Miami Film Lab Closes

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by tom|5, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Sign of the times - Thompson Imaging in Coral Gables (Miami), known as Thompson Photo for most of its
    58 years, is closing this month. This was one of the last old pro photo labs in the greater Miami-Ft.
    Lauderdale area.

    Relevance to the Leica/Rangefinder group? Most of us, with the exception of the few M8 owners, use film.
    And some of us use wide angle lenses for much of our photography. Even if I wanted to spend $5K for a
    M8, what f/2 lens could I buy that would replicate the field of view of my 28mm Summicron, one of my
    favorite travel lenses?
  2. i don't worry about it at all. i process my film at home (B&W only), print in my darkroom and
    cut my mats and frame my prints in the dinner table. now, for color i just bought my wife a
    panaleica dx-3.
  3. i shoot on an m6, about a roll of film a day. i process everything at home. scanning,
    negative development, printing etc. when i need large scale print jobs i go to a
    printer, other than that i'm self sufficient. it is a sign of the times BUT it is not the end
    of film. new films are being released as we speak. new film cameras came out from
    VC this year. the film rangefinder market is holding steady (proces). the film market is
    just becoming more structured and specialized. pro's and serious am's are still
    shooting film. most of the fine art shooters i know are still on film. and of course all
    those "camera fondlers" on leica M's are shootin' film (except for the m8 shooters.
    fret not tom... film is not going away. you just need to re-work how you go about it.
    28mm 'cron... mmmm
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    pro's and serious am's are still shooting film.
    Do you have any data on this? Otherwise, it flies in the face of all the pro labs closing. Every pro lab in my area, all of which catered to pros, have either gone out of business (all but one) or gone to digital (that one.)
  5. It's an extremely tough environment, the old business models simply don't work.
  6. A&I is still going strong in California (four locations) and, IMHO, doing a fine job in processing 'chromes.

    George (The Old Fud)
  7. shoot chromagenic b&w and get it souped at any pharmacy/supermarket. it is hard to ruin
  8. What a tragedy. I've been taking my transparency films there for years, it's one of the few places in Miami that still does (did?) E6 sheet film processing. The last time I was in there, to pick up a few rolls of 35mm velvia from a recent trip, I was shocked to see how much they were charging for a 36 exp. roll...$12 each! All the few other places in Miami still doing E6 processing have pretty much gone out of business. Now I'll have to find another lab.

    Perhaps they could no longer afford the rent at their present location. They were situated in one of the most upscale blocks in the Gables, with the Collection on one side (they sell all the high end sports cars...Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and such) and a super-expensive galleria mall on the other side.

    You'd think with all the commercial photography going on here in Miami there would be enough demand for this type of service. But, these days, every time I see a location fashion shoot at work (I run and bike every monrning along the beach in Crandon park, and this time of year there are three or four large crews shooting every morning) they are all working with DSLRs. They usually have a laptop/monitor set up on the site to view all their shots immediately. And I seldom, if ever, see fashion photographers here using medium format fim equipment any more. It's clear that (nearly) everyone making a living in commercial fashion photography is using digital now.
  9. jtk


    It may be "hard to ruin C-41" but most of the minilabs do it routinely...all you have to do to know this is to scan your own film without Digital Ice. You won't learn this if you rely on their peculiar scans.

    Scratches are the main culprit, but there's also a serious question about the longevity of minilab C-41.
  10. With respect to A&I, I've been sending my C41 film to them for most of the past year.
    They do a good job and their routine scans are a fine first step - For higher resolution, I
    can scan at home. I used to take film to Thompson but after a change in ownership, I
    wasn't quite as happy with quality control.

    With respect to Thompson, their email cites "Unfortunately, these efforts have not been
    enough to keep the company afloat, and we are forced to take the difficult and sad
    decision of closing our doors." Their last day of production is December 22.
  11. I agree with Jeff's challenge to Pros and advanced amateurs still shooting film ... mostly
    the Pro part.

    I both shoot commercial advertising work, and more importantly buy multi-thousands of
    dollars of it. We did one commercial job on film in the past 5 years, and I personally have
    done none on film in that same time period.

    In addition, the wedding business is becoming more and more digitally oriented, and I
    doubt there will be many all film wedding shooters left in 5 years.

    But that's the statics of commerce and convenience ... which has little to do with the
    relative aesthetics of the mediums IMO.

    I'm an avid film shooter as well as using digital BTW.
  12. It used to be that professional labs used significantly higher end equipment than the mini-
    labs and now the pharmacies and big-box stores. Today, they both use the same
    equipment -- primarily the Fuji Frontier. Given that reality, maintaining the much higher
    margins that a pro lab requires must be a difficult business model at the moment. Yes,
    they have skilled operators verus the untrained monkeys at the low-end venues, but for
    many purposes -- processing and proofing for example -- the difference isn't enough to
    matter. For fine prints, there are more cost effective online labs such as WHCC -- http:// -- that soak up those dollars. In short, the business is changing, but it
    isn't all bad news. For me, WHCC has produced better prints at lower cost than any pro lab
    I used to use and they certainly aren't the only player in that space.
  13. there maybe many pros and serious amateurs still taking photos on film, I myself do(I like taking photos for the fun). About 2yrs ago I started processing my film's myself because I too could find photo labs to process my films, B&W was impossible and colours(neg of trans) were too expensive and it takes about a week to get the processed films because they resent the films to bigger labs.
    I can still get the chemicals and films I want on the internet so I don,t worry about processing. and after I scan the films on a sacnner for printing. These labs don't survive on process and serious am's, but also many snapshot shooter's but now days they are rare to come by on films. Therefore there fewer labs that survive to do the processing for us, but we can still get it processed. Also even here n Korea, there are large photo labs who process films and digitals togather and still thrieving which I can use if need is required, thus the situation in US would be better than here, so don't worry about it. and I think film industry would still be strong in the future, but more professional to meet our needs.
  14. I think Rolfe's got it - there are actually a lot MORE film processors than there were before, what with every Walgreens, CVS, Costco, and Wal-Mart in the country processing C-41 in house in an hour, and E-6 overnight - not to mention Wolf Camera, Ritz, etc...

    The *film* processing in these places is actually rather good, thanks to Fuji Frontier and other similar machines, though the printing is still pretty dire.

    I think we'll have to get used to getting camera equipment and speciality film online, and processing B&W ourselves or through specialist mail-order outlets. But none of this feels like film is going away - it's just moving to new venues.

    Still, it is very sad to see these places where photographic expertise of all kinds was concentrated going out of business. It is the end of an era.
  15. Use a Fuji mailer for around $5.99-$7.00 that B&H sells to process your Velvia 50. All of you are lucky to be in the USA!! So many options to choose from across the country for E-6. and MVBlack & White Labs in New York amoung others and the lab that processes K64 in Kansas I believe. The Miami Lab probably got a fantastic deal for selling the space/building they have. You have nothing to complain about!

    Quito, Ecuador
    F3HP/MD4 24/F2.8, 28/F2.8 85/F1.4
  16. Knock on wood, but I drop my Kodachrome at one of a couple of Walgreens drug stores (a large chain store) here in Houston, and after 2 weeks it comes back quite fine. I realize they send it to the one (I've heard) place that still does it, but the process works. I picked up a roll tonight. Granted, I sometimes have to help initiate new employees on what needs to happen, but the managers are effectively helpful. Its been working for me for some time now. (Knock on wood again.)
  17. local one-size-fits-all C41 labs - aka DUST JUNKIES.
  18. I like being self sufficient which is the big draw of digital. Other than a cheap digi for 4x6 party pics, I do
    c41 in my darkroom using a Jobo or plain old stainless tank and pot of hot water. Calumet and Unique Photo in Brooklyn sell the C41 chemicals.

    There is a local Fuji Frontier that does a fine job of developing color neg, I rescan it without ice, but the prints are much too contrasty like all consumer labs. I print my own either digitally or in the darkroom or send it out to a pro lab for bigger than 11x14.

    The digi darkroom is a table 2.5 x8 feet with flatbed, MK 5400 film scanner, Kodak 1400 dye sub, and a HP lazer jet for printing letters.

    I have done E6 years ago and that is just a touch harder than C41. I use chems one shot and do not get into replen problems. I suppose the big fear is consumers stop using film and the chem supply dries up for small quantities.
  19. Just to note for those that need to process in south Florida, Dale labs in Hollywood off I95 and Chromatek in Fort Lauderdale on Powerline Rd just north of Oakland Pk blvd are two remaining labs that cater to professionals. Dale Labs business is up due to many closings not just in Fla but across the States. Dales business also is highly geared to digital printing especially for wedding shooters, amongst other available services and within the last two years the selling of digital gear. It's this busiiness model that has allowed it to stay open and prosper. Overall and across the nation, most of problems I see in getting processing done now relates to 120 and 4x5 stuff in which the market has shrinked considerably and which has probably backhandedly helped b&w film sales and home processing in these formats to see some leveling off if not some rejuvenation. The home printing darkroom may have seen it's heydays but scanners have allowed us b&w shooters to still enjoy processing our film and working on prints.
  20. A lab that closed 3-4 years ago might be able to blame it on a shrinking film market taking them by surprise but by now it should have been apparent to any of them that they could not expect to stay in business without changing their business plan, and by that I don't mean just going digital, I mean the full 21st-century monty of image and marketing. A lab that closes in this day and age simply chose not to adapt or was inefficient at doing so.
  21. I'll add my two cents' worth of favorable noise relative to Dale Labs. I've been using them
    for years in Florida (even though I live on the Gulf Coast side of the state) and I think they
    do a very good job for a fair price. My activity is a mixed bag of film and digital and Dale
    has kept up with what is going on in the industry. They've never turned away any of my
    work and I hope they never do.
  22. i love this about pnet. all i said is serious amateurs and pro's still shoot film. NOT all
    pro's, 1/2 the pro's, 2 and 1/3 of pro's or whatever. ALL the fine art shooters i
    PERSONALLY know shoot on film. that's it
    by no means am i speaking on behalf of all you with an auto "flame" button installed
    on your keybaord.
    i make money shooting photographs... i shoot on film... i guess this makes me a
    "pro". does that substantiate my claim?
    my point is IF FILM IS YOUR CHOSEN MEDIUM then fret not, it is available and quite
    possible to work with it. i KNOW this because it is MY CHOSEN MEDIUM and i work
    with it.
    strap that 'cron on your m6 (or whatever) and shoot film. don't spend your time
    pontificating about the demise of film.
  23. It's not like one morning we'll wake up and every lab and film manufacturer will have closed since the day before. Film's obituary will read "...passed away quietly after a lengthy illness."
  24. In more rural areas "pro labs" died off 5 to 10 years ago.<BR><BR>Its interesting to see the lab dying effect ripple into larger cites. One could mention on 5 years ago that in some small cites the "pro lab" is now just a Walgrens, what the cops use, what the sheriff depts uses, what the rest of use use. Its all been a big smug laugh for folks living right next door to a super lab. <BR><BR>The cost of mailing away film and the wait are just not worth it for many applications. In a weird way is abit funny to hear the panic of others, since its old ancient news, one we got laughed at 1/2 decade ago. As you mentioned to us rural folks then, "just mail it away". Enjoy the wait and postal fees that you preached to us long ago. <BR><BR> Some of us went to digital with many applications long ago due to the death of out local labs. The farting around with shipping costs and the waiting doesnt always fit well with some clients.<BR><BR>
  25. Another vote for Dale Labs which, to be on topic, is a full-line Leica dealer, as well. The folks there could not be nicer, and they are very willing to spend as much time with their customers as necessary for total satisfaction. Their print quality is outstanding, and reasonably priced. They have a new, high-speed digital printer and they do a terrific job. Easy to find, just off I-95 at the Sheridan Street exit, go west one block, then north to Sims Street. Worth the trip in person, but they also have an informative website:

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