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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    C-41 process, pro-lab only choice?

    While I was at school, there was a small local pro lab where I dev 135 and 120 c-41 at good price ($4-5/roll)

    I started to look at local pro labs and found that the price is pretty high for 135 processing.
    Do you always process at pro lab? is it really that bad to process at local walgreens/walmart/etc?

    i know i am stuck with pro lab for 120s.. and the price isn't bad at all.
    but i dont feel like paying $8+ for 35mm rolls.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Mission Viejo, California
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    I process 35mm C41 at Costco. They do a great job.

    120, 127, 126 and black and white I process myself. Not as good but very cost efficient.

    I had some 120 and 127 professionally processed at high prices and it was 'barely' better than when I do it myself. This was at two different quality labs.

    None of the places I have used print optically from the negative so I am at the mercy of their proficiency with an electronic enlarger and all that implies.
    - Bill Lynch

  3. #3
    CGW
    CGW is offline

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    Apr 2010
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    Cheap, reasonable quality 35mm Frontier/Noritsu minilab service has all but dried up in my area--a reflection of tanked demand. Costco killed film service 2+ years ago around Toronto. What's left is iffy quality and steadily higher prices. Shooting way more 120 C-41 and E6 that's pro lab-processed. Problem is, though, that none of them will print from anything but digital files--no more proofs or prints direct from film. Hello home scanning or Imacon rental.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Central Virginia, USA
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    CVS does develop only for $2.19 a roll, but recently, the results are beyond horrible. I'll be starting to develop my own myself once I get my phototherm back up and running. SAMS club here was awesome, the last batch I had done, 6 rolls, developed and scanned for $18. Unfortunately, they ripped out their wet lab March 10th. The alternatives around here are WalGreens and CVS, neither of which is good. The truth is I think these places are why Digital ICE was invented - I just had 10 rolls done at CVS and the color is off - so I'll be looking for other options as well.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Mission Viejo, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertZeroK View Post
    I just had 10 rolls done at CVS and the color is off - so I'll be looking for other options as well.
    Yeah, but is it the negatives or the scans? Can't judge the processing just by the scans, the negatives might be fine.
    - Bill Lynch

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Elgin, IL
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    I closed my retail pro lab in 2011 and moved my mini lab to my home. What I have learned from the Noritsu Techs that serviced my machines is that the big box stores run their replenishment rates very low to save on chemistry costs, For example; lets say for every roll of film I process my lab will draw in 10 ml of fresh chemistry to keep the developer strength at the proper level. The big box store will only replenish 2ml by comparison ( these are not actual numbers) . The point is after a very short time they are running weak developer, which adversely effects contrast and saturation then eventually density runs amuck as well. Because film is somewhat forgiving, if you nailed the exposure then the printer can still make you a semi-decent print but your Negative is not properly developed and will have an inherent weakness when it comes time to print. If you were of 2 or more stops the print doesn't look all that good because the neg is weak.

    The other lesson I learned from the technicians is that most of the big box stores to not run daily chemical test strips and plot the results so they don't know where the strength of their chemicals are at any given time and when the developer is on the verge of exhaustion. They usually ruin a roll or two before they figure it out and the customer usually accepts the fact that it was something they did wrong. Strange but true.

  7. #7
    foc
    foc is offline

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    North West of Ireland
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenchy_Photo View Post
    I closed my retail pro lab in 2011 and moved my mini lab to my home. What I have learned from the Noritsu Techs that serviced my machines is that the big box stores run their replenishment rates very low to save on chemistry costs, For example; lets say for every roll of film I process my lab will draw in 10 ml of fresh chemistry to keep the developer strength at the proper level. The big box store will only replenish 2ml by comparison ( these are not actual numbers) . The point is after a very short time they are running weak developer, which adversely effects contrast and saturation then eventually density runs amuck as well. Because film is somewhat forgiving, if you nailed the exposure then the printer can still make you a semi-decent print but your Negative is not properly developed and will have an inherent weakness when it comes time to print. If you were of 2 or more stops the print doesn't look all that good because the neg is weak.

    The other lesson I learned from the technicians is that most of the big box stores to not run daily chemical test strips and plot the results so they don't know where the strength of their chemicals are at any given time and when the developer is on the verge of exhaustion. They usually ruin a roll or two before they figure it out and the customer usually accepts the fact that it was something they did wrong. Strange but true.
    I run a Fuji minilab and I find it hard to understand how a lab could underreplenish their processsor. My reasoning for this is that with underreplenishing the liquid level/volumn will drop (not enough chemical added) and then the processor would alarm for low chemical levels. If this happens on the Fuji processor the machine will finish off processing what is currently in the tanks but will lock and stop any further film or paper being processed.

    Acording to my calculations, chemical costs are only about 15-20% of the cost of RA4 (print) and 10-15% of C41 (neg) so there is not a big saving to be make by skimping on chemical. I would suspect that these big box stores could negotiate a better chem price based on their large volumn, from their supplier.

    Regarding not running proper test strips, well they are flying by the seat of their pants with that. It is simply very bad house keeping and bad for business in the long run. If they want to run their business in such a sloppy fashion then they will get what they deserve. It is just as easy to do it correctly and it's not rocket science, and what does it take extra to do it correctly, about 10 minutes a day or one hour a week. In the bigger picture that is not very much.



 

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