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Walmart vs CVS vs Walgreen vs etc

Taj Dickinson , Nov 20, 2007; 02:27 p.m.

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!



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Walter Degroot , Nov 20, 2007; 02:41 p.m.

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.

John Shriver , Nov 20, 2007; 03:44 p.m.

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.

Robert Martin , Nov 20, 2007; 03:59 p.m.

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.

Michael R. Freeman , Nov 20, 2007; 04:00 p.m.

"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.

Steve B , Nov 20, 2007; 07:48 p.m.

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.

Jim Z , Nov 20, 2007; 08:12 p.m.

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.


gary shaw , Nov 20, 2007; 08:48 p.m.

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.

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 20, 2007; 09:57 p.m.

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.

William Kahn , Nov 21, 2007; 07:46 a.m.

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....

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