I used to go to Diapositive and then LTI when Dia closed. Also used coloredge, 68 degrees, etc. But as of last year I started sending my film to Praus in Rochester...definitely superior to anything in nyc. The difference is that Edgar runs a one man operation and he's a photographer to boot. Eastman Kodak routinely sends him materials to test as his processing is as clean as it gets. At the end of the day the cost of producing my work and the effort I put into it warrants the extra time it takes to send to Rochester.
I've noticed a distinct fall off in quality at the prolabs in nyc in the past several years. It got to the point where I could no longer trust any lab in the city to do consistent work. A lot of labs have high employee turnover, operators who are wage slaves, oftentimes migrant workers, just going through the motions with no real eye towards quality or cleanliness. And the celebrity labs like MV pimp their reputation and charge far too much. The person at the front end can talk the talk and con you into giving them their business but if you could see what happens behind the curtain you'd gasp. I've seen laughable work come out of MV.
I have noticed a drop in the quality of work too. The reason I asked about the film format in my previous post is because recently I noticed that LTI has messed up quite a bit on my LF films. No problems with 35mm or MF, but one of my 4x5 C-41 negs had a big scratch on it rendering that sheet totally useless. They also fogged four of my 4x10 B&W sheets and I have no way of re-shooting those (my holders are tested and have no light leaks). More, the 8x10 B&W sheets I got processed by them all have uneven development. I have decided not to give them any of my LF films any more.
I feel your pain Sanjay. It used to be that Dia positive and LTI were pretty consistent. That was several years back. And even then I'd establish a relationship with the person who was actually processing the film so as to establish accountability. Bernard would not complain if I wrote in big instructions across the box.."Hold for ---". But all that has changed. With rising rents, less c41 business, idle chemistry and lack of lab workers who take their job seriously and have the proper training I'm afraid getting anything other than roll film developed in nyc is a bit like playing Russian roulette. In light of this depressing state of affairs it was an absolute godsend to discover Edgar Praus. It's like a hot tub time machine for large format photographers...Whoosh...suddenly it's 1994 all over again except even better. What a gem that man is!
Thanks. I have exchanged a couple of emails with Edgar and will be sending my LF films to him, the ones I cannot process myself. I have heard good things about Praus Productions.
Bernard (at LTI) is a very nice guy, but I don't think he has control over the lab and processes.
Yes, don't get me wrong, Bernard is a wonderful man and I miss going there if only for him. But you are absolutely right... he has little control over what goes on in back.
I'm glad to hear you're giving Edgar a shot. His C41 is spotless. He's tweaked the agitation of his bleach bath to alleviate the dreaded mottled blue sky effect. LTI can do the same however they call it "special processing" and it comes with a 100% surcharge. I don't shoot E6 but from what I understand EK does what testing they do with him. I think you'll be very pleased.
Thank you Senjay Sen and frotog. I shoot 35mm. From what you wrote, it seems that you're recommending LT1 and Duggal as long as it's not LF. I see that you like the person in Rochester but I would not trust the mail. Having lost a roll of Kodachrome that I mailed for processing some years ago, I would not mail undeveloped film again.
Do you have an address or telephone number for LT1? I can't find them on a Google search, though I did find Duggal's address.
I use Duggal for E-6, rollfilm and LF, and I think they've maintained standards pretty well.
For C-41, you have to be specific about requesting optical prints and proof sheets, if you want them. I realized this when I got some proof sheets and was surprised at how sharp they were for proofs made with the negs in file pages (the page border was visible), and then I checked with a loupe and realized they were scans output to RA-4, meaning they were sharpened.
I really prefer contact sheets to be contact sheets, with emulsion-to-emulsion contact so I can judge sharpness from the proof, without having to check the neg.
LTI's website is http://lti-lightside.com/lti-gallery.html
I can understand that you've had a bad experience sending film by mail, but so far I've sent three batches of Kodachrome to Dwayne's and didn't have any problems.
Originally Posted by MinoltaUser10
My experience with LTI and LF film has been bad, but I'm sure others must have had good experiences. They have done a good job with 35mm and MF.
I've not had any negative experience with Duggal so far with their processing, scanning is another matter. Also, Duggal is a much larger shop and I don't get the impression that they care much about customers like me who go in once or twice a month with a few rolls / sheets. But they have always been polite.
David already mentioned LTI's website, but here it is again with their street address:
LTI Photographic Services
34 East 30th St
(Between Madison & Park Ave)
New York, NY 10016
They are open Monday to Friday, from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. They used to be open till 8:00 PM until a few months ago, and that was more convenient for me. :)
Thank you David and Senjay for the additional information and addresess. The LT1 site has been compromised. When I went to it my security program caught a trojan trying to be loaded from it. While that does not reflect on their film processing, I just want to warn everyone not to go to the LT1 website.
McAfee didn't give me any alerts for the LTI site. Are you sure you have the right site? It's LTI, not "LT1."