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Mini-lab machine printers

Carlo Cayetano , May 24, 2005; 04:37 p.m.

I know that mini-labs (like at Walgreens and Sav-On, etc) will crop a little off the image to make it bleed on the final 4x6 prints. My question is this: can the machines be manipulated so that they'll print the full frame onto a 4x6, even if it shows the black lines and sprocket holes of the film? My knowledge of how the machines work is quite limited, I'm hoping that by using my wit and boyish charm, I can get ask the technician to not cut off the edges. Can the machines be set to "zoom out" or is it all automatic?


Craig Shearman , May 24, 2005; 08:14 p.m.

The machine may or may not be able to do this. But the limiting factor is that the lab people are not photographers -- they're people who have come in looking for a job, any job, and were hired for minimum wage and trained to operate the equipment. Their orders are usually to do things the way they were trained and that doesn't include fiddling with the equipment settings to please one customer out of thousands. Even if you have a competent technician with the motivation to do this, these are also large national chains that send down orders from corporate HQ about how everything is done, from which candy bar goes on which shelf to how many rolls go through the machine before the chemicals get changed. Even if they know what you want and know how to do it, they may not be allowed. Different situation of course at a real camera store that runs a one hour lab.

Jonathan Traupman , May 24, 2005; 08:59 p.m.

The digital Noritsu machines I am familiar with can do what you are asking. In fact, they allow a range of borders: white, black, white outer/black inner, and even allow you to specify a image file to create things like fake sloppy black borders, sprocket holes, copyright notices in the border, etc. Because they expose the paper digitally, they can basically add any sort of border you want, just like you can in photoshop for web display. They can also get pretty darn close to the entire frame on the page, even with a borderless bleed.

I don't know much about Frontiers, but I'd be surprised if they don't have a similar capability. I don't know much about the older, analog machines, but they're becoming a rare breed anymore.

As Craig mentioned, you'll need to find a lab with someone who knows how to activate these features. Try to find a "high end" minilab in your area. Often camera stores have the same machines as the drugstores but with better trained and more conscientious staff. Depending on the individual store, some Ritz camera locations do a nice job printing for not a lot more than the drugstore labs, but it all depends on the local staff (our locations here in Berkeley aren't much better than Walgreens, but back at my parents' place in PA the local Ritz has a very good lab).


Joseph Allen , May 24, 2005; 09:37 p.m.

Fuji Frontier can do it too -- operator has to change setting to "full frame print". It's very easy to do...right there in a main menu but a lotta people probably never noticed it. I can't remember if it gives you every single nanometer of the negative, but more than usual.

Franka T. Lieu , May 25, 2005; 05:14 a.m.

Actually any of todays mini-lab can do it, its a setting that reads either " Fill in " ( your normal print ) or " Fit in " ( what you are requesting ) , the term pretty much self explanatory.

The task is to find one lab that will do that for you. In my locality, these kind of service is always there and when ordering, I can specify which way to go and together with border or not ( for fill in ), but you need to talk to your local lans and see if they will do that. The machine are capable for the task but its the lab management that might not be so cooperative

Karen Exelbirt , Sep 28, 2009; 05:04 p.m.

Hi Carlo,
I work for Minilabworld (.com), a web site dedicated to the photo lab business.
The Forum of this web site is being used by minilab owners that know the photolab equipment very well.
Also, another link to this forum: photolabforum(.com)
For anything else related to photography, stick with photo.net :)

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