Developing Colour Negs - Pro vs regular lab

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by david_love|2, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. Does the final product...the print.. depend upon the printer process and the developing of the negs, or just the print process. In other words, assuming the local lab ( a dedicated camera store) is prudent with their C41 process, will they be able to supply a neg of equal quality as a pro lab. The reason I ask is I have a scanner to make a digital file from the developed neg to send to the pro lab for printing. If the local lab has every possibility of providing a quality neg, it would save having to mail to the pro lab for developing and then again for printing. I suppose I could just try it...but I thought that maybe someone here would already know. Thanks.
  2. If quality matters. Go PRO lab. In my country the Fuji, AGFA and noritsu C41 machines now running very hard chemisrty. That chemistry somteime makes the C41 film filled with spots of "burned out silver". Takes a whole lot of time to clean up in post process. The rollertransportsystem is also making scratches and blemishes to the film. Have tested many machines last year, but nothing can beat a Jobo or dipn dunk process.
  3. I recently had a bad experience with a drug store C41 lab (not the same thing I know) where the negatives were waterspotted and the prints were out of focus. These days, with less and less film, I'd say go somewhere where there is still enough film coming in so that their skills are still sharp.
  4. It is almost as if we need to have only two or three labs for film so they can each get a good volume and the quality will stay up.
  5. Hi Dave,
    Just a thought to help...
    Have you thought trying to develop the color film yourself?
    Here is a kit available from Freestyle:
    And another from B&H:
    Check out Tetnal
  6. don't bother with kits that use a blix instead of a separate bleach and fix.
  7. I would go with a pro lab. Even if your local lab has the same developing machine, the pro labs use higher end software on their machines and they also use a higher grade of paper for deeper blacks and better colors. You would be surprised, but pro labs can be as cheap or cheaper than your local lab - I know mine is.
  8. I take all of my film to my local pro lab; they use dip 'n dunk processing and always deliver clean negs that are free of scratches.
  9. Labs vary, but my problems with different developing places so far are spots, scratches, squeegee streaks, fingerprints in damp negs that are un-removeable, lint stuck in damp negs, and negatives cut into groups of 4 that I have more trouble handling when printing or scanning. Oh, and big holes in my image corners on 4x5 color from what appears to be sloppy dip & dunk.
    So, yeah, my two cents is that it really does make a difference. But which place does the above to you can vary - I know someone who gets great neg development from the local corner drug store. But another person trying another corner drugstore gets terrible quality. For me, the above mostly happened at my local consumer-level camera shop where I will not go anymore. I went to the pro-level camera shop, and they do a great job for almost the same price.
    If the lab can scan those negs for you before they ever get to a dusty environment (like our offices, perhaps), you might be doing yourself an even bigger favor. I know a lab in California that "gambles" with the scanning. They do high-quality scans but sell you the low-quality ones for something like $25 per roll, including C41 development. If it turns out you like some of your negs and want high-quality after all, you can buy the good scan for a little more. They keep all the high-quality scans online for 30 days and then dump them if they have not been purchased.
  10. For casual work, I use the roller-transport Fuji minilab at the local camera store. For serious work, I bring it to Dorian Color Labs for dip & dunk processing.
    Camera stores tend to care a lot more about how carefully their minilabs are run. My local one had been a bit indifferent for a while, but they got their act together, and will gladly return the negatives uncut and sleeved. (They even added a button to order that to their order entry computer/register.)
    What matters the most is the PEOPLE. Bad people can ruin the results with good equipment, good people can get good results out of leader card or dip & dunk. Good people cost money -- you can't get cheap and good reliably.
    I don't view minilab scans or prints as anything more than proof prints. Beyond that, I rescan with a Nikon CoolScan IV.
  11. It looks as if John and I both go to Dorian Labs. Great place!
  12. I don't shoot enough film anymore to warrant learning to process color on my own. Thanks for the idea though. I'm glad it's possible.
  13. Dorian is great if you are looking for a pro lab.
    The nonsense about not using a C-41 kit with blix is rubbish. blix is fine in c41.
    I do my own C41 at home for the reasons already discsussed: e.g. crappy results from anyone else (scratches/spots/etc).

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