Is there a good lab out there?
Old 10-08-2015   #1
Dunn
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Is there a good lab out there?

So, I prefer shooting film and just got a Fuji GF670 to start shooting 120, mostly color. However, I am still in search of a good lab to process my film. In the past I have used a couple local labs that overall did a crappy job. So, I figured I should try a mail service. I recently sent an order to Precision Camera in Austin to develop a mixture of 35mm b/w and color and the first few rolls with my GF670, about 25 rolls total. I opted for Precision because of the deal they offer RFF members, free developing with high-res scan. I thought that sounded like a great deal - $20 per b/w and $12 per color roll. I figured thats a good price compared to some other labs I looked at and I get a high-res scan.
I get the order back and it's horrible. No organization of the scans (they were basically just thrown into a folder), missing scans (several rolls), I even think there were a couple images that were someone else's.
Anyway, I contact them, manager apologizes and asks me to send all the negatives back. So, I did.
Get them back: much better this time. The rolls were all scanned and separated into their own folder!!! Amazing!
However, still not the best quality. Some rolls have a good amount of dust spots and some of the 120 frames are clipped.

Should I keep going with Precision and just try to get them to correct these issues or try somewhere else?
I really just want to have a good reliable lab that I can send my film to and know it will come back looking nice. But, I also can't afford to spend a ton on developing and scanning. For example, I hear North Coast is good but for the same service (develop and high-res scan) it would be about $20 per roll instead of $12 and that adds up quickly.
I really want to keep shooting film but it's hard with experiences like this and the cost. I'm already paying $6 a roll and only getting 10 - 6x7 frames. Blaahhhh.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-08-2015   #2
Ko.Fe.
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Time for DIY. BW and Color. For 120 you don't need super scanner...
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Old 10-08-2015   #3
Dunn
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Scan examples:
k by Ben Dunn, on Flickr

40530003 by Ben Dunn, on Flickr
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Old 10-08-2015   #4
jsrockit
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This is going to be a hard one to get an answer for... there are labs that some people seem to love that I think do a horrible job. I haven't found any scan, that comes with developing as a package, that was worth anything. It boggles my mind that these labs don't consider dust to be something they should try to avoid when processing film. In the 90s, even Pharmacies (or whoever processed for them) did a great job (of course no scans then though).
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Old 10-08-2015   #5
photomoof
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Good scans from true pro labs are really expensive. What you are getting is basically a proof sheet. And the price is not bad. Personally I prefer an actual proof sheet.

Here is a price list from a pro lab in my area. http://www.duggal.com/wp-content/upl...LIST_FINAL.pdf

Unless you are being paid or about to show in a gallery, DIY.
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Old 10-08-2015   #6
Ronald M
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DIY or spend money. Good services do not come cheap. You are looking for Cadillac at Chevrolet prices.

The problem today is most everything is junk, refrigerators, furnaces ,shoes, clothing, housing, you name it. Problem is cost to you & me does not reflect lower value. Example, I bought new Kitchen Aid double oven. Control Panel is defective. Got a repair man who brought a new in the box replacement which he installed. Does not work because circuit board was split open. He had to put the old board in the new panel, reinstall and now it works. $3500 oven.
Kitchen Aid dishwasher had a smashed wash tub, really bad 12" + smash. Distributer said it was a known problem.

You need to buy commercial or industrial grade anything if you can. The wife did not want commercial appliances.
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Old 10-08-2015   #7
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I recommend thefindlab.com
Have not been happy with thedarkroom.com (w/120 they gave me scanning lines, artifacts etc that they could not fix or explain)

I have also used NCPS with no complaints. Difference between them and thefindlab is price.
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Old 10-08-2015   #8
Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
DIY or spend money. Good services do not come cheap. You are looking for Cadillac at Chevrolet prices.
I just don't get it then. The reason I paid someone else to do it is because I don't have the equipment to do it myself and, even if I did, it would take a lot of time and practice to get high-quality results. I thought that was the point of me paying a business that offers professional photographic services. And I understand that there are more expensive labs out there, but how do I know they don't just charge more and give me the same crap? Precision charges $4.90/roll to develop and then $12 for high-res scans (only talking about color, b/w is more). Then, they offer free developing for RFF members with high-res scans. So, you're telling me a regular price of $20/roll for develop and scan is chevrolet prices?
Right now I have another 7 rolls of 120 that need developed and I don't know what to do with them. I don't want to pay $140 to have ****ty looking photos after I've spent so much on a nice camera and 120 film hoping to have higher quality images. I just want good quality work, is that so much to ask?
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Old 10-08-2015   #9
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Correct me if I'm wrong but you just spent about $400 for 25 rolls, right? That's crazy talk, IMO.

When I bought my first 120 camera I knew it was a real investment so along with the camera I bought a Nikon LS-8000. It was part of the "cost" of the camera. I paid $1000 and so it was only about two and a half "batches" of film at your cost. But wait! After I used the Coolscan for a year I decided to sell my 120 gear and move up to 4x5, at which time I sold the Coolscan for more than I paid for it.

IMO, a good scanner pays for itself. Or more than that.

As for developing, b&w developing stuff can be had for cheap, or nothing if someone is nice and gives you stuff. It's easy. Color development stuff is a tad bit harder to come by if you want a real nice setup but it's still out there. I bought a water heater/pump and tanks for $200 and now do C-41 and E-6 at home. The chemicals are not bad if you buy in bulk and shoot a lot.

By the way, what pushed me to DIY was crappy development of E-6 one time at a normally good lab that has been mentioned on this thread.

Now if you only shoot a few rolls a year, no, it doesn't necessarily make sense. But if you shoot like me, with hundreds of rolls / sheets per year, it does.

And yes, those scans look terrible. Did you edit them? At least set the black point properly on the color one.
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Old 10-08-2015   #10
Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I recommend thefindlab.com
Have not been happy with thedarkroom.com (w/120 they gave me scanning lines, artifacts etc that they could not fix or explain)

I have also used NCPS with no complaints. Difference between them and thefindlab is price.
Thanks. I'll check them out!
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Old 10-08-2015   #11
Mudman
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Precision camera does great 24 MP scans of film with developing for a fairly reasonable rate. And they are supporters of the site here!
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Old 10-08-2015   #12
Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudman View Post
Precision camera does great 24 MP scans of film with developing for a fairly reasonable rate. And they are supporters of the site here!
I know this because that's who this post is about... unfortunately not in a good way.
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Old 10-08-2015   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong but you just spent about $400 for 25 rolls, right? That's crazy talk, IMO.
Yeah, closer to $500. Sucks. Which is why I don't get someone doing a bad job when they just made a large sum of money off of me and, I would think they would want my return business...

Maybe I will have to look into a nice dedicated scanner and learn to do it myself.
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Old 10-08-2015   #14
mjc
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Do you have a local lab near you? If they are good, and you get to know them, it removes the uncertainty and randomness of what quality you will receive back from sending your film out to unknown or untried online labs....
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Old 10-08-2015   #15
bhop73
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I use an epson v700 and develop/scan my own. B&W and C41. Color isn't hard, it just takes a little longer to get the temperature correct. I do it all in my kitchen sink.

Examples:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bhop73/

If you don't want to do it yourself. I've used thedarkroom.com mailorder, and they did a decent job with my 35mm rolls.

thedarkroom examples
https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_...oom&view_all=1
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Old 10-08-2015   #16
Mudman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunn View Post
I know this because that's who this post is about... unfortunately not in a good way.
Sorry, I didn't get much sleep last night, and I missed that completely. Don't know how now that I've re-read your post. I've never had issues with them, but have only used them a few times for B&W and slide film. They've always done well by me.
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Old 10-08-2015   #17
photomoof
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunn View Post
Thanks. I'll check them out!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunn View Post
Yeah, closer to $500. Sucks. Which is why I don't get someone doing a bad job when they just made a large sum of money off of me and, I would think they would want my return business...

Maybe I will have to look into a nice dedicated scanner and learn to do it myself.
Small semi-pro labs often do very nice work, but nothing you cannot easily learn to do yourself. As mentioned you can also develop your own film, and the results will be great, if you simply follow directions and carefully wash and dry. Unless you have horrid hard water it should all go well.

When I refer to "professional" scanning, like the list I linked, I mean high resolution drum scanning not flatbed, or high speed one hour lab units, like the Noritsu.

Make no mistake, professional labs like Duggal make breathtaking prints, I have 24x36 inch Cibachrome prints made 30 years ago by them that still amaze me to this day. If you are selling prints for thousands of dollars the cost of printing is not a factor.

But IMO, spending $500 on film development, and dusty proof quality scans, not so much. For my personal work, or proofs to show a gallery, the Epson V700 flatbed is great, and a lab like Precision for color is just fine.
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Old 10-08-2015   #18
Dale D
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I use a lab in St. Louis called Allied Photocolor: http://alliedphotocolor.com/index.htm

I only use them for developing my B/W film, so I can't speak for their scanning services. But they do very consistent, quality work for B/W developing. And I think their prices are competitive. They might be worth a look for what you need.

Dale
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Old 10-10-2015   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale D View Post
I use a lab in St. Louis called Allied Photocolor: http://alliedphotocolor.com/index.htm

I only use them for developing my B/W film, so I can't speak for their scanning services. But they do very consistent, quality work for B/W developing. And I think their prices are competitive. They might be worth a look for what you need.

Dale
Ah Allied, they are a true professional commercial lab! They have been around forever.
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Old 10-10-2015   #20
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Ah Allied, they are a true professional commercial lab! They have been around forever.

Yes, I've been using them for about 4 years. They have their act together in terms of consistency and quality. They use a "dip and dunk" process. They use XTOL for B/W, and you don't have any other choice, but I've been very pleased with the results using Delta 100 and Tri-X. They'll pull or push per any instructions you give (for example "reduce dev time by 20%"). I hope they stick around for a long time, as I've come to depend on them heavily.

Dale
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Ncps
Old 10-10-2015   #21
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Ncps

I've had great luck with North Coast Photo Services...

http://www.northcoastphoto.com

North Coast messed up a disk once, but send another one out no questions asked.

Reasonable prices for scans. I get the lower quality scans because I have a crappy keeper ratio. So, I just scan the good ones with my Nikon scanner.
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Old 10-10-2015   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I recommend thefindlab.com
Have not been happy with thedarkroom.com (w/120 they gave me scanning lines, artifacts etc that they could not fix or explain)

I have also used NCPS with no complaints. Difference between them and thefindlab is price.
How do they deliver? On a CD? just negs? What doers 8", 10" etc. mean?
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Old 10-10-2015   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunn View Post
Yeah, closer to $500. Sucks. Which is why I don't get someone doing a bad job when they just made a large sum of money off of me and, I would think they would want my return business...

Maybe I will have to look into a nice dedicated scanner and learn to do it myself.
I have to smile when some film shooters complain about digital M prices.

It's time or money and plenty of it, if you shoot alot of film. I'm know there are guys who really have it down for BW and more power to them.

But I'm also surprised it's so hard to find affordable quality services in such a big open marketplace.
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Old 10-10-2015   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
How do they deliver? On a CD? just negs? What doers 8", 10" etc. mean?
I also don't understand what the different inch sizes mean...
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Old 10-10-2015   #25
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I use these guys, so far they have been good.

http://bluemooncamera.com/processing...age=view_order
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Old 10-10-2015   #26
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Now I'm starting to research scanning negs with a digital camera. Seems like people are getting pretty good results. I have an X-T1, wonder if that would work?
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Old 10-10-2015   #27
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I use these guys, so far they have been good.

http://bluemooncamera.com/processing...age=view_order
Their site says that they process B/W by hand. Do you know what type of developer(s) they use?

Thanks,
Dale
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Old 10-10-2015   #28
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Is there any lab accept Paypal payment for processing B/W and E6?

~ron~
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Old 10-11-2015   #29
KEH
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Is there any lab accept Paypal payment for processing B/W and E6?

~ron~
www.thedarkroom.com accepts PayPal. Pretty good quality for 135 film.

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