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  1. #1
    bvy
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    Retail Store Processing

    For those of you who take your film to a retail store for developing...

    I'm trying to determine among the major US retailers who consistently does a good job (or not so good job) developing color print 35mm film. Yes -- I realize every individual store is going to be different, and processing is only as good as the tech working the machine. But I have to believe that there's some commonality among the major retailers in the equipment they invest in, the processes they use, how they train their people, etc.

    Maybe I'm being anal, but I've heard horror stories, for instance, about the drugstore chain that trained their people to open the canisters in the room light (?!).

    I'm not interested in prints, just a well processed negative.

    What are you experiences? Who do you regularly take your film to?

  2. #2

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    I take my C41 colour to Costco!

    Jeff

  3. #3
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    I think the only major place left working with film and doing a good job is Target and Costco. I think Costco is generally a little better than Target.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by bvy View Post
    ... I've heard horror stories, for instance, about the drugstore chain that trained their people to open the canisters in the room light (?!). ...
    This is a bit hard to believe - that they trained their people to open canisters in room light. Is this based on any evidence or just an urban legend?

    That said, for basic processing of 35mm C41 I find Costco very acceptable. In general, Costco pays and treats their employees better which seems to result in less turnover.

    For more important "stuff", it's off to a photo lab.

  5. #5
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    I generally use Costco for my 35mm C-41 processing, I wish that they had the capability to do 120/220, but there isn't a big enough market I guess....

    wouldn't be that hard to train their people to do it... but its not my decision. While at school right now, I'm processing everything myself in the school's darkroom. I have unlimited access to color chemistry, and I'm making sure I take full advantage of it .

    Otherwise, I've found that shooting a 99 cents store roll of film and taking it to my local labs that have a decent turnover lets me know who takes care of their equipment (mainly to see if there's roller transport marks or scratches on the negatives, etc)

    so far, one of my local costco's (azusa, CA for anyone close to that store) doesn't do the cleanest processing IMO, but the San Dimas store does super clean processing and printing, so it can vary, even within a company such as costco


    -Dan


  6. #6
    bvy
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgb74 View Post
    This is a bit hard to believe - that they trained their people to open canisters in room light. Is this based on any evidence or just an urban legend?
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum172/...tml#post815156

    "Practice of the pharmacy" are the poster's exact words. End result is just as catastrophic. Agreed, hopefully they weren't "trained" that way, and that truly is (or better yet, was) unique to that market or store location. I think I'll steer clear of CVS all the same. My own experience with a CVS near my work involved seeing the lab technician brutalizing a machine trying to get it working -- forcing parts into place, cussing, etc.

    Thanks all for the recommendations so far. There's a Costco not far from me. There's a Target even closer.
    Last edited by bvy; 10-03-2009 at 02:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7

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    Walgreens.

  8. #8
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    to think about it, my local Longs drugstore did great processing (albeit roller transport, definitely not dip-n-dunk), but 2 or 3 years ago, when I was first getting into photography, I had a roll come out twisted and bent all nasty, and that was enough for me to stop going there. It was weird, I had been there the week before, and all was well and good, but within 5-7 days, either the good person got canned or left, or someone didn't care one bit....

    Great deal too, $0.75 to process 35mm and $1.25 for 120, $1.75 for 220. All kodak chemicals, but nowadays all they have is that shitty kodak dry-process printer that spits out prints with a nasty yellow cast. no wet-process anymore at all. They have a HP banner printer which I've never seen running, but they killed film processing last year.

    so sometimes, its a corporate thing, but usually a good lab is a sign of good operators(people who care about your film)

    -Dan


  9. #9

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    I'll repeat that when I was a Costco member in 2002, the photo lab was moved to next to the front door. With no walls around it. With the front door not having any doors, just a "air curtain" wall going out to the parking lot, which was coated with sand and salt from a New England winter. People were tracking that filth in on their shoes as well.

    It was obvious that the results would be disastrous in terms of dirt, I never wasted any money to see how bad it would be.

    So, it depends on who's in charge of the store, who runs the machines, etc.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by alanrockwood View Post
    Walgreens.
    Really? The walgreens here took a roll of Ektar 100 and processed it. The result was that the frames were near black. When I mentioned this to the "tech" they said that it must be my camera because their processing is perfect. They also informed me that if I wanted my negs that I would have to pay full price. I hate them with a passion and will never take anything there again.

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