What if you don't want to make your own prints at home?
I've never surveyed the field to compile a guide to printing service bureaus (that might be an old-fashioned term nobody uses any more—I'm too old-fashioned to know). But here are two new options, one for digital and one for film photographers:
Amazon Prime Prints: As part of its expanding suite of benefits attached to its Amazon Prime subscription service, which is increasingly well worth the cost in many ways (for instance, Prime Reading, with access to a free catalog of books, magazines, and newspapers, was recently added to the Prime Music and Prime Video free content), members can invite up to five non-members to participate in free cloud storage and free photo sharing. That service is called "Family Vault." Part of Family Vault is Prime Prints, which will make prints for you of your stored images. Nothing so special? No, except it's unusually cheap—a 4x6 is just nine cents, 58¢ for a 5x7, and $1.79 for an 8x10. Prime Prints also offers inexpensive book printing and double-sided cards of your photos, and will soon offer calendars. You can find out more about Prime Prints here. Amazon Prime costs $99 annually (you can pay by the month as well if that's easier—it ends up being a little more expensive*). It was originally established to provide free shipping for orders over $25.
Ilford Lab Direct: For film shooters who no longer run their own darkrooms, Ilford has duplicated the Lab service it provides for European customers out of Mobberly with a similar service for North America in Southern California. Ilford Lab Direct offers "Traditional silver gelatin prints delivered direct to your door." They will process most types of film (including from manufacturers other than Ilford), using a Refrema dip-and-dunk line, with a 2–4 day turnaround; develop, scan and print with a 3–5 day turnaround (offering three levels of resolution for the scans depending on desired final output size; or create silver gelatin prints from your uploaded digital file. Ilford Lab Direct will also develop color C-41 film with prints made on Kodak Royal Paper.
I've not personally used either service, but good to know.
*"It costs more to be poor."
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Frank Petronio: "In Rochester, New York, where photographic and inkjet printing were mostly invented and perfected, there are two higher-end options for the quality conscious: For film processing and darkroom prints, fiber based and toned B&W and Kodak Type C, plus some interesting options, try the master Edgar Praus at http://www.4photolab.com. For limited edition and fine art inkjet (and book making, letterpress) printing try Eric Kunsman at http://www.booksmartstudio.com. Both have extensive websites with online services. I give both my highest recommendation.
"There are several other great labs in larger markets but thanks to online ordering and efficient shipping, these two operations serve clients worldwide. (Mike, both these guys are worth making a visit and a post about, they have beautiful labs and are true artists. You'd even like their personal photography.) Frankly for snapshots and the like I simply use Shutterfly or CVS online (they offer same day local pick up). Cheap and surprising good quality for what they are."
Tom Kwas: "If I'm not mistaken, the Ilford Lab might be the old Swan Photo Labs...I used to get beautiful film processing from them, perfect and scratch-less (they were running it through a Refrema dip-and-dunk set up for black-and-white), but whoever was making the contacts (I'm assuming it was 'kids'), couldn't even get the contrast close (whoever I talked to at the time, made some remark about the kids doing too many contacts from Holgas, so everything was too contrasty, but, not a valid excuse for me)...hopefully that's all cleared up, and hell, if it is the old Swan, I'd send my film there just for processing if need be...."
psu: "Costco is actually a good place to get prints done. You can even get color profiles for your local store, if you want."