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Where to get film processed?

Brandon Andreadakis , Jul 02, 2009; 12:12 p.m.

For my black and white film I enjoy traditional darkroom processing. However, I would like start getting my digital images printed and have no idea where to begin. I purchased an expensive Epson printer a few years back but could never get the colors right and the paper/ink is very expensive besides being a hassle for me. So basically my computer is filled with great images that I would love to print. Ken Rockwell recommends having prints done at Costco or some Wal Marts which isn't a problem except that the closest Costco is 1 hr away from my house, though they seem knowledgable. I called my local Wal Mart and the guy at the photo lab had no idea what a light sensitive process is and just said: "we use a big machine to make your prints". After digging deeper he said that the digital 1hrs are done on a regular printer and the others are done on the "kodak machine". What does this mean? Basically I am wondering where the best value for quality/money combination is to get digital prints made. Mail order seems to be more expensive when factoring in shipping, etc. but I would be open to suggestions.
Also, I would like to start shooting Velvia 50. Where should I get that film processed? Thanks!


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Michael Axel , Jul 02, 2009; 12:22 p.m.

Look for a printer who uses Fuji Crystal printers. They are a chromogenic process that is very good, with superb archival reliability. I live in a small town too, and while there is a store that can print on Fuji Crystal, I still use online sources. You just upload your images and they mail them back to you. On the cheaper end, try Winkflash or MPix. If that works for you, great, if not, there are other high end labs like Dalmation.com, DR5.com, etc. Basically, if your monitor is calibrated, and your images look like what you want, then you're going to get pretty good prints. Oh, as for Velvia, any of the drugstores should be able to send that out for processing. Otherwise, try the high end labs I listed.

Brandon Andreadakis , Jul 02, 2009; 12:27 p.m.

Which mail order companies use Fuji crystal?

Brandon Andreadakis , Jul 02, 2009; 12:33 p.m.

Is digital-C processing what I am looking for? I just had a chat with someone at Adorama online who said that is their process. Anyone use Adorama for mail order prints?

Psul aul , Jul 02, 2009; 01:03 p.m.

I think Michael, above, is talking about Fuji Crystal Archive papers. Crystal Archive is a good paper, and it is very common. Costco, Walmart, Walgreens, they all print on it.

Though, Cyrstal Archive is a decent paper, it is not your only option, espcially if you are looking at mail order and online labs. Mpix.com uses Kodak e surface papers which are very nice. They have prices posted on their web sight.

Most online labs will tell you somewhere on their web page what type of paper they print on. I would guess, most are using Cyrstal Archive - I would suggest not getting hung up on paper type until you've seen prints made on various papers and can decide what you like for yourself.

It sounds like the guy at your Walmart did not know what he was talking about. Most likely they have a Fuji Frontier machine which will print from a negative or a digital file. I doubt they have two different machines.

I've used Costco for digital prints (and film) and they do a good job. I think digital 4x6 prints are 13 cents each. I've seen some good results from the local Walgreens and Walmart too.

I would suggest trying a few local places first before you resort to sending your files out. It is not that expensive to have a couple of prints made and see if you like the results.

As far as Velvia, and any slide film goes, its my understanding you can send them out through Walmart's send out service ... If you write "process E-6 slide film" on the special instructions box they will be developed as slides.

Brandon Andreadakis , Jul 02, 2009; 01:15 p.m.

Will I be able to tell if it is an inkjet printer at the WalMart when I get the prints back based on the paper?

Brandon Andreadakis , Jul 02, 2009; 01:22 p.m.

Some of the online mail order processing sites link up with photo sharing sites like flickr, etc.. and take the pics directly from there. Does this hurt image quality? For example, is it better to send the file directly to adoramapix then to use that file that is on flickr?

Patrick Mont , Jul 02, 2009; 02:27 p.m.

I use Dale Labs (dalelabs.com) for everything except Kodachrome and they are printing on Kodak Endura which I find to be better than crystal archive. You are accustomed the cheap Kodak consumer papers. They are pretty good but Endura is awesome!

Psul aul , Jul 02, 2009; 03:59 p.m.

Its unlikely that Walmart is making your prints on an inkjet printer. I think its unlikely that any commercial lab is making prints from an inkjet. As far as I know Walmart uses Fuji Frontier machines. They make a silver halide print (a standard photograph) on regular photo paper. The same as if you brought film in and had it processed and printed. All of these labs are either using Fuji Frontier or Noritsu machines and they all make a standard silver halide print... none of them use an inkjet.

ross b , Jul 02, 2009; 06:13 p.m.

You can have CostCo print for you without driving a foot. Just upload your pictures and let them deliver to your home. You can go a step up and have Mpix.com do the same thing for you. I think that with the price of gas, mail order is worthwhile to consider. Especially if you do not have to pay tax on your mail order purchase. I am having Mpix.com do all my processing currently. They ship the pictures packed flat. I do not have any suggestions for E6.

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