised by colour, so it is easy to locate only relevant results.

Black and White

Black and white film is very traditional, but it still used extensively throughout film photography. Not often used for landscape photography, black and white film is more used for portraits to give a raw, crisp image, and it is especially popular in modern wedding photography.


Colour film is a very popular choice for both beginners and professionals. It particularly lends itself to landscape photography, capturing the vivid hues of greens and reds. Many photographers appreciate the level of control they have over colour film during processing.

Black and White Infrared

Infrared film is very sensitive to infrared light, so any object that absorbs infrared energy from the sun, such as plants and flowers, displays differently when photographed with infrared film. When using black and white infrared film, these objects appear grey or ghostly white.

Colour Infrared

Colour infrared film is very difficult to get hold of in camera stores, so eBay is a good place to search. Working in the same manner as black and white infrared film, this colour variant brings out pink and red shades in objects, which can be toned up or down using coloured lens filters.

Film Speed

Film speed is measured by ISO. It determines a film’s sensitivity to light, and assigns a number based upon this sensitivity. The higher the number, the more sensitivity. This means that films with a high speed tend to have quicker responses. eBay results can be filtered based on film speed, but if the speed is unspecified, use eBay's 'Ask a Question' feature to contact the seller directly.

50 - 100 ISO

These slow films would need to be used in photography studios with very bright and controlled lighting, and preferably with a stabilising monopod or tripod which can also be purchased on eBay. Slow films are made with the smallest grains of silver halide, meaning images are sharp, clear, and free from noise when enlarged.

100 - 200 ISO

Film with slightly faster speed is more versatile, and can be used outdoors on a bright day with ease. Although these films are more sensitive to light than the lower speeds, they still benefit from small silver halide particles which reduce the graininess of the photograph, providing a high quality result.

400 ISO

A 400 ISO speed is a kind of middle ground between the slower and faster speeds, and is good for all-round photography. This film is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and for beginner photographers just starting out, this film is a good one for getting to grips with initially.

800 ISO

Despite being twice as sensitive to light as the 400 ISO speed film, this film is used for roughly the same purposes. While the slower speed is good for all-round outdoor use, this speed is ideal for all-round indoor use with plenty of natural light, especially when not wishing to use the flash.

1000 + ISO

The higher speed films are primarily used by professional photographers to demonstrate speed, which they can do well due to the high response and shorter exposure. These films are made with large silver halide grains, so are not often used for portraits or landscape due to lower quality.

Film Format

Film format will largely depend on the type of camera being used. Most modern cameras will require a standard 35 mm film which is easy to find on eBay and also easy to process, but older and specialist cameras may require a larger, or smaller, format to produce the best results. Due to certain formats being discontinued by manufacturers, eBay is the place to find these rare products.

35 mm

35 mm film is the industry standard, and has been since Kodak introduced it in the 1930s. A relatively small film, it often comes contained in a plastic shell, meaning that the film can be loaded into the camera in daylight, with the film protected from exposure.

Medium Format

Medium format film, especially 120 and 220 film, is often the preferred choice for professional photographers who want more control than the 35 mm can offer. Unlike some other formats, medium format is widely available, and can regularly be found for sale on eBay.

Large Format

Large format film is somewhat rare, as the older style cameras that use this film are not often used any more. Visually large format film is very different to other formats, looking like a sheet rather than a spool. Photographers may wish to purchase a sheet film holder to protect the product.


Polaroid created the instant film, and this format is also available with Fuji branding. It contains chemicals that mean the development process is started as soon as the image is exposed to light. Instant film is considered retro, and is one of the most costly options.

What to Consider When Buying Film on eBay

One of the most important aspects to consider when buying film from eBay is the seller. If possible, choose a reputable camera supplies seller with outstanding feedback. These sellers who have experience selling camera film will often describe the condition of the film in detail, which is of the utmost importance. It’s vital to ensure that the film has been stored safely and securely, and maintained well. Any exposure and the film could be in a non-usable condition. Many photographers worry about film transit, and deliberately search for items located close to them. However, buyers should be willing to expand their search, as film is very unlikely to become damaged during shipping if it is packaged well. eBay's categories and subcategories make it very simple to filter results based upon the different features of film, but if there is any doubt, all listings include an 'Ask a Question' section that allows for buyers to double check any details directly with the seller. Don't forget to check that there is the means to make payment via the seller's listed accepted payment methods.


Browsing, choosing, and buying film on eBay could not be simpler. Thanks to eBay's categories and subcategories, it is easy to navigate to camera film products to browse the listings, and the left hand menu makes it clear how to filter the results to see only those that are relevant. Whether using the Buy It Now or auction functions, when the sale has been confirmed the buyer can transfer the payment to the seller by an agreed means and either collect or await delivery of the film.

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