A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Recommended Labs

By Philip Greenspun for photo.net.

(Illustrated mostly with pictures from my Sierra collection or my nudes gallery)
Venice Beach, California.
Contents:
  1. Top
  2. Ilfochromes (Cibachromes)
  3. Fuji Type R
  4. C prints
  5. Digital prints
  6. Black and White prints
  7. Processing and Proof printing
  8. PhotoCD Scanning
  9. PhotoCD Labs that I don't like
  10. Labs to Avoid
  11. In the Boston area
  12. The rest of the world


Reader's Comments

Before I put up my Q&A forum, I would get about three messages/day asking me for a recommendation of a "good and cheap" photo lab. What I look for in a lab is that they first do no harm. A lab must have superb dust control, careful neg/slide handling, and good systems for keeping track of originals. If a lab has all of those things and makes me a print that I don't like, at least the neg or slide will be in good enough shape that someone can try again.

Can a lab be really cheap and not trash your originals? Not in my experience. It costs money to hire someone to clean air filters. It costs money to watch the chemical concentrations in the developing machines. It costs money to associate a photographer's name with each item in the plant. It costs money to check and double check orders when they are delivered.

Of course, just because a lab is expensive doesn't mean that they will be good. But at least they have a chance of being good. Sometimes labs that are highly automated can be good and relatively cheap for certain things like E6 process and mount or C41 process and proof. Finally, you can get lucky. If you have an easy-to-print negative, you might get a machine print at a cheap lab for $2.50 that looks the same as a pro lab's $25.00 print. But if you liked the image well enough to enlarge and present, then I'll venture to say that you'll be fairly sorry when the cheap lab loses or scratches the negative. And it is only a matter of time.

Note: remember to help the Internet community by recording your own experiences with labs in the photo.net Neighbor to Neighbor service.

Ilfochromes (Cibachromes)
Alabama Hills.  Eastern Sierra. Prints from slides that won't fade for 500 years or more if stored in the dark, thus outlasting the original slide. The traditional Cibachrome material is plastic which makes for an incredibly glossy surface.

  • Portland Color, (800) 734-3230, FAX (207) 772-6378, 51 York St Portland, ME 04101

    Portland Color made its reputation printing for art museums so when they say "exhibition quality" they aren't kidding. They use high contrast paper for vibrant color and B&W contrast masks for contrast control, unlike cheap printers who like to use the low contrast Ilfochrome material which allows for more sloppiness in printing. Their printers are real artists. The cost is about $12.50 for the mask (one time) and then about $30 for the first 8x10 Ciba.

    All of the above is still true. It is what I used to say about Portland Color. However, now they have started making prints for people who make charitable donations to Angell Memorial Animal Hospital (see the gift shop section of Travels with Samantha). That makes them Good Internet Citizens in my opinion and thus even more deserving of business.

Cheap Cibas (i.e., < $20 for an 8x10) are terrible quality in my experience. I have tried several cheap mail-order Ciba labs and they all produced results worse than a $5 Fuji Type R print (see below).

The LightRoom offers some good factual information about Cibachromes but I've never tried their services.


Fuji Type R
Alabama Hills.  Eastern Sierra. Prints from slides. Nearly as long-lasting as Ilfochrome if displayed in the light. Slightly lower quality but possibly acceptable especially if the image is not too contrasty.

  • Slideprinter, P.O. Box 9506, Denver, CO 80209, (303) 698-2962; www.slideprinter.com. Inexpensive.
  • A&I (see below).



C prints
Bodie, California Prints from color negatives.
  • Portland Color, (800) 734 3230. Their standard service is comparable to "exhibition grade" at other pro labs. They are Good Internet Citizens because they donate prints so that dogs can get better health care. They aren't any more expensive than a regular pro lab.

  • FinePrint, 1306 Blue Spruce Drive, Unit E, Fort Collins, CO 80524. (800) 777-1141, email@fineprint.org. Tell them that Philip Greenspun sent you; they know me.

    FinePrint will make you five beautiful prints for about the same price as a Boston lab charges for one or two. And they will do a better job. What's the catch? The minimum order is five for 16x20 and larger, ten for smaller prints.

    FinePrint also will make internegatives from your slides and produce C prints that can be better than Cibachromes and Fuji Type R prints in some respects (e.g., shadow detail).

    If you intend to sell (or give away) your work, FinePrint is your best ally.

Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park My experience with Type C printers has been generally fairly bad. Pro labs charge a fortune because their costs are high. Unfortunately, they often don't do any better work than a machine. Large consumer labs are very careless with negatives and it is very difficult to control results. I think there are only two ways to get something for nothing in the Type C printing world. One is to take standard wedding pictures on standard wedding film and bring them to a standard wedding lab. They have established procedures for producing reasonably high quality prints at reasonably low cost. The other way is to find a serious photographer who has chucked the rat race and set up a 1-hour lab in a small town. I've gotten great prints made from 120 film on Martha's Vineyard in November (November!) and 50 copies of my fighting bears (at right) to send to friends as postcards from Homer, Alaska.

My most memorable experience of this kind was walking into a one-hour lab in Missoula, Montana. The grizzled owner had an E6 machine and claimed to be able to do 120. I was reluctant to entrust my film to a lab that didn't dip-and-dunk and that wasn't part of the Kodak Q-lab network. He said "Well, Galen Rowell thinks my service is good enough for him." I was delighted with the results, but the proprietor wasn't impressed by my photographs (below): "I'd be just as happy if I never saw a picture of Yellowstone or Glacier."



Digital prints
If you have an image that only exists digitally and you want a photograph-like physical copy, you can get a Light Jet print (up to 50x120 inches) from Portland Color. Alternatively, the Kodak Pegasus system at Boston Photo prints on conventional C-type paper up to 20x30" in size.

If you have an image that you think might look interesting as a watercolor-y painting, then try an Iris ink-jet print on watercolor paper from Portland Color. I did this with the double flower photo that decorates the list of people who use my images. The results were beautiful, as you can see for yourself if you donate a few dollars to a no-kill animal shelter.

Black and White prints
When you look for a color printer, you are mostly looking for a good technician. If your image includes a fire engine and it isn't bright red in the final print, then you need a technician to fix the problem. Suppose that you have the same fire engine in a B&W negative. What shade of gray should it be in the final print?

When you are looking for someone to print your B&W negatives, you are looking for a good partner. This person must respect your work enough to slave over it and must have a good enough rapport with you to understand what you want. Richard Avedon has several full-time printers. They make perhaps a dozen work prints from each negative. Avedon sits down with them and says "The face should have the contrast and density from work print #3, the arms the contrast and density from work print #7, the dress looks good in print #2, ..." Then the printers have to go back and figure out what combination of paper grade and dodging and burning will produce the combined result desired. This is the ideal working relationship. Because such a relationship is virtually impossible to achieve with a commercial lab, most serious B&W photographers print everything themselves.

Personally, I don't like to spend my days alone in the dark. So I let Portland Color print my B&W and try to communicate my needs as clearly as possible. Because I so seldom do my own printing, my darkroom skills are rusty and therefore the printers at Portland Color do a better job than I ever would.

Try to find a local lab where you can sit down and talk to the printer or at least drop by every day and look at work prints, circling problem areas with a grease pencil. A good B&W printer should be able to make archival prints on fiber-base paper with selenium toning. The selenium toning deepens the blacks and thus increases the image contrast.

Provincetown Dunes.  Cape Cod.  Massachusetts. Gay Head.  Martha's Vineyard.  Massachusetts.


Processing and Proof printing
"Process and proof" turns exposed film into something that can be evaluated by a human being. In the case of slide film, "Process and mount" is what you want. For 35mm film, these services are available as close as your nearest drugstore or 1-hour lab. Why consider a pro lab for basic processing? Pro labs are useful in the following cases: when you need 3 hour service, when you have 120 or sheet film, when you want your film pushed or pulled in 1/3 stop increments, when you want plastic slide mounts.

Mass market and 1-hour labs use roller transport processors. If a bit of grit gets into a roller, these processors can scratch every frame on a roll of film. Any pro lab worth its salt will have a dip-and-dunk processor. Film is pulled out of its cartridge or off its spool, clipped at both ends, and then hung on a rack that can dip the whole roll at once into a vat of chemistry tall enough to accomodate the length of the film. There is no part of a dip-and-dunk machine in which frames can be scratched en masse. Most good pro labs subscribe to a remote chemistry monitoring program in which data are periodically uploaded to Kodak or Fuji. Look for a "Kodak Q-Lab" or "Fuji Labnet" logo.

One worthwhile pro lab luxury is the ability to get enlarged proof sheets. The lab develops negatives or slides normally and then arranges them to fit into an 8x10 enlarger. Using this monstrous contraption, the entire roll is projected at once onto a 16x20 or 20x24" sheet of paper. Thus you have the advantages of a contact sheet, e.g., only one piece of paper to go with each roll and frame numbers clearly marked next to each proof, coupled with the advantages of proof prints, i.e., the image is large enough to evaluate without a magnifying loupe. This whole process can cost $30-40/roll but sometimes the results are so good that you can frame the end-result and hang it on your wall as an example of the "small multiples" espoused in Edward Tufte's Envisioning Information.

If you can't find a good local lab, consider using mailers. Adorama Pro Lab offers dip-and-dunk processing for both E6 and C41. A mailer for 36-exposure slide film is $6 (order), for 4x6 proof prints from 36-exposure negative film, the cost is $12 (order). A&I is one of the nation's best big labs and they offer mailers: www.aandi.com. If you're in the Los Angeles area, however, try to go in person. The main Highland Avenue location in Hollywood is an especially fun place to hang out because they have a huge slide sorting area where working photographers lay out their freshly processed work to pick the good shots before rushing over to the art director.

If you're on a tight budget, consider mailers for Kodak processing. These are about $4 for 36-exposure slides and around $9 for color or B&W prints. The black and white service is very nice indeed. Instead of squinting at a contact sheet you get a 3x5" proof print from each frame. For a mass-market operation, Kodak is remarkably reliable. However, when film is lost or scratched there is literally nobody to whom to complain. The main lab is at 16-31 Route 208, Fairlawn, NJ 07410, (201) 797-0600 [centralized customer service for Kodak labs is (800) 531-3029 or (800) 345-6973]. Note that Kodak is happy to process Fuji film.



PhotoCD Scanning
Desktop scanners such as the high-end Nikons produce very high quality results. However, you may find that using Kodak PhotoCD simplifies the management of large image libraries. A scanner in a lab is less likely to attract dust. A pro lab will have expensive machines capable of scanning unusually sized negatives and transparencies.

Most of the images on photo.net were scanned either by Advanced Digital Imaging (135 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524; 1-800-888-3686) or Boston Photo (contact Dave Semperger at 617-450-4372 or dsemp@bostonphoto.com).

If you really don't want to pay a lot for this PhotoCD scan, consider WalMart. They are allegedly wicked cheap. Personally I am nervous any time one of my originals is out of my possession and the thought that an operator will be slamming it through a Kodak PIW attempting to do 100 images/hour does not make me sleep well. I haven't tried them. After you get your PhotoCD back, be sure to read my conversion tips.

If you have an original larger than 4x5" or very dark, you might want to get a drum scan made. has a drum scanner. I've had bad luck with Graphics Express (Boston).

Portland Color and Boston Photo both have SciTex Eversmart Pro flat-bed CCD scanners. These are easier for labs to operate than drum scanners but for my purposes (extremely high-res zoomable FlashPix images), I prefer the pixels from a drum scanner.

Labs to Avoid
Seattle FilmWorks has a bad history, from which they have been trying to escape with a name change to "PhotoWorks". Their original sin was pushing respooled movie film onto consumers. Movie film is lower quality than photographic film and it is also non-archival. Family memories on movie film fade very quickly unless processed negatives are stored in the kinds of freezers used by movie studios. With the advent of the consumer Internet age, Seattle PhotoWorks went in for spamming.

Duggal is a big lab in Manhattan with a reasonably clean E6 line. However, they ruined some of my best C41 with their dirty neg developing and enlarged contact production areas. At $40/roll, one would expect better. I had a bunch of PhotoCD scans done there and they were also remarkably dusty. Double the price of Boston Photo and then you get to spend a few weeks in PhotoShop repairing the dust and neg damage.

For my notes on Boston's Colortek, see below.

In the Boston area
Boston Photo Imaging on Newbury Street is good choice for a full service lab, with comprehensive traditional and digital facilities.

ZONA, 561 Windsor Street, Somerville, MA 02143, (617) 628-2545 is our best-known local Ilfochrome printer. They also have a dip-and-dunk black and white line.

Colortek is known to many local pros as "Colorwreck". I once gave them ten rolls of 120 film. They lost one. They returned two rolls of B&W so underdeveloped that even the frame numbers were barely visible. When I complained, they said "it is obviously an exposure problem". I pointed out that my E6 of the same subject was perfectly exposed. They were unconvinced. I asked them how likely they thought it was that Ilford (with the frame numbers) and I both had exposure problems on the same rolls. They were unconvinced.

The rest of the world
Use the full text search engine or browse by categories in
the photo.net Neighbor to Neighbor service, which contains recommendations from all over the Internet of various labs.

[ top ]

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



linda cook , January 16, 1997; 01:43 A.M.

just a comment on Zona - I haven't used them since I gave them 45 rolls of B/W to develope and print contact sheets. The film was taken in italy over 12 weeks of research for a book I'm doing. Most of the sites photographed required permission, making them that much more irreplaceable. Everyone's nightmare: when I went to retrieve the film at Zona, they told me there had been a 'problem'. They processed the film in 5-roll tanks, and a 'new' person was working on one tank, and forgot a step... I could never figure out exactly what they did wrong, but all of the film from that batch was completely stripped, except for 2-3 millimeters on each edge... They were apologetic, but I still wanted to firebomb them. They agreed to cancel all processing charges, as compensation, but that's it. The film that was done correctly was mediocre at best, with the extra exposures arbitrarily mixed with other rolls. Needless to say, haven't gone back....

Javier Henderson , January 26, 1997; 03:40 A.M.

I've been using Calypso Imaging in Santa Clara, CA, for E6 processing for a couple of years now, and have received excellent service every time. They use a dip-n-dunk processor. I never had any film scratched or seen dust on the finished product.

They charge about $8.50 for a 36 exposure roll, mounted, 1 hour service.

They have other services (PhotoCD scans, C41 processing, Ilfochromes, etc.) but I haven't used them, yet.

I sum: a very satisfied customer. My only complain is that they're only open M-F.

Glen Johnson , April 08, 1997; 08:53 A.M.

KODAK PK-36 MAILERS

I've used mailers for 30 years, and been pleased with the results from Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa. Like Philip, I had never lost a roll - until this year.

Back in January, Kodak lost a roll of print film. When I called, they had no record of it ever being logged in, but they did a lab search, and it turned up in my mail box a week later. Quite a scare. I shared this experience with another photo.net regular, and he said that Kodak had lost two of his rolls over the years, but that both had eventually turned up. I didn't feel as badly then. But still, you can't wait over a month to get your work back, even if you aren't shooting for money.

Now I am waiting on Kodak again. I sent a lot of film to both Kodak and Fuji during a recent trip. All of it has come back now, except for the first roll sent to Kodak on March 18th. I called about it, and it turns out that they logged the roll of E100SW (sent in a PK 36 E-6 mailer) in as Kodachrome. Now they are trying to figure out what they did with it. They were not helpful at first, and I had to push them to even begin a lab search.

I sent the film to Kodak from San Diego. I assumed that they would have a west coast processing facility, and since San Francisco was the closest P.O. Box, and since San Francisco is on the west coast, I sent it to San Francisco. Both of the phone reps that I spoke to about this roll admonished me - "Oh, you should have sent it directly to Dallas instead of to San Francisco." Apparantly they think they have some problem with their courrier service. West Coast residents you are forewarned!

At this point, I am hopeful that this roll will show up, and the I will continue to be able to say that Kodak hasn't ever actually totally lost a roll. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I am done with Kodak mailers. If I had only had the one experience back in January, I would still use them - but two in two so far this year is just too nerve wracking.

Glen Johnson , April 08, 1997; 09:02 A.M.

FUJI E-6 Mailers

I've commented negatively on Kodak mailers above. Here, in the interest of equal time, is my current view of Fuji.

During the past year I have dramatically increased the amount of film that I am using, and I have looked for inexpensive ways to get processing done. Fuji mailers appear to offer an excellent value in this regard. I have sent nearly 40 rolls to Fuji over the past 6 months, and so far they haven't actually lost anything.

However, lately I have been having some problems with their quality. There are two issues that really bother me.

First, they are inconsistent in the way they mount the slides in the cardboard mounts. I have had some rolls mounted upside down, some backwards, most correct. Recently I got a roll that included frames that were upside down, frames that were backwards, and frames that were correct. Bob Atkins has suggested that something must have gone wrong in the middle of the roll because the process is automated, so all of the slides should suffer the same fate. Still, this is a simple thing, and it is done correctly when the folks who are running the process are paying attention.

Second, lately the slides have been much dirtier. Because I was curious to know if the problem was with my home viewing equipment, I opened a box of slides from Fuji and a box of slides from a local custom lab side by side yesterday. The custom lab's work was significantly cleaner. So much cleaner in fact, that it took the sting out of the fact that they charge more than twice what Fuji charges. The custom lab mounted all the slides correctly too. Plus, I got instant gratification... the slides were ready a few hours after they were dropped off. I actually remembered the shoot and was able to learn more from it than I would have had the slides showed up two weeks later.

I guess that the punch line is that the mailers are cheap, but they are also risky. Bob Atkins has suggested sending the film to the processing lab in boxes with several rolls so that they are less likely to lose it. This is probably a good idea if you are going to use mailers. Right now, my inclination is to use up the supply I have on hand for projects that aren't critical, and to use the custom lab for everything else. I know if I were shooting for pay, there is no way that I would use mailers after my recent experiences with both Kodak and Fuji.

mogly -- , July 06, 1997; 02:42 P.M.

I used Clark Color Labs - just $4.15 (total, including tax, shipping, etc.) for a 36 exposure roll. Even over/under exposed frames come back with fair pictures! You choose where the negatives are sent. You can get an index print, replacement film and your prints on a disk (for an extra charge, of course....)They do 2 other size prints and APS. I'm not sure where to get info from but the "headquarters" is at:

Clark Color Laboratories PO Box 96300 Washington, DC 20090

Happy printing!

Javier Henderson , July 13, 1997; 03:17 A.M.

For PhotoCD scans, I've been using Camellia Color.

They're in Sacramento, CA, and all my dealings with them have been via mail order.

Excellent results, at $0.85/frame for up to 500 frames, and there are some discounts after that.

All of the PhotoCD scans on my web pages come from them, if you care to have a look, the URL is http://www.kjsl.com/~javier/photo.

They have a web site, http://www.camelliacolor.com/.

Graham Perks , August 25, 1997; 09:22 A.M.

That's http://www.camellia.com

Piaw Na , September 18, 1997; 11:51 P.M.

I've used both Portland Photographics and Calypso Imaging (above). They are both excellent shops, with Portland Photographics being quite a bit cheaper. Calypso Imaging only does Ilfochrome RC, though as Philip says, my eyes can't really tell the difference.

Calypso was definitely willing to redo prints that were their fault. Portland Photographics does do mounting, but when I got back the mounts I found that the mounting was so loose that the photo had shifted during shipping. Oh well. I'd still order stuff from them mounted since they probably use better materials, and that way the photographs ship better.

I'm going to be using Portland Photographics from now on. I'm willing to wait, and the price difference is quite tempting.

Michael H. Jackson , October 23, 1997; 10:06 A.M.

I have been using Clark Color Laboratories since 1994. I have been consistently pleased with their performance, they have never yet messed any of my rolls of film.Recently sent them some 400 speed film of animals taken outdoors. Came back looking suberb. The only complaint I have is that on reprints they always send me glossy and I prefer matte. Other than that they are great and you can't beat the prices!

Scott Lewis , December 28, 1997; 09:31 P.M.

In the Boston area, another good place for Ilfochrome printing is Newtonville camera. The prices are reasonable and "Smitty" specializes in prints from slides. There are several examples in the store and windows. Turn around time is good and I've been very satisfied with the prints I've had done there. Netwonville is also a full service camera store and has in-house custom framing services.

Dan Kapsner , January 02, 1998; 03:36 A.M.

I have used Kodalux develop and print mailers in the past and have had the negatives returned badly scratched many times. I cannot see the value of processing that destroys negatives; I no longer use them.

Paul W Romaine , January 07, 1998; 11:43 P.M.

I have to second Phil's comment about Advanced Digital Imaging for PhotoCD. In the last two months I've had nearly 1000 images converted. They do superlative work, they're clean, they follow directions, and they're cheaper than Kodak. And they're conscientious. A week ago they called about an order that looked all wrong. My employer, where we process a lot with historical materials, sent ADI some 35mm copywork reproducing cyanotypes from the 1890s. (Cyanotypes are usually a Prussian blue color unless you expose them to daylight for too long; but they'll eventually regain their color if you let them rest.) ADI was checking our color and couldn't understand how these photographs could be so blue. They called New York to check with us. We have never had a vendor call us about color. Bravo!

David Lewiston , February 03, 1998; 05:18 A.M.

I'm a K25 fetishist, _really_ fussy. Fortunately, after Kodak's own processing went down the tubes, I discovered A&I, and that's where my transparency film goes these days. Good processing. For Ilfochrome, after a number of disastrous experiences with other printers, I've settled on Rob's operation, the Lightroom on Fifth Street in Berkeley. It's a relief to order a bunch of 11"x14"s, come in a few days later and find everything just as it should be. On one recent order of more than 20 prints, we disagreed on only one -- I didn't like the cropping, so Rob re- did it without charge. Recently, I've paid him $28 (I think) for 11"x14"s and (I think) $25 for a single neg mask or $16 per mask for two or more. Excuse the vagueness, I don't have my financial records handly.

Jeff Harman , February 16, 1998; 08:01 P.M.

Ritz Camera Centers: great in house one hour service, not so great outlab.

I worked the sales floor at a Ritz Camera Center for about 8 months and found that the in-house one hour service was next to none for true color and dust-free prints! The outlab service for B&W , copy negative and enlargements lacked a LOT to be desired.

The problem is not with Ritz: they do not do their own outlab work. The problem is with the contracted lab itself. The lab in question is Lerner. There seems to be a lack of trained personell at this lab due to the all too frequent occurence of the following problems:

Lost Orders- Our store had an average of two lost orders a month (we handled about 250 outlab orders a month) and that is just an unacceptable amount of loss!

Dusty and dirty prints- Not ONE enlargement that I viewed from Lerner was without the clasic white dust artifact. Totaly unaceptable ESPECIALLY on an 11x14 print!

Returned film- On several occasions 220 roll film was returned with the note attatched "unable to process: not a supported format". Lerner advertises 120, 220 and 620 film processing... and processes them frequently.

Poor copy negative service- On no less than six occasions during my 8 month tenure at Ritz did Lerner completly botch copy neg jobs. In all instances negs on 220 roll film using a 6x7cm format were orderd. The jobs were completed with 135 Kodak Tri-X 400 (B&W jobs). The resulting 8x10's had grain the size of peas! Each job was also mis-priced: they were priced as copies from 11x14 prints when they were from 3 1/2x5's. No less than three returns were required for each job before 120 roll film was used with an appropriate ASA rating. Mis-pricing was never resolved and Ritz had to take the loss to be fair to the customer.

For those who would be interested, I have recently learned that Lerner has purchased Kodak Photo Labs. This may have much to do with many of the problems that people have had with Kodak's services as of late.

I must say that Ritz Camera is a very reputable company. Their customer service is not to be outdone. However, their choice of Lerner to do their outlab work lacks much in promoting their reputation. Ritz DOES offer outlab services thru Time-Life Photo Labs. This is the lab that does every photo you see in Time and Life magazines! You will definately pay for their services, but you will also get the right print the First time!

Roger Morris , April 09, 1998; 05:25 P.M.

Someone above mentioned Fuji using cardboard mounts for slides, and doing a poor job at that.

I've not yet tried the Fuji lab in Az, but when I was in Tokyo, I sent my Velvia film to Fuji. There, they did an excellent job (no dust, no residue, no scratches) every time, used plastic mounts, and packed the slides in nice plastic boxes. Depending on when I dropped the film off at a store, I would have the slides back within one or two days.

It sounds like the Fuji lab here isn't quite the same. (though I doubt it's worse than the way Kodak has been putting huge scratches in both my slide and my negative film recently).

Mike D. , April 17, 1998; 12:57 P.M.

I use the Time-Life Photo Lab at 50th and 6th Ave. in NYC for E6 ($7 a roll, dip & dunk and mount). The turn-around time for slides is 4 hours. They are a Kodak Q-lab and also have a dedicated Fuji machine for Fuji film. Great results.

For prints I use Mystic Color Lab mailers. They're a little more expensive than other places but the results are consistently excellent, and if you're patient they will occasionally run pretty good discount promotions. They also have a very quick turn around time, often less then a week for me.

Marina Maya , April 28, 1998; 08:47 P.M.

I have been using Clark Color Labs since 1984.I have obviously been pleased with the quality of work and the low cost of the service. I have routinely ordered Kodak film from them at great prices. I have noticed that turn around time used to be 1 week, now it is 2 weeks. Also there is no way to contact them except by mail - no phone number, no web page, no email address. This is a problem when they make a mistake or when you are starting to worry about whether they lost your film. I sent back a negative 3 times to have a duplicate made and they got it wrong everytime even with a note and pointing to the negative I wanted (this was before index prints). Then I gave up and took it to Wal-mart. That is my chief criticism - no way to contact them except by mail.

Dana C. Lipp , May 10, 1998; 08:43 A.M.

I have used Holland Photo for about two years and have generally been pleased with the results, however there is no substitute for talking with the processor. They use contrast masks.

I too, was put off by the child photography trouble at Zona, but I've have used them fairly regularly for the last year. I have been pleased with their willingness to work with me.... their quality has been high.

I recently tried Newtonville Camera. Smitty did a good job with some daytime photos, but he was unable to accurately reproduce the deep blacks in my night photography.

Thomas Hart , June 02, 1998; 04:54 A.M.

For Photo CD's I have been using Wal-Mart's service. I have been very pleased with the results . Evidently the independent lab that they use here in Southern California (lab is in Pico Rivera) has good dust control. I have yet to have one come back that needed photo shop manipulating for contaminants.

R W Schellhaas , August 21, 1998; 12:23 A.M.

I was looking for a possible Clark Color Laboratories ("Clark Photo" referred to above herein) and pulled up this page. I've been using them for nearly 20 years, I think. Good, inexpensive processing & developing, new $1.00 EasyFinder thumbnail sheet available (make SURE you circle it big-time if you order that-- otherwise sometimes they forget but they still keep the $1.00). Free shipping in Postage-Paid envelopes added recently (but of course they jacked up the shipping to $.90 per roll). Also, they have numerous regional labs so it's not an across-the-country shipping wait. I use the pre-addressed Washington DC lab. I use their film too and am very satisfied. They used to sell Fuji film inexpensively and then came out with "Clark" film so I suppose they worked a deal with Fuji. Big PROBLEM-- a great deal of the time when I order film, they send 24 instead of 36 but again, they keep the change. This last order-- and reason for my online search-- I ordered 3 rolls of 36/100ASA and got 3 rolls of 24/400ASA, not satisfactory. CONTACT INFO! Yes, I've tracked them down before and hope this info is still accurate-- Phone 301-595-5300, M/F 8-5pm. Their offices are located at 10550 Ewing Rd., Beltsville MD 20705. Good luck! Overall, they're worth the savings. They also do poster-size prints and other specialty items.

Michael J. Kravit , August 29, 1998; 10:17 A.M.

I have been using Portland Photographics for the past few months. Our work returns well packed, quickly and of the highest quality. Instructions are followed perfectly. Their contrast masks really make a difference when printing ilfochromes from high contrast slides. Slide film comes back in just a few days. Quality has been second to none. Prices are very reasonable. Portland Photographics ia certainly a keeper.

Piaw Na , October 26, 1998; 12:37 A.M.

Please note that Kodak's consolidated all processing to their Fairlawn labs. Don't use any other addresses if you have old mailers: new mailers have the Fairlawn address pre-printed.

Robert Bryett , November 27, 1998; 02:48 A.M.

You might of course be already doing this, but here is a useful trick for avoiding lost films.

Make a sign out of cardboard, cloth etc. with your name and address on it (I use a cloth sign that I can lay flat on the ground and scrunch up in my camera bag).Then photograph this sign as the first exposure on each reel of film.

This attaches a label to the film that can't fall off, although if the lab cuts the negs into strips they can still lose part of the film. . .

Richard Ney Jr. , November 28, 1998; 05:32 P.M.

I'm quite happy with Lexington Photo Labs in New York City. LPL processes and prints B&W only. They're more than happy to talk with you about your needs, and their printing is really terrific. Here's their web address:

http://www.lexingtonlabs.com/photo/

David Gabbé , January 16, 1999; 11:04 P.M.

Zona has a dip & dunk tank with nitrogen burst aggitation for b&w. The chemsitry is the Xtol replenishment formulation. The guy who runs it, understands all about consistency and checks for even development across the length of the entire rack. I've started farming out all my neg development because a good lab just has a consistency it takes me hours to get close to.

The other really neato service Zona has is the mini lab service. The Noritsu mini lab machine is one of the new ones and does the best job I've gotten for 35mm and 6x6 prints. I'm sure the machine operator plays a factor as well. I run mostly Fuji NPH & NHGII overexposed by 2/3 stop through. The results & consistency are the best I had anywhere in the Boston area. Note that the 120 prints occassionally have dust spots on them (there is no dust on the negative).

Kodak Q-Lab means nothing in my book. Zona has switched from Kodak chemistry to Fuji for color processing. The issue was the lines were not staying in balance so the morning & afternoon runs were different. Kodak didn't own up to the problem despite the fact that several local labs were having the same problems. More interestingly, an expert color chemist left Kodak for Fuji after he was promised a free hand in rebalancing the forumlations. The result is lines that stay tuned up and Kodak & Fuji films deliver equally excellent results.

_Every_ lab I have ever used has screwed my order or film at one time or another. That's Zona, Boris, Spectrum, Kodak, & Colortek, Boston Photo Lab. However, it's only Zona that calls to tell me they scratched my negs. So far I've only had 35mm color neg film mangled. When Zona scratches my negs, I can retouch the print. When Kodak scratches my negs, they are lost forever.

I'm not sure why people get so stressed out about procesing screw ups... Every neg is priceless and irreplacable until you decide it's not worthy for public viewing. I've looked back over my processing screw ups for b&w and no lab has matched me for bone headedness yet. Sooner or later there will be a screwup because we are only human.

Zibadun -- , January 19, 1999; 01:53 P.M.

Portland Photographics does not offer Ilfochrome RC anymore. They've said the RC paper jams their machines. I had to order deluxe prints, which are higher in price, but I was pleased with the results.

chris -- , March 07, 1999; 03:25 A.M.

Mirror Image, quality processing in Bingen,Washington -accross from Hood River. Bob moved from big city to rural wind surfing meca. Brought all his developing toys and does killer work. 509.493.4448. He makes me look good... We are 200 miles apart and he has never let me down in shipping, rush turn arounds, ect. chris from Ellison Studio Productions

John C. , March 18, 1999; 02:41 A.M.

Of interest to Fuji users: Flair Pro Color Lab in Gainesville, Florida, 800-741-6004. They only process Fuji films, using lift & advance processors. I use them for 4x5, and they are terrific. Plus, their price is $1.50 per sheet: the cheapest I've seen anywhere.

Karl Katzke , March 24, 1999; 01:17 A.M.

In Portland, Oregon:

(Because I travel, I'd like to see other users post what they've found works in their own city... please!)

Wy'East Color: GREATGREATGREATGREAT service. I've just started using them. They're not only the least expensive for slide processing in town, but I've never gotten a bad result back from them on E-6. Hard to find, ask a local. (on SW Corbett)

Citizen's Photo- Good lab in some opinions, but way overpriced, and scratched my slides. I'm paws off. 7th and Sandy if you want to risk it. However, the guys who work there know it all (Except for one guy... wears a canon hat all the time and shoots Nikon. Stay away from him..) and it's a great place to talk and learn.

K&K Color labs- Bad experiences, but still OK for stuff that don't matter.

Specialty Imaging- Pbbt.

Kits Cameras in WASHINGTON SQUARE MALL- Primo. Speak to the manager Jim or a woman named Pam. I know it's good, I used to work there. The manager maintains the machines himself, doesn't let the company techs near them, which means the machine works right. I wouldn't trust any other Kits or Ritz or Photo Machine in Portland.

Action Fast on Barbur Bvld: They're closing, I heard... haven't been there in a while, but it's a little lab that does quite a few things. Easy to work with.

Photos Today (West Linn rt. 43) This is biased, because I work there, but there's a reason I work there. :). Great little lab run by a professional photographer. Most of the staff shoots for fun, profit, or their primary job (like me), so we know what you want. Soon to come: Custom framing, digital retouch with RA-4 digital prints, 2-hour E-6 and B&W. Has a portrait studio built into the store.

Camera world: They earn a double Pbbbt. Scratched negs. Not going back. Not impressed. (Color balance on negs looked a little funny, too... like the chems were polluted. The Reala I had developed here looked odd next to the Reala I'd developed in a variety of other places.)

U-Develop- The U-haul of photo processing. Rent an enlarger for an hour and go to it. Never tried it, but heard it's awesome.

There are some downtown places that I've seen and heard do a fairly good job. I haven't tried them. If I get ganked anywhere else, I might be tempted to. Trust Pearl District processors, (NE Portland), but I wouldn't trust any others.

BTW, my experience with KODAK: Don't send B&W to them. It comes back scratched in every case I've seen, mostly because they cut and then don't sleeve it. I also disrespect any processor who puts those stickersleeves on the negatives they return... the adhesive not only can smear onto the negative itself, but also prevents future processors from reading the DX code on the negative.

Hope that helps anyone travelling or living in Portland... if you know of a good place in PDX, either email me or add to this list. And I'd like to see some other cities in the future... Thanks!

Fred Morales , April 11, 1999; 09:03 A.M.

Has anyone used a new digital output method by Fuji called the Frontier digital print? I've seen a few of them and have been quite pleased, but I was wondering if anyone else out in the photographic universe has had any experience with this technique and any comments/feedback on what works about it and what to watch out for.

Fred Morales, Houston, TX

Paul Rubin , May 31, 1999; 02:04 A.M.

Kodak once did really high quality lab work, but that was more than 10 years ago, at which point Kodak's processing services were sold to Qualex. Quality took a dive and professionals fled. That's part of the reason Kodachrome fell out of favor (improvements in E-6 films did the rest). I'd never heard of Lerner before seeing this page. Now I'm hearing that Kodak processing has been transferred from Qualex to someplace even worse?! I haven't used them in an awfully long time, so I stopped keeping track. I move around a lot so I tend to just try local minilabs til I find one that does a good job, then use it. Soon, digital cameras will be good enough that this problem will mostly go away...

John De Ryckere , June 23, 1999; 12:48 P.M.

I had 7 rolls of film from a weekend trip to Arches National Park and Moab Utah developed at the local Ritz (Eau Claire, WI). Ritz did an excellent job on the prints, there is one print I'm going to get redone because it wasn't as sharp as it was in the second set. I also had PhotoCD done. I'm not sure what lab they used for it, but they were butchers. I looked at some of my favourite photos on PhotoCD (I've never had a PhotoCD made before) and there were obvious defects in the scans, some of them were apparently scratches 1/3 the height of the image. I then looked up the corresponding negatives and sure enough they looked like they'd been used as sandpaper.

In summary, Ritz in Eau Claire WI does an excellent job on the developing, but don't go through Ritz for PhotoCD. I'm going to try another few rolls and have them developed and put in a request that they don't cut the negatives and try finding a good shop to produce the PhotoCDs from. I'll summarize whatever I find out here.

John

Mark Wilkins , June 26, 1999; 12:18 P.M.

Re: A&I Photo in Los Angeles.

I went down there yesterday for the first time to run a couple of rolls of E-6, and it was a wonderful experience compared to some of the labs I've dealt with. :-) Prices are (as of now) $8 a roll (of any length) to process and mount manufacturer-rolled E-6, $9 with plastic mounts, and $1.75 a foot for bulk-loaded 35mm. (For reference, if you're bulk-loading film every foot is about eight exposures, with a little slop at each end of the cassette.)

The nice thing about A&I (and the thing that will keep me going back, I think) is that they're open from six a.m. until midnight M-F, all day on Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Cutoff times are three hours before closing for same-day service and one hour before closing for first-thing-next-morning service.

Plus, there are within easy walking distance of the well-stocked Simon's Camera and also a Del Taco restaurant. Who could ask for more? :-)

-- Mark

Alfred Stegmeyer , June 30, 1999; 02:35 A.M.

E-6 prices can be reduced as can the amount of garbage you discard by requesting a un-mounted price for E-6 at either your local lab or some mail order labs, then get a small pakon mount kit and only mount the best of the best and can the rest.

Dmitry Kohmanyuk , July 12, 1999; 06:04 A.M.

Just a comment on New Lab in San Francisco: they do have photocd scans. Price is 2.25/machine scan (40-100 images). Haven't tried their scans (too expensive for me.) Their 2-hour E-6 with push/pull is great - $8 for plastic mounts, $6 without. No C41. Open weekdays until 22:00.

Another lab - Color 2000 Digital Photo Lab 1269 Howard St San Francisco, CA (415) 861-5151 charges 1.50/machine, 1.90/manual, colour-corrected with 48-hour processing (they also have 4-hour scans, expensive). Their photocd service is good and they fit 111 images on one CD for me. They also called me when it was ready. Overall nice service. C41 and E6 processing, too (haven't tried).

Kevin Franklin , July 13, 1999; 01:13 P.M.

I just want to add my two cents worth on the issue of processing. I have tried many labs (including the local WinnDixie, RiteAid and WalMart one hour processing) and have had good results from all of them. The only one I have tried that I will not try again is Ritz Camera Center. I took two rolls of 24 exposure 35mm in to have processed with double prints. I wound up paying almost $30.00! The most expensive of the other places I tried was about $15.00 for the same type order. The print quality was very good, but not worth the extra dough.

Tahimin Tjhia , July 26, 1999; 06:45 P.M.

I have one bad experience with Ritz Camera here in Chicago, my developed APS negatives (all 3 of them) was pulled out from its canister when I do a reprint. and guess what, they tried to put it in after i asked about this 'weird' things, anyone knows that APS film canister should hold its negatives for future machine-scanning purpose. last but not least, they scratch the negative on my favourite shot (Seattle's downtown night view). not to mention awful printout that i got, losing my blue-sky+ moonlight color detail and have black sky + white dot instead. Finally, i took my films to Shutter Bug in Water Tower Place which do the jobs great with their custom color correction.

Tahimin Tjhia-Chicago

Tom Rowsell , August 06, 1999; 08:21 A.M.

I saw no mention of Dale Labs in Hollywood Florida. I recently sent them some film and for $14.75 a 24exp roll (special offer), I received negatives, double 4x6 glossy prints, mounted slides, and a Picture CD. The CD is their own proprietary one but the images are in "PCD" format. Overall it is a great value. This service is available for all C41 films. The slides are very good...printed on some new Kodak film. Their web site is www.dalelabs.com

Tom

Sam Snow , August 11, 1999; 02:33 P.M.

I have had good sucess with getting film developed at Sam's Club in Chattanooga, TN on many occasions. They have a 3(?) day turn-around and their prices are rock bottom. Dust control and quality, of course, depend on the contract lab they use-- but so far I have had no complaints. In my opinion, the photo service is one of the most valuable Sam's club membership benifits.

Leslie Feigin , August 14, 1999; 10:46 P.M.

I have been using KODAK in Fair Lawn NJ for slides for the past 30 years and fortunately have never had a roll lost. Rarely, I have found tiny scratches on the last frame or two, but I must say I am quite pleased.

I recently sent KODAK two rolls of Portra VC print film shot either with backlight or against green trees. On almost all the prints the skin tones were unacceptable. They should have been reprinted. Two out of two bad rolls is enough for me.

I have been using MYSTIC Color lab in Connecticut for several years for prints. Generally their work is excellent and with their discount mailers produce double 5 x 7's for about $14. Unfortunately they use the US mail at 3rd class rates. Delivery is erratic and can take from 1 day to 30 days. They will ship via Fedex but I have had about one order shipped via the US mail by accident for 3 years in a row, and lost. Last year they lost 3 rolls by using the cheapo 3rd class rates. This month I sent 7 rolls in one mailer and received 3 back from Fedex. The others 4 rolls are lost. Their processing is great, but their cheap and unreliable shipping methods make the lab unacceptable for serious work, even though I specified Fedex. Perhaps they will see the light and use a reliable shipper some day. I have had enough rolls lost for a lifetime.

Jan Edick , September 16, 1999; 02:15 P.M.

I found this site by accident doing a search on "Colortek." Several years ago they did some excellent printing for me and I wanted to find them again. Apparently quality in the world of photo processing is anything but a constant.

Before Colortek, ZONA had done some Cibachromes for me that were a bit strange in their color. I figured they should really be able to compare the slide and the print without my having to tell them that they were quite different.

In recent years, I have been using Kodak (Qualex, Fair Lawn, NJ) mailers for Kodachrome and E-6 slides. I discovered that Rite-Aid sends their outside processing to the same place and their courier is quicker and more reliable than the mails, which trashed a couple of mailers for me a couple years ago, losing the film canisters. My two most recent slide processing orders have come back with several rolls scratched. My wife's print orders have recently come back with scratched negatives. This should not happen. Goodbye Qualex.

I've been shopping northern New England trying to find good prints from slides this past year with no luck. I'm looking forward to using Portland Photographics. Thanks.

Michael Orzo , September 17, 1999; 04:17 A.M.

I being new to this amazing hobby have found an exceptional local (to San Diego, CA) lab, Chrome does E-6 processing and digital work.

Clean, light tables and 8x magnifiers (so you need not bring your own), about $7 for 36, 35mm in plastic mounts with printed notes, none of that bendable paper crap with chicken scratch.

Chrome has processed about one hundred rolls for me in the last nine months with the only problem (other then my photographic content of course) was a three broken mounts that they gladly re-mounted. They also will push the ASA but you must clearly indicate it on the processing form.

Eventful shooting, Michael :~)

Mike Damson , September 25, 1999; 11:45 P.M.

It seems Phil needs to update his prices a bit. Last I checked Portland Photographic charges $45 for an 8x10 deluxe Cibachrome, and $67 for an exibition quality Cibachrome. Masking is only $10. I know they do good work, but these out of date prices on this page may be misleading to some of the readers.

Maria Ramos-Stewart , September 27, 1999; 11:31 P.M.

Maria Stewart, Nashville, Tennessee mstewart@peekabooweb.com I have been using a local lab, Dury's, in Nashville, Tennessee. I have read every comment on this page, and it has been very educational for a new photographer such as myself. I've been researching and persistently looking for a good mailer lab that process c-41 in Units. Any suggestions...? I am currently taking approximately 45 rolls per month to Dury's for the past 18 months and every time they have done a great job. Besides the great quality they performed on all of my prints, they offer large discounts to professional photographers upto 50% off professional price. They are a truly one GREAT small lab in Tennessee. Very convenient, they are open Mon-Sat. 9-6 pm. If you are a regular customer and want to pick up your prints, but can't make the regular hours, they will leave your order in the safe box outside the lab for you to pick up. They are very helpful and I give them two thumbs up!

Craig Callahan , November 01, 1999; 12:28 P.M.

Regarding labs in the Boston area, I've had nothing but excellent results using Color Services in Needham for E-6, and their dip & dunk C-41 was also good the one time I used it (no minilab though). I also use them for b&w printing; their standard prints are much better than anything I could achieve without a lot of time and effort--even if I had a place to set up my enlarger! For C-41 machine prints, the best I've found is Newtonville Camera, which gives me better results than Boston Photo Imaging--the combination of Fuji paper with Reala or NHG II works well, at least when the operator corrects each print.

Tim Vetter , November 04, 1999; 01:53 P.M.

Painful lesson learned today. Sent 10 rolls of E6, a Kodachrome, and a couple of C41's thru a local photo shop for processing at a major name-brand's central east coast lab.

The E6 slides all came back bright with thin contrast as if overexposed and a radical color shift to blue/green -- blacks rendering as a kind of forest green. I've digitized some of them with my Polaroid SprintScan at 4000 dpi and spent hours hacking the color curves in Photoshop, but haven't been able to get anything that looks remotely decent. [Some one-off Kodachromes and C41's shot during the same period with the same equipment are all normal BTW].

The lab manager has owned up to a chemistry screwup that afflicted some 80 rolls of E6's done in a single processing batch. For me, the result is the loss of numerous irreplacable images from a 20-day fall color shoot across 5 New England states.

We're currently investigating whether 64Base Photo CD scans and manual corrections done on a Kodak 4050 imager won't result in more satisfactory salvage.

Bottom line: Unless you have total faith in your lab, don't send them everything at once. Let them have only a few rolls at a time so you're less likely to lose everything to a process catastrophe.

Javed Akhtar , November 14, 1999; 10:59 A.M.

If you live in the Metro Halifax, Nova Scotia area, allow me to recommend Carsand-Mosher Photographic. They're at Barrington and Blowers, downtown. They've also got a location in the Chain Lakes area, at Bayer's Lake business park. When I was starting out, their clerks literally spent hours with me poring over my processed proofs and slides, giving me pointers and tips. Their service and turnaround are second-to-none. I was using Atlantic Photo Supply on Spring Garden Road for a bit, but they had dust control issues, and I lost 3 rolls of chrome film due to scratches. Don't use Atlantic Photo Supply.

George Feucht , November 15, 1999; 04:09 A.M.

A&I in Los Angeles for color print film:

Awesome. I take photos for a small company in New Hampshire on a freelance basis, so I get to play around with testing different labs. Anyway, I decided to spend some company money and have the 12 rolls I recently shot proscessed and printed at A&I.

Anyway, it was more expensive than the consumer-grade labs that they normally have used (Walmart, grocery store-contracted labs), but the results were incredible. THE most beautiful prints I have ever received (all 4x6's) I still can't believe the color, cleanliness, and sharpness (yes... sharpness) of the prints compared to other labs. Wow. But, my bosses with the checkbook weren't happy with the tab I gave them. Fine with me. I'm shooting slides from now on anyway (slowly creeping through experience up to psuedo-pro stattus). And guess where the slides are going to be proscessed...?

Richard Prentiss , November 17, 1999; 10:37 P.M.

The Slideprinter in Denver has done excellent E-6 developing and Type R prints for me for several years. They can develop but not mount Infrared Ektachrome (the film base is slick and tough). Pallas Photo in Denver can dev &mount IR Ektachrome but someone bounced a utensil of some sort across one of the best frames. Slideprinter also has an awesome lobby display, changed annually.

Richard Prentiss Nov. 1999

Alex Jaimes , January 19, 2000; 12:51 P.M.

Tip on Avoiding loosing film with Kodak mailers

I've been using kodak mailers for years. About a year ago I discovered that some labs will allow you to send the mailers to Kodak, through the lab. In other words, you buy the mailer and then place it in the lab's envelope. B&H in NYC does this- they have a "Kodak processing" counter. Buy the mailers where you usually buy them. Then, go to the Kodak counter and place each film in each mailer; the mailer then goes in one of the standard envelopes. The Kodak people will pick up your film with everyone elses, and you can pick them up 1 or 2 days later, B&H will not charge you for this. It's much faster and your film will not be somewhere in the mail- in addition, if you're processing more than one film at once, the Kodak folks will put them in a separate bag; so when I pick them up at B&H, they're all together. Look for any lab that does Kodak processing and ask- some allow you to drop off your film but not to pick it up. Either way, it seems safer to me than mr. mailman... On quality, not the best, but def. the cheapest. Also note that if you do it this way, you pay the mailer price and get the same thing (I assume) as if you dropped off your slides paying the "kodak processing" price.

IShin Wang , January 20, 2000; 02:03 P.M.

Why not develop slide/film by yourself? It is not hard/expensive at all, but just a little time consuming (around 90 mins to develop 5 rolls). It will save you a lot of money especially when you have many slides to develop. I bought an old JOBO ATL 1000 through www.ebay.com which was around $1500 last April. I have never developed film before the day I received the machine and because I had only three days to try the machine to see if I like it or not (it was purchased with e-escrow), I went to a local store right away, bought both E6 (for slide) and C41 (for negative film) chemical, and asked the sales man how to open a film can and mount film to reels, etc. Then I went back home and developed my very first five rolls of film (the maximum number of rolls an ATL 1000 can process at a time) in my life. For the past 10 months, I have developed more than 150 rolls of slides/negatives.

Paul Trunfio , January 26, 2000; 10:58 A.M.

True... one can, of course, develop their own slide film without having to set up an entire darkroom. However, if cost is a major concern, it is difficult to keep the costs below the $3.29 Fuji slide mailers (offered at B&H). Cost for Tetanal E6 3 step kit is around 18$, which develops 6 rolls. Then consider the time investment and the cost for needed supplies. But, if you have enough free time on your hands to develop your own E6 and price is a major concern, then why not consider making your own solutions from scratch (cost is 1 USD per roll)? An excellent article on the subject can be found at:

opie.net/orphy/photo/dr/wkft-e6.html

IShin Wang , January 27, 2000; 02:38 P.M.

A Kodak Ektachrome E-6 5.0 liter package costs about US $50 (including tax) which can be used to develop 40 rolls. Only portion of the chemical concentrates needs to be pumped to develop small amount of rolls each time and the life of the unused concentrates can be extended to 6 months using Tenenal Protectan Spray (http://www.jobo-usa.com/jobofoto/products/chembw.htm#Protectan Spray).

So, it ends up with about $1.25 a roll. On the other hand, I think cost alone is not the reason for DIY. That reason is not as attractive as being able to see your slides right away and have more control of the quality/customization of the film/slide development process.

Charles Schutz , February 02, 2000; 12:40 A.M.

I use a local Pro Lab in Missoula Montana named Yellowstone Photo and highly recommend them to anyone in the area or who will be traveling through. By the way the blurb about the local Missoula lab Phil used is Yellowstone. Yes the Grizzled owner Barry still works and operates the machines. They are very professional and care about their customers. I have been using them for a about three years and never had any problems that could not be solved. Many area pros, international pros, University of Montana school of Journalism and the Rocky Mountain school of photography use their services. All the E-6 processing is dip & dunk and of course they do many other services including graphic design. Prices are competive(36exp slide is $6.99) Also, if you live out of the area they are happy to do mail order and they use pre paid mailers. The Phone # is 800-439-7637 They are located on Front St on your left before the library. A true gem in the Garden City. Welcome

Louis Roehrs , February 13, 2000; 03:27 A.M.

OK. Well, after reading all about photo CD, except this page, I decided to have my slides scanned to Photo CD. The good camera store Keeble & Shucat that I normally trust sent the work to KODAK. I thought, great! I'm getting back into photography, a hobby that I've ignored for some time.

Well, the slides came back with entire fingerprints on them. Some of the boxes were missing the sleeves. An entire PhotoCD order was not even scanned even though the envelopes clearly requested it.

All this work, according to the slide boxes, was done by Qualex, A Kodak Company.

It's just crap these days.

I also had black and white done, the prints are turning brown within six months. The store sends Black and White to Qualex as well.

Avoid KODAK Premium Processing! It wasn't just one roll with fingerprints, it was three of nine.

Being from Colorado and having read this page a little late, I'm going to try ADI. Coloradoans have a serious concern for quality, it's in the culture there.

Scott Walton , February 18, 2000; 02:57 P.M.

I have tried the pro labs in the Boston area over the years and have had some really bad luck.... until I hooked up with Dorian Color Lab in Arlington, MA. Their E-6 line is the tightest from day to day and thier prints are always perfect. Alan and Dean Asadorian (owners) are good people and they have some real pro's working for them! Never once has there been a misfortune, boob boob or what ever! My commercial film goes to no one else but them. They are at 24 Mill St., Arlington, MA. Scott Walton Lynnfield,MA

Vladimir Vukicevic , February 24, 2000; 01:18 A.M.

I've done E6, B&W, and PhotoCD with Custom Process, a full-service lab in the Berkeley, CA area. Their web site is www.customprocess.com; reasonable prices, Q-Lab, dip-and-dunk, plastic mounts, 3-hour E6 (can be rushed if necessary).. impeccable dust control. They also do ProPhotoCD, along with a full-range of printing and editing services.

Josh Hansen , March 02, 2000; 12:03 A.M.

I second the opinion that Walgreen's is horrible. You can save yourself some money and get better results by pulling your exposed film straight off the spool and holding it up to a lightbulb. I had some reprints done there and they turned out horrible--all out of focus. I pointed this out to them and asked them to please try again. They refused and said it was the fault of the originals. I brought the originals back to show them the difference and they still insisted that the originals were at fault. In addition, they also managed to lose several of the original negatives. "Walgreen's--Where America Takes It's Photo's"--ya right. I will never again step foot inside of a Walgreen's with a roll of film in my hand.

Mike Morgan , March 07, 2000; 08:16 P.M.

If you plan to scan your film, read on

C41 (Print/negative film) seems to be susceptible to film surface damage. E6 (Slide) film seems to be more durable and less prone to scratches.

If you want a good lab to develop C-41 (Print), try a pro lab that uses a dip and dunk process. Dip and dunk takes about 2.5 hours, and it only touches the film surface on the edges and sometimes in the 1 or two mid-roll frames. This avoids damaging film surfaceimportant if you plan to scan your film.

However, dont assume that just because you select a pro lab that your film will be processed with care. Higher cost doesnt always translate into better service. I recommend qualifying a lab with an experimental roll of snap shots.

Many retail labs (E.g., National Camera Exchange, Ritz, ProEx/Wolf Camera) damage/scratch negatives, and their teenaged clerks will at first blame it on your camera when you complain.

Damage results from the rollers in the 1-hour machines they use, and is made worse thanks to the accelerated (baked) process, which seems to result in a less durable or more brittle film surface.

Sheathing film is another cause of film surface damage. Some retailers (e.g., K-Mart in MN) do not sheath the filminstead, they place a clear protective plastic covering over your film. The covering has a sticky coating where the film sprocket holes are. This avoids the problem of sliding film in a sheath. I have heard others complain that the coating causes other problems, but I have not run into any such problems.

Film surface damage does not usually show up on your first set of prints. There are two reasons for this: first, sometimes the film surface is damaged after the prints or made (e.g., when the sheath the film); second, a diffuse light source is used to make prints. A diffuse light source does not accentuate film surface defects as much as a collimated light source does. At least one high-end film scanner, the Nikon LS-2000 uses collimated light sources during the scan. Incidentally, heres one review of the LS-2000.

Richard P. Conboy , March 08, 2000; 08:49 A.M.

Thanx for the opportunity to add something of value to your site! I have been traveling over to Dorian Labs in Arlington for the past two years. It's worth the trip. The c-41 and E processing work is terriffic. Prints from slides are excellent also. The staff is very helpful and knowledgeable. I found them after a series of disasters with a cheap local processor. Won't go to anyone else ever again!

Greg Kuhnen , April 07, 2000; 12:38 P.M.

All of these blanket statements about chain labs are pretty meaningless. A lab is as good as the people behind the machine and (in some cases) the machine / chemical constraints they have to work with.

Case in point, I used to take snapshots to a Ritz camera in Houston which did a superb job (for a mini-lab). It was standard practice there for the operator to go through the prints coming out of the machine and re-print a third of the roll with color-balance or exposure corrections. If I ever had a complaint about a print, they offered to reprint the frame to my liking for free.

At some point, the store came under new managment. All of old operators were replaced, and suddenly I had a manager trying to tell me that my photos were all blue because I "probably don't have a multi-coated lens", and would I like to see the newest Sigma something-or-other.

Experiment- shoot several 12 exposure rolls under various conditions and take them to different labs. When you pick up the prints, ask questions about any problems and gauge their reactions. Better to spend $20 to find a good lab than to live with a bad one for years.

T T , May 04, 2000; 07:53 P.M.

Attention: Seattle Film Works has changed their name to Photoworks.

I thought you should all know this.

Srinivasa Regeti , June 01, 2000; 02:44 P.M.

Now the trend is changing, you dont have to pay for processing your film anymore, you can mail your film rolls and the lab is going to process them and put them at a site and you can select the pictures which you actually want to print and you pay for that. Check this out

OFOTO Labs

Snap Fish

E-Memories

Jeffrey Siegel , June 03, 2000; 07:45 P.M.

I recently had Master Photo CD Scans done by both Jim's Photo Lab and Custom Process. I did a comparison between them and it appears at:

Jim's Photo Lab/Custom Process Comparison

If you just want the executive summary:

It all comes down to what you want to do with the scans.  For small images destined for the web or similar applications use Jim's Photo Lab and save some money.  For printing and other higher resolution applications, you are better off using a higher quality lab such as Custom Process.

neal charness , June 17, 2000; 10:16 A.M.

On trip to Alaska in 1996 I learned a good trick (that also saves $$) when you have a lot of rolls to send (I use Fuji for their product and haven't had problems). I go to Post Office and get Priority Mail box and send all (in envelopes) to Fuji (or Kodak) certified mail. I always get slides back either Priority Mail or Airborne Express. They obviously do all at the same time and keep track. Sending 24 rolls to Fuji last month cost me only $4.60 and I had them back within a week. Neal Charness

Marty Lyons , July 17, 2000; 07:37 P.M.

After spending nearly $800 on PhotoCD scans at Pacific Color in Seattle, you think there would be good news.

My last job had a slide which needed to be remounted then rescanned; the first scan (which was done at Boston Photo) was beautiful, but because the slide was off center, the edges were cropped. Pacific Color managed to remount it, but when I opened it in Photoshop it was covered in dust. When I looked at it on the light table, there was a big THUMBPRINT right in the middle of it.

As if that wasn't enough, most of the (200+) scans had the dreaded PhotoCD "haze", which I had to fix in Photoshop by hand.

I went back today with that damaged slide, with the intention of having them clean it and rerun it, but before I could even do that, was presented with two batches of my last PhotoCD scans. One job was at the appropriate price of $1/scan. The others at $2.50/scan. Because they were on different work orders, they refused to honor the whole lot at the bulk price. Reminding them I was bringing nearly $1000 a month in scanning didn't help. The attitude was "we can't help you", and "the managers are out today".

It's unbelievable how many companies still have not bothered to read the Nordstrom book on how to treat customers.

Pro lab, indeed. I'll never go back there.

Sean Noonan , July 31, 2000; 08:45 P.M.

Natural Color Labs - Remarkably Slow Service!

I tried out this lab in Stoughton, MA to avoid having to drive into Boston/Cambridge for all my developing. I gave them two rolls, one each of NPH and Realla. These folks are a Fuji Pro Lab, so I figured all would be well. Their brochure states that develop and contact print service takes 24 hrs (very standard among pro labs). Well, I called to make sure all was well the next day, and “Sorry, they aren’t ready yet”. Ok, fine. They looked busy when I went in, they are a pro lab busy with weddings this time of year, yadda, yadda. I called the second day, third, and so on, still nothing.

After EIGHT days I finally went in to get my negs, disgusted that they still weren’t printed. I arrived promptly at 8:00am when they open and was told they couldn’t give me my negs because “No one was in that department yet.” Huh?!? This is a small lab, how many departments could there be?

To make this long story short, it took the help of three lab techs to locate my film, and a total of 35 minutes of my time to get my negs back, still un-proofed. After all this, no apologies, no hope for a discount, nothing. Don’t make the mistake of trusting your work to these folks if you have a deadline, you are likely to get burned.

Brad Carroll , August 14, 2000; 12:55 A.M.

A sad tale of my experience with Inkleys (Ritz Camera) in Salt Lake City. I sent them 11 rolls of slides taken during my vacation in Nova Scotia. Specks of dirt and dust had to be cleaned from far too many of the slides. Worse yet, there was an obvious difference in color from roll to roll. It appears that some of the rolls were developed in a solution with depleted chemicals, resulting in a brownish-yellow cast that ruined the affected slides. I'll never send film to Inkleys again! After reading the comments on this site, I will give A&I's mailers a try. Wish me luck!

Piaw Na , October 12, 2000; 07:11 P.M.

I've switched over to A&I mailers from Kodak mailers and have been very happy. What I wasn't so happy with was that when I sent in 15 rolls of T400CN, they asked to charge an additional $3.50 a roll. (When I sent in a roll of T400CN, they didn't have a problem and did a great job) Well, they still do a great job, but I guess when it's for a bigger job they realized they could charge me more.

I got a tour of Portland Color when I was visiting Portland a couple of weeks ago. They used to be THE lab I'd go to for Cibachromes, but have switched entirely to digital (as mentioned in the Q&A forum). Their prices have gone up as a result, and hence the Lightroom is now the only place you can go for quality Cibas. (I fail to see the point of sending work all the way to Portland for digital imaging, when we have plenty of digital imaging expertise here on the West Coast)

Ryan Skelly , October 14, 2000; 10:47 P.M.

I know recently Seattle FilmWorks changed. Its now PhotoWorks. I recently sent a roll to them and was pleased with the results. They also scan your film, but producing a resonable-size image. They still give you that roll of film with your order, but they have lowered the prices somewhat. I think they will get my business.

Edward Sukach , November 19, 2000; 02:56 P.M.

The best I've found so far has been Advance Photographics, on Cherry Hill, In Danvers, MA.

I wouldn't know how they handled complaints ... I've never had one. They work in C-41 and E-6 processing along with the usual black and white stuff; and include digital scanning and printing also.

I've given them my "tough stuff" (try a white soccer ball against an off-white background, taken with a run-of-the-mill point and shoot, probably developed at the local Super Market); with really good results. They meet their promised times - haven't failed once yet, not by five minutes.

They do a LOT of work for places like the Peabody museum. Everything I've seen is first-rate.

I know they do not do P3/ P30 (Ilfo - Cibachrome). I'm am not sure about mail-order, as I live close enough (~ ten miles) to deliver and pick-up by hand.

If anyone is interested, I'll post an adress and telephone number.

Ed Sukach

Tom Simonds , December 11, 2000; 08:20 P.M.

BOSTON AREA - CHEAP - I've had good and consistent results with Star Market. They do two sets of 5" x 7" prints for $9.99. For an additional $6.99 you can have scans done in medium resolution - OK for email and stuff. Any size roll. They send to Konica for scanning, and post the pix to a web page. This is nice, as they stay there for 20 days. You can send anyone the URL and password, and they can download the photos from the web site. Konica's scanning seems clean, too. I've never seen a scratch or piece of lint show up yet.

For REAL CHEAP big scans, try the photo place in Central Square at Mass Ave. and Pearl st. Up to 40 big scans for $10.00, plus $3.50 for developing film. On CD. Owner operated, Bob usually does a good enough job for my tastes. His scans are 1536 x 1008.

Jay R. Ashworth , December 23, 2000; 04:41 P.M.

Ok, so here's the big question for me:

What in hell's up with the whole Photo CD thing these days?

Kodak brought out it's PictureCD thing a year or two back; JPG files on a CD-R with photo software included (if you like Windows, that is), and that made it hard *enough* to ask labs about PhotoCD services...

but now Eckerds has brought out *their own* CD-R JPG disc format... and they're calling it *PhotoCD*.

Um, Kodak? Don't you care about this massive trademark infringement? It's doing exactly the thing the Lanham Act was intended to protect you from: customer confusion. I actually went so far as to hunt down the Product Line Manager at Eastman Kodak and call him to talk to him about it. Vacation; voice mail; long detailed message... no reply.

Whassup?

Isaac Chavel , February 15, 2001; 12:06 A.M.

I live in NYC and am trying the following combination for print film. B&H sells A&I mailers for about $13 (up to a roll of 36 exposures of 35mm film). The prints that come back are excellent. If the color is in doubt, they send two prints. Then I use Modern Age for enlargements (this is more recent) --- same prices as A&I. Since it is expensive, this forces me to be very critical of my own work. So far, so good.

Frank Pettit , February 23, 2001; 11:42 P.M.

About labs in the Los Angeles area:

As far as E6 processing goes, A&I is truly amazing, very consistent E6. However, their C41 prints (in a separate building) are mediocre, and they charge too much. Where prints are concerned, they ignore my _very clear_ cropping instructions and don't really care if the color is good.

I also used to have all my PhotoCD's scanned at A&I, but it seems they're getting worse: frames way off center, frames with lotsa dust, way too dark or way too light (EXTREME contrast adjustments needed in Photoshop) but the worst thing is that NONE of their scans ever have any saturated color like the slide!!! I have to spend hours creating artifical color saturation with Photoshop. My fault? Finally I stuck one of my slides in the crappy SprintScan at work and bang, more saturation than A&I scanning ever gave me. Next time I'll do my scanning at ADI or even Boston Photo if they take mail order.

About C41 processing'n'proofing: I've hunted, hunted around, trying to find a good (not decent) lab. The good labs are all in Hollywood. I've gotten really gorgeous 4x6 prints from a place called Digital Color Lab in Hollywood, but they're hella expensive, $24 or more for 36 exp. double prints. The prints in question were all nice portraits with Kodak Portra film, haven't tried landscapes. Although I mistrust 1-hour places, I get better-than-average results from Prints of the City in West L.A.

A place called DPI Duplicates in Hollywood specializes in duplicates, so I thought I'd see how they did with some VPF's (that's negative -> slide conversion, for slide shows.) The VPF's came back not with dust but huge lint, and an extreme orange color, for $8 a slide. I had the same VPF's done at A&I (the E6 lab, not the print lab) and they cost $9 a piece and had good color, little dust. It's so hard to get decent VPF's.

What Phil says about Colortek in Boston applies to Colortek in L.A., they're ignorant, do less-than-spectacular work and have an attitude problem.

Jeremy Hood , March 16, 2001; 10:03 A.M.

In April 1999, someone asked about the Fuji Frontier Digital Prints. I work at a Canadian photofinishing chain (Black's) which is generally non-professional. A number of the Black's stores have these Frontier printers, and they operate as follows:

4000 pixel line scanner scans 35mm, ix240, 6x6, 6x4.5, mounted 35mm slide. When viewing on the screen, it is scanned at a lower resolution. From there, you can perform colour corrections (CMY), density corrections, digitally enhance sharpness (and grain with it), or modify the contrast (lighten or darken highlights/shadows, or both at the same time). When finished, the scanner re-scans the negative/slide and applies the colour corrections to it. It's sent by wire to the processing machine, which shoots lasers onto traditional rolls of Fuji paper, and in about 3 minutes you can have a print up to 10x15.

Advantages: in terms of consumer photofinishing, it's really fast. From drop-off to print, a 24exp. roll of c-41 can be done in 15 minutes. And that's with no dust and colour correction. The contrast controls can save a picture BUT

Disadvantages: the "all soft" or "shadow soft" options in the contrast control tend to destroy colour. A black background will take on a blue tint, and objects will have an aura of lightness around them. Sharpness controls up the grain, make skintones look like porcelain, somewhat.

Overall, in comparison with the machines the majority of consumer photofinishers use, the Frontier can produce gorgeous prints. If you look carefully though, you can tell that it's digital - but you do have to look carefully. Not exhibition quality, but definitely worth it for proofs, or for vacation snaps. I like Black's for their service and quality, but by no means are they professional. thanks

Jimmy Rhyne , March 20, 2001; 03:19 P.M.

I want to add a comment on a great Lab. I generally send all my important color stuff to The Lab in Saint Louis. They are great and you cannot beat their price, quality and turnaround time. On top of that, they will discount your price if you spend a certain amount each year. They are great. Their address and contact info is:

The Lab P.O. Box 15100 Saint Louis, MO 63110-0100 (314)-721-1799

Jimmy Rhyne , March 20, 2001; 03:23 P.M.

If money is a concern and it sometimes is, then use Clark Color Labs. You can get great service and color prints if you can wait 7-10 days. I send most of my stuff to a pro lab (The Lab in Saint Louis) but sometimes I send a few things to Clark for the local high school annual staff since money is limited. I have tried Wal Mart in several states and they are too inconsistent. Try Clark Color Labs for discount stuff. They are on the web at www.clarkcolor.com

Diane Wolf , April 03, 2001; 11:51 P.M.

I would like to take a moment to defend ZONA photo labs from the first comment above written by Linda Cook dated Jan. 1997. Much has happened at Zona since then - they now have a dip and dunk black & white film processor and an expanded film department (more staff) The lab is definately worth another chance.

What happened to Linda was very wrong - but as an employee at Zona since 1991 I can personally attest that problems like hers are very rare at Zona. All labs will make mistakes ocassionally, as all humans make mistakes ocassionally. I challenge anyone to find a lab that has a reputation for quality and service better than that at Zona. I am proud to work there.

Call me and I'll tell you all about it Diane Wolf Zona Photo Labs Inc. 138 Rogers St. Cambridge MA 02142 617-864-8747

James Li , May 09, 2001; 02:42 P.M.

I am living in northern CA, i don't know whether people here ever heard of Reed's Camera in Walnut Creek They carry good stuff in store, but try to avoid their lab. I tried them twice with my two dozens of Velvia Both times they return with at least one roll scratched, where I can't do anything about it. Just a quick comment

Eric Anderson , May 15, 2001; 05:24 A.M.

In Minneapolis, MN, Procolor does really nice work. The cost is about standard for a pro lab, and they've never damaged a negative or transparency of mine. Their dust control is impeccable, as well. My one caveat is not to use them for PhotoCD scanning from 35mm transparencies. They don't unmount the film, nor welcome unmounted film, and the mount often intrudes on the scan, creating yucky cropping in the corners.

Joshua Sullivan , May 17, 2001; 01:15 A.M.

If for some unfortunate reason you find yourself stuck in Peoria, IL with some film to develop, avail yourself of the services at the Caterpillar Image Lab. They're the only really professional setup in that part of the state. Very nice B&W film development and great E-6 with plastic mounts. If I recall correctly, they don't do quick turn-around processing, but you can always go to Walgreens for that.

Jim Tardio , June 27, 2001; 02:26 P.M.

Someone above mentioned poor quality scans done by A&I. I have to agree with this. They started out good but have become increasingly sloppy. To add insult to injury, they've cut out their economy scans ($1.55...same quality as regular scans, but longer turnaround time) and raised the price to $3.00 each, which to me is outrageous.

ADI does a better job and they're a dollar cheaper.

Jim Willis , July 16, 2001; 12:09 A.M.

I am in Barrie, Ontario Canada - I use Japan Camera for my E-6 and C-41. The owners run the business themselves and actually do some of the printing/processing/ etc. No sratches or any problems, I have used them for 10+ years.

Jim Willis

Peter O'Neil , July 28, 2001; 09:19 A.M.

Recently we moved from just west of Boston (where I was using Portland Photo(graphics) and occasionally Spectrum for E6 Velvia processing) to Boulder, CO. In searching the local area, I was strongly recommended to use Markham Photo Lab in Fort Collins over a couple of very good Boulder Labs. I'm glad I followed the advise. Dropped off 14 rolls all of which came back wonderful.

I strongly recommend using them. Paul Nielsen is the owner and is really responsive to your requests. As it turns out a local commercial photographer who was in when I picked up my slides says Fuji has Markham rated has among the top 2-3 in the country due to their attention to all the chemistry details. And they do lots of mail in processing from both coasts.

Note they _only_ do E6 slide processing for 35mm 120, 220, and 4x5 as well as dupes and Fujichrome SuperGloss Prints.

Markham Photo Lab 204 North Link Lane #5 Fort Collins, CO 80524

970.221.9429 800.914.6697

Good shooting all,

Peter

Robert Hart , August 14, 2001; 02:52 P.M.

Photo Plus on 10th Ave. So. In Great Falls, Montana is an excellent lab. They provided the best prints and negs I have had in three years, absolutely spotless, and at a reasonable price. Those of you traveling central Montana and Glacier Park should consider Photo Plus.

Zach Beane , August 30, 2001; 11:11 A.M.

Portland Color no longer sells Ilfochromes. They're using CSI Lightjet output instead. I'm going to try it this week and see how it looks (I never got an Ilfo done with them).

Boston Photo's PhotoCD processing may be great, but for me (a casual photographer who just wants a convenient digital version of his images), $85 for 36 exposures is too expensive. Unfortunately, it looks like the other, cheaper recommendation (ADI) is no longer in business.

Jenny Brown , September 05, 2001; 11:30 A.M.

I have experimented with several labs in central Illinois trying to find a balance of quality and price.

Sam's Club, Peoria: Sends their work to a national Fuji lab (I asked them to drop in a business card once). Rock bottom prices ($2.74 for a 24 exposure 4x6 single prints, $3.80 or so for doubles). They haven't ever damaged my negatives (with 300 rolls through by now); tho initial proof prints do periodically come back with roller marks on them. Their enlargements are entirely automated and have been consistently acceptable; no scratch marks here, and better color balance than their proofs have. I can't beat $1.57 for an 8x10, and they handled an order of 37 8x10s perfectly. They're quite good for cheap color negative work. The downs: They suck BADLY with traditional black and white films; beyond taking 2 weeks to come back instead of the normal 3 days, they just don't process and print them right. They seem to have difficulty handling slides; I've had them come back mounted in random directions midroll. They also use cardboard mounts which fray within 2 days of gentle handling, and there's a LOT of cardboard dust on the slides. I sent them a few slides to have prints made as a test, and they were horrible; badly focused, improper color, incredibly grainy, essentially worthless. So, great for C41 negs and rock bottom prices, but not anything other than color negs. (They do acceptably with C41-process black and white, tho the prints tend to tint pink sometimes.) A note on proof prints: they are at their worst during holiday processing. They're quite acceptable any other time. I tried their cheap scan to cdrom; sometimes it comes back perfect and other times very screwed up (nothing in between); but they're okay with me sending it back to have it redone. So far, satisfied, if a bit slow when I need stuff redone; and they are darn cheap for scanning.

Colorfast Photo, Peoria: I haven't sent much through them for negs, as they're somewhat expensive for that ($12-$15/roll for what I want). I have been using them for slides. They mount in thin plastic mounts; total cost is somewhere in the $7-$8 range for a 36 exposure roll. The slides are done same day, and come back very clean, only a few minor bits of dust here and there. I have had one slide come back cut and mounted improperly in the middle of a roll, but only one. They apparently do monitor their equipment during the day, as once my slides were delayed a little due to a chemistry change (I didn't mind, I'd rather it be clean!). They also win in my book for staying open a little into the evening, not closing at 5 before I get off work.

Peoria Camera Shop: Their dust control for slides is immaculate; by far the cleanest consumer slide place I've found around here. They mount in thin plastic mounts, and provide a very nice hard slide box (not the cheap thin black ones everyone else has). They're in the $8 range for a 36 exp roll of slides, process and mount. They do take overnight to do them, or you can pay more for same day rush. I haven't sent much film through them (their neg devel/print is again in the $12-$15 range); but I've been very happy with the condition and treatment of the slides.

Kodak and Fuji mailers: I tried these for black and white film. They gave me terrible results with Agfapan black and white film; Fuji's came back muddy middle grays with no contrast, and Kodak's came back extreme black and extreme white with no middle grays. Both ruined the pictures. Apparently, they can handle C41 but not black and white.

Caterpillar Image Labs: The only pro lab I know about in this area. I've sent a few rolls (b&w and color) through them and had excellent results every time; gentle handling, absolutely no scratches or roll marks or -anything-, properly developed B&W film, everything right, perfect dust control on slides. They're a couple dollars more expensive than consumer labs but they're so careful with my film it doesn't bother me. Problem is they're reducing their consumer level services and focusing entirely on pro level stuff, sending us to other local consumer labs for the basic stuff... so I am not sure how much of what I'm doing I can have done there any longer (as of August 2001). Still, they are the only place nearby to even consider getting Ilfochromes made, or having custom darkroom work done. They are also the only place I've found capable of making direct prints from slides, without internegatives or scanning; type R prints; and they did VERY well with it. The prints practically glow. Also, their slide mounting uses very professional looking heavy duty plastic mounts, not the lightweight flimsy things consumer labs use. Much much easier to handle.

My conclusion: I send my color negs through Sam's Club to save on cost, since it's the majority of what I shoot; and I don't discount a picture if the proof print is a little unsharp or slightly off colors. Often that is just the automated proofs. I send my slides through Peoria Camera Shop or Colorfast Photo, depending whether I prefer perfectly dust free, or same day response. And I'll be headed back to CAT Image Lab (corner of MacArthur and Washington in Peoria) for any pro level work, custom prints and cropping, prints from slides, etc.

John Regehr , October 28, 2001; 11:31 P.M.

Another data point in the "photo labs for PhotoCD" debate.

I used ADI once for a large order, and the results were superb.

Recently I sent a roll to Jim's and several rolls to Custom Process. The results from Custom Process were very good. Jim's was a different story: the first CD they sent me would not even mount. I sent the film back to them and the second CD they sent worked, but the results were terrible. Almost every exposure has one or more of the following: spots, scratches, conspicuous fingerprints, and bad color balance. It's the worst PhotoCD I've ever seen!

Tom Morris , February 08, 2002; 11:54 A.M.

In the UK, I currently use - Ilford processing for black and white prints. I haven't had any back, but from what I've seen of other peoples films and prints, they are very good for B&W-ers. My first roll of colour slide should be coming soon (from Adams in Tunbridge Wells - a local town), and after that I'm going to use the Fuji processing lab.

Matt J. , February 22, 2002; 02:52 P.M.

I recommend in San Francisco, California Photoworks (not associated with the former Seattle Film Works) for professional processing and printing. They are an independant professional lab with the highest standards. They handle 35mm and 120 size film. Their strength is in color and b+w printing, where they offer a wide range of formats, including full frame with black sloppy border. The quality of these has been second to none. They do a color reprints sized from 3x5 to 8x12 (35mm; $1 to $9) or 4x5 to 5x6 (120; $1.25 to $4); and custom color printing from 5x7 to 20x24 ($9 to $70). A roll of color 35mm 36exp color neg film, printed 4x6 with white and black sloppy borders is about $19 (if you've never printed with white outer and black sloppy innner borders, you'll love how classy it makes your 35mm snapshots look; see these photos); a roll of color 120 color neg printed 5x5 is about $13. They also do E6 processing, plastic mounts, but not numbered or dated ($9.50 for 35mm 36exp). They do not do prints from transparancies, however. I have been using them for a year and consider them the best processing I've ever used. I used to shoot slides exclusively, but recently gave them my vacation photos shot on Kodak Gold 100, and the images were breathtaking. They do an amazing job with printing your plain-jane rolls of color neg film. Photoworks / tel. 415-626-6800 / address: 2077-A Market St. @ Church, in the Castro neighborhood

Les De Moss , December 21, 2007; 09:21 A.M.

If you're looking for Photo Labs in Fort Collins, Colorado to process E6, try DigiGraphics. They have been in business since 1977 and are the last remaining professional processor of E6 film in the area. They run a rack and tank processor capable of handling film up to 8x10". They also provide high-end drum scanning and photographic printing up to 30x50". They are located at 2401 Research Blvd, near College and Drake. 970.482.8595 www.digi-graphics.com. Markham Lab, mentioned in a prior post, closed a few years ago.

Andrew Gale , December 28, 2007; 11:50 A.M.

I know that everyone will flame me for saying this. C41, I take it to Target. Maybe it is because I know the film processing specialist there, and know which days she works, but all of my film, B&W and color C41 has come out great. I know they dont use dip and dunk, but i have never had a scratch. Normally, however, i go in on her day, have her process one roll, and if it comes out free of scratches have her do the rest for the next day.

Its cheep, 95 cents next day (for 1hour you pay 10cents more), and of course I never have them make me prints, but for processing, it is fast cheap and in my experience, a good all around value.

Judy Dawson , December 05, 2008; 05:18 P.M.

Does anyone know of a good place to take film to be developed in Vancouver? Every place I go seems to be the same quality, which is usually pretty good. I’d just like a second opinion. Hopefully this can help the customers of my Vancouver photography studio get even better products. Thanks, Judy

Doug McIver , June 06, 2009; 12:50 P.M.

Quick Comment on Zona in Sommerville - they closed earlier this year

Eddy d , June 07, 2009; 11:31 A.M.

Tech Photo in Fairfield, N.J. does a great job. I go there for all my film needs. They do everything from film to digital to photographing art work, they make back lit displays, they convert digital on to film, slides, infrared,etc. http://technicalphoto.com/ 1275 Bloomfield avenue Fairfield, N.J. (973) 227-4646


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