What Fuji 35mm ISO200 film does Walmart sell? Can good local processing be had?
New member here, first post.
I will fill out my profile as soon as I figure out where to do so.
I am a prodigal, but long time film user - returning to film shooting in conjunction with my DSLR photo habit after a lengthy hiatus.
Minolta was always my camera brand, having owned the x700, Maxxum 9000 (still have it), and now, the happy owner of a recently purchased, mint-condition Maxxum 9, a body for which I always had a deep-seated lust.
Anxious to try out my new acquisition, a ran to the nearest Walmart (knowing that they still sold and developed Kodak film last time I used my 9000). I arrived at the store to find that they no longer develop in-house, no more 1-hour service, and no Kodak film. Fuji, only. Ok, so I purchased a package of the 200 speed film.
I had the first roll developed at my local Rite-aid using their 1-hour service. I did not order prints, just the negatives.
The images were well-exposed, but the film had a graininess to it that was more than what I expected or desired. Also, there was a lot of dust on the negs, and quite a number of bright spots, areas where the underlying image is obliterated by light from some source.
There is no pattern to these spots from one image to the next. Some images have no spots, some a great number (15 or more).
They are easily 'healed' in PS, but negatives I shot from 20 years ago have no such spots, so I'm guessing that these occurred during processing.
I had a roll developed at Wallgreens yesterday, very much less of this spotting, but there is some, nevertheless.
The Fuji film purchased from Walmart: what Fuji film is it? There is no other branding on the film. Is it Superia? Is it a decent film?
I might otherwise ascribe my somewhat underwhelmed response to these initial film shots to some nostalgia-amplified memory of results I used to get in the old days, except that I still have those negatives, still scan them, and they are much clearer, and, of course, free from any of these spots.
I went out yesterday to a nearby New York Camera and Video (perhaps mine is the only location for this store - Southampton, PA), and purchased a brick of Ektar 100, as I read that it is the world's finest grain film.
Obviously, local processing is not what it used to be. I don't remember ever having received locally processed film containing so much obvious dust, hair, etc.
The Wallmart seems to have done the better job, but, when I picked up the processed film, the girl doing the work had just rolled the film up, uncut, and stuck it, unprotected, into the envelop into which they normally insert your prints and "wax paper" protected, cut negatives.
When I mentioned that I had specifically requested to have the negs cut, she quickly pulled the roll out of the package, stuck it on the machine, and the job was done (albeit, she chopped through one image, duh).
Those images on the outside of the roll were full of her finger prints, so, it is clear she is not used to handling film (a fact that does not surprise me).
I understand that, in the day, film was THE medium, so it stands to reason that local processing would typically deliver a more consistently high result back then. But, I hope that I will be able to find some local processor that does a decent job.
New York Camera and Video still process film, and, checking their prices, they are just a couple dollars higher than Rite-aid and about the same price as Walmart, although their 1-hour service is sold at a $2.00 premium.
I know I can send my film off, but hope that I can find good local processing, instead.
Your thoughts on any of the above will be most appreciated.
I'm afraid you have stumbled on the fly in the ointment as to maintaining these old traditions. My return to more film shooting a few years back has been mostly working in B&W, which I do myself. That at least provides control over what happens, and narrows down where to point a finger when things don't come out well. The limited amount of color film I have used over the last few years I've taken to Cardinal Camera in Lansdale. They are pretty pricey, but have generally produced decent work. I'm not sure if they do C-41 in Lansdale anymore or not, I know their E-6 processing is done somewhere else. They have several other locations, in Quakertown, Montgomeryville and one in Philly, plus some others; some are ex-Ritz locations, I believe.
The last E-6 I had done went from Lansdale to wherever they actually process the stuff and took about 2 1/2 weeks*, which kind of reduces my enthusiasm for the idea, although the results were decent. (Fuji Provia 100F through my Ercona II 6x9 folder!)
I have no first-hand experience with their work (or even if they do it in house), but there is Allen's Camera outside of Levittown and Larmon Photo has stores in Abington and Doylestown. Both are older, long-established places that might at least be trying to do the right thing.
A year or so back I shot some 35mm Ektar in my Argus C3, believe it or not, and was pretty happy with the outcome. Considering what both the film and the processing cost, rather than bargain hunt, I lean toward paying enough to get something as known and reliable as I can get. I don't do any professional work, but even as a hobby, going through the time and effort to take interesting photos, only to have them come back looking as though they were dragged through a vacuum cleaner bag or embossed with thumb prints is simply unacceptable to the point of "why bother."
Welcome to APUG, and I hope maybe I've helped a little ....
* Edit: The time span was explained that they accumulate films until they have enough to economically justify loading up and running the processor. That way they are using proper calibration and fresh chemistry. No doubt that's good, but it means any individual customer is left hanging based on how many other customers show up. I suppose if a roll or two from you or me put the count up to the threshold we could get it back in a few days.
Last edited by DWThomas; 08-14-2011 at 12:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.
There are several other labs in the Philadelphia area.
Since you look to be in my neck of the woods, I recommend Jacks Cameras in NE Philly. It's located at 200 Geiger Road, just off of Red Lion Road. They're not much of a camera store, but they are a full-featured lab. Since they also serve as the outlab for E-6 processing for Southeastern PA and south Jersey camera stores, they are usually able to offer 1 hr. C-41 processing and next-day E-6. The slides and negatives are clean and dust-free, and I've only ever had one issue with their processing (when the E-6 machine broke down while developing my roll).
If you go into the city with any regularity, there is Philadelphia Photographics located at 1021 Arch Street. They are another top-quality lab, and the slides and negatives are always clean. The major difference between them and Jack's is that they individually color-correct each C-41 proof before it's printed, whereas Jack's goes with auto correction. I have heard that the quality here has fallen slightly, but since I haven't been there for a while, I can't vouch either way.
Larmon Photo does a good job with C-41, but they send out E-6 (probably to Jack's) and they are expensive ($15 for C-41 D&P).
As for the Walmart film, Fuji seems to have dropped the Superia branding from its 100 and 200 speed film, while keeping it the same film.
Your best bet for film and supplies is to order online, as local prices tend to be high. That being said, the best two stores for supplies are New York Camera or Allen's in Levittown. No other stores in the area have as wide a selection as these two.
Hope this helps
"Panic not my child, the Great Yellow Father has your hand"--Larry Dressler
Thanks for the replies. Your comments tend to confirm my believe that the problem in my photos is processor related, not some issue with my "new" camera. I am going to give NYC a try on my next roll. They are closest of all the stores mentioned.
Larmon is the store where I purchased my Maxxum 9000 back in 1985 (so long ago, sigh), and I knew about them from having purchased an X700, dedicated flash, and two previous electronic flashes previous to the 9000. When I purchased the 9000, I thought to myself that I would never, ever have a need to buy another camera, LOL. It was probably 10 some years later when next I ventured into a store, so proud of the 9000 in my bag, only to be laughed at (literally) by the salesman because this new line of 'xi' cams could do so much more than "that thing" as he called my 9000.
I would never knock those newer cams, but my 9000 was doing a good job for me at the time, so I did not fall for any of the newer cams. The dawning of the computer age rekindled the browser instincts in me, and that's when I became aware of the mighty '9' and have wanted one ever since, although I could never bring myself to shell out the $1,500 to $1,800 required to purchase one new during its prime.
There used to be a Jack's in Southampton that I used to process most of my film. I would come back to pick up my prints to find any number of them posted on a sort of bulletin board they kept for displaying 'better' shots among those that they had processed/printed.
I talked to the Doylestown Jack's this weekend. Almost went there, but it is really a trek for me, and they no longer do 1-hr according to the lady I spoke with. Likely, the NE Philly store is the only one offering 1-hr.
When I used it, my local Jack's carried little in the way of better camera gear, but they did a bang up job on processing.
Thanks again for the replies.
Welcome to the new reality. Reliable, inexpensive 35mm C-41 processing/printing is pretty much done in many places.What remains, generally, are low traffic Fuji and Noritsu mini-labs that get sketchy service and iffy chem monitoring. Minimally competent lab staff are now doing clean-up in aisle 5--along with mauling your negs and botching your prints.
Fuji Superia 200 is a good consumer print film. Its saturation and contrast are a bit toned down relative to Superia 400 with finer grain. Superia 800 (rated at ISO500-640) is actually better if you need the speed.
Sounds like crappy C-41 processing is ruining your fun. The surviving bigbox processors do so little business now that it's almost a blessing when they close--all the better to save you the disappointment. Pay a little more, suck up the extra bother and keep shooting. Processing-wise, it will never be as easy or as cheap as it was only 2-3 years ago.
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Also remember that most "1 hour photo" places run their C-41 machines at a higher temeperature, mostly to increase throughput(however, reducing quality, and increasing apparent "grain").
Dust has always been a problem for any lab, and always will be. Its just more of a problem when you have know-nothing employees who don't use gloves when handling film :o! Even pro labs FWIF have this problem these days. The counter-monkees sometimes have little or no knowledge of film or developing, only how to read the price sheet. Its a sad fact, but a truthful one from my experience...
Use a good lab, even if it means sending it out(preferably to a lab that uses "dip-n-dunk" processors, virtually no chance of scratching the film during processing, unlike a roller-transport processor). Spend the extra dough ,and you won't have these headaches, and missed/screwed up shots.
just my $.02
I'm using the Fuji 200 from Walmart and it is a decent film for the price. It's not what I'd use for big enlargements though.
As far as processing, there are few places I trust locally anymore. I've been thinking about home processing for a while since I have a B&W darkroom already. A lot less complicated than I remember it from years ago.
Also I have 40+ exposed rolls and with the retail prices today I think it makes sense to try it at home.
Welcome to APUG and the best of luck with your film endeavors.
P.S. I'm drooling over your Maxxum 9!
Last edited by Wade D; 08-14-2011 at 09:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for all the replies and helpful advice. I will pay a little more to have my films developed by more reliable outfits. It's probably been five years or so since I needed to document some of my 'daytime job' work, and grabbed my seldom used 9000 for the job. I needed the prints quickly, so ran them to Walmart and the results were just fine (also, buying/finding Kodak 200 ISO whatever (Gold, I think) was no problem).
Things have really changed since then.
My family thinks I've gone off the deep end in moving back into film (my digital efforts involve the Sony A700), but, as mentioned before, I was always looking to move up to the 9 from my 9000, and, by golly, I saw this cam on ebay and just went for it.
I've purchased video cams from Ebay with very mixed success, but this 35mm camera came in pristine condition as advertised, and, as I expected, it has breathed new life into my desire to shoot film.
I did rescan the negs from my last roll at 2400 dpi as suggested, and, for whatever reason, they look better than those scanned at 4800 dpi. I spent the time required to 'heal' all the 'parasite' spots (these white spots in each frame resemble the round parasites I used to pick out of newly caught small mouth bass on my fishing trips to Canada, LOL).
Other than the dust and those spots, it is quite refreshing to work with an image that needs very little in the way of PS. No need to tweak levels or sharpness - chores that seem routinely required of my digital images.
I'd love to learn to do my own processing . . . where/what might I read to see how involved that might be?
Some people like Fuji superia, personally I think It's garbage. Buy one roll of either Fuji 400h, 160s, Portra 400 or 160 and shoot them at half box speed. Send them to Richard photo lab and have them do the scans on the Fuji. They'll make you wonder why you even bothered to shoot digital.
A darkroom is not required for film processing. Although I have not done so yet the C-41 chemistry seems easy to use and not very expensive at all. You need:
1. a daylight tank for 35mm, many brands to choose from.
2. a changing bag for transferring the film from the cassette to the tank reel.
3. a good thermometer for the color process.
4. a C-41 chemical kit.
Those are the basics and I hope others chime in as well if I forgot anything. I haven't searched but there are most likely good tutorials here that explain the process in detail.
I've done B&W at home for 40+ years and it is easy. Color will be a new venture for me as well.