The Frugal Film Project 2023

The Frugal Film Project is now in its fifth year and like a lot of film photography initiatives had its genesis online. From a bespoke website in 2019 it has migrated to the Facebook social media platform and this is my first involvement with the project although I’ve been aware of it for a couple of years now. The premise is simple – one camera, one film stock, one roll a month. The catch? Well, it’s frugal so a strict limit on the cost of gear and the cheapest film you can find. The following has been taken directly from the Facebook Group pages.

New rules from 2022 carried forward for 2023

When I introduced myself on the group one member, who I also converse with on Twitter, made reference to my panoramic credentials. I felt therefore that I ought to see what I could do in that respect but my Horizon and KMZ FT-2 are both well outside the budgetary limit, as was my RSS 617 pinhole camera. Then I remembered the Lomography Sprocket Rocket, a plastic-fantastic that I’ve never got on with at all … but it is panoramic and I only spent £29 on it. Dare I? Well, yes I have but after the January roll has been developed I’m really wishing I hadn’t!

Here’s what I wrote about my January roll …

First roll for the FFP 2023 was an eye opener … rather (a lot) under-exposed, seems the stated 1/100th second shutter speed of the Sprocket Rocket is rather ambitious! Kentmere Pan 400 rated (not that it mattered!) at EI800. I’m also experimenting with intentional camera movement and multiple exposures at present, something the Rocket facilitates very well.

Dave-in-Elland writing on Facebook

For the record, I metered the scene at EI 800, which suggested around 1/25th second at the nominal aperture of f11. The Sprocket Rocket claims 1/100th second so a multiple exposure consisting of four shutter actuations should, in theory, let in 1/25th of a seconds worth of light. Well, that was my theory but the negatives are so thin that I’ve not even kept them after digitisation. I will never be able to get a decent darkroom print so for the first time in my life I’ve consciously disposed of a roll of negatives.

They are that bad.


I have had to work hard to drag detail out of the negatives and even then I’m not a happy bunny.

So, what am I going to do? I’ve used my January roll so however unhappy I am with the negatives I’m stuck with them. I know, I could have pretended I never shot the roll and redo it but that’s hardly in the spirit of the project. I’m still cogitating, but I’m considering a roll of HP5+, a film I know well, and some test shots from a tripod. Meter the scene, then make a multiple exposure of the relevant shutter actuations as if the shutter speed were truly 1/100th second, wind on and repeat but with two more shutter actuations, wind on and repeat with double the suggested actuations. Repeat with a few different scenes, keeping notes, develop at box speed and see what the verdict is. I cannot influence the aperture in any way so playing with the shutter speed and nominal ISO is all I can do at this stage. I can expose the film in the garden one morning, cut the exposed part out of the camera and develop it that afternoon ready to scan in the evening.

One of the aims of the project is to encourage photographers to really get to know a single camera and film stock so I’m taking all of this in that spirit. The only excuse for changing cameras mid-project would be terminal mechanical failure (such as standing on it I guess) but I’m confident it won’t come to that!

In case you’ve had a thought about playing with development times let me reassure you that I used a semi-stand for this roll, a process that is to a large degree ISO-agnostic. I’m hoping my tests can lead me to a point where I can develop using my normal methods. Time will tell.

I shall let you know how I get on and how that influences my February roll.

7 thoughts on “The Frugal Film Project 2023”

  1. I always wondered what the Frugal Film Project was, so thank you for the introduction. And now I want to take part. I have a candidate camera, and a likely film stock, but development might be an issue. Something for me to think about, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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