Poundland's Power Geek 35mm Film
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Back in 2012 Poundland started stocking 24 exposure rolls of AGFAPhoto Vista Plus 200 and selling them on for only £1. An absolute bargain, because despite being a little imperfect, you could still get really nice photos with it. I've shot a few rolls and have always been pleased with the results. But all good things come to an end and around the beginning of last year Poundland stopped selling it as stocks ran dry and it was discontinued. It's all but disappeared altogether. But it must have worked out for Poundland because it appears they have started stocking their own branded 35mm film.
Whilst ambling around in my now local branch of Poundland in Martineau Place, Birmingham (admittedly I've been going in almost once a week hoping they magically start stocking film again...) I spotted a whole bunch of 35mm films on the shelf branded with Power Geek branding which I know is Poundland's own brand. Presumably they are branded this way because they are stocked next to Poundland's own rebranded portable power banks and the such like. They're £2 a roll for an ISO 200 colour print film with 10 exposures. Yup. Just 10 exposures which at first glance is terrible value for money. But more on that later... The box lists both C-41 and CN-16 processes, C-41 is Kodak standard chemistry and now ubiquitous with colour print film processing; most brand films list this as their processing chemistry, CN-16 I recognized from Fuji branded film for colour print processing, but I've only ever seen it on Fuji branded films. It wasn't until I got my negs back that my suspicions were confirmed. This is almost definitely respooled, rebranded Fujifilm C200. I say that with authority because the negs are identical to C200 negs, or at least mine we're. The expiry date on my roll was 08/2020 which isn't a very long shelf life for fresh film... 35mm colour print film broadbrushly speaking having a shelf life of 4 years. The film cartridge also looks a lot like the ones found inside disposable cameras, right down to the grooves on the inside of the take-up spool, and is thin plastic with a branded sticker stuck on which, coupled with all the above plus the short length of the film, suggests these might be dead stock films once destined to belong in disposable cameras.
I mentioned earlier that 10 exposures for £2 is terrible value for money. If Poundland opted to make this decision deliberately I can understand why: in order to still offer 35mm film at a competitive price within their discount brand guide lines, they decided to cut the length of film down to only 10 exposures. This works out at 20p a frame, before processing. Using my Instagram buddy: Analogue Wonderland and his online store prices as a frame of reference I've built the below table to give you a cost comparison:
As you can see the results are not great for Poundland's film. Sure it clocks in cheaper than professional grade colour print films, I've used two film types from Fuji as an example, but it works out more expensive than Fujifilm C200; the very film it is carved from, on a frame by frame basis, and even fares poorly against other ISO 200 offerings from Kodak and AGFA. Add to this the fact that pretty much every development lab is going to charge you, at the very least, the equivalent cost for processing a 24 exposure film, it's plainly obvious that a 10 exposure £2 film is very uneconomical. The photos, unsurprisingly, turned out very well. Fujifilm C200 is a very good film to shoot with. I shot the whole roll with my Olympus OM10 and the Zuiko 50mm kit lens, but annoyingly only got 9 photos despite the box promising me 10, and that was juicing the 'zero frame' for a photo. My negs were cut on the 8th frame, not the 10th, so somebody has really not divided this film very well! Here are all 9 of my photos:
At this point it's really not looking very positive for Power Geek film, but there may be a market for a cheap, reasonably easily accessible, short length film (I say 'reasonably' because despite being stocked in Birmingham, I haven't found it in any other Poundland branch in the Midlands so far in the last 2 weeks). C200 is reliable enough to be measured against for quality, and 10 exposures may suit somebody putting a film through a camera to test it or for a short term project, or to use it for risky experiments. Outside of those circumstances I can't see any other positive to picking this film over any 24 exposure film you might find elsewhere on the high street for a little bit of extra money. C200 itself is usually very easy to find. And if you're happy to wait a few days for delivery you will get even better value for money from online ordering.