Questions to ask when looking for a film developer.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by New Hampshire, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. New Hampshire

    New Hampshire TPF Noob!

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    To sort of go on a different tangent from a related thread I started earlier in which we discussed Negative scanners vs. digital cd's from a print shop, I am starting a seperate thread. I still want to pick up the Canon Neg. scanner eventually, but due to a recent purchase of a new lens (thanks Jeremy! :p ) that will go on hold temporarily. So in the mean time I will give the digital cd's a try. Now, I have had my fill of Wal-Mart and those other "bang-bang in the door-out the door" places. I looked in the phone book under film developers (origionally I was looking under Photo suppliers which was why I was not finding anyone near me other than corperate places) and found a few independant places near me I will think of trying. So, this all brings me to the point of this post:\

    What kind of questions should I be asking of a developer I plan on doing business with? By that I mean, are there any questions of processing equipment, technique, etc. I can/should ask? And on the picture cd's is there a set standard for "high res." or "low res."..... you know, anything below xxx Mb is considered low resolution with yyy Mb being the best? Any things to look out for that could tell me "this guy/gal knows what they are doing", or "This person is a hack job!"?

    Brian
     
  2. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well if you are planning on getting prints made I would suggest trying out a few with the same images and see who does the best job.
     
  3. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    He's shooting negatives, so that is not quite as easy as with digital.

    The first place to try would be the camera stores. I used to work at a Ritz Camera & One Hour Photo store, a couple of them actually. We did MUCH better work than most one hour photo labs, and much better than every single outlab I've ever used. Since the people who make your images are right there, they HAVE to do a better job. That's just for printing.

    The quality of the digital scans is something different. I would ask them to show you the machine they use to scan the negatives to put onto the CD. It may be the same machine they print with, I don't know.

    You might also try some of the internet photo sites, such as Snapfish or Yahoo Photos. See what they offer. Since they're online, they usually give good technical deatail.

    High resolution numbers in DPI is what you're looking for.
     
  4. New Hampshire

    New Hampshire TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I guess I will throw caution to the wind and try a couple of different local shops and see the results. Hopefully the results don't turn out the same as the Wal Mart picture disc fiasco and cost me $10 of wasted money :lol: . That could get costly real quick! :confused:

    Brian
     
  5. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    In general, very general, they are all about the same. Take note of what Jeremy said however. If you take your pictures to Walgreens, or CVS or whatever, they are running pretty much the same equipment for overnight as they are for one hour. You just pay more for fast.

    Here's the catch, how often do they calibrate the equipment and how well do they watch the chemicals usage? One store in the same chain may have someone good and down a mile away, they may do crappy work and your prints will come out with blobs on the back from a dirty machine.

    The digital disks are made at the same time as the prints. It's not high tech and not fancy. That's why it's cheap. You aren't going to get custom color balance or anything. If you want that, you are going to pay much more.

    Now "what he said" a photo store, not a chain store, I mean one that handles equipment, does enlargements, will generally do better work, because that's what they specialize in doing. The ones I've found locally have owners who watch things, workers who only do photo and are more concerned with quailty that someone who works for a drug chain, or wholesale club and got a lab coat and a badge yesterday. In general!

    I don't think you'll find much difference between the good places.
    A machine is doing the work. Just like the camera is a tool, and how it's used makes the difference, how the technician runs the equipment, makes the difference.

    I know professionals who take their film to Walmart for one hour processing, because they need to get it back and sell pictures on site. Fast turn around is important to them. These same people have full labs at work/home and used to run back and sometimes stay up until just about Sunrise, doing their own processing.

    So I'd say, if you can find an independent photo shop or photo lab, you'll probably have the least worries and best results.

    Never tried the mail in places that have web sites, they may be very good. The big places that do processing for everyone else, are just what Jeremy said, outlabs are just big processing plants, they aren't about quality. By the way, when you get next day at some places, that's where you film goes, so you'll need to ask if they do it themselves, or if it goes to Mr. Big.

    After that, they are all the same and will produce about the same results, from nearly identical equipment. Except if you hit one, like I have a few blocks from the office, and I won't even go there for prints, because their equipment is not kept up and for all I know they save money by not replenishing chemicals. They had two chances, I got dirty prints, junk on the back, poor color, and now it's "never again". Took the same CF card to the same chain, made the same prints and they were just fine.


    Real simple. You only get what you pay for, and sometimes not even that. :confused:
     
  6. New Hampshire

    New Hampshire TPF Noob!

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    Thanks RacePhoto for some good information!

    I was just looking at Snapfish's website. I am liking Jeremys idea of using these folks. I understand there will be a lag time from when the pictures are sent to receiving them back, but that does not bothor me. What is nice is the ease of use they create for a person. For example:

    when they develop your film they post the pictures online within 1 business day of developing so you can begin using the pictures online and don't have to wait for the prints to arrive at your home.

    Picture cd albums can be created from any pictures chosen online.

    At any point a person can choose a print online and have up to an 8"x10" print made.

    I was looking at the standards they set for the cd picture disks and the scans of prints they make online. The CD disks have a resolution of 1612x1024 pixels (is that a good size?) to them. Or, when they post pictures online you get the low resolution size, but you can buy the High Resolution (1612x1024) downloads right off the net. So, this set up could actually eliminate the need for buying the picture cd and because its already online it would make it easier for me to edit photos using a photoshop type program.

    I think I will give this a try!

    Thanks again.

    Brian
     

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