Develop B&W film- where to go?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by steve_t.|1, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Hi All,
    From time to time I think of pulling out the ol' K1000 and loading some B&W film into it. But where to find a trustworthy shop to develop my prints?
    I am not going to set up a dark room, ain't gonna happen.
    So where in the USA should I ship my film off to for developing? What should I be asking for in regard to the development process (such as what kind of paper to develop to, and anything else I'm not thinking of). It's been nearly a decade now since I've shot with film (almost all color film) and I think quality film developing may be getting close to a thing of the past around me (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, USA).
    That said, the new issue of "Outdoor Photographer" that just showed up is dedicated to B&W digital this month, I guess I should look there, too. But same question- where best to send off for prints of B&W digital files?
    FYI- I do not print any digital photos at home. Color prints are made locally, but unsure of B&W locally.
  2. What about a chromogenic film, that can be run through a C-41 process? If you know you are going to have someone else process it, that may be the safest bet. Then you could take your film pretty much wherever.
  3. Dalmation in North Carolina.
    Gamma in San Francisco.
  4. steve,
    no dark room needed. my setup is a 20x30 changing bag, a 2 reel patterson tank, a few stoppered syrigned medicine bottles with decanted "syrup" (break 16oz bottle into smaller full bottles and they last forever) and a few 600ml bottles to mix 1 shot working solutions. Also a fish tank floating thermometer and a kitchen sink. Since tap water (where I live, maybe not in Texas or somewhere more warm or more cold) is about 20C you don't need any fancy heating setups.
    That is it. $70 including the syrup, fixer, and wetting agent. Had the tank, but say another $20 for the tank. My first 645 send out was $100, I am now processing about 100 rolls for that cost. Oh, I used NCPS but I also like Carl's Darkroom in Colorado.
    Whole setup fits on a 2x2 corner of my kitchen (and by setup, I mean the stuff being left out to dry when I am done with it)
    Developing is easy, fun, and you WILL get better results.
    A lot of real black and white outcome is how you process it (dilutions, deve times, agitition, temp, etc). All of this can be fun, my preference in the short time I have been doing this and based on my preferred look is high dilution, low agitation, long dev. This keeps the highlights and gives rich blacks (my preferred look). I was happy with my first roll, and more happy the more I do. Kinda hard to screw up really. Oh, and no more scratched frames. I haven't (yet) managed to scratch a single frame in development.
    After that, scan which on 35mm you should get a film scanner, although wet mounted Epson V750-Pro scans seem to be very decent in 35mm, and better in 120 considering the modest cost.
    If that still doesn't sound appealing, Ilford XP2 was a nice chromogenic B&W I used a little bit. Unlike Kodak films it has a fairly clear base, and seemed to scan much better without enhancements. And I actually used one of the 2 Kodaks that were out for a long time, the Kodak I prefered had a clearer base, the one I didn't like had a darker orange base. Both, however, we super sharp (possibly the sharpest print films I ever used), and grainless. I think Kodak only makes one now, and I haven't used chromogenics in a few years so I don't know which it is.
  5. Justin, the C41 B&W film that Kodak sells now is called BW400CN. It is what used to be known as Portra 400BW. The one with the somewhat clearer base was T400CN, which sadly they discontinued.
    Regardless, it is pretty amazing stuff. Noticeably sharper and less grainy than XP2.
  6. Steve T, I will third John O'K-O and R.T.'s advice: go with a C41 process B&W film. Since you are just getting into it again, go easy on yourself and let your local Costco or drugstore develop the film for you and then have it scanned to a CD. Cheap and easy. The film BW400CN is quite the product.
  7. And to add to what Michael E. said, don't be discouraged if the prints look like crap. To really get the most from this film (or any film!), it needs to be scanned with a good quality scanner. 1-hour prints simply will not do it justice. (Unless you have an amazingly good 1-hour lab.)
  8. I really liked T400CN. It just looked better to me than the darker based film.
    I like the contrast in XP2 Super, not sure I noticed the grain in it, but I'll be honest, I only used it for small prints, actually climbing photography mostly.
    I may have missed this in the original question but are you going straight from film to print with no scanning? If you are then I can see shooting chromogenic, but if you are going to either home scan, or contract the scanning out (sort sort of decent quality scan) why not just shoot color and do a digital conversion?
    As far as printing digital B&W files, I've been very happy with for my black and white prints. IMO, they are the best option per dollar per ease of use. As long as you have a profiled system, paper and print options have not let me down. I generally use them for most of my printing unless it is odd sizes, or something I want a unique paper for. I know it's heressy to some but I never liked inkjet printing output.
  9. Just as a note. I'm gonna leave this here for till tomorrow and then move it to the B&W or film forum. I'm sure you'll have gotten everything out of this group by then and can get a few more answers in a more specific forum.
  10. Thanks Everyone! I appreciate the thoughts and ideas.
    Justin, your kitchen darkroom does sound interesting... oh, no, what did I just say?!
    Thanks again.
  11. Steve,
    I am not sure I can add much more than what has already been said. I will say that I love Ilfords XP-2 and the ease of dropping it off at target to get it developed and put on cd is too easy...My all time favorite ''true'' black and white is Tri-x, that I do develop myself in my bathroom. It really is easy. Enjoy the ride!
  12. I am not sure where you live, but have you looked for rental darkroom space? I would still recommend that you process the film at home. Both for better results and less expense.
  13. Perhaps a student at the local high school or college would like to make a few extra bucks doing your film and prints? Having the student make proofs by hand would be time consuming and not worth the students time,but a contact sheet would be a good start and then pick out a but couple of 5x7's/8x10's that you like.
  14. Not a bad idea, if you can find a high school that still has a dark room. Many of them do not. Heck, many colleges don't have them anymore either. My high school closed its dark room back in the mid 1990s due to lack of interest and lack of funds. I saw an article in today's paper about a school eliminating its art classroom and computer lab because they need the space and can't afford to rent portable classrooms. :-\
  15. How about Linhoff? There must be other places, here in Vancouver there are several places that will do it with good work. Even the drug store chain up the street will do it, but they send it out somewhere and quote a time of 2-4 weeks. I take a couple miles from me for less than they would charge and next day service. With very good results. services.html
  16. I found a local lab in Seattle, they not only did a fantastic job, but at my request reviewed the negatives (B/W and Color) and helped me understand what I could have done better. My Hasselblad did a fantastic job, due to the great flash, so I got high praise.
    I would contact the Linhoff lab in your area and bring them a test roll. I'll bet you could get a tour and have a detailed discussion on their process and how they can best help you achieve good results. My Lab prints B/W on their color machine, the 5x5 inch proofs look hand made in the traditional darkroom method. Good luck. (I also have the kitchen set described above, but wanted to see the difference)
  17. Ditto the suggestions to try C-41 process monochrome films such as Ilford XP-2 Super.
    Some info from my archives for prints on light sensitive b&w paper from digital files:
    Eric Luden
    Digital Silver Imaging
    11 Brighton St Belmont, MA 02478
  18. Hey, that Linhoff lab is right here in my backyard! And open on Saturdays, too.
  19. You're Welcome Steve, I just looked around on google for three or four minutes. Do that yourself and you may find a couple others. Asking in camera shops might also prove fruitful. Good Luck! I can't believe that my own city is atypical, and we have several good facilities. So, there may be more near you. Kurt
    Here's some of what's available to me, here in vancouver.
  20. I'll echo Justin Serpico's recommendation of the "kitchen darkroom". As he said, setting it up is not expensive. My own "darkroom" is similar to his, and cost about the same amount of money. I get better quality negatives by developing myself, and it costs less. What's more, I can take my pictures in the morning, develop the film shortly after getting home, and have my negatives scanned and uploaded to my computer as soon as they are dry.
    I find the process of developing my own film to be nearly as enjoyable as taking the pictures. And I am much more appreciative of the results.
    The cost of the equipment is cheap. Mixing the chemicals takes minutes, getting them to the correct temperature (using the freezer or hot water, depending on if you need to heat them up or cool them down) takes a few more minutes. Loading the film onto the film real takes 1 minute, developing the film in the tank takes 9 to 12 minutes, 30 seconds to stop, and 5 minutes to fix. I rinse for 15 minutes, add a few drops of wetting agent, and hang them up to dry. The entire process takes about about as much time as it would take me to drive to the lab, or a round trip to the post office.
    The only complaint I have about developing my own film is that I waited so long before finally trying it.
  21. The above list is NOT exhaustive, and there exist many other labs like Dwaynes etc.

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