Purchasing Chemicals in the UK

N. Riley

New Member
Registered User
Hello. In the US, it is relatively easy for anyone to find and buy various photochemicals. I do not know if this also happens to be the case in the UK specifically or Europe generally. With the exception of Photo-Flo and Kodak RST, I mix everything I use from scratch and therefore, with pending travel to the UK and other European countries in mind, I am interested in the possibility of obtaining the following while there so I can process my negatives ahead of any encounters with CT machines or security personnel eager to open boxes of exposed sheet film. Are these compounds easy to find and buy in the UK? Are they easy to obtain in other European countries, e.g., Italy?

1. pyrogallol
2. metol
3. sodium metabisulfite
4. sodium thiosulfate

Thank you very much -

N. Riley
 

N. Riley

New Member
Registered User
Thank you very much for this information - I greatly appreciate your answer and welcome. I must say the prices for these items at Silverprint are astounding. 100 g of pyro, for example, lists for £45.62, (the equivalent of about $63 US at today's exchange rate). That is more than enough for 250 g of the same chemical at Artcraft (https://www.artcraftchemicals.com) and almost enough for 1 kg. Nevertheless, I would gladly pay that price rather than lose my negatives to a CT scan or wild-eyed security agent. I have no idea why the link to my website appears in such a turgid way above. I must also apologize for this.

N. Riley
 
Last edited:

Stephen Batey

Well-Known Member
Registered User
There are other UK sources, but as far as I know, Silverprint have the largest range. Nik and Trick (ntphotoworks.com) also carry a range, but I didn't spot pyrogallol there. UK prices tend to be higher than those you are used to; despite being made in the UK, it can be cheaper to pay shipping and import duty and buy Ilford film from B&H in New York than buying from a UK source.

There are people here who mix their own, and I'm sure you'll get some cheaper alternatives.
 
Last edited:

N. Riley

New Member
Registered User
I'm no less shocked by the differences in film prices. At Silverprint, a 100-sheet box of 4x5 evidently fetches £160.54 vs. the equivalent of ~ £124 for the same here, and 25 sheets of 8x10 commands £143.47 vs. the equivalent of ~ £111 for the same film (FP4) on this side of the globe. The US prices quoted in this reply are those I paid recently at Glazer's Camera in Seattle, one of only a few retail stores left in this section of the country that regularly stocks film and paper, and I believe now the 2nd largest on the West Coast after Freestyle in Los Angeles. I am not concerned about getting unexposed film over the Atlantic and into Europe because I assume hand inspection of boxes with unbroken factory seals will not raise eyebrows if I run into a CT machine and ask for hand inspection instead - I am not at all worried about putting film, exposed or not, through regular, old-fashioned X-ray machines and have done so many, many times with no problems whatsoever. These days it's the returns that worry me .... hence the idea of doing my film developing there so that neither CT scans nor opened boxes on the way home will ruin whatever I am able to accomplish during my stays in Europe.

N. Riley
 
Last edited:

thronobulax

Member
Registered User
I'm no less shocked by the differences in film prices. At Silverprint, a 100-sheet box of 4x5 evidently fetches £160.54 vs. the equivalent of ~ £124 for the same here, and 25 sheets of 8x10 commands £143.47 vs. the equivalent of ~ £111 for the same film (FP4) on this side of the globe. The US prices quoted in this reply are those I paid recently at Glazer's Camera in Seattle, one of only a few retail stores left in this section of the country that regularly stocks film and paper, and I believe now the 2nd largest on the West Coast after Freestyle in Los Angeles. I am not concerned about getting unexposed film over the Atlantic and into Europe because I assume hand inspection of boxes with unbroken factory seals will not raise eyebrows if I run into a CT machine and ask for hand inspection instead - I am not at all worried about putting film, exposed or not, through regular, old-fashioned X-ray machines and have done so many, many times with no problems whatsoever. These days it's the returns that worry me .... hence the idea of doing my film developing there so that neither CT scans nor opened boxes on the way home will ruin whatever I am able to accomplish during my stays in Europe.

N. Riley
http://normanrileyphotography.com
Take along some preprinted labels that look like the original factory markings and use them to reseal the boxes for return.

Just scan the original labels and print on appropriate stock.


Another possibility is to send them back via reliable courier like DHL or Fedex.

I will say that I have not travelled abroad for some years but I've never had a request to open a box of film. I HAVE had one of rocket surgeons in the Department Of Homemade Security take my Hasselblad bag apart with the care shown by the gorillas in the old American Tourister commercials, but generally, it has been smooth sailing.
 
Last edited:

N. Riley

New Member
Registered User
My understanding is that airmail is X-rayed in the same carefree and high-energy way as checked luggage, i.e., in a manner detrimental to photosensitive materials. I assume Ilford and other manufacturers enjoy a privilege that enables them to have their goods distributed worldwide without suffering radiation damage - I need to ask about that. I've not had anyone want to open a box to date because all boxes coming and going have been put through the less energetic machines used to examine carry-on items, but those days are ending with the installment of CT scanners for carry-on items. I've had experiences similar to yours. On many occasions, security personnel demanded that I open my view cameras and insisted on fondling my lenses. Equally nerve-wracking was my last visit to Italy in 2019. I was detained in Bari because the 6 or 7 customs officials surrounding me could not wrap their heads around the purpose of film holders, and felt that having "so many" in my suitcase (I carried 24 to be exact) was evidence of bad intentions. Eventually they let me go, I suppose because the dogs were uninterested in what I had, and no forbidden residues could be detected.

N. Riley
 
Last edited:
Top