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Monday, 18 November 2019

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Blue Moon Camera in Portland Oregon is film central. Cameras, film, processing, and scanning in one convenient location. Oh, they also repair typewriters.

San Francisco is lucky to have a few options remaining.

Photo Plus on Polk St (no website) is solidly run and delivers consistently good quality for C-41 and black and white in 35mm and 120 formats, but no large format and no E-6.

Oscars on Brannon St (https://oscarsphotolab.com/) is in the category of pro labs that can do all the regular stuff, plus E-6, large format, push and pull all over the place, snip tests, and all the rest.

Harvey Milk Photo Center (http://harveymilkphotocenter.org) is run by the SF Parks and Rec, and offers a large, well-equipped darkroom for a small membership fee.

There are others, but I user Photo Plus and Oscars regularly and can vouch for their quality, and the Harvey Milk just makes me happy.

I have no tips to offer, but I'd like to add a question. In my film days I adored Agfa Scala B&W transparency film, shot on 6x9 medium format. It was perfection for me, God had meant me to use this film. I was heart-broken when the film was discontinued. In the US, www.dr5.com lab offers a dedicated reversal process for most B&W negative films. They have been around for a long time and moved location a few times, currently they seem to be in Iowa.

Do any of our fellow TOPers have any experience with the dr5 lab and their process? The process looks impressive on paper (pun intended), but I have never actually used them.

Back when Scala was dropped, I did consider switching to dr5, but I live in Europe and I felt that sending all my films across the Atlantic just to get them developed was one step too far, not just in terms of cost, also in terms of radiation exposure for the undeveloped film. (At the time I even wrote to the guy who runs dr5, to enquire about radiation: he felt it would not be an issue.) I am firmly on the digital side now, but I could still be tempted to get myself a TLR and have the occasional roll of 6x6 B&W transparencies, just for a bit of the old magic.

Lensrentals blog did a piece on indiefilmlab.com. They seemed to know what they were doing. I guess it has the implied seal of approval from Roger Cicala. ( Roger Cicala didn’t say they were good, or even just ok, but he did a podcast about them, so that means that he low key wants us to use their services!)

This is a huge and ongoing problem for me! I've been trying to send tests and research this for the last few years and it's been disappointing.

1. It's almost impossible to find a lab offering processing and proofing. Single roll contact proofing. I can get processing and printing, processing and scanning, processing, scanning, and printing; but seemingly NOT processing with just a decent contact proof.

2. Damaged film. I don't know if this is a product of mis-handling film during the scanning stage, and just dragging it though the film carriers, or just poor and uneducated handing by itself; but getting pretty scratched up film seems to be normal now. One reason I do NOT want scans. Most of the places I've tried would NOT be in business based on the quality of film handing, if they were alive 40 years ago. If I wasn't concerned with keeping the pristine quality of the film, I'd just shoot digital!

3. When I can get a proof, it's terrible! I have proofs made 40 years ago I could reproduce from. I got some pretty clean film from an LA lab not that long ago, and the proof was unreadable; I had to send the whole thing back. The QC guys excuse? The "kids" proof so many flat and foggy rolls of film from plastic cameras, they just dial in the high contrast filter and pump it out. The millennial lab weasels don't even know what a good print is supposed to look like and how to get it? Never been trained?

4.Mailing costs plenty and is going up exponentially! Add on the cost of sending back a "muffed" job for redo, and it's just stupid. If you had one roll you needed now, it would add better than 20 dollars on the the processing and proofing charge!

If and when I can get a bigger living space, all my tanks and trays are coming out of storage and I'm setting up a personal lab again.

The Darkroom Lab in San Clemente CA has been around for years. They’ll process your film, scan your negatives, and upload your images for immediate download. Great service and support.

https://thedarkroom.com

https://instagram.com/thedarkroomlab?igshid=1ax2wnzp6m0pf

Interesting thread that I can only assume is due to the curmudgeonly personality of TOP readers. Earlier this year, I tried my hand at film photograph for the first time after a 20 year switch to digital.

The first roll was returned with just a few prints. The old Pentax P3 door had popped open and exposed the roll. The second roll was returned. Blank. I had not wound the film onto the spool correctly after insertion into the Spotmatic II.

I am on the third roll, Tri-X 400, Fingers crossed
I do not miss the dark room chemicals and the red lights. I do not miss the “not knowing” if I got the shot. This was an experiment due to nostalgia after my father passed earlier this year. If this third roll leads to more then 20 technically useful images, I may continue. I may shoot a roll a year.

I found at least five places online that will develop film, make prints, and scan the negatives to an online library. I think most of them were in New York (city or state). Some were in California.

The sole surviving camera shop in the area outsources film development but is barely holding on. I am surprised they haven’t gone out of business.

If one believes that customer demands drives business viability,, then digital has one, and soon we won’t be able to buy or develop film for those stunning photos of our horse and buggies.

I'd welcome any suggestions for Canadian labs! There used to be two good labs in my city. One is gone, the other is a shadow of its former self.

Andrew

After many years of developing B&W, I've started processing color myself - mostly to save a few bucks (it costs about $3 a roll) and for the quicker turn around time. The color kits available are pretty good and it's not too difficult, especially if you are used to developing B&W. I am not brave enough to run the E6 process. For that I send to Praus in Rochester.

The real problem in my eyes is the lack of good scanners. People talk about how a digital camera and copy stand is better but nothing compares to a linear scan on a good scanner. Now that Hasselblad is no longer producing its range of scanners there is a huge hole in the market. If only Kodak or Fuji would come to their senses and make one.

"Pro" level film processing labs essentially disappeared from Pittsburgh in the mid 2000s.

One day there were 3 or 4, the next day none.

I remember being surprised by this, but after some thought realized that most of the local pros were probably digital by then, since even a well off dilettante like me had a DSLR by then.

I wrote this page in 2007 ... a year or two before the phone cameras showed up to mostly finish the job.

http://mutable-states.com/requiem-for-the-latent-image.html

It's mostly an ode to Kodachrome. But E-6 counts as magic too. 🙂

There are still a few in SoCal.
1. North Coast Photographic Services https://northcoastphoto.com/

2. Richard Photo Lab https://www.richardphotolab.com/

Both do walk-in and mailorder.

I haven’t shot film in a while, but J&M Imageworks in W. Hartford, CT does good work:

http://jm-imageworks.net/index.html

There is an excellent photo lab here in Austin, Texas called, Holland Photo. They develop black and white and color film (both E-6 and C-41), routinely do formats up to 4x5 inches. They can also do high res scans, large prints and custom prints. When I did a large job in NYC a few years back that required the processing and contacting of many rolls of medium format B&W film we found it cheaper and better to Fedex our film back to Austin that to use a known lab in NYC. In the 30+ years I've used Holland we've only had one glitch; and that was many years ago. I highly recommend them and note that a number of famous and well known photographers also use them.

Brooklyn Film Camera
203 Harrison Place

They've just begun film processing. A good friend of mine works there so I think I can vouch for this operation.

PhotoLounge in Philadelphia does a good job of C41 film processing, scanning, and snapshot printing, with quick turnaround and reasonable prices. They even upload proof scans online so you can view the results before you come to pick up the film and CD. I've never tried their B&W film processing, mainly because it's easy enough for me to do myself. As far as I know there's no longer a lab that does E6 processing in Philly. Considering what rolls of transparency film cost these days, I can understand why.

Colourworks in Wilmington, DE still does a ton of E-6, C-41 and even black and white processing and scanning as well as printing. Nice folks, and they get work from all over. http://www.colourworks.com/index.htm

I started processing my own films and scanning them since I started with the Leica M7 in 2003. Over the years, I got better at techniques and processes and accumulated better equipment. I wouldn't be shooting 1000s of 4x5 (colors and B&W) for my projects if I am processing them myself as it cost more than $10 just to develop one sheet. The major upside of having a high end scanner like the Flextight is that I can get highest quality from all films, so I am shooting even more film on the XPan and medium format.

{Mike - remove if too commercial} I offer scanning for others, and if you are interested, please see http://xpanscanning.com

I have also used, not very long ago, I used Old School Photo Lab, in Dover, New Hampshire. I was pleased with their work and communication.

I omitted the Community Darkroom at the Genesee Arts Center (formerly Genesee Regional Co-Op) in Rochester for anyone in the Rochester area. The facilities are extensive and well equipped, up to and including 8x10 tanks. Membership in the organization is required, which is an inexpensive annual fee which gives access to reduced costs to events and classes as well, including pottery and printmaking departments.

I have had good luck with Samy's in Santa Ana, California and with Aperture in London, UK.

The film comes back correctly developed with no scratches, the scans are good, and with both places I like the prints when I have them made.

No comment in particular regarding labs, but it's getting more difficult for folks that process color film at home, too. I do both C-41 and E-6 on a Jobo CPP-2 with both Expert and 2500 series tanks. With Tetenal basically out of the picture (at least for now), finding good and reliable chemistry is not easy. Yes, there are a couple "simple" kits available through Freestyle, Cinestill, etc, but a better kit like the Fuji E-6 is dreadfully expensive and I can't use 5L before it goes off.

There is an excellent lab in NJ that has a dip and dunk C-41 system that they run once a week, it's Prolab in Clifton, NJ https://prolabnj.com/. The owner is Leslie and she's a wonderful person. They can have your b&w film hand developed, and they make wonderful C-Prints directly from film or from digital files.

CRC / Vista on 38th St. near Madison (south of Grand Central a few blocks) in NYC does good developing and scanning, usually with a one-day turnaround.

There are several labs that do very fine jobs with processing and scanning (and probably printing but I don't have them do that). They do clean dip and dunk processing for color and BW and I have had excellent results from them:

https://photovisionprints.com--very good value for process with excellent scans
https://thefindlab.com
https://oldschoolphotolab.com
https://www.richardphotolab.com

And for meticulous E6 processing: https://www.agximaging.com

In Vancouver, Canada, there is The Lab on West 2nd Ave. No affiliation, but they do great work and seem to do a fair amount of business by post. https://www.thelabvancouver.com/

They are pretty much the last shop standing locally, but have been at the top of the heap for quite some time.

Recommending a film lab is like recommending a dentist or an auto mechanic - done with trepidation, fully knowing that it is a "your mileage may vary" sort of thing, prone to wildly differing opinions and backlash against the (well-meaning) person making the recommendation. However, with that disclaimer in place, I have had excellent results on quite specialized film projects using the following lab: The Icon, on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

I started my career in a custom lab (in 1977) and worked as a b/w printer in another one in the early 1980s, so I have some experience.
I was first a customer at Praus Productions in 1998, and I can't imagine any better service. If I still used color film I'd send it to him from Tucson... He is a fine photographer as well, and a good friend; it's an overused word these days, but Edgar is passionate about his work, and it shows.

There are several labs in midtown. Vista and LTI lightside are two

For the Netherlands, Color Utrecht still does all formats, both B&W and colour.

I've heard occasionally that a lot of film development in the Netherlands gets sent over there nowadays, but I don't know for certain.

What I do know, is that they do good work and can handle special requests (cutting to certain lengths, pushing or pulling B&W film, contact sheets, sheet film straight from the holder, etc.)

For the UK, I'd recommend AG PhotoLab.
https://www.ag-photolab.co.uk

For Andrew, who wonders if there is a good lab in Canada: I use Borealis in Montreal for colour neg or transparency. They have always done high quality work when I have sent films to them, and I believe that some of the photo shops in Toronto that take film for development and scanning actually send it off to Borealis.

For the B&W work, I just do it myself. It's part of the fun! All that is needed is a changing bag, a tank, and some chemicals, etc.. And then scan using your camera and macro lens.

Isn't the tonality and resolution in that 1947 DoE shot at the top of the post simply marvellous! How often does any digital B&W conversion come anywhere close?

Citizens Photo in Portland, Oregon www.citizensphoto.com 503-232-8501
Dip and Dunk C-41, E-6 and B&w in sizes from Minox to 8x10 in Refrema processors. Scanning for 120, 220 and 35mm on Noritsu Scanners. RA-4 printing up to 12x36 on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.Imacon scanning also.

Mr. Crabby Umbo above asked about developing and proof sheets. That is simple: Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, develops C-41 film and will make a beautiful proof sheet of the 36 frames for only $3.00 more. I have ordered their proof sheets for several years.

Some of you may recall that Dwayne's was the last laboratory on earth to develop Kodachrome. The greats sent their film there for that last run in 2010.

Mike,

This is great, to discuss these kinds of issues as you're doing is to make a space for film photography to continue at a reasonable and doable level. There's nothing necessarily curmudgeonly about this, no more than working in marble is for a sculptor, nor should we stick to the notion that film photography is for holdouts against progress, or for people who never give up. I've gone back to film after years of working in digital, and for me there are pluses and minuses on both sides, which won't go away anytime soon.

Film has a slightly different look and a distinctly different cachet than digital, and that is inherent in the medium, good as digital work can be in its way. Film also has many limitations, particularly in the area of control and fussy fiddling with images after the fact. Whether the chance of capturing that distinctive image-on-film quality in a freshly taken photo is worth the trouble and frustration of a certain number of duds is entirely up to the photographer's judgment, patience and vision. There are of course lots of failed black and white film photos, taken way back then and taken now.

Now, it is all a matter of communication, to share names, info and websites about film processing, as well as the availability of darkroom gear like enlargers and good enlarger lenses. Whether a new era of film camera production ever emerges, with solid and well-engineered cameras being produced once again, preferably with the assistance of companies with a storied history of great cameras like Nikon Canon and Pentax, and not simply cheap knockoffs, well, that remains to be seen, and perhaps done by those with resourcefulness and business acumen.

But once you've taken a successful photograph on film, you know how intense the experience can be when it turns out to be even better than you expected. How it really is different than those easy to come by digital shots that are readily monitored as you proceed through a shoot on the screen on the back of the camera. The fact that film photography isn't particularly remunerative these days, except perhaps for a rare handful who are standouts in the field, should be kept in mind of course, not good to mislead anyone about that. The economics will likely be different than in the old days for almost everybody. But the attraction remains.

Thanks,
Jeff Clevenger

Can anyone from the global TOP collective make a similar recommendation for Sydney, Australia?
I’m a digital native, looking to use a recently acquired FM3a to have a go at some B&W film photography.
Would be happy with any pointers for clubs or organisations too :)
Cheers

Every one on here that's recommending a film lab: are you a professional? ...and have you taken film out of the sleeve that you've had processed at the places you're recommending, and looked at it with a magnifying glass for scratches and dings? If you have not, and can't guarantee that the processed film is spotless and scratch-less, your opinion is worthless.

I say this because I've tried some of the labs recommended on here and gotten scratched film!

Olympia, capital of Washington here, and there ain't nothing. Fortunately the only film I use is B&W so....my local processor is me located in the laundry room.
Scanning? That is what the mirrorless digital is for, that and as a meter for my film cameras. Oh, it also does color candids, like the skinny missus sitting on the couch with the dog eating ice cream right out of the carton.

AUSTRALIA:

NEW SOUTH WALES:
FILMPROCESSING, SCANNING, PRINTING, C41, E6, B&W, push/pull processing:
► Rewind Photo Lab, Broadway, Sydney
https://rewindphotolab.com.au/

For Sydney people and other film shooters in Australia who may need to mail film to labs, I can highly recommend Rewind Photo Lab.

This is a relatively new lab in Glebe, Sydney, i.e. new location for the founder of the lab, who has processed and printed our films, including prints for exhibition, for close to ten years. Every job has been as good as the very first one.

We currently use only Rewind photo Lab because it is close to where we live.

Other labs we have used and can recommend:

► SOUTH AUSTRALIA, PROCESSING, PRINTING, SCANNING, C-41, E6, push/pull processing:
www.atkins.com.au

► BLANCO NEGRO - DEDICATED BLACK & WHITE PHOTOLAB, REDFERN, NSW
https://blanconegro.com.au/

► BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHICS, STEPNEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, C-41, E6.
www.blackandwhitephoto.com.au/

► CAMERA REPAIRS, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
www.cameraservicecentre.com.au/

Film and digital. Reliable and friendly service. All our cameras have been serviced by these technicians for 47 years now and I have always been happy with the job. Highly recommended for camera service in Sydney.

Canadian Film Lab in Vancouver (use to be UK Film Lab) is used by a few of my UK colleagues who have a relationship with them, and high expectations. I use Filmdev in Stockton-on-Tees; if I post Monday I'll get an email with download link for the scans on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons. I've never had a film damaged. Neither of these offers printing AFAIK. Carmencita in Spain is also used by a number of my UK colleagues.

To Martin D regarding dr5 black & white reversal processing... I've had two rolls processed, HP5 (shot at 800 per their recs) and an old roll of Technical Pan.

I was extremely pleased with the results. There is truly something magical about viewing black & white reversal slides held up to the light.

Just one thing to keep in mind, the turnaround time varies -- for the HP5, it was pretty quick, receiving within 2 weeks from sending. For the Tech Pan, it took a while. I think it depends on the volume so if turnaround is important, probably stick to the more common and highly rec'd (by dr5) films.

Andrew, I used the Lab Works in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada a few times way back in the ‘00s. A Google search shows they still exist and offer C41, E6 and B&W.
Carl

My lab is called: Northeast Photographic, and we're in the great state of Maine!

www.northeastphotographic.com

We process and scan from 35 to 4x5, C41, E6, and BW. All mail order.

Dodge Chrome in DC area is great. They can do drum scanning as well. That’s where I take my slide film now.

For Ross Cameron, who wonders about a good lab in Sydney, Australia, I can recommend Vision Image Lab at Redfern and Rewind Lab at Broadway. For B&W developing, I prefer Chris Reid of Blanco Negro (0412-025-956), who collects film at Newtown on Fridays.

My sincerest thanks to Cecilia Temperli and Rod S.
And TOP, of course :)

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