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 11:56 AM. Click to view previous post history.