Please Suggest a Good, Reliable Photo Lab

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Jul 23, 2010.

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  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    As per my comments in my "Black Specs on Prints" thread (posted today), could anyone suggest a reliable photo lab?

    I have been grappling with this issue for years, and will probably need to switch labs again. I found black specs on a couple of important prints. Processing errors are terribly unnerving (for details, see the aforementioned thread). I am close to giving up. It is just very deflating to work hard on a shot and then have it ruined. While cost is not a huge factor, reasonable rates would be nice, too. I would need a lab in the continental US, and mail order is okay. Professionalism, accountability, and honesty are paramount.
     
  2. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I guess good photos labs no longer exist? I would have to agree with this view, as, after several years of searching, I have yet to find one. They all make mistakes (usually with the best shot on the roll), and none are willing to admit their errors. It seems they do not even know enough about photography and lenses in order to speak intelligently about developing and printing.

    Film equipment may be alive, but film processing (which is just as important) would seem to be dead. I thank digital for letting me have so many cheap, beautiful cameras, but, as it stands, I have no use for these cameras if I cannot get good, reliable developing and printing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2010
  3. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have and the experience has always been stellar!
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I would guess you do not no shit from shinola.

     
  8. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    THE BEST photo lab for the highest quality optical printing jobs I have come across is Blue Moon Camera and Machine. They only work with up to 11x14 right now but the quality and customer service can't be beat at another lab for develop and totally optical (NO Scanning) proofs. For enlargements I also use Superior Custom Color. Jim has made the best custom enlargements I have ever had made by anyone. Both of these people happen to support APUG as they adverise here. You won't go wrong with Blue Moon or Superior!!!!!!! Both are very honest timely and offer extreme quality. Give them a call. Both places do NO digital work and have a passion for agalog.

    http://bluemooncamera.com/

    http://superiorcustomcolorlab.com/
     
  9. cfclark

    cfclark Member

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    Freestyle actually sends out to Swan Photo Labs (at least in the case of my B&W 120 stuff), which does a pretty good job in my experience. You can deal with them directly: http://www.swanphotolabs.com (Not that I have anything against Freestyle, but if you're not dropping your film off, why send to them and have them send it again?)

    I've also heard great things about A&I (http://www.aandi.com) here in LA, but they are a little more expensive than Freestyle/Swan. I have yet to try them for the sole reason that it was easier for me to get to Freestyle and drop my film on my way home.

    (I haven't read the OP's thread yet, so if either of these was the cause of the issue...ignore my comments, I guess.)
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Anytime you like, you can come to my universe.

    Let us know where you live, and someone near by will have a lab for you.

    Steve
     
  11. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I thank all of those who have been kind enough to submit recommendations for lab services. I have used a number of labs, and it has been difficult to find one that will stand by its work. I called North Coast, and was impressed with what Bonnie had to say.
     
  12. Michael Erb

    Michael Erb Member

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    Try the APUG Sponsor

    I have been very frustrated with my local lab. Like you I find that they just don't care.

    I called Richard Photo Lab in LA and was very impressed by their service. I have not processed any film there yet but they have really been good to talk to as I "kick the tires." I have heard working film shooters that do weddings and high end confidential commercial work that are raving about this lab. Just listen to the Inside Analog Photo podcast and you will hear about how good this lab is.

    Prices are higher but not outrageous considering how much labor they put into a job.

    http://www.richardphotolab.com/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2010
  13. lns

    lns Member

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    This thread is very helpful. My lab closed, and I'm willing to try mail order. I'd like to hear more recommendations. It would be especially nice to have recommendations for labs that aren't in LA, for those of us who live east of the Mississippi. (Sadly, in my case, for I would love to move back to California.)

    -Laura
     
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  15. 3 Olives

    3 Olives Member

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    You might want to consider installing a darkroom. A member here, Thomas Bertilsson, suggested it to me and got me started down that path. My 15 year old son set it up last summer and uses it all of the time. I am truly amazed by how much he has learned and done in the darkroom he built. He just developed a roll of Tech Pan and the pictures are really nice.
     
  16. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I have thought of putting together some type of darkroom, but there is a lot involved. My interest is not merely in developing, but in printing, too. Thus, I am always faced with the same cost/benefit paradigm. I know that developing equipment is relatively inexpensive, but if I decide to take the scan/print route for printing, could the $500 film scanner I would buy compete with the unit in a pro lab? Likewise, could the $500 printer (an inkjet, I gather) I would buy compete with the multi-thousand-dollar Noritsu in a good photo lab? I have been through this scenario over and over, and I have determined that the best route for me (currently, at least) is to find a lab that cares.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

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    I went through the same path that you are on. I found the cost of the ink was too high and the quality of the print was too low. I bought an enlarger and then a drum print dryer. I have the luxury that I can turn a room into a dry darkroom and when needed the master bathroom into a wet darkroom. The problem is not in getting darkroom equipment; it is in having the space for storing and setting up the equipment.

    Steve
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Some labs here in Toronto charge $45 for 4 rolls of 120 and offer it as some kind of favor--jawdropping.
     
  19. nickrapak

    nickrapak Member

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    I use Philadelphia Photographics (www.philadelphiaphotographics.com). I have never had a problem with their developing, and their optical enlargements are superb! Although I develop my own B&W, they process all of their B&W by hand, to ensure the most control over each roll. Although they do mail-order, they are not a "mail-order lab", since most of their work is done with local photographers. However, they do a good amount of work through the mail, and are no strangers to the mail-order routine.
     
  20. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I appreciate your comments, Steve.

    I know, CGW, the film processing world, in most places, is quite upsidedown.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2010
  21. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    How about putting a list someplace of all the labs, how and what they process prints and let people rate them.

    I would love to find an all optical print shop because I suck at that, but I want optical prints for some things. I can get an image on the film that pleases me, I can make a great ink jet print, but it all falls apart when I try to go optical print so I would like to have someplace do that for me until I can do it well myself.
     
  22. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I think a list that would rate the various photo labs is a fantastic idea. There would be quite a few labs that would make the "bad" or "avoid" list. Any such list would be helpful, as it could save numerous people time, money, and, most of all, frustration.
     
  23. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Useful but only if it's updated regularly and accurately. Having an idea of prices, services, performance and willingness to do mail order would help many of us. A sticky thread on the regional boards might work best?
     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I think this is a wonderful idea
    here goes

    Elevator in Toronto

    film prices are really high.
    Print prices are obscene
    The owner/ printer is an obnoxious short little prick who hates dealing with people.

    they have been printing in the GTA (4 million people} for the last twenty years and have continued to pay their rent and staff for that time. I cannot understand how they are still in business?
    Their work is in Museums, Gallerys and private collections , now spreading to every nook and cranny of this little planet.


    all in all a lab you should avoid at all costs if you think their rates are too high.

     
  25. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Bob, are you in the same business? Competitors are usually not objective.
    My apology if I am mistaken.
     
  26. 3 Olives

    3 Olives Member

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    Is the short guy you or your partner? Checked out your web site - NICE!
     
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