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Don't use costco for printing Slide film

Matthew Humann , Nov 27, 2007; 06:38 p.m.

Well I am fairly new to the whole film thing as I have moved backwards into film, but I have been shooting color slide film, Fuji Velvia 50 and 100F and been loving the results.

Anyways, to my rant, I took some individual slides to Costco to be developed as I wanted to see them blown up a bit. The result I got back look as though it was printed from a 2 mpix camera onto a 12x18 photo.

Well I took it back and explained this to the worker who was not suprised in the slightest and told me that you can't blow up film negative to anything larger than 8x10. He also compared the quality to that of a 3 mpix camera and I agreed with him on that was the result of the printout.

I just wanted to know their details of the scans they use to print from when I give them a slide. My guess is that they actually scan them and then print from the scanned file. Well, he said they had the most advanced system and it was the best quality possible. Oh of course, that is why my Fuji Velvia 50 slide looks like a web camera picture. He said, well look at it, it is so small of a surface area, oh man, I asked him if he was serious and apparently he wasn't joking. I tried to go into what a 35mm cmos sensor was and how it relates on film and the sensors they are using in professional digitals like the 1Ds mk II and the eyes just glazed over.

So anyways, I was able to get my money back, but it is safe to say I will not be taking slides back to Costco

What do you think, if I am using Velvia 50, Canon L lenses and a EOS-1v, do you think I should be able to print bigger than an 8x10 image :)

I am having them professional scanned by a nikon ED-5000 at 4000 dpi and saved in TIF, maybe I should take these tiffs back to Costco and show the "photo expert".


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Josh Root , Nov 27, 2007; 06:56 p.m.

In general, I have had excellent results with costco and printing both digital and 35mm neg film. They pay their people well, train them properly, and refresh their chemicals regularly. It sounds to me like you just got one idiot.

And to be fair, I have not had good experiences having slides printed by any place other than a pro lab. Printing slides just seems more difficult for the average lab to master. Which in some respects is not surprising, given that printing from slides has to be significantly less than 1% of the business at a place like costco.

Craig Shearman , Nov 27, 2007; 07:08 p.m.

Some people get lucky at places like Costco or Walmart. But you get what you pay for, and people developing film in those places on Tuesday might have been working in the shoe department on Monday. If you want quality work and consistency, go to a professional lab. As for blowing up 35mm, it can go as big as you want from a fine grain film like Velvia shot with good lenses, sharply in focus and with a tripod mounted camera to eliminate any blur from camera shake. Kodak used to print a huge mural (my recollection is something like 18x24 feet but definitely something measured in feet) at Grand Central STation in New York. More realistically, 20x24 or 30x40 prints can be pulled from a good Velvia slide. Just view them from the appropriate distance of course.

Matthew Humann , Nov 27, 2007; 07:12 p.m.

I agree with you totally on the digital side as they have had all my business on the digital front and have had great luck with all sizes of prints.

I am just saying to have been trying to get a straight answer from anyone at the local photo lab as well as their online portion as to how I can print a quality image from a slide.

The online only gives options of jpg or bitmaps I believe and you cannot mail your images to them, in slide or digital form.

I know there are places out there that have FTP options if you want to upload 80MB TIFF files for example.

I was really trying to find a place to print a 20x30 in this quest, but wanted to see how Costco did locally and this is what I was dealt.

John Shriver , Nov 27, 2007; 07:24 p.m.

The Fuji Frontier is optimized for scanning color negative film really fast. Very low Dmax on color negative.

Velvia 50 and 100F have the highest Dmax of any films, except maybe for Kodachrome. Not at all surprised that the Frontier would have a hard time with them. My Nikon Coolscan IV-ED has has a hard time with deep shadows on Kodachrome, and it's a much better (if slower) scanner than the one in the Frontier.

Now, as for resolution, he probably didn't scan it at the highest resolution the Frontier can do. But with the shadow noise issues, it won't really help.

Michael Harris , Nov 27, 2007; 07:40 p.m.

Hi Matthew, I used our local Costco for the first time the other day for color developing and they did a great job. Maybe it's just a training thing at the one you used? Back in the day I always had trouble getting slides printed, heck I still have trouble scanning them.

Give them another chance, maybe something just needed calibrated.

Josh Root , Nov 27, 2007; 08:09 p.m.

I think John has hit the nail on the head.

Best to just take your slide film elsewhere. Or have it scanned on a good scanner and then take the digital file to costco for printing.

Michael Kuhne , Nov 27, 2007; 08:21 p.m.

Could be a considerable variation from one Costco to another. I have had slides processed through K-mart, turned out fine, but no prints made there.

For an enlargement project, it may be best to engage a more professional service. Some may be mail order. Check with a local camera shop. Some of these may have sample blowups made from Velvia!

Larry Dressler , Nov 27, 2007; 08:24 p.m.

I scan them at home and have the prints made from my file.

I have not had too much trouble this way because I think my monitor is pretty close to the 3 places I have them printed at here in town.

I just load the files on a CD and take it in.

infact I had Wal-Mart do one recently and it was dead on.


Steve Hughes , Nov 27, 2007; 09:41 p.m.


most people who cared about their photography wouldn't, you have unreasonable expectations, my advice use a locally owned pro lab before they are all be out of business. Steve

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