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Photo chemistry and paper: where to shop in Europe?

I just received some fresh supplies: a new box of Ilford Multigrade RC paper, three packs of Kodak D76, 1 l of Ilford Rapid Fixer and a 500 ml bottle of Adonal (more on this later!).  In this post I discuss four shops where you can source your photochemistry and printing supplies if you are in the Netherlands or Europe.

Where to get you supplies?

What places have the best deals, the largest inventory or the fastest shipping? Scroll down for more!

Het Beeldgebouw

http://www.hetbeeldgebouw.nl

This company specializes in printing and presentation of photos. Besides their regular services they also feature a webshop on their website with reasonable prices and a good line of products that will keep most analog shooters and printers happy. Note that the webshop is not operated by Het Beeldgebouw, but by Supplies voor Beeldmakers and that you cannot pick up your order at their shop. So far I have placed 6 orders with them, all of which were delivered within one or two working days. Shipping is done by PostNL or GLS and track-and-trace information is provided. As may be expected from a quality webshop these days, shipping is free for orders of € 100,- (including VAT) and up and the buyer is kept informed via e-mail automatically when the order status changes. If you are ordering from outside the Netherlands or Belgium expect to pay € 20,- to € 25,- for shipping. I can recommend this shop for your regular supplies.

Foto Impex

http://www.fotoimpex.de/shopen

This German store is dedicated to analog photography and has a physical shop located in downtown Berlin (which I definitely have to visit sometime) and offers a webshop. You need anything special? Chances are you will be ordering it from Foto Impex. Although their prices are slightly higher or on par those of Het Beeldgebouw, Foto Impex offers a very large arrangement of supplies. I actually found them through some photography forums when I couldn’t find Rodinal (now called Adonal) in any local shops. My order came in today and was nicely on time.  Shipping is outsourced to DHL and track-and-trace information is provided as soon as they send it out. Shipping to the Netherlands was € 10,- and took 3 days, but unfortunately ended up at the wrong address by mistake of DHL. The customer service of Foto Impex was very friendly and willing to help when I called them about this issue and also spoke proper English. I still have not received a reply to my e-mails, so for customer service you’d better call. All automatically sent e-mails are in both German and English (albeit with some typos). I can recommend this shop, especially if you are looking for supplies you cannot source locally. Other customers’ reviews online are generally very positive too.

Macodirect

http://www.macodirect.de

Another German supplier for photochemistry and dark room supplies. At this moment I do not have any personal experience with this store, but online customer reviews are generally positive. A small price comparison tells me that prices for resin coated Ilford paper are slightly lower here compared to the other two. One point to consider when ordering at Macodirect is the € 39,45 order minimum. When you are shopping for supplies this is normally not a problem (this is not a cheap hobby, remember?), but it is something to keep in mind when you just need that one bottle of developer or fixer! When it comes to size of the assortment I would place Macodirect right between Het Beeldgebouw and Foto Impex. I will definitely try out this supplier in the future and update this review.

21/10/2015: macodirect has revamped their website and extended their shop to the better. Outside Germany they offer free shipping for orders over € 350 which is rather steep.

FotoFilmFabriek

http://www.fotofilmfabriek.nl

When you search the web for a place to buy film in the Netherlands, FotoFilmFabriek is likely to pop up. Their prices are fair but customer experiences are mixed. When they first started in 2003 the reviews were positive, but especially in recent months customer experiences seem bad. Some people get their order shipped the next day, others have to keep reminding the owners for days or don’t see their shipment coming in for weeks. The problem seems to be in the communication, which is currently poor at best. Especially in a time where big webshops offer same-day shipping and fast customer service, this is a key issue for many customers. In my limited experience with this shop, I have found the points above to be true. When I ordered my first batch of 10 rolls of 120 film I wanted to get them delivered at work. After an initial e-mail conversation the replies stopped coming and I had to call them to discuss the issue. Delivery took 8 days and I was given the wrong track-and-trace code. This did not leave a good first impression. I hope FotoFilmFabriek will get their act back together, because I would hate to see this small business closing shop, especially when they started it for the love of analog photography.

Price comparison

In comparing prices I have used my regular supplies for print making as a reference shopping basket. It consists of Ilford Multigrade developer, rapid fixer, stopbath and paper. The results are summarized in Table 1. Although prices including shipping do not differ much, it should be noted that Macodirect is cheaper when it comes to paper. In this comparison I have only considered the prices for my regular paper stock, but this trend seems consistent for other paper sizes and types as well. FotoFilmFabriek has been excluded from this comparison as they are not an Ilford dealer and focus more on film.

Table 1: Price comparison for basis printing supplies. Prices were checked 1 August, 2015 and include shipping to the Netherlands.
Het Beeldgebouw Foto Impex Macodirect
Ilford Multigrade Developer 1 l € 17,95 € 16,72 € 16,50
Ilford Rapid Fixer 1 l € 14,67 € 13,90 € 13,57
Ilford Ilfostop 500 ml € 12,98 € 12,90 € 12,97
Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Pearl; 17,8 x 24 cm; 100 sheets € 60,34 € 63,94 € 49,98
Shipping (current) € 0,00 € 10,00 € 10,00
Shipping (small orders) € 6,95 € 10,00 € 10,00
Total € 105,96 € 117,46 € 103,02

Update:
I have compared the prices for three different Ilford papers between the three listed shops: Het Beeldgebouw, Macodirect and Foto Impex, the results of which are listed in this spreadsheet. When it comes to Ilford paper, Het Beeldgebouw has the biggest assortment (at least for the selected paper types). For RC paper, Macodirect is generally cheaper, but the price differences are small. Interesting deals are the Ilford Multigrade Deluxe Pearl 17,8 x 24 cm (100 sheets), 24 x 30,8 cm (50 sheets) and 30,5 x 40,6 cm (100) sheets at Macodirect; which are € 10,- to € 20,- cheaper compared to Het Beeldgebouw. When we look at fiber-based papers, however, the story is reversed. For Ilford Multigrade FB Classic 1K, Het Beeldgebouw is generally up to € 20,- cheaper, while for Ilford MG Art 300 the difference is as big as € 50,-! When shopping for paper stock, it pays of to compare prices.

Disclaimer: I made this price comparison for my own information and do not take responsibility for its accuracy or validity. The current prices are listed on the retailer websites and their prices are the only valid ones. Besides a supplier-customer relation, I have no affiliations with any of these suppliers and I am not sponsored or paid in any way for these reviews and price comparisons.

Other experiences?

Where do you order your supplies? Or do you have different experiences with any of the suppliers I mentioned above? Feel free to drop me a line. I’d be happy to hear your experiences.

Published in Miscellaneous