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Joe's Basement RIP


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One for the Londoners on the forum, I went into Joe's Basement on

Wardour Street this morning to drop off some rolls of Scala.


No more Joe's Basement, they've gone bust, every branch is locked



Sobering, especially after the earlier post on the rise and rise of

digital. Inconvenient, as Scala now has to be mailed to Paris. But

most of all sad for the counter staff, they were a great bunch and if

you see them anywhere pass on my sypmathy and hope that it's all

working out for them.

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Ouch - that's bad news. There was a recent news article in BJP about Joe's. Apparently the move away from Euston pretty well killed them off - but it was only a month ago that they relaunched after a management buyout. The last couple of BJPs also carried 'Joes are still around' adverts.


Where am I going to take my film at 10pm now??

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Yes, they got drying marks on my first roll of Scala, but I was looking forward to giving them a second chance...


I usually get film from 7dayshop.com, who have on their website:


"27/01/03 ~ Important News for Agfa Scala Film Users !

We understand that the sole UK processing company (Joe's Basement Ltd) has gone into liquidation and Agfa UK now advise sending Scala film directly to them at: Agfa Gevaert Ltd, 27 Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 9AX for your processing.

We understand that Agfa UK will forward films to Europe on your behalf for completion of the work. Please call the Agfa Customer Helpline on 0208 231 4985 if you require any more information with regard to this matter."

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There seem to be very few pro labs left anywhere in the UK. Several have gone into liquidation in my own area too, restricting the choice for users and resulting in a reduced quality of service from those who are left.<p>Obviously digital cameras and pro digital will be partly responsible for this, but digitisation is probably a large factor too - most of my own work, even if shot on E6, gets processed and scanned and nothing more. No prints, no mounting, no copy trannies etc.<p>But according to an article in this week's BJP, much of the problem is due to a general shortage of commercial photography work - which is probably largely due to the increase of in-house 'photography' by businesses with digicams.
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Yes, its quite sad. I went there yesterday with a couple of rolls too and found the notice on the closed door. I use their branch on Clerkenwell Rd. EC1. Luckily there is Metro Imaging right next door and they did my job. But I found them quite stiff upper lip and felt that they only care about bigger account-based customers. Of course, their setup looked much bigger. Their prices are higher. And they do have a wider range of services (e.g. one can specify any chemistry for B&W; Joe�s did only the T-Max developer).


The papers quoted digital as one of the main reasons for Joe�s decline in business. Having recently invested in high-end MF gear, the combination of Joe�s demise and that Canon 1Ds Vs. Pentax 67 shootout article on Luminous Landscape, has been very discouraging. Unlike those who seem to like MF equipment per se, I hate operating it every bit. There is nothing in it for me apart from the end result on print (don�t care about the lightbox either).


All said and done, I shall miss the counter staff at Joe�s. Otherwise it is a pain for me to go to Clerkenwell Rd. Anybody know of a pro-lab closer to London Bridge?



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I'm not sure about near London bridge ... Vic Odden's on the walkway next to the station say they can send stuff off to a pro lab (i don't know which one), but i cannot comment on the quality because i've never used that particular service. Regarding MetroImaging, they have a number of drop-off locations for printing other than clerkenwell, such as Great Malborough Street (off oxford street), and just off king's road in chelsea. Both of those 2 locations also do their own E6, i think.


All that said, i was about to ask around places like Joes (too late now, apparebtly) and Metro to find out what they can do regarding digital printing from a transparency. I have always been disappointed with R-type prints (even from good pro labs), given the contrast and general lack of colours reflecting the quality of the transparency itself ... but then I went to the Charlie Waite exhibition recently, and was highly impressed by the quality of his drum scanned and EPSON printed pictures that i thought i'd better investigate.


Given i don't intend to buy a computer/printer etc, does anyone know where I can get 6x6 trannies printed into prints to the highest quality possible in this digital fashion (i've heard drum scanning is important in this regard)? Many thanks for any feedback!!

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Bayeux on Newman Street (just north of Oxford Street) and 0207 436 1066 have a drum scan and Lightjet print facility. Speak to Robin or Simon. Not sure that anyone else in London's using a Lightjet for fine quality custom prints. Several ( including Metro) have Lamdas, a broadly sililar process. At the cheaper end, and subject to limitations on size and "customisation", everyone and his wife now have Frontiers, which can offer a good result in the right hands.


Alternatively, I'd consider top end printing to be a global market now, and most of my colour prints are made by West Coast Imaging in California. Depends how you rate quality vs speed and money. That said WCI (www.westcoastimaging.com) is very convenient. Fedex pick up from here and deliver o the door- it's easier than getting across London! WCI also have a couple of big Epsons- one which produces work on watercolour paper a lot like Iris/Giclee, and another which they use to produce a more conventional photograph on lustre paper. Probably one of these (though not necessarily from this lab) is what Charlie Waite's up to. They've done samples of both for me, though for colour work anyway I'm happy with the LightJet for now.

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Jon<p>If you are serious about digital printing I can't recommend highly enough the advantages of having your own computer/printer etc. Nothing like doing them yourslf!<p>By the way I was refering to Charlie Waite in my previous post, not Chalie Waite, the lesser known photographer. LOL.<p><a href="http://www.keithlaban.co.uk">www.keithlaban.co.uk</a>
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Sad to see Joe's go. Judging from the above comments there may be contributors who will be interested in getting real quality hand prints from me! I print only onto Cibachrome Deluxe (The polyester base, not the cheapo RC stuff) from tran, Ilfoflex 2000 from colour neg. I only print, no film processing. http://www.owenboyd.com or call 01892 615715, and I'll send you a price list.
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With reference to the above post by Owen Boyd. If anyone is looking to have Ilfochrome work done in the UK, I can certainly recommend his services. I hasten to add I have no links to Owen, but am merely a satisfied customer.<p><a href="http://www.merrill.demon.co.uk/index.html">Owen Boyd</a><p><a href="http://www.keithlaban.co.uk">www.keithlaban.co.uk</a>
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  • 4 months later...

I shot a roll of infra red - luckily I checked ahead before taking it up to Joe's. Whamo - no more Joe's . . .


This is ridiculous - can I process infra red on my pc, well can I? The new technology appears and everybody downs their celluloid and joins the queue. Quarter of a century ago it was the 'polaroid revolution' - and hey, no more developing: instant pics, folks!


I loathed polaroid prints the first time I encountered them - and the plastic/disposable culture which went with them.


Now, I use digital technology: as a tool - I like computers - but, for me, they will never replace celluloid, photo-emulsion and the safety light.


Instead of working my way towards a personal 'digital solution' - whatever that may mean - my ambition is to wallow in gum bichromate, as much as is practicable, in the long term. And I dare say I might just have to roll my sleeves up in the process...


RIP Joe's Basement - a unique concentration of technical skill, expert professionalism and general excellence has just gone down the plug hole.




ps if anyone is letting their 35mm gear/SLRs go, please let me know - I love that stuff!

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  • 1 month later...

Ever since I was a humble student of photography just down the

road from them in the late 80s Joe's always provided low quality

at high prices. The only saving grace was the fact that you could

always find one stcratched film and use it as a way to not pay for

the processing of the rest. Very useful when you are a student!


Their shop prices were also outrageous.


Very sad for the staff though, but if you want good quality late

night work then Metro are about the only option. They even have a

branch on the Kings Road although their hours seem to have

changed recently. (www.metroimaging.com).


If you have more time then Classic on Great Sutton Street are

about the best - especially for us Luddites who dev & mount E6.


Take care,


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