Yes, another question about cheap mail-order film processing

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by kayla_kuris, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. I have searched both the forum and Google extensively but haven't found anything to satisfy me.
    I'm 16 years old, so I don't have the most money in the world. I currently get my 35mm film developed to CD only for $10 at Walgreen's, which 90% of the time has actually done a good job. I also have sent one to Walmart which is cheaper, but the scans and prints were just awful.
    However, I'm getting a medium format camera for Christmas, and with that comes 120mm film. I also want to experiment with slide film
    .
    I live in northern Kentucky (close to Cincinnati), and as far as I know the only place that does film processing in the entire tri-state charges something like $20 per roll and only excepts film at 8 a.m on Wednesdays or something crazy like that. The local Target doesn't do film developing and there are no camera shops in my area.
    For now my current plan is to use The Dark Room, which is a mail-order film processing service that charge $10 per roll plus $4 for shipping. That's a lot for me considering as of now I don't have a job.
    Are there any cheaper mail-order places available that accept and scan 120mm film and E-6 process film ? I'd be looking just for scans, but if I could get the prints too for a decent price that's be nice. I'm aware the words "film scanning" and "cheap" don't often go together but it's worth a try.
     
  2. Medium format photography can show you extra quality which is not easy to achieve in 35mm but if you have mediocre scans made of the film, you won't see any quality difference over 35mm. When I was 16 I shot a lot more black & white than color. A 100 foot roll of Tri-X must have cost about $7 and that was good for 18 rolls of 36 exposures each. Everything costs more today. For now I suggest that you get a developing tank, a thermometer, some measuring cups and a few chemicals and shoot and develop your own b&w film. You can then save up for a scanner. Developing color negative film is more complicated than developing traditional b&w film but once you have the scanner you can have negatives made without scans and do the scans yourself. You can make contact sheets with 35mm or 120 film without much equipment. Darkroon equipment is still being discarded, given away and sold at very low prices. You can find an enlarger for very little. My first safelight was a 7.5 watt dark red small bulb.
    The scanner will allow you to to put your negatives in digital form so you can enjoy seeing them on your monitor. Don't worry about not having a good enough scanner for making 16X20" prints. If you have a shot you want to have enlarged that much you can get it scanned by the place making the print. They will know what kind of scan that size print needs.
     
  3. Medium format photography can show you extra quality which is not easy to achieve in 35mm but if you have mediocre scans made of the film, you won't see any quality difference over 35mm. When I was 16 I shot a lot more black & white than color. A 100 foot roll of Tri-X must have cost about $7 and that was good for 18 rolls of 36 exposures each. Everything costs more today. For now I suggest that you get a developing tank, a thermometer, some measuring cups and a few chemicals and shoot and develop your own b&w film. You can then save up for a scanner. Developing color negative film is more complicated than developing traditional b&w film but once you have the scanner you can have negatives made without scans and do the scans yourself. You can make contact sheets with 35mm or 120 film without much equipment. Darkroon equipment is still being discarded, given away and sold at very low prices. You can find an enlarger for very little. My first safelight was a 7.5 watt dark red small bulb.
    The scanner will allow you to to put your negatives in digital form so you can enjoy seeing them on your monitor. Don't worry about not having a good enough scanner for making 16X20" prints. If you have a shot you want to have enlarged that much you can get it scanned by the place making the print. They will know what kind of scan that size print needs.
     
  4. my experiences are similar to those jeff talked about.
    sure a flatbed is not the best. but., better to have the scans than losing the entire image library.
    we have more than one copy of our photos. a few are still negatives inb a box.
    but the later photos are in three places.
    many beginners search for the holy grail or film and developer.
    it does not truly exist.
    http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/
    this is a page that describes how to use kodal HC-110
    B&W film developer ( a syrup) by mixing just enough for one session.
    the kodak way wants you to mix up a dilited jug and then it goes bad on you.
    the covington way - the developer lasts for years
    and pretty much works we;; with any B&W film.
    some of the eastern europe film are not as scratch resistant as Ilford kodak or Fuji.
    Dwaye's may be the best place to send important photos/.
    but send several rolls ( email than to check_)
    to save on high shipping costs
     
  5. Walmart send out service. C-41 120 film $0.84 (developing only). Even a 16 year old can find $0.84 in the couch cushions. If you want prints it is a couple buck extra. The prints aren't that good though. My advice is get a scanner like the Epson V500 and scan at home. I know Kentucky is a very upscale state but I am sure there are some Walmarts nearby.
    [​IMG]
    Everything costs more today.​
    I doubt it. On an inflation adjusted basis was there ever a time you could get decent 120 C-41 developing for $0.84?
     
  6. Check out TheDarkroom.com
    Considerably cheaper than your $20 per roll local option.
     
  7. As has been noted recently, WalMart is phasing out returning negatives.
    North Coast Photo Lab is another good option.
    Medium Format is not a budget option in general. Slide film is a quick way to bleed money, the film is an expensive monopoly product, the processing is the most expensive as well.
    The labs for quality processing that are staying in business are doing so by charging enough to make a profit. With lower volumes, that drives the price up, up, up.
     
  8. At some point, you may need to face up to the point that normal B&W shooters have faced for some time -- you may need to process your own.
    Although recent reports here have mentioned some bumps, my past dealings with Dwaynes in Parson, KS were good.
    I see right now that they charge about $4 for processing 120 film and $3 for a CD.
     
  9. I have had good results from Dwaynes, but only for color - I do my own B&W. I would advise against Walmart as they are supposedly not returning negs now.
    Another option might be to try and find someone in your area who does their own. More people are doing their own C-41 and E6 in addition to the many who do B&W. www.apug.org is a good film resource and a way you might find people in your area.
     
  10. I'd check in at apug.org. You might have better luck on that analog-only site for lab options in your area.
     
  11. Kayla,
    Freestyle online has a one quart E6 chemical kit for $34 plus shipping. I think home processed B&W would be more fun in the beginning ,particularly in the drab winter months.
    chris
     
  12. As has been noted recently, WalMart is phasing out returning negatives.​
    For the billionth time, WalMart is still returning all 120/220 negatives and E-6 in all formats. Please actually use the service and post your factual experience. A lot of ink has been spilled combating internet rumors. If we don't use the service it will go away.
    If I all of a sudden encounter a change in the Walmart send out service I will post. As of this time I just received back a perfectly developed roll of 120 C-41. The Walmart I am using a lot these days allegedly stopped returning negatives for 35mm a while ago.
     
  13. WalMart send out service also returns negatives of 135 BW. I just got mine back a few days ago. Processing only is about $2 (tax included). The only types of negatives that they don't return is 135 C-41 films.

    But finding the envelops seems a difficult task for some of the employees at my local Walmart :(
     
  14. These two days I got 4 more rolls of developed negatives & prints back from Walmart send-out service. Here are the prices:

    120 C-41 development + 3x4 15 color prints is $1.68 plus tax. Yes, $1.68! (I hope they didn't mess up the price...)
    135 36-exp BW development only is $1.88
    135 36-exp E-6 is $6.88, plus tax.
    120 BW + 15 3x5 prints is $9.48. Ask for development only if you have a scanner.
    If you can live with the wait of 2 weeks, the price is unbeatable. And don't try 135 C-41 with them b/c you'll lose your negatives.
     
  15. Kayla, as much as you may hate the store, nothing beats the Walmart deal. I am the guy who "discovered" this service about 10 years ago by accident and got the word out online. I had called the 800 help number to see if they could do copy reproduction slides, which they did. I was suprised to find that they not only did this, but also slides from negatives, true black and white, and 120/220 neg and slide film.
    Their prices were/are great, but they dont offer scans.
    Since then, I still use them for 120 negative film, and just got back some rolls WITH negatives about 2 weeks ago, for around $2/roll with 3x5 matte prints. I have a scanner, so that is not an issue for me.
    However, for E6/slide film I now do my own processing in my kitchen sink using the excellent Tetenal E6 kit that you can buy through Freestyle Photo now. German chemistry, top quality, easy and fun to do, and a big money saver. Its around $2/roll to DIY with the Tetenal 5L kit. All you need is a Paterson hand developing tank, a digital cooking thermometer, a digital stopwatch, a styrofoam cooler with water overflow holes punched in the top (this is your temperature control bath which you set in the kitchen sink), 4 empty 1L water bottles, and (I suggest ) the Tetenal 1L kit to get started....
     
  16. I use Dwayne's for developing my 120 film. I use Walgreens for my 35mm. At Walgreens it costs about $8 to develop film and cut a cd, which is exactly what I want.
    Here's a list of (mostly) mail order film processors. The ones I have used are marked with an '*'. Just because a processor does not have a “*” doesn't mean they aren't good, it just means I have not used them.
    If you know of more good processors, please share!
    Apertures Photo, http://www.aperturesphoto.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=40&Itemid=215
    Bison Photo, http://www.bisonphoto.com/35mm_Film_developing.html
    * Clark Color, I've been using this place for years, have always been happy, recently they have screwed some things up for me though, rethinking before I send them anything more, http://www.clarkcolor.com/Content.aspx?Page=Order+Form+&+Mailing+Label#.UDEMrc_Xb_Y
    Darkroom (The), http://thedarkroom.lifepics.com/net/Login.aspx
    Dwayne's Photo, http://dwaynesphoto.com/
    E-Six Lab, http://www.e-sixlab.com/c41.htm
    Gamma Imaging, http://gammaimaging.com/darkroom-printing/film-processing/e-6_c-41/
    Lomography.com, http://usa.shop.lomography.com/films/film-development-services/135-standard-development (Note: I would like to try them but they are pricey.)
    * Marin Filmworks, they do a great job, http://marinfilmworks.com/color35mm.html
    Photographic Works, http://www.photographicworks.com/order.htm
    * Process One, they do a great job, http://processonephoto.com/mail-order-advantix-aps-film-developing.htm
    * SF Photoworks, they have a very nice newsletter too called “News and Notes”, I like this place, http://www.photoworkssf.com/services-and-rates/film-processing
    Swan Photo Labs, http://swanphotolabs.com/swan08/mailers.ph
    * Vermont Color, they do a great job, http://www.vermontcolor.com/index.asp?p=13010
    * Walgreens, many stores do on-site processing, mine does a great job, price is about $12 for 24exp roll, 1 set of prints, and a CD, and all in one hour.
    WalMart, may or may not return negatives. Ask your particular store them before you drop your film for processing. THE NEGATIVE RETURN POLICY VARIES BY STORE.
    * Willow Photo Lab, he does a great job, contact Neil at willowwhotolab@gmail.com for prices and mailing instructions.
    Wolfe's, http://www.wolfes.com/services/filmprocessing.html
    * York Photo Labs, I've been using this place for years, have always been happy, recently they have screwed some things up for me though, rethinking before I send them anything more, http://www.yorkphoto.com/Content.aspx?Page=Order+Form+&+Mailing+Label#.UDEMZM_Xb_Z
    (Note: Clark and York seem to be the same outfit.)
     
  17. Actually I like The Darkroom in San Clemente best for 120, and I've been sending them my 35 as well. They are a quality outfit and they do have actual customer service. Also, they send you emails when your film arrives at their place, when they process it, and when they ship it out. They also post your pics on their website usually almost immediately after they have been processed. It's $10 to develop film and cut a cd I believe. Worth it. You can trust them.
     
  18. I'll give a nod to Dwayne's as well. Just got back 10 rolls of color film with a CD. In fact, each roll was packaged separately with it's own CD and any notes I had made on the film canister were written on the envelope holding the negatives. Above and beyond service from what I'm use to. Negatives were clean and not scratched, and image sizes ranged from 5 to 6.5 MB each. Total cost with return shipping was just over $78.
     
  19. for E6 I use Walmart 35mm and 120 and get my slide printed there too.
     
  20. Hi Kayla...
    My name is Keith and I am one of the owners here at TheDarkroom.com.
    I read your post and I would be happy to get you going at no cost on your first few rolls for your new camera that you are getting for Christmas. Just go to this page: http://thedarkroom.com/contact/ and give us your info. Make sure you include ATTN: Keith in the message area so it get routed to me.
    I was just a couple of years younger than you when I got into photography and the photo industry. I now have a 15 year old daughter that is interested in the business as well.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Keith
    TheDarkroom.com
     
  21. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Keith,

    The moderators of these forums will normally delete solicitation or spam posts. Signature URLs are also not allowed. Since this seems to be a genuine offer to help, I am going to leave it.
     
  22. Thank you very much! I have one of your mailers already, so I'll definitely check that out. Again, thanks!
     
  23. moderator:
    thank you for leaving the url
    s of photo labs intact.
    many of us are in a similar situation.
    Only a few places in the USA have convenient Film Processing.
    the rest of us must either pay dearly of forget about it.
    Dwaynes' has a top reputation. but the cost of shipping makes it UN affordable.
    a possibility would eb for walmart to offer a " premium service"
    on send out. My thinking is wa;lmart has a mnetworlk of trucks going everythere.
    sending on 50 pound box of fil anywheer is basically free for them.
    I hear that "some outfit in NC" now does their film.
    why negatives, that we care MORE about than prints of cd's are not returned
    is a mystery. catering to ONLY the disposable camera crowd.
    and selling only Fuji and no Kodak film is a political error.
    I hope they rethink this blunder.
    But bean counters being who they are, once a decision is made it is all ovcer.
    even if the bean counters leave walmart corp.
    I realize " things are changing" but this is still a blunder of a big corporation that tells us that they do not care.
     
  24. @Randall: I own the info of the Walmart send-out service to your earlier posts. Thank you! I just want to keep it fresh and updated so more people will use it, as Jeff says.
     
  25. James...
    Thanks for leaving my post. Just trying to help Kayla out.
    Walter...The Fuji plants in South Carolina and Oregon do Walmart's work (with the exception of slides and other odd work that goes to Dwaynes via Fuji). Although some of the work might travel on WalMart's trucks, it's primarily couriers that do the routing for the photofinishing. The problem is that as volume diminishes the fixed costs of routing remain the same (or rise with fuel costs)
     
  26. I will wholeheartedly endorse the services provided by The Darkroom. I've used them many times. Never disappointed.
     
  27. York/Clark - don't bother - sad story.
    I have been using York/Clark for years and years. Earlier this year they "revamped" their website which means they took the emphasis off of film processing and instead are now pushing coffee cups, t-shirts, and other crap that nobody wants. They have buried the fact that they still process film way down in the fine print of the website somewhere. At about this same time their new website was unveiled, their film processing service started getting sloppy, slow and undependable. As I said, I have been using them for years and have always been very happy with them. But this year they scratched the negatives on my vacation pics, they sent the prints and negs back to me for SOMEONE ELSE's order (I forwarded the pics to the person they belonged to), and I'm currently waiting to prints back for a roll I sent in for processing over 3 weeks ago. This is truly a sad situation because York/Clark has been an excellent provider of low cost film processing for a long, long time. It's a shame that the good reputation built over the years by this company has deteriorated so badly and so rapidly.
    I think what we're seeing in this industry is that only the film processors who really provide quality products and good customer service will survive. I will not send York/Clark any more orders. I've discovered that my local Walgreens will develop my negs and cut me a CD in an hour for about the same price that York/Clark charges to do this service in 3 weeks or more. Or if I can wait a week for my finished product, I use one of the following mail order processors that all do great work and provide A+ customer service: The Darkroom (in San Clemente), SF Photoworks (in San Francisco) or Marin Filmworks (in San Rafael). I'm sure there are other good ones out there too.
     
  28. An open letter to York/Clark senior management,
    Dear Sirs,
    You're ruining your business. You have a huge customer base who want (or have wanted) film processed, and now many of them want prints made from their digital images instead of or in addition to film processing. That should not be a problem for you guys. But frankly your customer service and product quality went down the crapper this this year. SO I have a couple of suggestions of how you can get your operation back in shape:

    1) Get the emphasis off of coffee mugs, t-shirts, bibs and other crap that nobody wants. Honestly, how much of that stuff can you expect to sell? Nobody I know gives a flying f**k about t-shirts with a picture of their kid picking his nose printed on it. What were you thinking? Yeah, you may sell some of that garbage, but it's not gonna be your bread and butter.
    2) You have been THE low cost leader in film processing and printing for many years, and you have done a good job. But you've been pinched badly by the decrease in film processing business. As a result, you've cut back on resources devoted to your film processing operation. But I have it figured out. Here's what you need to do: take a look around the web and find out what other successful film processors are charging. And it's important you realize that other successful film processors DO exist. Then, raise your prices a bit so that you can afford to give your film processing division the attention it deserves. People will pay a bit more for film processing if you return to providing quality results and good customer service. Granted, volume for film processing has dropped off dramatically, but most industry rags I'm reading say that it's picking back up again somewhat. It will probably never be back to what it once was. But you guys have probably the largest database of film processing customers in the world. If you get your act together and start delivering a quality product again at a somewhat higher price, you could easily carve yourself a very nice niche in the new market. Is there ANY reason why you can't do this?
    Come on boys. Giddy Up!
     
  29. So is The Darkroom and Swan Labs one and the same? (San Clemente?)
    Is Saturday drop off and pick up an option?
    Thanks, Bill Lynch - Mission Viejo.
     
  30. One more lab located in Ohio
    Maybe that will save some time for people who mail film from the midwest.
    http://photoplaceonline.com/
     
  31. William Thanks for the great list of labs to tryout.
    Here is one more I did not notice on your list.
    ABC PhotoLab Mystic Connecticut

    http://abcphotolab.com/
     
  32. Thanks Brian, I am not familiar with either of the two labs you listed, and I'm anxious to try them out.
    W
     
  33. ABC Photo Lab was started by former employees of Mystic Color Lab when the former company was sold to what it now Clark / York.
    Here is a link to a 2003 news story about ABC.
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=20031204&id=lvcgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=gnMFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3228,558303
     
  34. I just did a quick search and found another lab that I never tried.
    http://fromex.com/mail-order-film-processing.html
    Looks like there are LOTS of labs that will let you mail your film in. For people that do not have local service in town any more (like me) perhaps you can find a lab close to you. That way the film will only be in a the mail a day or so each way. I know when I dropped my film at the local lab I often did not go back and get it any sooner than that.

    With the price of gas today I might even consider mailing my film to a lab on the other side of town.
     
  35. ^ Fromex in Long Beach California does beautiful work. They even processed and printed my 127 rolls.
     
  36. Well who else can say something about a mail order lab?
    Let us make this post a resource for people looking for labs that are still out there doing quality work.
    Even if you have not used a lab but know it exists just post a link so we know it is out there.
    I know more than a few of the labs I have used in the past are no longer in business.
    We hear too much about what is gone with film photography.
    Lets talk about who is out there still working for us.
     
  37. Another good one I found several weeks ago is Home Fair Camera in Larchmont, NY. I've used them a few times and they do really good work at a reasonable price. Their website is: http://www.homefaircamera.com/homepage.html. Sometimes they post on Ebay for film processing.
     
  38. Another good mail order film processor: I've used these folks several and they do great, prompt work at very competitive prices: http://sharpphoto.net/
     
  39. Update on a film processor I've already posted about I think: SF Photoworks does great work and the are real professionals. Recently they have added the option web upload of digital images when they process your film for you. This effectively cuts the amount of time in half it takes to mail in film processing and get the CD back. Thank you SF Photoworks!
    http://www.photoworkssf.com/services-and-rates/film-processing
     

Share This Page