If you ever need us on an idle Tuesday afternoon, just check the armchairs at Film Never Die—a film camera paradise where classic Minolta and Pentax are allowed to roam free in their natural habitat. Seriously, where has this place been all our analogue lives?
Film Never Die moved into this flash new ground-level space on Bourke St in November 2017 (they used to be in a pokey room upstairs). You might notice them next time you’re running for a train at Southern Cross. They're essentially a few businesses in one: vintage camera retailer, film developer, scanner, purveyor of rare and interesting film, and a meet-up centre for camera nerds (they just launched Friday night sessions where you can come, hang and chat cameras till lights out).
There aren’t many good film processers left in Melbourne these days. Hillvale is always solid, and you’ve got Michaels on Lonsdale St. But really, if classic cameras are your bag, walking into Film Never Die is like Augustus Gloop cannonballing into Wonka’s chocolate river.
You can pick up 35mm film, 120mm medium format (including Ilford, Kodak Ektar and 800 Tungsten Cinestill), plus instant film from Polaroid Originals and The Impossible Project (if you want a rocking good time, save up for a Polaroid SX-70 Land camera. Best buy we ever made.)
The range of second-hand cameras is extensive, to say the least. It’s probably the largest collection in Melbourne (outside Michaels’ upstairs camera library). Tanky old Zenit SLRs, ritzy Leica rangefinders or fun little Konica point and shoots—if you don’t know what you’re doing, just ask the friendly staff and they’ll talk you through the pros and cons of each. Just FYI, those Zenits can double as an excellent doorstop (or weapon) in a pinch.
Film Never Die run free monthly photo walks through Melbourne (check the Facebook page for upcoming dates). They can also scan your C41 colour negatives for $7 a roll (B&W is a little dearer).
Film photography kind of got swept up in the whole hipster movement, which is a shame. Because most film photographers aren’t in it for style points: they genuinely love the feel of an old metal SLR in their hands. They want to know how a camera actually works. And they appreciate the discipline enforced by 24 finite shots.
Whether you’re a film newbie or your house is starting to resemble a camera museum (guilty), swing by and give this place a go. Film Never Die is our new happy place.
Image credit: Griffin Simm