Film processing and scanning at Costco
Old 04-20-2009   #1
davelrods
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Film processing and scanning at Costco

I checked around town. Costco and Walmart seem to be the only game in town for scanning. The girl at Walmart had no idea what resolution their scans were and warned that film processing will end at Walmart within a month. No need to give them a try.

Costco offers film processing and scanning for $2.99 complete without prints, only a contact sheet and the scans. I gave them a try with some Fuji 200, the only game in town for color negatives too, from a quick look. Costco doesn't even sell film any more. Got a four roll pack from Walmart.

I asked the girls at the Costco counter about resolution and neither of them knew, had never been asked about it before, but did have a sheet with several resolutions on it. I left the roll to give it a try and asked them to call me back if they found anything more detailed. Another girl called who knows how to change the resolution settings of the machine and said they always scan at the highest resolution. Probably no reason not to.

I got the roll back later today. It had JPG files that ran about 4 mg each, which translates to a 3088x2048 image file. That is roughly equivalent to an 18 mg tiff image file that I save from my Nikon Scan 4 software when scanning the same negative with my Cool Scan V ed film scanner at a considerably lower resolution than the scanner is capable of. So I would judge the scans to be usably high resolution, though less than a third the potential size of my high end film scanner. It produces scans that would print as big as a wall, though. So, if you can get Costco to scan at full resolution it is adequate. Why don't I just scan everything myself. Try a film scanner some time and see what kind of a time commitment you are into.

I was not satisfied with the processing, though. The scans and the negatives, including scans I produced with my scanner, are way way pushed when it comes to saturation and contrast. They are about the hotest image files I've ever attempted to use.

So, I have a question, what is wrong here. Is the film processing just plain off. Is the scanning too contrasty with both scanners. I can't tell a thing by looking at the negatives. Are such hot images characteristic of that particular film.

I have more of the film coming cheap from B&H so hope it will give me decent performance. I also have some Fuji Pro 160 coming. Will it be flatter and easier to manage saturation and contrast with. I don't think I remember such contrasty images back in my film days even with transparancies. The highlights and shadows were just unmanageable.

What recommendations would you make for me. What I want to do is to shoot, process, scan and go on with image files like always. That might be a film violation, but it is what I intend to do. Probably a lot of other folks with the same direction, I would guess.
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Old 04-20-2009   #2
kchan
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Costco has a bunch of default settings that they use which is more saturated and contrasty. When I upload files to have them print them I turn off those default settings and use the ICC profiles distributed at <http://www.drycreekphoto.com/icc/>. [Of course you need to calibrate your monitor]

Ask them if you can turn them off or as a test try uploading the resulting scans and print them out sans their default processing.
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Old 04-20-2009   #3
benlees
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Costco, for the price, is one of the best deals going. My last roll of c41 I had done there- I had them print up a 12x18in from one of their scans and it was fantastic. Average size jpg from them is 3-6mb- huge! So called pro-labs around my town charge double for 5-700kb scans and 5 times as much for similar quality prints. It is worth trying to get the best you can from them!

I find my computer monitor and Costco prints are quite close to each other in terms of colours so I have not done the drycreek.com. I tick the box that says no to colour adjustments when I do online prints.

A quick adjustment in PS might do the trick. Maybe do some test prints to see what will come out the other end. Contrasty images on screen sometimes translate into nice prints.
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Old 04-20-2009   #4
davelrods
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I just did a walk in and drop off so I didn't do and processing tweaking. I honestly thought the film processing was just processing. I honestly think the extremes of contrast and saturation with this roll is a product of the contrasty light for this session and the film parameters. Scanned with no tweaks in my scanner produced pretty much identical results to what I got from them, which leads me to believe the exposure anomalies are film related not scanning related.
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Old 04-20-2009   #5
dmr
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I've found that the scanning seems to vary from machine to machine. One Walgreens here usually scans with blown highlights (Fuji Frontier 350) and another, the one I usually go to gives mostly consistently good results (Frontier 450).

Wally World is phasing out in-shop film developing on a shop by shop basis, according to a FOAF who runs the camera department at a local Wally World. It's something like less than 10 rolls average per day over so long and they will shut down the film processor.
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Old 04-20-2009   #6
davelrods
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Yes that's pretty impressive, but even that $11 per roll in addition to the film developing is substantially more than the $2.99 Costco charges. But the scans I got today weren't really usable. That one of Ken Rockwel's looks pretty good. I'm still caught up in the tremendously pushed contrast and saturation, I'm seeing. I think there is some of that in that scan of Ken's too.
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