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After some tiring weekends of dealing with people, I planned to have some well-deserved me-time this weekend. The plan was to go to the nearby park and take photos of the Little Guilin, and then have it developed by tomorrow. After reading up on the golden hour, I was itching to apply it in practise.

Bangkok during the golden hour

Bangkok during the golden hour, by Diliff

What happened was that I woke up at 4.30 pm, which was fine, not too late. After quickly washing up and chatting with some friends online, I set off for the park, reaching by 5.30 pm.

Little Guilin

Little Guilin, by mailer_diablo

I’ve been using the film Nikon F55 for a couple of years now, and so far it has not given me any problems whatsoever. Today was no different, everything went well, except that the sky wasn’t as nice as I wanted it to be, but well, noone can control the weather, isn’t it?

I had no intention on switching to a DSLR, as the frequency of my taking photos is not high enough so as to warrant the necessity of upgrading. Anyway, there’s a conveniently nearby photo lab that can process my film within 24 hours.

I finished the roll of the Fujifilm 200 by 7 pm, and left for Botak Jones for a medium ribeye steak dinner that I’ve been craving for. I also added the shit mushroom garlic sautéed shiitake mushroom, which was not too bad.

That was the end of the better part of the day. I went to Singapore Colour Centre in West Mall to get my film developed. I’ve been patronizing this shop for more than a year now, and everytime I just need to say “develop, scan to CD” and they’ll reply with “Ok, come back tomorrow afternoon!”.

But today, the reply was “come back in 3 working days”. I was puzzled and asked for clarification. It turned out that they don’t have the processing machine anymore, and have to send the film to their processing centre to get it developed. The thing is that I won’t even be at home on the weekdays, so I would have to practically wait for a full week before seeing my photos. I cancelled the development and instead went out on a search for a photo lab that can still do film development.

What added to the frustration were a couple of things…

First I decided to drop a message on Plurk and Facebook to ask if anyone knows of a decent photo lab in the area. Plurk’s mobile interface has changed a lot and it doesn’t work well on my mobile phone. It was a matter of guesswork to decide whether the link I’m clicking is for mute or view responses. In any case, noone seemed to know one.

I then went to gothere.sg on my mobile phone, and soon realised that the mobile version doesn’t support searching for places around an area. So I went ahead and used my iPod touch to check the full version of gothere.sg. To my horror, it now automatically redirects to sneak.gothere.sg, which doesn’t support the iPod touch’s Safari browser.

I then called and messaged a couple of friends, and they either don’t reply or pick up the call, are outside, are using another unsupported browser, or report an error when using gothere.sg.

I spent a good one hour walking aimlessly around the area, not even finding a photo lab at all. It seems like it’s gonna be the end of film era really soon…

So here I am at the end of the day, having a bunch of photographs locked in the roll of Fujifilm 200. I only hope that some shop somewhere near Jalan Kayu (where I’m based on weekdays) can process the film, otherwise I’m really going to have to wait for a week before seeing my photos.


The incident got me thinking though. I’ve been holding off buying a DSLR for a little while now. The reasons are manifold.

First, like I said earlier, I don’t take photos frequently enough to warrant an upgrade to a DSLR. Therefore the break-even point for buying a DSLR is going to be reached only after a pretty long time, which may not be a worthy investment.

Secondly, also related to money, DSLR do not come cheap. With my current monthly income being sub-1k, and rent and food using up the majority share of that income, I only have my meagre one-year-of-work savings to fall back on. In fact, my monthly cash flow since I started in this line has been negative. I would rather save what is left of my savings for rainy days.

Thirdly, so far it has been convenient to develop my film shots, having a photo lab near my house. Obviously, this is not the case from now on.

But what happened today changed a couple of those.

Firstly, I’ll be leaving for Australia soon (within the next 3 months) for flight training, and no doubt there’ll be times when I’ll be travelling around the area. It’ll be nice to have a DSLR that I can use to take some photos with.

Secondly, while I’m not sure of the actual case, my spending in Australia might be lower, with no rent to deal with. That should leave me with a bit more time before my savings are all used up.

Thirdly… Film seems to be dying, with less and less photo labs offering development of film.

All these got me thinking, is it time for me to get a DSLR after all? What’s a good value-for-money DSLR to start with, taking into account that I’ve been shooting using a film SLR for a while now?

Any inputs will be appreciated!


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