Photo newbie here...

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by BrettG, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. BrettG

    BrettG TPF Noob!

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    This isn't so much about my darkroom technique (since I don't have a darkroom :) ) as it is just developing in general. When taking my film to a store to get it developed, is there a difference in quality in the FILM developing (not the actual printing of the pictures, just the developing of the film) between a cheap photo lab in a wal mart, and a nicer, more expensive, professional place?

    For example if I didn't care too much about my smaller prints, but did intend to blow some up that I liked, could I take my film to get developed at a cheaper place, then when blowing a picture up take it to a more expensive place without losing any quality in the enlargement? Or do cheaper places use cheaper chemicals resulting in poorer quality negatives?
     
  2. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    mmmm, I don't think so. While it's true you can enhance grain with some developers better than others, which may not be desired as it becomes more pronounced the larger you make your print, I think the same "quality" exists among them all. If I am understanding your question correctly. I think it would have more to do with your choice of film - cheap grainy film with poor color saturation will not blow up as nicely as a film with vivid saturation, regardless of development.

    I'll let some others weigh in here. :)
     
  3. voodoocat

    voodoocat ))<>(( Supporting Member

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    Walmart barely cleans their equipment. They also don't take care of your negatives like a pro lab will. I used to use your school of thought. Walmart for the quick cheap prints, real lab for enlargments. But when I get every negative back with dirt all over and small scratches across the entire roll, I decided it wasn't worth it. If you check with your lab, they should have process only prices. The pro lab in town processes 35mm negatives for $3/roll.
     
  4. BrettG

    BrettG TPF Noob!

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    Was the dirt on the film your only gripe? I didn't actually use walmart for my last roll of film, just used it as an example (I used CVS, probably no better, haha). I think one or two of the many shots I took actually had any visible dirt on it, so if that's the only real bad thing about it it might be worth continuing this.

    When you talk about just the developing at a pro lab, they do at least give you a (I'm sure there's a name, I don't remmeber it), sheet with mini's of all the shots, right?
     
  5. voodoocat

    voodoocat ))<>(( Supporting Member

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    No, you have to pay extra for a proof. I have a negative scanner so I scan it all in myself. That is where I can see all the fruits of their labor.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    There are contact sheets, which is an actual size print of the negatives, and these days there are index prints, which are sort digital versions of a contact print, but much lower quality. Index prints are usually free for the small ones (4"x6").

    It is possible to find an economy lab where they take care of the equipment and chems, and generally work in a professional manner. But as Voodoo said, there are also plenty of lousy labs. It has a lot to do with the employees; if you find a Walmart where they've actually hired photo enthusiasts, then you might not have any problems with scum and scratches on your negs. If the employees don't give a f@&*$%ck, then you won't be happy.

    Pro labs usually do a better job with the printing though, particularly color. Most one hour labs are running their printing machines on full auto, and as sophisticated as the software is, it can't beat an actual living human being looking at each print and assessing subtle color changes. I take all my color (which admittedly isn't much) to the pro labs. I advise the folks in my family who think the pro labs are too expensive to go to the one hour economy lab for developing and 4"x6" prints, but get their reprints done at the pro lab. You will see the difference.
     
  7. BrettG

    BrettG TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, that answered my question perfectly. Out of the 14 rolls I took in (went a little nuts on vacation heh) I only noticed dirt or anything like that on one or two shots, so I guess it's worth trusting this place to get my cheaper 4x6's done again.

    I was planning on going to a good photo lab for the enlargements anyway, I'm just glad to know that there's no difference in the quality of the negatives (unless the people are lazy bums who don't care) between a cheap lab and a pro lab. Thanks for all the help.
     

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