tomalopicion The only minilab in my town of 25,000 inhabitants processes 50 rolls of 35mm film and makes 3000 prints each week on Fuji Crystal Archive.
Does the minilab also do digital printing from media cards? 50 rolls a week sounds good to me, given population size, but 3000 prints sounds very low.
I own a minilab in Ireland with a simular local population. If we processed 50 rolls of 35mm films a week we would be very happy, average is 35-40. On the printing side we would do on average (including both film and digital) 10000 prints a week on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.
Infact I reviewed some of our figures for last Sept-Dec 2011 and there was a 5% increase in C41 film processing. I have also seen an increase in secondhand 35mm camera sales, for the same period we sold 32 film cameras, thats on average 2 a week (and the likely cause of the 5% increase).
The bigger picture is how will this will continue, will it increase or decrease. Volumn of film processing keeps falling but according to my figures it looks like leveling out (remember I can only comment from a personal point of view). My C41 processor is now 5 years old and I hope to get another 5 years out of it, but if I had to choose now to purchase a new processor I would have to think twice regarding the investment and the return.
I can see the whole film/minilab becoming more niche market, more so than it is. I can still buy my chemicals from Champion or Fuji (Champion probably make it anyway). I don't know the future of RA4 paper, I was told there is no more R&D being done on RA4 by my Fuji engineer, but if there is demand there will be supply. Besides the cost of RA4 paper is way cheaper that inkjet. I saw the results from the Fuji inkjet minilab printer 2 years ago and while impressive it still was a long way behind an RA4 print. I'm sure it will catch up and when the price is right labs will switch and so the vicious circle for RA4 begins.
Ron - I am running small batches of C41 , I am considering a bulk purchase of colour film for same emulsion consistencey. I can match the amount of chemistry required to process this purchase.
my question is how long can C41 chemistry last on shelf,properly packaged, in your estimation?
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
The stabilzer / final rinse is just about eternal! The fix is as good as any fix, the bleach is just about eternal, so there are the main tail-end players.
The developer is only as good as the color developer part. I have had that part go bad in a year or less in one kit and in another go bad after about 3 years.
This assumes cool storage of unopened bottles of concentrate.
Opened containers of developer should not be kept for more than a month and during that time should be stored under an inert gas. Opened Fix, Bleach and Stab keep very well.
It's perfectly logical that R&D on RA4 products have reached a plateau. The latest generation of Fuji
papers were released just a year ago, and the level of quality is quite impressive. Why make folks
constantly recalibrate if you don't need to. Competition between EK and Fuji is partially what drove
this contest, but let's be appreciative of the result. Ilford color division (not Harman) is also a player
in RA4 papers, and someone else seems to have popped up too. Since the chemistry is standardized
and has more than one source itself, it doesn't seem to be in any foreseeable danger. All this doom
and gloom mentality seems to be getting out of perspective. Change is inevitable someday. But that
fact isn't going to stop me from making prints. Heck, and asteroid could hit, so everyone better
hurry up and drag all their negatives down into some underground bunker... and remember a canopener too!
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It is comforting to know that in at least some locations C41 processing might be on the uptick. Unfortunately, here in the Denver area the trend seems to be in the opposite direction - at least among the "pro" shops, where I like to take my film. I have always considered myself fortunate to live in an area with at least three of these higher end photo shops. But, I only recently learned that the one closest to me is now farming out its C41 processing to one of the others, and this is after starting to farm out their E6 processing just a year or two before. The lady there told me that she hadn't even seen a roll of C41 come into the shop in over a month. The guy at another shop - one that I had previously only used for E6 development and printing - confirmed a decline in C41 processing there too, and stated that he would be surprised if they still offered it in two years. On the plus side, he did say that they were doing more and more E6 processing, especially in 4x5.
Originally Posted by foc