Walmart vs CVS vs Walgreen vs etc

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by tajdickinson, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. I primarily shoot digital but have recently fell in love with film (thanks to my
    obsession with Holgas and a recently acquired Nikon FM). Anyway, my local photo
    center has crappy hours and I can't always get to them to drop of film (and
    their turn around time is kinda slow too). I'm wondering, for those times when I
    want my film developed NOW NOW NOW, who has the best film processing when it
    comes to the big chain stores like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Eckard, etc. I'm not
    so much worried about the print quality, but in the actual developing of the
    film (I can always have the shots put on a CD which I understand most places
    like this do nowdays.) I guess it comes down to who has the best machines? This
    is concerning regular color 35mm print film btw :) Thanks!

  2. 35mm c-41 color film. usually no problem
    just find a place that seems reliable.

    some of the drugstores do not follow replentishment and cleaning times.
    as one posted here a few months ago.
    a person was actually fired when insisting they follow times and procedures.
    we have never had any problems with wal-mart, ask local folks what they think, even approach prople picking up photos.
    I would also suggest target, costco, and BJ's. these companies are not going to be "penny pinchers"

    120 ? has to go out somewhere
    but you will get better B&W results if you do it yourself.
  3. It depends on the people. All of these places pay them the same thing -- the minimum wage. If they're good people, and the manager isn't trying to save money by scrimping on replenishment, you can get reasonably processed film. They they are slackers, you can get negatives with poor processing and big fat fingerprints all over them.

    None of these companies really think their reputation will be hurt one bit if they do lousy film processing. The scratch and fingerprint removal software in the scan/print module will hide their cheats.
  4. It takes trained skilled operators, good equipment, and adequate fresh supplies to get good prints and negatives. If you don't have all of these you will probably not get good reaults. A professional lab will meet most of these requirements and most non professional labs will fall short on one or more of these. Many of these labs have adequate equipment, so it then depends on the operator.
  5. "I guess it comes down to who has the best machines?"
    No. It comes down to who best maintains the chemistry in those machines, and the care that the people running those machines takes handling your film. Walmart in Town A may give you great processing with clean negs and nice prints, while Walmart in Town B gives you mediocre processing with scratched/dirty negs and flat uncorrected prints.
    There is only one way to find out. Shoot some test rolls of similar subject matter and give one roll to each lab.
  6. Another point... it isnt just the machines and chemicals, its the person doing the work. When I shot film regularly, I would only go to one store when I knew that a specific person was working. If she wasnt there, then the film would wait.
  7. I agree, it depends on the people running the operation. Locally I have s SUPERB Walgreens that does terrific work (almost as good as I get from the custom lab that does my wedding prints), while the local Walmart puts out about the ugliest trash I've seen in my many years (judging by the number of dust specs I see on the crappy-colored prints people have showed me they must empty a clothes drier lint filter on the negatives before they print them!). Yet I've heard others are getting good results from their Walmart, so its obviously a local phenomena. I've asked a lot of questions to the Walgreens folks and they are obviously well-trained and know their stuff.

  8. I've had excellent results with Walgreens also and know they do give specialized training and have seminars for there lab folks. My vote goes to Walgreens.
  9. Michael Freeman and the others have it right. Just try the local processors until you find one that is consistent. When I have C-41 stuff done, I just have them develop only, and bring the negatives home to scan in myself.
  10. The best luck I've had for 35mm film has been with Walgreens and Sam's Club. My 120 film goes to a pro lab....
  11. Sounds like a need to find a place that has Robbin Williams working there! Thanks for the info guys :)
  12. I have gotten very good processing results from Eckerd's
    Pharmacy. I take them fresh exposed rolls of FUJI-HQ ASO-200
    Color (24 exposures), and they produce the standard 4x6
    pictures. For $4 more, they'll also produce a CD. Recently
    the Eckerd's I was using was converted to Rite-Way drugs.
    I don't know if this was a nationwide change or just in
    our area. Since I don't do my own darkroom, I have to
    depend on places like this.
  13. If the film is important, don't trust it to one of the big chains. I have been taking my C-41 35mm into Wolf Camera which did a lot better than the local Walgreens and King Soopers (Krogers). Though if its a roll that is important to me, I take it to a more expensive photo lab that I trust.

    Walgreens had a bad habit of scratching my negatives. King Soopers had a bad habit of cutting the negatives sloppily, a lot of times leaving part of a photo on the previous strip.
  14. I take my film to Sam's if I want nice prints and one hour service. I am lucky in that the girls working the counter have been there for years and they change the chemicals regularly.

    If I want it just developed and put on a CD, I go to Target. Another poster suggested it. Just request one day service, develop only and put it on a Target CD. The cost of developing is around 2 bucks, and the CD is $1.99. Can't beat it. For that you get a contact sheet, negatives are uncut, and approximately 500mb pictures on the CD.

    Good luck guys/gals.
  15. I work for CVS as a Shift Supervisor that doubles as a photo tech, so I'm inclined to say that we're the best, however, that varies greatly from store to store (most CVSes don't even have 1-hour labs and only offer send-out service to Qualex). And the stores that DO have 1-hour labs have very different machines. My store has a very old minilab that's kind of encrusted in brown gunk and can't do photo CD's from negatives, and prints so slow that we forward our 1-hour digital orders to the Kodak Picture Kiosk, while a newer store 10 miles away has a ton of options.

    Anyway, our negatives come out fine, but the printing side screws up regularly and for a while there was a point where Kodak had to send out a field technician to fix it every few days.

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