Commercial Photo Labs

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by PNA, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    Aside form the frequent changing of chemicals for freshness, is there any difference from one lab processor to another for color negs. I do not order prints, but instead have a disc burned.
     
  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    From the point of view of scanning to CD, I'd say the difference between labs will depend on the resolution and quality of the scanning equipment, how well used and maintained that equipment is by the staff, to what extent the process is automated or controlled/checked by staff. Make sure they specify the scanning resolution; I've paid for scans from negs that turned out to be too small and low-resolution even for web use. As for the processing of the negs themselves, I've found that some labs take good care of negatives while others may give them back to me scratched and marked. And again I expect it depends on how well their equipment is maintained.

    Anyway that's all kinda stating the obvious; sorry I can't comment on specific companies as I only know about those in the UK.
     
  3. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    All good things to consider…..thanks.

    The highest resolution I have found in labs is 300 pip. I’ve been shopping for a dedicated film scanner for awhile since that seems to answer the resolution problem.

    I guess my question is…. what should I ask a lab regarding quality of chemicals if such an issue exists?
     
  4. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    What kind of lab do you use? Is it a pro lab and have you had good results? You can always ask to see their control chart, it is just a matter if they will show it to you and if you will know what it means. C-41 and E-6 chemistry is best when it is seasoned so you want a good tank that turns over not dumping and remixing. E-6 is alot more crucial in everything and should have someone educated in it to be running one. However, I have found that is rarely the case in any lab, that knowledge is hard to come by nowadays. Hope that helps.
     
  5. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I realize this is herasy but before everybody went to digital printers, I used to be the first one at a local one hour lab.. I watched them "open up" Checking the chemistry with test strips, adding manufactures chemical replinishers, running test strips through the Niritsu negative processor, before they would even accept my negatives.

    I take mine home and scan them myself now, but then I had proofs made there. Enlargements at the prolab but proofs at a one hour joint. I could hand a couple of prints back to the one hour lab and say would you print these darker please. Try that with a prolab and expect to see them within twenty minutes, if they will do them at all. My prolab told me that proofs weren't meant to be sellable prints. That if I wanted a matched set I needed to pay the reprint price. That was a buck a piece for 4x5 prints.

    If you know what the lab is doing I don't really see any big deal with negatives. But I wouldn't take them to a place where the lab people had no training, except where the on off button was. They need to run those tests everyday no matter what the name on the door is.
     
  6. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    My alarm doesn't ring that early! :lol:

    I'll check with the local one-hour labs for their start up times and their schedules for chemical testing/changing. I'm using Wal-Mart and Sams for now, but there is an Ekerds and Walgreens also in the city.

    Thanks
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    eckerd was my choice... Their stated policy used to be, if you don't like it we'll fix it or refund your money no matter whose fault it is.

    These days their labs are very slow if they even have wet processing any more. I would NOT use their send out service though. I got some sent out accidentally one time, just one time mind you, and they went to florida... Im in north carolina..
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I've found that although pharmacies, supermarkets etc can produce nice prints, the results are never really consistent - well, never consistently good anyway. Even shops who specialise in photo developing and printing are not always reliable, especially if they're a franchise.

    Personally I tried several pharmacy labs and franchises, but only when I mailed some negatives to a professional lab which operates out of one site and seems more geared towards professionals and enthusiasts. The costs for the basic process/print service are actually about the same as the local labs, and the quality is significantly better. Prints are sharper and with much more natural colours, and - important for me as I scan my negatives - the negs are completely free of the scraches, dust, fingerprints and water marks I was getting from pretty much everywhere else. For me all of this outweighs the inconvenience of having to wait a few days for processing and postage, and I recommend finding a similar service (preferably in the same state :lol:), at least for your more important films. Otherwise I think it's basically a case of trial and error before you find a lab with consistently high quality.
     
  9. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    The only problem is around here the 'professional labs' are the ones that I have the problems with, it is like because they are a professional lab they can do what they will, have had too many scratched negatives, horrible colors on large prints (not proofs) and bad E-6 processing. I have found that if I find a person that works in a lab be it professional or amateur that loves what they do and shoots as well that I can foster a relationship with, become a regular customer and pay for extra services, wait longer to get things done right, that I get far better results than just saying that I go to a professional lab. There are plenty of great lab techs that work at amateur labs that will take good care of you if you will talk to them and appreciate what they do and there are plenty of lab techs that work at professional labs that are just there for a paycheck. Also, digital printers are still wet, so they still need to have the control strips run everyday and maintenance done. Which is another thing that I have found in professional labs, not all of them do their maintenance regularly or run control strips everyday. That is why I never mail stuff, I want to see what they are doing and have that personal one on one with them. There are two labs (one for processing and proofs, one for custom stuff that I can't get to) here in town that I use and they both do fabulous work and I know them by name, wouldn't have it any other way. Just my 2 cents
     
  10. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Thank you lady...

    I was about to give up trying to make my point.... Know what a lab can do and ask for it. If the lab won't do it.don't go back...If they will that's the place for you.... the secret is know what they can do and if you have to explain to them what you need then do it. Good lab techs don't mind as long as they aren't backed up. I doubt many are these days. If they are just explain that you will come back when they aren't.

    Couple of hits darker on number 14 This roll is a little too yellow. Most prolabs will tell you to get bent if you do that. Also if a prolab is so consistant Why is it they ask for you to bring a proof so they can match the color. Why isnt the color always the same, trust me they aren't all that consistant. I know that now you can upload files and thats cool, but I'm not ever going to mail raw negatives, even now that I'm not in the business.

    I have heard all the horror stories about walmart and others. I frankly don't have much trouble when I can see the tech and they aren't so busy that they don't have time for a little personal service. Like I said eckerds used to have a satisfaction guarenteed, which is only good if you know what they are doing. That little more red in this set please, thing.
     
  11. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I wasn't trying to suggest that prolabs are the only way to go, but I've found that the mail-order pro lab I use has always returned my negatives completely clean, and the quality of their prints has always been better than my local shops. No, of course they're not completely consistent - but they're a lot more consistent than the pharmacy labs or franchised photo outfits around here.

    No need to give up trying to make your point; I think I get it, which is why I mentioned trial and error. If you can find a lab with good staff who will listen to you explain exactly what you want and give you exactly that, let you watch over them as they work to make sure they're doing it right... well yeah, I'd have to say that's preferable to mailing off negatives to someone miles away. But I've never found that lab. Believe me, I have looked, and mostly what I've found is a bunch of shops geared towards printing holiday snaps from digicams or printing from film using whichever method requires the least involvement of actual people. The staff generally seem to lack either training or an actual interest in photography. In my experience, these are the shops that tell you to get bent if you ask for something different. The problem isn't that they don't have time for the personal service, but that the concept of personal service is alien to them. The pro lab I use may ask for a proof in order to guarantee to match a specific colour, but at least they'll do it. And I don't usually need to provide that proof because the prints are generally "good enough".

    I'm not disagreeing with you; I'd love to have a local lab whose staff, when I ask for that little bit more red, greet me not with stares of incomprehension but with "certainly, no problem at all". But I've come to the conclusion that, where I live at least, that place simply doesn't exist. Maybe in your area the reverse is true, the pro-labs are as bad as you say and the regular labs offer a better quality of service... but I can only go on my own experience here.
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I didn't think that. What I thought was that some people might get the idea that the word pro in the name made somekind of difference, it doesn't. It's like the pro photographers in the yellow pages. They come in all shapes and sizes and qualities.

    I would try the local one hour places first, before I shipped film or negatives through the mail. That is more about mail trust than lab trust. Though I wouldn't put it past any lab to blame their mistake on the post office.
     

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