Film by mail
Lately I have been spending more time taking old fashioned non-digital pictures. For most of my film it is pretty inexpensive to have the film processed at my local Walgreens. If you ask them to process only and make a photo CD-ROM, it ends up being around USD $7.00 and if you have a coupon it can be as inexpensive as USD $4.00. Depending on the location they use either an AGFA or Nortisu based film scanner to make the CD, so they are fairly low resolution (around 2MP), but the price is right. The local Target and CVS Drug in my area will do a develop plus CD for a bit more money and the local Wal-mart does a develop only, but sends the film out to make a CD. I am sure that there are a lot of other regional drugstores that have one hour photo services that are similar to what I am discussing. If you are using normal color 35mm film that uses the C-41 developing process, you have a lot of options available to you, even if you are in a fairly rural area.
Living in the suburbs makes it more difficult to find a place to process other film types locally. Black and white film, slide film and other formats like 110, 120 and 127 require a photo processing center that is a little more high end. Many photo processing places will take the film from you, but they end up sending it out to another location to get it done, which adds time and expense. I've tried a few mail order houses lately and figured that I would share my results. All of these processing facilities are in the United States. I have only processed 35mm film through these place, but they should all at least do 35mm and 120 at a minimum and the scan resolutions I am listing are for regular frame 35mm scans.
- SF Photoworks - San Francisco, California
High Resolution Scans as TIFF 3000x2000
Notes: They are happy to cross process film and have the nicest outgoing cardboard mailers. They will send you a free prepaid film mailer if you request one, but can also print out a free mailer from their website. They will also do custom requests for services like sprocket hole scanning if you e-mail them. Their customer service is really amazing.
- Coopers Imaging - Norwich, Connecticut
High Resolution Scans as JPEG - 3637x2433
Medium Resulution Scans as JPEG - 1818x1228
Notes: Their turnaround time is amazing.
- Dwayne's Photo - Parsons, Kansas (Famous for processing the last roll of Kodachrome)
Scans as JPEG - 2748x1830
Notes: Really fast turnaround on order
- Swan Photo Labs - San Clemente, California
Scans as JPEG - 1544x1024
Notes: They will provide your photos to you via the web if you provide an email address. They will cross process with the right forms. They will send you a free prepaid film mailer if you request one. These are the people also known as "The Darkroom"
- Dale Labs - Hollywood, Florida
Scans as JPEG - 3088x2048
Notes: They will send you a free prepaid film mailer if you request one. Excellent photo-cd with thumbnails printed on it. One con: you pay extra for 36 exposure rolls. Most other labs charge you the same to develop and scan 24 or 36 exposure rolls, I assume since it is automated.
- Blue Moon Camera - Portland, Oregon
High Resolution Scans as JPEG - 4038x3028
Notes: This place also processes Minox film. They are not incredibly fast, but their quality is really amazing. They took the time to compose a note on a manual typewriter. Awesome!
- Lomography USA - Chicago, Illinois
Scans as JPEG - 1818x1228Notes: Interesting model where you pay up front and receive a pre-paid mailer. I tried them out when they were first ramping up their developing services in the US, so it took a while for my film to be processed. The service has the easiest integration with the Lomography website (duh?) and the developing process is good. You are able to download the pictures from their website before you get them in the mail, if you can't wait.
- Local Drugstore 1-Hour Photo Comparison
Walgreens AGFA Minilab JPEG - JPEG @ 2400x1600
Walgreens Noritsu Minilab JPEG - JPEG @ 1545x1024
CVS Pakon Minilab #1 JPEG - JPEG @ 2218x1468
CVS Pakon Minilab #2 JPEG - JPEG @ 1484x984
Places that I have found but not tried:
- the PHOTO PLACE inc. - Youngstown, Ohio
- York Photo - Hampton Park, Maryland
- A & I Photographic - Hollywood, California
- Bison Photo - Newport Beach, California
- PHOTOLABORATORY - Berkeley, California