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Photography QnA: Working with Professional Photo Labs

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Category: All About Photography : Traditional Film Photography : Working with Professional Photo Labs

Wondering how to work with professional wedding photo labs? How about questions regarding the difference in photo labs? Check out this Q & A and Working with Mail-Order Photo Labs article for answers to all of your questions.

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Photography Question 
IVAN R. MENDEZ

member since: 2/10/2006
  1 .  Working with a Commercial Lab
When I get my pictures back from the store, it's like they cropped them down a little ... as if they were re-sized from the original upload. Is there any way to avoid that? For example, if I upload a picture of a full-size hand, when I get the picture back, the fingertips will be missing.

10/20/2006 8:01:43 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Raul,
Most labs currently print on conventional color paper, as the cost of materials are superior as compared to a digital solution. Images are projected onto light sensitive paper which is then chemically developed. Cost of materials is about 5 or 6 cents per 4x6 prints for a mass merchandiser. Mom and pop labs pay more.
Film is projected onto this paper using a fixed or zoom lens. Digital images are also projected. The digital projection can be a laser source or fibber optic array or virtual negative formed via a liquid crystal display (LCD) or cathode ray tube (CRT) and other methods also in use.

In every case the projected image must be a slight enlargement. A two percent overspill is the standard. Sloppy labs might have slightly more enlargement. The projected image can be made smaller (nearer to unity with the print size), however, a black line is likely to form at one or more of the print edges. This is due to the fact that all printing must be produced at high speed or else the margin of profit will suffer. Paper waste due to under projection canít be tolerated.
You gain as consequences of high-speed production as the price of photofinishing has been reduced or remains the same since 1955 when color printing at a local lab was first introduced. Back then it was $1.00 to develop the film and 30Ę per print. Remarkable when you consider that material costs are now lower - so too is labor costs due to machine automation. The average per print charge is 18 cents.
You should know that most modern printers now utilize a zoom projection lens. It is possible to cause this projection to be at unity with the paper size. If you become friendly with your local lab they could accommodate. Most likely to accommodate special handling meaning extra charge is justified. Now in 2006, the profit margin of a one-hour lab is in the toilet, and the mom and pop lab will soon be a rarity. The mass merchandise photo lab is a lost leader to keep the customer in the store longer.
Home printing using future digital devices will wipe out this merchandising channel inshort order.
Alan Marcus

10/20/2006 10:43:21 PM

Steve Mescha
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/22/2002
  Hi Raul,
While it's interesting to read Alan's response, I'm not sure he addressed your problem. I think the aspect ratio of the images from your camera simply don't fit the print size you're odering. Open one of your images in a software program on your computer and check the image size. Resize the image so it's 6" on the long side and you will probably find that it's either more or less than 4" on the short side. Also note that a 4x6 image cannot be changed to 5x7 without cropping the long side. One solution is to edit your images in a software program and make them fit into the desired size, either by cropping, or by adding a white border to the desired size. the other alternative is to use a lab that will do the work for you. Here's a link to a great on-line lab that will give you exactly what you want. They are fast and reasonably priced. Good luck!
http://www.myphotopipe.com/prints.html

10/24/2006 5:27:44 AM

Bill Boswell

member since: 3/22/2004
  Actually I think the answer is much simpler than the cost of printing...the ratio of length to width varies with common print sizes and the labs upsize the print to make the shortest dimension fit the page.

If you are shooting with a popular SLR, the digital image is in a ratio of 2:3 so the short edge is 2/3rds the lenght of the long edge. This is a different ration than an 8*10 where the ratio is 4:5. For your 2:3 image to fit on an 8*10 page, the length should actually be 12", not 10" to give you the same ratio and to include everything in your print. When it gets printed as an 8*10, then 1" on the left and right must get cropped so the short edge (the 8" side) fills the print.

This is the same concept as showing a wide screen DVD on your TV and you get black bars on the top. In that case, the DVD player does not crop anything from the ends and instead fills the blank space with black bars.

10/24/2006 5:38:22 AM

ej deleon

member since: 8/7/2006
  hi, I was surfing on the Kodak gallery website and it seems they automatically crop a bit. There is an option to select for them NOT to do this so you get all of your print. You might try them.

10/24/2006 6:33:07 AM

Devon McCarroll
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2005
  Digital photos have a different aspect ratio than 35mm film. Because of this, I always crop my photos to the size I want before sending them off for printing. Otherwise, to maintain the entire image in anything larger than 4x6, you'll need to print specialty sizes (i.e. 16x24 vs. 16x20).
This article (link below) gives a good eplanation:

http://www.adobepress.com/articles/article.asp?p=600969&rl=1

Devon

10/24/2006 7:49:02 AM

Mark Groves

member since: 5/28/2003
  Hi Raul,
You didn't say what camera you are shooting. Some cameras let you choose which image ratio you record with. I shoot at 2:3 (4x6) and crop any other size I need in PS Mark

10/24/2006 7:59:00 AM

  Full frame 35 mm is larger than the typical print size that most labs print. Example: Lab prints 5 X 7, but the full size 35 mm is 5 X 7.5. So you lose a half an inch. 8 X 10 would be 8 X 12 full frame. 4 X 6 is full frame, so you don't notice a difference there, it is the larger photos where you notice a problem. So you should either ask for the full frame size (if they offer it) or resise your photos before sending the image to be printed.

10/24/2006 8:38:05 AM

Kelly J. Heggart

member since: 8/29/2005
  It's this simple; resize your photo to 4 x 6 in photoshop our whatever software you use and it will print exactly as you see it. Also, tell the lab "NO COLOUR ADJUSTMENT," if you have tweaked the colour in photoshop as their machines do an automatic adjustment, ruining all your hours in photoshop, tinkering to get it just right. It is frustrating. Even at the drugstore lab, if they are sized to 4 x 6, 360 dpi and make sure they write no colour adjustment on the envelope for the lab - you will get the results you are looking for.

Kelly
Vancouver Island
Canada

10/24/2006 9:07:58 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi again all,

A little history:
Thomas Edison invented the Kinescope in 1889. This was the first motion picture system. Edison and George Eastman together established the film size. Eastman (Kodak) was already producing 70mm roll film. Slitting this film is half yielded an economical 35mm width. Edison needed sprocket holes along the edges to allow accurate mechanical transport through the camera and projector. Allowing for the perforations, the image area established was 18mm x 24mm.

In 1913 when Ernst Leitz introduced the Leica camera in a commercial version. This camera used the now readily available 35mm perforated film. It was necessary to retain the 24mm image width but Leica engineers doubled the 18mm length establishing the image size 24mm x 36mm. The aspect ratio is 36/24= 1.5. This remains the defacto standard for the 35mm film camera.

Hands down, the majority of photofinishing prints produced in America is 4x6 inches printed on 4 inch width paper. This print size has an aspect ratio of 1.5 and which is an exact fit for 35mm film. When printing, film is held by a negative gate, it is slightly smaller than 24x36mm. This cropping is necessary because if the image area is not square to the carrier one or more clear edges will show. When this happens it presents a challenge to the printerís sensors and logic. Often the result will be a substandard print. Additional cropping is also a function of the projection lens which by necessity is set to overspill.

The digital camera owes its origins to the popularization of the movie camcorder. These cameras utilized a chip with an aspect ratio taken from standard TV sets. This ratio is 1.333. Most digitals, except for the high end full frame type (which are 24x36mm) utilize this ratio. Using 4 inch wide print paper the printed image works out to be 4 x 5.33 inches. Most labs however make a 4x6 print. If the printer is adjusted to make a print from these digitals, a fit the 6 inch length, the width will be 4.5 inches which is an overspill of Ĺ inch. To fit this image on 4 inch paper, ľ of an inch is lopped off at both top and bottom. Most printers however are set to overspill the 6 inch length which means cropping occurs on all sides, most severe is at the top and bottom.

Itís difficult to achieve image to paper exact matches. The problem gets worse when you request 8x10 or other sizes far a field from the aspect ratios discussed. I advise stepping back as you compose as this allow for copping especially true if you are using a lab that caters mainly to the armature trade.

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

10/24/2006 9:57:24 AM

anonymous A. 

member since: 9/19/2005
  Fortunately, many photo labs offer "digital size" prints, using paper sizes which match the ratio of the image sensor. For years, 35mm (1.5:1) enlargement ratio has been available from 1 hour photo processors (8x12 is the same price as 8x10 at my local "Snappy Photo" store).

It is at least 2 years ago that the high volume department stores started offering no-crop printing from digital cameras at 15c to 30c per picture. And if you don't like the results, most reprint at no extra cost.

Now, I am in Sydney (Ausralia), but I know this holds true for Melbourne and Newcastle, because I have used the services there when travelling. It strikes me as unlikely that similar services would not be available in the States or Europe.

10/24/2006 4:53:59 PM

Paul S. Fleming

member since: 4/27/2008
  Hi Raul, I have read the answers to your question with great interest as I also have had this problem. I do not have Photoshop. Through their vast knowledge, the member's were kind enough to give you many ways to solve this problem. I have a different way. I simply place my subject in the finder and leave space on the top and bottom end on the long side so that when the prints come back they fill the frame from top to bottom without anything cropped out of my shot. Give it a try. It worked for me, and didn't cost me a dime. I have learned so much from the members who give of their valuable time answering questions that I thought I would try and give something back. Shoot away Raul, "PS" Fleming

10/24/2006 6:15:33 PM

Ben LindoPhotography

member since: 12/6/2005
  Someone probably already said this, but your camera is making the photos the wrong width to height ratio, well not wrong, but its not the perfect size for making 4x6 photos, maybe 8x10 would be a better fit, im not sure.

If you have photo editing software such as photoshop or something simular u can resize the photo (it may be necessary to crop and cut off part of the image
yourself) this way you can control which parts will get cut off and not.

or When taking photos, just to be on the safe side make sure theres anough border around the subject so that if the sides get cut off when printed, the main subject wont be affected.

10/24/2006 7:09:28 PM

IVAN R. MENDEZ

member since: 2/10/2006
  THANK YOU GUYS FOR ALL THE VERY HELPFUL
INFORMATION , I'LL TRY SOME OF THE SUGGESTIONS I'LL RESIZE SOME PICTURES ON PHOTOSHOP AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE ..

THANKS ALOT

10/24/2006 8:20:55 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Raul,

I'm sure by now you have the answer.
YOU must crop the image before going to the 1 hour kiosk or sending to a lab.
It is a little tedious since many people want sizes other than 4x6.

Many here remember their days of B&W printing. Anytime we enlarged, (i.e) moved the enlarger head further from the paper, we "lost" some of the original image at the edges. If we wanted a particular "edge" printed, we moved the paper.

I would advise against simply leaving enough "border" when shooting. This method is a little on the "Voodoo" side of things with you guessing what will crop and what will not. Of course you don't want to "tight" crop anything in composition.

With time and practice, you will begin to see how a image will crop to various sizes.
When you crop an image to 4x6 and then 8x10, you will see they are vastly different when working with image sensors other than the standard 35mm.

The only way to totally avoid cropping is buy a camera for each size you will be printing, and make contact prints. LOL Just kidding.


Pete

10/25/2006 4:14:45 AM

Vanessa Rabayda
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2007
  It seems like everyone here knows the correct answer or the correct way to do things.
I have a similar problem, and I have already done everything said in here. I fix all my photography using corel. I've resized the photos to the exact dimensions that I want my photos (8x10). I have resized them bigger than that, so that they have room to fit. I have put my own border, so I know exactly what they are cropping. NOTHING works! I've gotten photos back extra sharp, which ruins my long-hours work. I have used more than one different lab, to compare. No lab so far has gotten them right.

To me, it seems like the only way around this is by purchasing your own lab and do them at home. Of course you run will run through expensive paper and ink, but at least you'll have control of everything.
I found these personal lab printers from Epson:
http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/Landing/PMLanding.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes

I'm considering getting one of those soon.

7/17/2007 11:21:10 AM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Daniel G. King

member since: 10/18/2006
  2 .  Making Prints from Slides
Hello,
Is it possible to make a quality print from a slide? I asked the folks at Wolf Photo and was told that they did not get good results. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

10/18/2006 1:28:12 PM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  In short, it depends what you're willing to pay. Slide film is inherently contrasty, and the conventional printing process (positive to positive) adds further to the contrast. If you are just looking for cheap 4x6 prints, then Wolf is correct. Even if they were to make copy negs for you, they would still be very contrasty. For small prints, you'd be better off having inexpensive scans made of each slide, and then have Wolf print your 4x6's or whatever from these scans.
If, on the other hand, you are considering larger, "fine art" prints from slides, then you can get beautiful results by having a quality scan produced from your slide (minimum 4000 ppi), and then have a commerical lab make a laser-light print for you onto Fuji Crystal Archive paper. The quality is superb (providing you have a quality slide to begin with).

10/18/2006 3:13:43 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  It also depends on the size you'd like to go with it and what size you're starting out with. Taking a 35mm transparency and going larger than, say, 11x14 is iffy. It's best to do what's called a 4x5 internegative (which can be done quite well and aren't all that expensive). Then you could essentially go to transit bus-size prints without much of a problem.
http://www.gammaphoto.com.
They're a lab in Chicago, a great, large lab that's been around since about 1968. Check out the prices, call them, ask for Alice, tell her I sent ya and if you want to see prints worthy of your finest work, they'll do it, first time around, no b.s., no excuses, no ups and no extras other than what you want, like archival mounting, etc :>)
Mark

10/18/2006 7:43:18 PM

Scott Clark

member since: 8/29/2004
  Yes, it is possible to get a very good print from a 35mm slide. If you are looking for a print in the 11x and smaller size, then look for a lab that has a Fuji Frontier digital printer. The prints from a printer like this are amazing. If you are looking for a larger print than 11x, I would recommend getting a high quality scan and having a digital print made using either a high quality archival inkjet printer or a laser light print made onto traditional photo paper.

10/24/2006 8:39:09 AM

Robert F. Walker
BetterPhoto Member
bdieventphotos.com

member since: 8/24/2004
  Try digmypics.com
I had slides put on CD, then you can make your own print from your computer.

10/24/2006 9:23:18 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Daniel,

Most photo labs have been forced to upgrade their printer from a machine that only accepts film to an advance printer that also accepts digital files. These modern printers accept conventional film but do not directly print from film. Instead, they scan film and create a digital file. The size of the file produced is an operator function. Most however are set to a low value due to productivity concerns. If a digital file is presented instead of film, the scanning process is negated. As for a file derived from film, once the file is used it is saved for a time and then discarded unless you chose to purchase a CD.

The majority of work presented to a lab will be conventional color negative film and files from digital cameras. As a result most lab personnel donít even know their printer is capable of scanning a slide and printing same. This is true because most labs donít own a film developing machine that can handle slide film (E-6 process).

That being said, there are numerous labs that can print your slides. Professional labs might choose to use reversal color paper that accepts exposure direct from a slide. These prints do tend to contrastry for some tastes however some think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

A serious professional lab can expose your slides to internegatvie film. A specialty film designed to allow superior prints from slides. The resulting negative is yours to keep and is accepted by printers loaded with conventional negative color paper.

You can get all the services you are asking for at a super duper professional lab. The price tag will be steeper than the local one-hour shop.

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

10/24/2006 4:39:42 PM

Roger L. Kinney

member since: 4/11/2002
  Daniel,

I understand what most of the previous responders are talking about and many labs have moved away from slides and have gone to scans. There are two places in Denver, CO that can still give you excellent prints from your slides and I have sent prints 13 x 19 and larger than are fine. They are The Slider Printer, and Reed Photo. I heard The Slide Printer may have changed their name but oone of the Wolf camera stores or Reed Photo will be aable to give you a number to contact them. Good Luck,
RogerK

10/24/2006 11:26:18 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Daniel,

If you don't have "zillions" to print, why not do it yourself?

http://specialtyphotographic.stores.yahoo.net/prdislconid2.html

Once you digitize your slide, adjustments are now up to personal taste via any good image editing program.
While this method is quite time consuming, it's cheap and effective.
You also have the added benefit of archiving your slides to hard drive, DVD or whatever.


Pete

10/25/2006 3:55:28 AM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Lynsey Lund
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/14/2005
  3 .  Coatings on Photos
I was exploring some of the photo labs recommended when I searched through past threads. Some of them offer coatings for the prints: prayed lacquer, clear or lustre lacquer, a textured coating. Other than protect the print, what exactly do the coatings do? What is the difference between them? Are they advisable or is one better than the other? I'm new to the professional labs and want to make sure I get quality prints for people. Thanks so much!

11/20/2005 10:32:28 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Hi Lynsey,
I have been very happy with ProLabExpress for my print services. I have always had the Satin coating on my prints. I like that it makes the prints nearly impervious to fingerprints. I recommend that you order some small prints, some coated and some not - then make up your mind.
John

11/20/2005 8:47:19 PM

Lynsey Lund
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/14/2005
  Thanks, John. What does the satin look like ... does it make them shiny? Or is it like these texture ones I keep reading about so I see some sort of texture? Thanks for the input.

11/21/2005 7:16:02 AM

Haley  Crites

member since: 3/23/2001
  I have a question that goes along with it! I have a couple of people who want to order these pictures from me that have a texture to them that is rough. They said you don't need to have glass and can wipe it clean. It looks like linen almost that stands off the page. Does anyone know what this is and where to order it?

11/22/2005 6:49:38 AM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  My lab (prophotoimaging.com) offers prints on three types of paper - texture, matte or glossy. In addition, they offer protective matte spray, standard dry mounting, mounting on art board with either canvas or linen texture as well as the print bonded to canvas and mounted to a stretcher frame. Check them out, if you wish.

11/22/2005 7:06:24 AM

Marquee Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2004
  Hello, All! Just thought I'd add my $.02 ... I usually get my prints done with the lustre coating. It is great at repelling finger prints. Mpix has a metallic coating that makes colorful images pop off the page, but I have not used it for any of my prints yet.
Haley, I think the textured print you are describing is a canvas print. I have a canvas print and it does have a linen look to it.

11/22/2005 7:12:02 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Lynsey, I haven't checked in for a while - too busy putting my house back in order following Katrina (I live in Biloxi).
I have only had my prints in Lustre with satin coating. There is a slight texture from the coating. I'll stay with my original suggestion: Experiment by uploading a couple of your favorites to the lab(s) and order to see what you'll get. Both MPix and ProLabExpress offer generally the same services Satin or lustre, metallic, etc. ProLab ships free for orders over $25 so I always maximize my order to take advantage of that.
John

11/22/2005 2:02:02 PM

Lynsey Lund
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/14/2005
  Hope everyone had a great Thankgsgiving. Thanks for the info John....I hope your house and everything is getting back in order and everyone is doing well...I have some friends somewhere around Biloxi/Hattiesburg....wish you the best!
I will order some with my next order to see what I like best. While searching through past threads I thought I read something about some textures making it more difficult for people to scan -- that they don't scan well or something. Did I read that right or was I confused?

11/29/2005 7:26:07 AM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  You are correct.

11/29/2005 7:28:51 AM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Amber Stephens
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/11/2005
  4 .  Online Photo Processing Labs
What online digital photo processing labs do any of you recommend? I have my first photo shoot in a few days and I would like to find a place where I can email my photos and have them mailed to me via snail mail. I need a place with great quality and that has a variety of selection (glossy, matte, canvas, etc. and different sizes) for my customers. I have tried searching, but I am afraid because I'm not familiar with the sites I have found, and don't know about their reputations. Thanks in advance for any info you can share.

9/15/2005 5:04:32 PM

  Amber: There are many good on-line photofinishers but I love using www.shutterfly.com Their prices are reasonable but like most wholesalers, they do not offer a variety of paper types. But here's one you should definitely check out: www.mpix.com
Also, see www.imagexperts.com
I'm sure that one of these two will have the services that you need.
Regards,
Peter Burian, Digital Photography course Instructor

9/15/2005 5:25:57 PM

Amber Stephens
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/11/2005
  Thank you, Peter. I appreciate your information!!! Thanks for taking the time to write.

9/15/2005 5:40:10 PM

Mellanie 

member since: 7/16/2004
  I would definitely check into Mpix. They are awesome!

9/15/2005 6:41:55 PM

Alisha L. Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/30/2005
  Definitely check out mpix.com. They are awesome as Mel says!!!! PLUS, I like that they use professional grade paper & have the DO NOT COPY on the back of your pics. GREAT place!!!

9/15/2005 7:36:10 PM

  Well, it's nice to hear that Mpix gets such good reviews.
Peter Burian, Digital Photography course instructor
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/PBN01.asp

9/15/2005 7:41:25 PM

Amber Stephens
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/11/2005
  Thank you, Mellanie and Alisha! It seems that I definitely need to try out Mpix. I looked at their web site and I was very impressed. You all have no idea how much I appreciate your info!

9/16/2005 4:19:45 AM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/1/2004
  another MPix vote from me . .. GREAT company, with GREAT speedy service as well as Great Customer Service. . . I just can't imaging that you would be disappointed. .. and not that this matters a great deal, but they are a division of Miller's Professional Imaging which is a full line photo lab so it's not like they are some fly by night company that came through and has made it good . . . they were developed from a company with a very good reputation and many years of service to the photography business. Good Luck!

9/16/2005 4:39:18 AM

Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  I'm confused. I know with digital cameras, you don't have a negative to work from, but I was always told that IF you have the option of printing from a negative or a digital, you the negative as the photo was be a much better quality. Is that still true today? I have some photos from my daughter's wedding I want to get reprints from. I was going to take the negatives to a local photo studio to have them made. I was afraid that by getting reprints from the digital image, they wouldn't be as nice or clear. (A professional photographer did not take the photos - simply a friend of the family.)

9/16/2005 12:17:31 PM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/1/2004
  I think in alot of ways negatives have advantages, but honestly with the quality of digital cameras these days I'm not sure the average person could tell ... unless it was just a poor quality image... I'm not sure what you are meaning by getting your reprints made from negative and the digital not being as clear... if they were scanned images I would definitely use the negatives. But if they are digital files and are of high resolution, then you should still get nice photos. You just want to make sure that a quality lab is making the reprints regardless if it's digital or film. I wouldn't recommend walmart for either for something like this.

9/16/2005 12:44:52 PM

Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  Michelle. No, I sure don't want to use Wal-Mart. The girl that originally took the wedding photos, took the film to walmart & had it developed (which is not what I wanted to begin with). She gave me the negatives AND had the prints put on a CD for me so I could do with them what I want. The pictures aren't professional looking but as I want to get copies for myself, I don't know whether to take the negatives to a local photographer that does his own developing & have prints made from the negatives, or simply submit the CD photos online to an online lab, such as shutterfly or Mpix or someplace like that. I am having a digital artist take a few of the photos & touch them up with special effects for me to frame, but I want to get some 5 x 7 photos for in an album just to have of the wedding. I just want them to look as sharp & nice as possible. Not sure which way to go. Thanks

9/16/2005 12:52:58 PM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/1/2004
  I would take the negs somewhere. . . The CD you got from walmart will be a scan of the image I believe and could possibly not be the quality you are wanting. .. we used to send all of our film to snapfish(still do for some of it) and they scan the images for our online albums so we canreorder. . . but when they print they are printing from the scan(maybe of the negative I don't know) but they always seem a bit blurry when enlarged no matter what. . I took some of the same pictures and had a few enlargements made from the negatives and they were just overall better quality . . . I would definitely use the negs!

9/16/2005 1:10:42 PM

Sherri Wiggins

member since: 9/8/2004
  Hi. Yes, Mpix is wonderful. I have been using them for 95% of my work. I have had a couple of problems and they immediately fixed it. They are very professional, fast and reliable. I don't think you will be disappointed.

9/20/2005 1:36:25 PM

  Kathy: I agree with Michelle. The scans on the CD may not be great.

You'll probably get better prints from the negatives.

OR from the digital image files that you get from the digital artist. He would have cleaned them up in Photoshop.

You could use those to order prints from a service such as Mpix or shutterfly.com

Peter Burian

9/20/2005 1:45:19 PM

Joanna Pecha
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/5/2003
  Ditto MPIX...I ordered 12X18's and 8X12's yesterday AM, they were here early afternoon today, and they are GORGEOUS! Used the Metallic Endura paper...WOW, and SO fast. An A++ from me!!

9/20/2005 2:16:21 PM

Dale Ann Cubbage
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/4/2004
  I have to go against the crowd here to make another suggestion. WHCC.com is fantastic! They are very professional, offer many different services for both your mid range consumer to high end artistic stuff!! They are fabulous, and I recommend you all try them! They also offer the metallic paper.

da

9/20/2005 5:03:49 PM

Shawn & Vicki Stone
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/13/2005
  My favorite is winkflash.com. Their prices are as good as or better than most, and they do NO COLOR CORRECTION! That's great for those of us who are picky about an image we have tweaked for hours in Photoshop and don't want someone second-guessing our work.

9/29/2005 8:14:16 PM

Joanna Pecha
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/5/2003
  MPIX has the option of NO COLOR CORRECTION, also...

9/30/2005 5:55:51 AM

Michele Wassell

member since: 9/8/2005
  MPIX... I have had problems as well with them, but as Sherri has mentioned, they fix it fast, professional, and reliable. Quality is good to and I haven't had anyone complain about my prints coming from there.

Good luck..
Michele :)

9/30/2005 7:17:59 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  MPix is great, but I have found the best customer service I have ever experienced with www.prolabexpress.com.
John

9/30/2005 9:21:25 AM

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Photography Question 
Larry Ginter
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/5/2004
  5 .  Film Developing: Which Lab Is Best?
I would like to know the difference in film developing - commercial developers (Wal-mart, Meijers, etc.) vs. photo labs. Which ones are better?

5/11/2005 5:12:12 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  It would not be fair to compare film labs by their store-type designation - that is, whether they are a retail store or "photo" lab. The "best" lab is the one that processes YOUR film consistently to your liking. Chemicals and machines are pretty much the same. It's usually a matter of quality control, and the persons running the lab. If you get bad results from one lab, take them elsewhere. Some labs, be they a retail store or a photo lab, just test their chemicals and/or replace them more often than others.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net

5/11/2005 5:32:33 AM

Taunya M. Ackerman

member since: 8/27/2004
  That is a great question. I always wondered the same thing.

I have taken my disposable cameras to all kinds of diffrent places. ( because in a previous post I told everyone I am new to photography) and I notice a big diffrence.

I have taken them to Wolf and special developing places, and some to walmart. I actually like the walmart photos. They seem to ahve up to date machines and a good staff.

5/11/2005 10:53:22 AM

shannon casey

member since: 4/26/2003
  I agree with Michael and Taunya. I shoot both digital and film. I typically take film to discount retail places (Walgreens, Costco, and a CVS with all new equipment). I have consistently had better results on the initial processing in such places. I try to match up the film to the processor. In my oopinion, they do a consistently good job with (compared to me!) When I do find that I actually like a shot, or part of a shot, and want it adjusted - ie. cropped and enlarged and sometimes something a bit more complicated I take it to a specialized lab. To me, it is the best of both worlds. I don't spend a fortune getting my often flawed film prints processed. But film is film and when I get a "keeper", I'm so much happier if I shot it with film. Anyway, that's what I do, to keep costs down.

5/11/2005 4:31:11 PM

William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  You are speaking of the difference between a photofinisher and a commerical/professional lab. If photofinishers produced the same quality as a custom lab, custom labs wouldn't exist.

All transparency film has to go to commerical labs for processing, anything less is a bad idea. Even high end camera stores that have a photo finishing department can't process your slide film as well as a dedicated commerical lab. A commercial lab that has commerical photographers as clients will be delivering 99.9% of the film they process without defects in color balance caused by over used chemicals, physical defects (scratches) or a flip "I don't care" attitude.

Custom prints have to be made at commerical labs as well as large prints or prints you need on archival paper or ones that you are going to deliver to a client.

If it's a job the client is paying for all these lab services. Why would you want to risk your photography career or the relationship with the client on a photofinisher?

5/17/2005 11:09:09 AM

Larry Ginter
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/5/2004
  Thank each of you for replying. What i;m getting at is do the commercial developers know if a roll or just a print or two has been "pushed" or underdeveloped? Like wal-mart,rite-aid,etc. What about a commercial lab? Will they know and fix it right then. A lot of times wal-mart does good work,but when I look at my negatives,part of the pic is missing

5/18/2005 8:31:23 AM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  Any processor can tell if a roll or a single picture has been underexposed after it is processed. At that time, it is too late, unless the underexposure is within the exposure latitude of the film. If YOU know a roll has been underexposed, a professional lab can and will adjust the developing process to compensate, if you can tell them by how much it has been pushed. If it is only a print or two, nothing can be done beyond the limits of the latitude.

5/18/2005 8:41:56 AM

Laura Roth

member since: 3/16/2005
  Just to put in my 2c... I like the equipment that Eckerd Drug has, but it requires also that they have a good technician. Good technician at eckerd usually equals good prints. CVS has a machine that just processes the film, nobody sees the prints (so I am told). I have been told that the machine calibrates the photos based off of the white content and will not print the picture if there is no white. I once took a roll of film in and several pics were missing. I could see the picture on the negative, but they would have been a combo of green, brown & flesh tones. No White. The technician told me that's why those didn't print out. I didn't care for that setup

5/19/2005 8:56:38 AM

Laura Roth

member since: 3/16/2005
  Just to put in my 2c... I like the equipment that Eckerd Drug has, but it requires also that they have a good technician. Good technician at eckerd usually equals good prints. CVS has a machine that just processes the film, nobody sees the prints (so I am told). I have been told that the machine calibrates the photos based off of the white content and will not print the picture if there is no white. I once took a roll of film in and several pics were missing. I could see the picture on the negative, but they would have been a combo of green, brown & flesh tones. No White. The technician told me that's why those didn't print out. I didn't care for that setup

5/19/2005 8:56:48 AM

Brenda  D. 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/27/2005
  Hi Larry, I work at a one-hour photo lab in a Wal-Mart,I also do photography so I treat each roll as if it belonged to me. we do weekly and monthly maintence on our machines to assure quality prints, but as someone said before check with the person behind the counter, if they are only there because its a job and have no interest in photography I'd look someplace else.

5/19/2005 11:18:55 AM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/20/2005
  THE LIGHT BOX here in Chicago still dip. This always makes the prints that much better. Just the personal care that goes in to the process is well worth the price you pay.

5/20/2005 3:07:46 AM

Ron Mortelliti

member since: 7/14/2005
  You patently canNOT compare images processed by a Commerical Lab with your Walmarts, K-Mart's, et al. Having been in E6 and C-41 QA/QC for ten years - and serving as a consultant to Professional Labs - I can unequovically state that there exists a world of difference.

To Wit: E-6 is a process that requires extensive monitoring of many, many parameters and must be done so on a consistent basis. Ph of the Color Developer, Bromide levels of the First Developer, Replenishments Rates, Specific Gravity (absolutely CRITICAL for both First and Color Developers), Time and Temperature, et al.

Crossover from one batch of Control Strips to another is a rather involved process with many calculations; you need to know your Math.

Why is Specific Gravity so critical to the Color Developer? A high SpG is indicative of too much CZA (Citrazinic Acid) which is a Competing Coupler in the Color Developer. It's purposes is to keep the Dye Clouds from becoming too 'heavy'. Too much CZA and you will have lowered Contrast; too little and you will have too much Contrast.

I'm just scratching the tip of the Ice Berg here, trust me. E-6 Lines under my direct supervision have over a two year period (the practical life of the First and Color developers) have exhibited an average CB Spread of .04 @LD, and .06@HD.

Good luck finding that at Walmart, Sears, etc.......... ;-)

7/14/2005 8:03:01 AM

Jennifer S
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/9/2004
  I agree that there's no comparison! I don't use film much anymore, but if I do, or if I get digital prints, I'd much prefer going to a professional lab. If I need a quick print of something from my everyday life- like say a quick shot of my daughter with food all over her face, I may just go to wal-mart. But Wal-Marts prints arent even close to the quality I could get a pro lab. I don't know much about what the differences actually are (But I think Ron did a great job touching on that!) besides the pro's lab ability to custom, and use pro paper, but for me, there's quite a bit of difference!

7/14/2005 8:16:14 AM

Jennifer S
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/9/2004
  I agree that there's no comparison! I don't use film much anymore, but if I do, or if I get digital prints, I'd much prefer going to a professional lab. If I need a quick print of something from my everyday life- like say a quick shot of my daughter with food all over her face, I may just go to wal-mart. But Wal-Marts prints arent even close to the quality I could get a pro lab. I don't know much about what the differences actually are (But I think Ron did a great job touching on that!) besides the pro's lab ability to custom, and use pro paper, but for me, there's quite a bit of difference!

7/14/2005 8:17:13 AM

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Photography Question 
Kix  Pix

member since: 3/21/2004
  6 .  What's the Difference in Photo Labs?
Here's my question. I have a pro lab I use for my work. They do outstanding work without a doubt. However, their processing is costly. Can I use a good consumer lab to get my negs, then use my pro lab for my prints? I guess I could ask: Will this affect the quality of my negatives? Or will they be the same no matter where the negs are developed?
I don't want to have them done cheaper and they not be the same quality negative as if the pro would've done. Thanks for any input!
Rick

11/7/2004 9:14:05 PM

Vince Broesch

member since: 6/5/2004
  The most important thing that a lab does is process the film. That is because if there is any error in printing, you just print again, but any error in film processing will be difficult or impossible to fix. There are two main factors in film processing, the mechanics of the machine can cause scratches, over or under temp, etc. The other main factor is called "process control," which is the monitoring and charting of the reactions being caused by the chemicals. These things are much more tightly controlled in a pro lab than they would be somewhere else.

Iíd stick to the pro lab unless you are willing to take greater risk of damaged film as well as lower quality prints.
Vince
www.PhotoAgo.com

11/8/2004 7:20:03 AM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  One, you will be paying a higher price for reprints, after the film is developed from any lab.
Two, How much are you really going to save?
Go digital, No film and processing cost, and prints are cheaper than from film.

I use mini labs to pro labs. They all have the same technology machines today. It's competition. Film processing by these machines are extremely accurate.

But, I've had only one minilab make me 8x12's which were not sharp. He readjusted his machine and the reprints were sharp. Why? This consumer minilab does very little enlargement work. Just for good measure I went to another lab and had another set made, which were equaly as sharp.

Pro or minilabs I still have to give them the color corrections for reprints.

Film print machines have what you may call a 'memory readjustment'. They will 'average out'. Meaning, if that machine has processed 50 rolls of film and they were all flash work and your film is natural-light work, your pictures may have a strong warm cast because that machine has been correcting for the 'blue flash'. That's why these machines need to be recalibrated often during the day.

A GOOD minilab or employee will do this.

Yes, pro-labs do the best corrections for you because they provide a pro service. Mini-labs are mostly consumer oriented, no correction service is available.

So, since I learned how to make color and density corrections I can go anywhere, but, 99% of my work goes to a pro lab. Consistancy, service and quality.

11/9/2004 10:10:12 PM

Wendy 

member since: 7/18/2004
  I take my film to Wal-Mart for developing. From there, the prints I like, I take to my lab to get developed and enlarged if needed. I have never had a problem with my negatives being messed up, and doing it this way saves alot of money. I have been doing it this way for three years now with no regrets. Wendy V

11/14/2004 8:58:40 AM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  You got it Wendy. The technology of those machines today are idiot proof.

11/14/2004 1:44:23 PM

marisa basso

member since: 2/6/2004
  I also have been getting my negatives done for several years through walmart, but I do have to say, they have screwed up my prints, 1 roll could have half perfect pictures the other half looks liek they used old chemicals. I have not had probelms with the negatives. I simply get the prints pick what I like, scan the good images into my computer crop and fix in photoshop and than take the best shots to the lab on disc.

Warning! Do not take your photos to CVS. They have scratched a whole roll of film that I shot at a wedding. I sued them. Thank god a lab was able to fix the deep scratches for me.

By the way, if you send your photos to be developed at walmart for processing out of the store, in Connecticut it is done at a FUJI Lab, each Walmart in each state gets them done at a different lab. They do not all use FUJI.

12/5/2004 8:20:01 PM

Jaime Finseth

member since: 1/14/2005
  I just wanted to add a word of caution about using Wal-Mart to process your film. I too used to use Wal-Mart until just recently 1/2 a roll of film was damaged by the machine creating scratches on the negatives. Good thing for me they are all practice shots, but I was still sick about it. From now on I will use a professional lab!

4/11/2005 1:36:31 PM

marisa basso

member since: 2/6/2004
  I AM RESPONDING AGAIN. I FOUND OUT ABOUT A WONDERFUL LAB OUT ONLINE. I KNOW 3 PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT USE THEM AND SWEAR BY THEM AND IT IS A PRO LAB WITH THE CHEAPEST PRICES I HAVE SEEN. THEY ASK THAT YOU SCAN YOUR IMAGES IN AT 300 DPI AND THAN SUBMIT IT VIA FTP. THEY WILL SEND YOU 3 FREE 8 X 10 PRINTS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE COLOR MATCHES YOUR COMPUTER AND WHAT YOU EXPECT FROM THEM AND THEY CREATE A PROFILE FOR YOU!

NAME IS WHITE HOUSE CUSTOM COLOUR. LOOK IT UP ON GOOGLE. THERE NUMBER IS 800-252-5234.

I HAVE A QUESTION..... I DONT KNOW HOW TO FTP. I SENT THEM PHOTOS VIA MAIL, BUT CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO FTP PHOTOS WITHOUT LOSING RESOLUTION?

MARISA

4/11/2005 11:34:23 PM

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Photography Question 
Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  7 .  Incorrect Skin Tones
I'm not sure what the reason is, but I can have barns, sunsets, rainbows, etc., processed and be happy with the color. When it comes to people, I am constantly having to have them re-printed to remove "yellow" or "red". I used to think the yellow was an indoor/florescent thing, but it also happens in outdoor sittings. I am using an N-80 w/SB50DX on a Stratos with omnibounce. The clothing is accurate, just not the skin tones. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

10/21/2004 7:51:37 AM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  Diane, you didn't say how you were having your film processed, but first I'd make sure it was going to a good professional lab. Often consumer labs print toward the warm side because most people think it is more flattering. Then, do a quick test. On the first frame of a series, include a Kodak 18-percent gray card in the scene and make it a MAJOR part of the frame. Tell the lab it is there and have them print for neutral gray on that card and use the same settings for the rest of the roll.
It is strange that the other colors are "accurate" though. Sunsets and such are often better when warmer but the clothing ought to show the same color cast as the skin. You didn't mention what film you were using but if you are using negative film try one of Kodak's 'Portra' series and see if the problem continues.
David
www.ndavidking.com

10/24/2004 6:47:55 PM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Thank you for your suggestions! I am using Kodak 400 Hi Definition Film. Most of my work is done outdoors in different areas of exposure to light. I've heard of gray cards, but not sure how to use one. If I use the card to get a reading, would I need to do that each time we change locations? I generally move around a park taking different poses. I've tried processing with every place in my area. (very rural). Most of them send out to a lab called Qualex, some use a Fuji lab.

10/25/2004 8:05:50 AM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  The gray card can be used to take a meter reading but at 18% gray it works best if your system is calibrated to it since most reflective meters are designed to meet ANSI standards of 10% to 14%. For consistent "perfect" exposures you ought to calibrate it all anyway.

What I had suggested however was that you include the gray card in a first frame as a neutral color reference the lab can use to adjust their printing. It gives a known "color" that is one of the hardest to reproduce; the theory being that if the gray card is correct the rest of the shot ought to be too. Of course the operative word is "ought." Many pros include not only a gray card but a specific color standard (such as a MacBeth Color Chart) in that first shot to really see how things are printing. This has value primarily if you are using a pro color lab where their own system is constantly tweaked to keep up with the latest mods in the chemistry and paper. It may or may not accomplish much in a typical consumer-oriented one-hour place. You would do another lead-in shot of the card(s) whenever the lighting changed and sometimes whenever the clothing changed especially if you were shooting wool items and some other materials that can have a tendency to produce really strange color on some films if the right light frequency strikes them. The cards let you know that you are not going crazy and that the lab work is OK; it is just the material.

BTW, several companies make "gray cards" and most of them are pretty accurate at being 18% reflective. But in a number of tests, only Kodak's cards were consistently truly neutral gray since they are made from a special pigment. So for color work, be sure and get theirs.

David
www.ndavidking.com

10/26/2004 8:03:01 AM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Again, I thank you for your time and advice. I'll pick up a Kodak brand gray card on my next trip to the city. BTW, upon closer inspection of the clothing, it appears that there are variances in the colors. Wasn't until I had reprints made that I was able to see the different shades of red & yellow. Now I can make myself crazy trying to decide which one was more accurate.

10/28/2004 2:48:42 AM

J.E. 

member since: 10/28/2004
  I experienced exactly the same problem with the reddish color particularly noticeable with skin tones. I use Kodak Portra 160NC all the time. I solved the problem by having my film developped by a Kodak lab. The reddish tone is gone since that. Previously, I went to a nearby photo shop that used a Fuji system. So, if you use Kodak film, go to a Kodak photo finisher. They may also use a Noritsu Photo Cd machine... perfect and with about 2000 lines resolution, you can do almost any enlargement you want.

10/28/2004 2:17:09 PM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Thank-you J.E. for taking the time to offer your advice. I have to admit that I've wondered about Fuji processing Kodak and vice versa. I've beat myself up over whether or not it was my equipment? My latest thought was maybe I need some sort of filter? Have also wondered if the OmniBounce could be the culprit? Atleast I have the comfort of knowing I'm not the only one who has had these experiences.

10/28/2004 3:28:40 PM

Doug  Elliott
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/18/2004
  Diane,
David and J.E. are correct. Pound Labs in Dallas is the pro lab I use. On the front of their processing envelopes they ask what type of film you are sending them to process. They have a Kodak line and a Fuji Line; there is a difference in the color chemistry and the films. Now they print everything on Kodak paper. In the many years I have been a client I have only had to send back a few photos for them to print to my standards. http://www.poundslabs.com/
A Graytag/Macbeth color Chart cost about 75.00 but if you want consistent color it and your Kodak Card in the first frame will allow the lab to read it with their equipment to produce the color you expect.
Hope this helps.
Good Shooting
Doug

10/28/2004 7:54:10 PM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  Hi Diane, I was having problems with skin tones too. I was also using the hi definition film (have since stopped) I was using a retail lab for my studio work which is where I was getting yellow faces & hair. I've since started using the kodak portra film on all my work. I will say though that my pro lab uses fuji processing and I've never had a problem with them printing my Kodak film. It's a lot more expensive for me to go there, but it is SAVING MY HEALTH and SANITY. I was reviewing my proofs 100 times and truly was making myself ill because the printing was so poor. For me, the pro lab & pro film was the way to go.

11/3/2004 8:28:26 AM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your input. I noticed that you said "studio work", and wondered if Portra is most effective with studio lighting. I should also add that my lens is a 28-200; 3.5-5.6 Is the Portra that you are referring to 160 speed? Not sure if it would work in low light situations? I have a wedding to do where flash photography is prohibited during the ceremony. Any advice on that kind of thing? Thank you again

11/4/2004 1:19:48 PM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  Hi Diane, I guess I so liked the way my outdoor prints turned out with the portra vc that I also use it inside w/ strobes. I use 400 speed because most of my subjects are constantly moving (small kids, etc.) Weddings aren't something that I do but I would think that you will have to use a high speed film since you can't use flash. Will you be using a tripod? The highest speed I've ever used was 800 and it worked well in low light. Sorry I can't be of more help. Do you have a local camera store? I've found that I get great advice from the people at my lab & camera supply store. Wishing you the best! Lisa

11/4/2004 3:46:45 PM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Hi Lisa, I have to laugh because I live in such a rural community that they don't even sell Portra film here. I will probably have to go to one of the big cities. Sorry, I didn't realize it came in 400 sp. Sounds like something I will definately try. I almost always use a tripod. No camera stores here either. I do have my house on the market..so theres hope for me yet. lol

11/4/2004 6:41:44 PM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  You made me laugh! I didn't realize how thankful I should be with so many pro sources I have close to my house...
You might want to check out some of the higher speed films though....I don't even think 400 would probably be fast enough for lo light in a church. Do you have to worry about the lighting casting a yellow glow?

11/4/2004 6:53:40 PM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Hi Lisa,I will probably try 800 speed during the actual ceremony. I plan to do alot of posed "mock" shots afterwards so I'm sure I should be able to nail it one way or another. You asked if I need to worry about a yellow glow? I worry about EVERYTHING. Yellow, Red, Blinks, Focus, Camera malfunction. Seriously, I've had the whole yellow thing before in churches where I was able to use flash. Wish I knew why and could correct for it.

11/4/2004 8:59:15 PM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  There are filters that you can use to correct for the lighting....the 80 series filters are bluish in appearance and are used in situations where the light is too warm for daylight-balanced film. I guess I've never paid attention to the lights in my church....not sure if they are fluorescent or not. I got the above info from "Beginner's guide to photographic lighting by Don Marr. I have bought many many books on lighting and have them with me all the time. They've really helped me and are great for reference. I've gotten a lot of books thru Amherst Media and have really learned a lot from them.
:)

11/5/2004 5:53:25 AM

Diane T. Phillips

member since: 2/24/2004
  Another great suggestion. Thanks Lisa !
I'll try to let you know how it all turns out. take care.

11/5/2004 4:35:27 PM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  Good luck w/ your shoot and yes, would love to hear how it goes! :)

11/5/2004 8:09:54 PM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  Diane, remember that if the light is very low either because it is on a dimmer switch or, perhaps, it really IS lit by candles, then that color temp is too low even for Tungsten film and you will probably have to add filtration just as you would shooting incandescant light with daylight film.

But don't go too far. if you balance perfectly for the light, colors will be accurate -- meaning they will look as if you had lit with daylight -- but the charm of that sort of lighting is the slightly warmish look our eyes perceive. I'd do some testing with tungsten film and various densities of filtration for the perfect "look" and exposure then you can blaze away with confidence that at least the techy stuff is all going to be OK.

David
www.ndavidking.com

11/5/2004 8:10:42 PM

  Diane, I shoot ceremonies non-flash with Portra 800 and Ilford Delta 1800 BW, all hand held. As to the yellow cast, my lab corrects this beautifully upon reprint. So, for those times when the yellow is present in the proofs, I'll have a few reprinted to illustrate the correction to clients.

As for portraits in available light I love Portra 160VC and TMAX 100 and 400BW so that everything can be color processed. In addition, you can order all films over the internet and have them shipped to you. Although I live in a capital city, pro photo resources here leave a lot to be desired. Therefore, I researched a ton of out of state labs and currently use three different ones. They are an incredible resource, but I am having problems with the 2 color labs maintaining their quality. I received a 16x20 yesterday and the lab has tilted the image. Now, I believe that to be a rather grave mistake and don't understand how they could ship that kind of work out. So, if anyone could recommend a really good color lab, I would really appreciate it.

11/19/2004 10:40:46 AM

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Photography Question 
Shauna Linde
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/10/2004
  8 .  Negatives from One-Hour Lab
I was reading through some of the previous questions people have asked about taking their film to one-hour photo labs or Wal-Mart, etc. I'm just wondering if there are any new comments or thoughts from people about how the negatives themselves are or are not affected when you use a quickie lab rather than a professional. I have several rolls of film (color) that I just took over the weekend and I REALLY want to see how they turned out - basically just for proofs because I am going to get enlargements made from the pro lab I like. But if I use the one-hour photo lab, do you think my negatives will be poorly developed??? I will wait if it would be best (I can't get down to the lab until next week). Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

10/14/2004 9:31:04 AM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  If you were to take your film to the store and have them send it out to Kodak for developing, your film will be developed using machines that operate in much the same way as Wal-Marts do. In fact, because the computerized system is closely controlled, you might get a better set of negatives from such a service than you can if a photofinisher developed the film in his baths. That's in part because the chemicals are changed on a set schedule and the equipment may have more elaborate temperature controls.

I wouldn't be afraid for the negatives - but I can't say the same is true for printing from those negatives.
One other thing: The above comments reflect color print film only and do not consider whether you've "pushed" the film. "Pushing" requires adjustments to developing times, etc. - these would not be accomplished at the Wal-Mart. For a special price, Kodak makes "standard" adjustments for push processing.

Also, the comments aren't necessarily correct for black-and-white film. There are many different developers one can use to achieve different effects. The high-volume lab will not easily deviate from standard developers, etc.

10/14/2004 10:50:06 AM

Peggy D. Odegard-Coleman

member since: 12/6/2002
  I'm not an expert with any type of processing but I quit using Walmart for my film processing about 3 years ago when I had some "specs" of dust or something appear on my prints. One of the lab technicians said that "Walmart doesn't do preventative maintenance on their equipment, they run it and run it until it really breaks down." So, after that I went to my local lab for my prints and contact sheets. I pay more but I feel safer with their equipment and level of expertise along with good customer service.

10/23/2004 6:24:53 PM

  Here's what I've found to be true, each individual consumer lab location has it's own peculiarities and flaws. Your film will be handled differently by each technician, therefore, it is the rare employee who will respect your film property. I believed that I had found the perfect situation with the photo manager at a Sam's store. For several weeks he processed my film expertly. Then, he added another tech and I received most of my film rolls with scratches and prints where a fourth of the image was missing. They corrected the prints, but could do nothing for the scratches.

I have tried to work with other consumer labs because of the money that could be saved, but have always been burned in the end. To me, it's just not worth it in time, money and damage to negs. The machines are not fool proof if the tech isn't a pro.

I wish that I could count on consumer labs to mail film to competent labs, like they used to! Now, because of the demand for photos in an hour, consumers are happy with any image at all. In fact, many folks wouldn't know a bad print from a good one.

11/19/2004 10:53:17 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  That's a good synopsis of what makes a good place to take film. If whoever is working there wants to do a good job, your negatives will come thru fine. Espcially if it's a person who decided to try to get a job in a lab because they have photography as a hobby. Their carefullness carries over.
A person who's just in their, more likely to be careless.
I would say that a one hour store that is there to be a one hour store, is a better choice than wal-mart. Which only has a photo place as a way of getting people to come to the store. That's why the in-store portrait studios sell 2 8x10s, 6 5x7s, and 68 wallet sized photos for $7. It's main goal is to get you in the store for buying all the other stuff they sell.
(after seeing that PBS show, Wal-Mart''s the new evil empire anyway)
But one thing about one hour labs that keeps getting mentioned, their chemicals are on a constant refresh feed from tanks. They don't change chemicals in an all-at-once way that some people have made it sound.
It's like how you run thru gas in your car. As it's used you replenished. Not like a car's oil that at a certain point it's old and you take it all out and change it.

11/19/2004 3:09:28 PM

Shauna Linde
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/10/2004
  Gregory- I have found that there WAS one person at the quickie photo place that actually LIKED doing it- and that was her only job. She did a great job (as far as I could tell). My negatives appeared to be handled well- little/no dust or scratches.... but she's not there anymore. Now that she's gone it's just anyone who's there works the photo lab. Don't like that AT ALL. I had to argue with the lady that was there the first time I went back (after the first girl left), to get her to print pictures that her machine "skipped". She was trying to tell me that her processor won't let her put in a single negative strip and select one negative from it to reprint.....at that point, I decided I'm NOT going back there!!

11/20/2004 8:40:16 AM

Lisa Lenderink

member since: 6/28/2004
  I used to take all of my studio shots to a one hour because they were doing a very good job. Then for reasons unknown the results were good one day...horrible on another day...and that was with the same person running my prints. One day I submitted 2 rolls of B&W and there was such a HUGE difference between each print. Some had denisity added, some didn't...so I asked for them to be reprinted. No problem they did it with no hassle. Unfortunately they were a totally different color (yes, B&W) than the original. I had them printed 3 different times and got pink, blue, and even ones with blue/green mix. That was my breaking point. I've dealt with the scratched negs and the off color for too long. I cringed each time I got them back for fear of what I would find. It just wasn't worth 5 trips back. Not to mention what color would my print be when my customers ordered prints? I have seen the light and it's not blue! My pro lab is saving my health & sanity!

11/22/2004 4:28:33 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  That's what you get when you try doing black and white film on a color machine and color paper.

11/22/2004 11:08:25 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  9 .  How Do I Find a Good Pro Lab?
I live in a small west Texas town, and I need to find a good lab for my developing and ordering. I have looked online and found Clark color lab that sounds OK, but how do I know they will be any better than Wal-Mart (which is pretty much my local access)? There are some labs in some larger cities, but I am not sure how good they are either. I am getting ready to start out professionally, and need to find out what all you pros do. Thanks in advance.

9/23/2004 12:09:33 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  I forgot to add that I can, of course, and will have to do mail order, so I suppose any good lab would work for me if you can suggest any.

9/23/2004 2:41:47 PM

  Hi Tonya: A good question, and I definitely know how difficult it can be to find a good pro lab (or custom lab) that you can trust!

I live near Sacramento, California, and I have been using Cali-Color - http://www.calicolor.com - for many years ... for slide-film developing, for scanning, and for print-making.

A lab in San Francisco that's popular with professionals is The New Lab - http://www.newlab.com During several shoots in S.F., I used this lab for reliable, quality developing. The New Lab does an active mail-order business, as well as walk-in traffic.

I know there are many other pro or custom labs, but these are two that I can personally recommend!

Good luck, Tonya!
Kerry

9/24/2004 10:45:54 AM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  If you're into slides, got to The Slideprinter, Denver, CO. They have a Web site where you can find their address. I've used them to make prints from slides and they're really great. They offer slide developing service - I've never used it.
I've found Clark to be very good, at an especially good price. But, now that I have a scanner that does prints, slides and negatives (color or B/W), I'm really only interested in the negatives and, generally speaking, even one-hour labs do a pretty good job with developing the roll of film.
Because Clark, Wal-Mart, and even Kodak are using computerized printers, none will give you really "custom" results. If you try to bracket a shot at less than a one-stop bracket, the computerized machines will normalize results, and you won't see the difference.

I'd look into back issues of Pop Photo, or even their Web site. They've had occasional articles about different labs around the country.

Beyond that, try to visit a local pro, a wedding photographer, or the like. As him/her where s/he gets work done.
Good luck.

9/24/2004 12:59:35 PM

Jordan 

member since: 12/5/2003
  Hello Tonya,
I use A&I (Los Angeles, CA) via mail order from Baltimore, MD. They're very professional, individually expose each frame (prints), and are reasonably priced. The 35mm C-41 mailers are 11.95 from bhphotovideo.com and 12.50 directly from www.aandi.com. I've used them many times and they always do a great job, whether I tell them to print a certain way or if they just print what they think is best. They also do B/W and slides.
Good luck on finding the lab that suits you.

9/25/2004 9:07:14 AM

Dave Hockman

member since: 4/12/2004
  Tonya,
I'll toss my two cents in as well. Locally besides the regular Walmart, Walgreens,(I do not use)we have a Costco with a Fuji lab. I take all my c-41 processing there. About 7.50 a roll. They are cheaper than a true "pro-lab," and like John, I scan what is worth scanning so I am primarily interested in the neg. I have developed a relationship with the manager of the department and if I have bracketed or controlled exposures carefully, she will cancel the controls when printing and the computer will not auto correct when printing. This works great for editing prints. They are going to print anyway for the price. Of course you can get a disk, (1.99 I think,) but here they will be jpeg's and I can't(won't)use jpeg's (quality.)
I use a local camera specialty store for C-6 (slides) as they can turn them around in 24 hours. They are about 6.00 for a roll, mounted and boxed. Unfortunately, they are outrageous in price for everything else so I only do business with them on slides. I have tried a couple mail order labs. Have not found one that I was satisfied with so far. I too have noted some labs listed above. I usually cannot wait that long. Bottom line for me was time and quality. It helps to talk directly with the actual lab tech. I mostly work on custom assignments and Fine-art projects. Ultimately, any client output is controlled directly in my own studio before presentation. I am in the Midwest, nearest the "Gateway."
Good luck.
Dave

9/28/2004 1:52:04 AM

Dave Hockman

member since: 4/12/2004
  Tonya,
Sorry, I just wasted your time. I didn't see you had to use mail-order.
Good Luck.
Dave

9/28/2004 1:57:26 AM

John P. Roberts, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2004
  Tonya:

I live in a small town in NC and I use Wal-Mart all the time. Don't be deceived into thinking that becuase it's Wal-Mart it can't be that good. Their Fuji photo processing equipment is state-of-the-art, and it's hard to beat their prices. My only complaint is that they don't make prints larger than 8x10. But for 8x10's and smaller, I've never been disappointed with the quality at Wal-mart.

John Roberts

9/28/2004 3:37:44 AM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  Can Walmart even develop Pro film? Isn't that got to be done in different chemical than C41? I wasn't happy with Walmart on my consumer film so I went to York. Its an online photo finisher. You would send your stuff to Indianapolis IN, would be the closest to you. But they handle consumer film just as Walmart, Iv been really happy with them but only use consumer print film too. But they do put them online so you don't need a scanner and they seem to do a good and inexpensive job of processing.

Scott

9/28/2004 4:02:09 AM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  Im sorry Tonya, I should have givin you the address for York. Go to yorkphoto.com to get your mailers. or just to check it out. If that don't bring it up do a Google search for York Photo. Its one week turn around on processing film and a couple of days if you upload digital files.

9/28/2004 4:36:49 AM

Jordan 

member since: 12/5/2003
  Both the consumer and pro negative films are process C-41, so anywhere they do C-41 they can do pro. Whether the final prints look good is a different story. The problem with cheap consumer labs is they scratch the negatives and usually just auto-correct each image (Sam's Club). They're also likely not very familiar with professional films. BTW, A&I's turnaround is 24 hrs (if that matters since it will be in the mail for a week anyway).

Jordan

9/28/2004 4:45:17 AM

John P. Roberts, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2004
  Ooops! My bad! Since I converted to digital I forgot all the little variables you film shooters still have to worry about like scratches or fingerprints on negatives, over-used chemicals, etc. It all comes back to me now. I should have said that for prints from digital images I've never been disappointed with Wal-Mart. Sorry! Next time I'll read the question a little more closely.

9/28/2004 5:18:04 AM

Dave Hockman

member since: 4/12/2004
  Hello Scott,
A tidbit of info. The development of a "film" ie. 35mm either "Pro or consumer" is exactly the same. If you were to do it yourself, you simply spool the film from the container(blank) onto a development spool that fits into a chemical tank, (years ago we would practice this as a skill), in the dark or with light mitts. You pour in the measurement of chemical developer, agitate for a given amount of time,(all set with charts)then pour it out. Stop the process with a stop bath chemical, agitate for given length of time, then wash it out. Pull the strip out, squeege and hang to dry. I think now days the stop can also be a wash. The difference between the "films" has to do with emulsion consistency, structure, grain etc. "Pro films" should have a higher level of emulsion refinement (more production process thus more cost) than a consumer grade film. Todays films are quite good across the board. However, for the really discerning professional, the difference or specialty can be worth it. The pro-lab would shine in printing from the negative. The adjustments would be made for each print for the variables in the printing process to produce the most appealling results (or specific results)of the "other half" of the process (negative to print.) The current consumer type lab is very good at using automation to achieve this on a set of values that would appeal the most across the "average" latitudes of the printing process. Hope this helps shed some light on this process.
Dave

9/28/2004 5:20:15 AM

Jordan 

member since: 12/5/2003
  John, give me $800 for a decent SLR digital camera and I'd gladly convert...

9/28/2004 5:59:07 AM

James 

member since: 6/20/2004
  Tonya,

I use a great lab. Buckeye Color Lab.They are very professional and are easy to work with. Look at www.buckeyecolor.com. Contact them and they will help you with everything. they work with people all over the US. I haven't had any problems with them yet and they have a lot to offer. Hope this helps

9/28/2004 6:10:25 AM

Gregg Vieregge

member since: 11/10/2000
  You should have no problem in Texas. Use a pro lab that is not a one-hour. One-hour labs use hotter chemistry than the pro labs. See if the pro lab is printing on Kodak Endura paper. Ask about there printer. Is it a Noritsu? If you like a little higher contrast find a lab with a Fuji Frontier 370 printer. Use a lab that give you the option of services such as economy (no correction) and deluxe (color corrected) Most pro labs will pay the postage both ways. In Texas you may have to provide a sales tax id number to avoid that tax.

9/28/2004 6:33:20 AM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  thanks to all of you. I forgot to add in my original question about the processing of c-41 and pro, I have not used the pro film yet, but am heading that way, so I am glad to know you do not have to have a "specialty" lab for that. While there is a discussion of that, any of you have any input on the best places/prices to get the pro film? I have heard and read good things about the kodack portra, but also that fuji gives better skin tones??? Any thoughts on that as well?
again....thanks
Tonya

9/28/2004 7:34:35 AM

Jordan 

member since: 12/5/2003
  As far as pricing goes www.bhphoto.com is usually pretty cheap. I've never used www.adorama.com, but alot of people say that's good as well. Both places are in NYC.

9/28/2004 9:32:43 AM

Dave Hockman

member since: 4/12/2004
  Tonya,
I use both of the above mentioned sources B@h and adorama... almost exclusively for film. I shop them back and forth , most of the time they are the same. I have not been burned yet by either source. Least expensive per roll I have found. Good dates and buy in bulk (20's)if you can. I use mostly Fuji, however, I would suggest you will have to experiment. Each manufacturer has certain traits unique to that Brand name. Good luck.
Dave

9/28/2004 10:09:39 AM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  When you learn how to color and density correct print film prossessing, you can go to ANY mini and pro lab and do the final corrections to your standards.

All photo lab negative print machines print to average 18% grey density(light to dark). 1. if a large proportion of your image is white, the machine will print it 18% grey 2. It will print black to grey.
3. The more variety of colors and density tones in the photo from white to black the print will come out pretty well perfect.

Shooting people or any subject (with full flash) or landscape scenes in direct sunlight the machines tend to be the most accurate.

Natural light shooting....hmmmm. This is where you get a variety of color casts, even with slide film. Remember, this is negative film that these machines are trying to balance the colors.

The mini or pro labs have no clue what the actual colors or density is of your subject. Grass is green? What tone of green is it? Thier machines may be balance towards blue or yellow cast.

Example; I shoot interiors with fill in flash(this helps correct towards white balance and fills in the dark areas which would go black on film, etc.).
So I'm recording the natural ambience of the interior and adding a small amount of fill flash.
I put in a 3 foot grey card in my first exposure. My second exposure I do not use a grey card. Now the lab corrects to the crey card and sees the actual colors and density and corrects perfectly the second photo.

Or you give instructions to the lab to change either yellow, magenta, cyan and/or density. I like adding some magenta and subtracting a little yellow on my sunrise shots.

On the back of your prints are the following codes:

32A NNNN 517M
BN11 Here is where I write the correction code for the lab; B= minus 2 yellow, N= no magenta change, 1= plus 1 cyan, 1= plus 1 density.
Changing density adds yellow at this lab , so I subtracted two yellows. It's best to change density first so you can see any additional color shift towards blue or yellow.

Once you figure this out it's easier than spending time on your home computer, Besides a real photo is better than a print.

9/28/2004 10:31:51 PM

Rhonda L. Tolar

member since: 3/19/2004
  Tonya, there is a professional color lab in Longview, Tx. I know that is East Tx and you are West Tx, but they do wonderful work, are very professional and work in a timely manner. Their web site is http://www.altcolorlab.com/
They don't have alot of information on the website, unless you have an account with them, but you can at least email them for more info or give them a call.
Good luck!

9/29/2004 7:11:47 AM

Tim T

member since: 8/24/2004
  If you are a serious photographer and can do $2500.00 a year in business, check out millers photo lab. (www.millerslab.com)

9/30/2004 10:01:38 AM

Amy Anderson

member since: 8/8/2003
  I live in Boerne, just outside San Antonio. I've found that San Antonio Photolab is the best in our area. You can now order online instead of mailing a cd into their office. They have fantastic customer service. Their prices are reasonable. Their website is dinky, but you can check it out at http://www.saphoto.com/.

10/4/2004 1:09:13 PM

Shermie Steuart

member since: 4/22/2004
  What about in East Valley of Arizona (City of Tempe, Chandler or Mesa)...
How do I find a good Pro Lab? Thanks...

10/5/2004 7:48:56 PM

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Photography Question 
Lori 

member since: 5/26/2004
  10 .  Fixing Poor-Quality Photos
After browsing this site, I have come to the conclusion that most of the photos I consider of poor quality were probably due to having them developed at an el-cheapo place. My question is: Is there any way to salvage these photos? If I take the negatives to a better lab, can they re-develop? Will this fix the problem? Or are these negatives doomed, since I took them to a cheap lab in the first place? Thanks for answering! Lori (not a pro, just a mom who wants good photos).

5/26/2004 4:00:41 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Even most cheapo labs do a pretty good job developing the negatives. The processing is done by fully automated machines, but if they are really sloppy the negatives can be scratched if the operators don't keep the machine clean. It's possible a really bad operator may not replenish the chemicals often enough. Once developed, negatives cannot be re-developed.

Where the cheap labs tend to fall down is in making prints, where they may not get the color balance right, may over- or mis-compensate for exposure (print too light or too dark), not precisely focus the enlarger, crop too much or indiscriminately, etc.

Check your negatives with a magnifying glass or loupe for focus and detail in highlights/shadows. Problems in these areas of the negative would not be the lab's fault. Have good negatives reprinted at a different lab.

5/26/2004 6:02:19 AM

PAMELA CM LAMMERSEN
BetterPhoto Member
pcmlphotography.com

member since: 1/19/2004
  Hello Lori. Jon's answer is a good one and explained well. When you take your negs to a different lab, ask the customer service person to show you a normal, overexposed, and an underexposed neg. That way you will be able to see the difference and know if it is you, your camera, the lab or printing that is at fault. Ask them to use one of your own negs (bring in the whole developed roll and the prints you are not happy with). They will help point out possible improvements, and reasons something may have gone wrong, assuming anything did. And never be afraid to go back to a lab that you think has done a bad job - especially if the negs are damaged in some way.

Good luck and don't let it get you down - just keep shooting ... "Your imagination is your only limitation." <

5/26/2004 6:52:52 AM

Lori 

member since: 5/26/2004
  Thanks for the quick answers! I will try your suggestions, hope for the best, and probably end up buying a new camera.

5/26/2004 7:14:51 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  I agree completely with Jon.

A print is a "photograph" of the film made using a print machine. As such it's subject to equivalents of all the problems that can occur when making the original photograph (focus, exposure, etc.). A bad print maker (or poorly maintained machine) will make terrible prints.

OTOH, most film developing chemistries and the processes are highly defined and tightly controlled. Unless you've done something unusual such as push or pull the film by shooting it at a different film speed than it's rated one, there's only one way to develop it. C-41 process (color negative) is very specific in chemicals and procedure, as is E-6 (Ektachrome slide) and K-14 (Kodachrome slide).

An exception is true B/W film for which there are similar but different chemistries that can be used. For each one there's pretty much a standard process though.

-- John Lind

6/2/2004 7:02:49 PM

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