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.

Questions:

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.

Caruso