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Photography QnA: Film & Photo Preservation Information

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Category: All About Photography : Traditional Film Photography : Film & Photo Preservation Information

Wondering how effective photo preservation spray is? Check out this Q & A for loads of film and photo preservation information.

Page 1 : 1 -10 of 15 questions

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Photography Question 
Jessy Hallam

member since: 2/22/2004
  1 .  Old, Old, Old Tin Photos!
I was going through my grandma's photos and came across some old tin photos. I can't find anything online about how best to care for them. Right now they are wrapped in pieces of paper in a card box! Would a regular acid-free photo album work? Or should they be kept in something else? Even if it's not something in which I can flip the page and see them all, I just want them to be safe and preserved.

7/21/2006 1:05:29 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Jessy,
The Melainotype Ė also ferrotype, also tintype - was introduced by Adolphe Alexandre Martin in 1853. Easy to make, they were a thin (under-exposed and under-developed) silver-based positive image affixed to a painted metal plate (not tin). Popular name is tintype because the thin metal sheets were cut to shape with tin shears.
Modern black and white negatives and prints are silver-based also. The silver image must be affixed to something and in modern materials the glue used, both print and negative, is clear unflavored gelatin. In the case of the Melainotype, the silver image is affixed to a metal plate with callondion. This resembles clear nail polish. You can buy it today - it is the clear glue in that bottle of wart removal and anti-thumb-sucking stuff you paint on a thumbnail.
First know that the Melainotype was rugged and was often made into a postcard. What can happen? The metal backing has high iron content and will rust. The black is paint. The callondion is nitrocellulose, otherwise know as gun cotton. It burns aggressively. Old cine film are made of this material and are always stored in fireproof lockers. Callondion will become brittle, and it will break down. The silver image tarnishes over time and exposure to airborne sulfur. The faded image can usually be chemically restored.
Best handle these with care. Make digital copies. You can fabricate a copy stand or use a flatbed scanner. Keep away from open flame.
Donít be afraid to handle them, as you and others will appreciate them very much.
Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

7/21/2006 3:48:02 PM

Nancy Donnell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2004
  Wow Alan, that was awesome information.

Thanks for taking the time to post it! I really enjoyed reading it. Facinating.

7/25/2006 12:32:54 PM

Mike  Johansen

member since: 4/30/2004
  Alan, I'd like to 2nd that comment. Wow, the stuff I don't know!!

7/25/2006 3:31:58 PM

marisa basso

member since: 2/6/2004
  I was talking to a photographer last year about these types of photos. He is a retired photographer who used to restore these photos. The proper name for these photos is : DAGUERREOTYPE photos. I will try to track him down. He had told me that the technique for restoring these photos is not worth the potential health and safety issues in restoring them because you need to do some kind of a acid wash wtih chemcicals that are very hard to get and in most states you need a licence to get these chemicals from companies. I will look into it and see if I can find him, and ask him again what is involved. I want to say sulfuric acid? I am not sure. If you look up : DAGUERREOTYPE in Google you can find links on it. It is interesting in the makeup of the photo. Do not get your fingers on them! It will deteriorate the photos. You want them in an air tight space. I will try to get more info from this person I was in touch with. All I know is that he developed severe skin problems over the years from doing that kind of work, and it also does a number on your lungs if you dont do it correctly. What I did with a friend of mine was I bought a shadow frame (frame with depth), and I mounted it from behind onto acid free board, I sealed the glass inside the frame with a sealant to prevent moisture from getting in and keep the environment dry. I than put the mounted photo onto the board, put the board and photo in the frame and than I sealed the board in the back with a custom cut piece wood enclosure. This way she has a permanent archive sealed inside a airtight frame. I suggessted that she redo this in time though to make sure the matteboard was not deteriorating. Again, I am not any expert or have any real knowledge on this kind of photography, but I do have a book on it. If you are interested, libraries have books on it. Online there is alot of info on it. Good luck!

9/9/2006 1:49:43 AM

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Photography Question 
ABE MILLER

member since: 2/12/2003
  2 .  Effects of Refrigerated Film
What effects does outdated refrigerated film have? What symptoms to look for after development? Should you increase the development time? Black-and-white, but also color print film?

6/13/2005 8:30:02 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  Refrigeration slows down the aging process of film. It's a good thing. In your situation, the best thing is to test a roll first.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net

6/13/2005 10:52:58 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Additional Info:
Michael is correct that it slows aging.

However, professional films are intended to be refrigerated. Consumer films are shipped "green" assuming they will be on a store shelf for a while, in a kitchen drawer for a while, and in a camera for a while. Professional films are aged before shipping and are kept refrigerated to keep them at the "ripe" state longer. Anything, consumer or professional that gets to expiration date should be moved to the freezer. That slows it much more . . . almost stops the aging . . . however, it cannot stay there forever either. Eventually background radiation (e.g. gamma radiation) will fog it. The faster the film, the sooner that kicks in, but a deep freeze will typically keep it a very, very long time.

-- John Lind

6/13/2005 11:04:16 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  One more thing:
Allow film from refrigeration of deep freeze to sit an come up to room temperature before opening it. Otherwise, moisture will condense on the film.

-- John Lind

6/13/2005 11:05:19 PM

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Photography Question 
Ben F
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/30/2004
  3 .  Storing Prints and Slides
Hey again: Just curious ... if anyone can help. My slide and print/negative collection is getting rather large now, and I was just wondering if anyone knew of a sort of semi-professional way to store these (either together or apart) ... and to arrange so I can show people and stuff like that - like a neat folder especially designed for this type of thing. Thanks in advance. :)

8/1/2004 5:45:04 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  They sell archival plastic sleeves for either slides or negatives. You can check the major photo supply houses, or just do a Google Search under "Slide Storage" to find out what's available.

I keep my slide pages in notebook binders. (They come with three holes punched in them for this.) They can be grouped and categorized - however works best for your collection ... as long as it's organized to allow for quick access to an image.

As far as showing them, I seldom do "slide shows" any more. Thanks to technology, it's easier (and better for the slides than projection) to scan them to a computer and e-mail them ... or put them onto my Web site.

8/1/2004 8:02:59 AM

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Photography Question 
Gilbert Gonzales

member since: 2/26/2004
  4 .  Transporting Film Through Airports
Hi! I am from the Philippines, and my mom will be arriving in a couple of weeks. I asked her to get some films in the States (Fuji Velvia, etc.). I realized that it will have to pass x-ray machines in the airport. Will it affect the quality of the film? It will have to pass through 2 x-rays, in the States and in Manila. Thanks.

5/21/2004 11:17:16 PM

Kai Eiselein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/21/2003
  Hey, Gilbert, make sure she carries the film with her. DO NOT put it in with checked luggage. If you want to be extra careful, have her get "film shield" bags. They are lead-lined and will block the x-rays. Of course, security will want to have a look, but that is a small price to pay to keep your film safe.

5/23/2004 2:50:07 PM

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Photography Question 
Ronnie Black

member since: 3/19/2004
  5 .  Keeping Film in the Refrigerator
I have been advised by a friend to keep my unused film - both colour and black and white - in my fridge at home. Is this true? Or is he making fun of a beginner? Also, any comments on a Nikon lens 70-300mm AF f4/5.6 G type for use with a Nikon F75?

5/12/2004 1:15:09 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Your friend is correct, though this is usually overkill for consumer film unless you don't expect to use it until past its use-by date. Click on this link for Kodak's 5/12/2004 1:42:16 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Your friend is correct, though this is usually overkill for consumer film unless you don't expect to use it until past its use-by date. Click on this link for Kodak's Storage and Care of Photographic Materials.

This is really of much greater concern to professional photographers who rely on absolute consistenty in color balance from roll to roll, using professional films that are factory-aged then distributed at their peak. Photo shops carrying these professional films generally keep them refrigerated.

5/12/2004 1:43:15 PM

Terry L. Long

member since: 2/12/2004
  I keep my film in the refrigerator to keep it at a constant temperature ... not to keep it cold. I use it fast enough so the issue of keeping the colors constant isn't appropriate in my case. However, the temperature fluctuation where I live is extreme. Just two days ago it was up to the lower 70's, and today it snowed! Temperature fluctuation will ruin film just as fast as humidity - ergo, the refrigerator. I keep it in the manufacturer's packaging, so the humidity isn't a problem either.

5/12/2004 2:53:27 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Yes, refrigerating film does retard its aging process. If you shoot a lot, it's wise to buy in bulk, and store unused rolls at a cool consistant temperature. Just make sure that you allow ample time for the film to warm up before loading it into your camera.

5/12/2004 10:38:12 PM

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Photography Question 
Jayne M. Silberman

member since: 12/17/2003
  6 .  Scratches Through Negatives
For about six months I have been getting negs back with long scratches through them. I changes cameras and I changed labs. Think it could be the film? All bought at different times at B & H - Portra Films. I am beside myself. Ditched two cameras because of it. Thought I had ruined the insides with dirt. This new Canon EOS 3 has not been around any dirt. I have hundreds of dollars of these films. Can someone help?

1/22/2004 9:32:06 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  If you are getting the same scratches with different cameras AND different labs, it could be the film canister. Could be that the film canister is putting scratches on the film. So if you haven't tried a different film brand, that might stop it.
One other reason that is kinda rare but can happen is that static can cause fine light streaks that look like scratches. Static and visible light are both electromagnetic energy. And static can cause streaks. Mostly found in cameras that have a fast rewind, or if somebody hand rewinds the film fast. It makes a static charge build up, just like dragging your feet across the carpet. And since we're in the winter months, where you always get a shock when you touch a doornob, that could be it.
But go to the store, and buy a 12 shot roll of film and see what happens. And also the EOS3 may have a slow rewind option, so you can try that also.

1/22/2004 11:35:08 PM

Jayne M. Silberman

member since: 12/17/2003
  Different labs and different cameras. How could the cannister do damage? Started about 6 months ago when there was no weather related static. Hair thin scratches that are perfectly straight. I keep everything refrigerated could that be it? I let warm up before load in the camera.

Will buy a roll and see what happens. Will also take two refrigerated rolls to the lab that have not been exposed just to be processed... they will expose there and then develop. I will decrease the wind speed on my EOS.

1/23/2004 7:23:39 AM

Jayne M. Silberman

member since: 12/17/2003
  Thanks Gregg. You were right on... I slowed down the rewind and bingo! That did the trick.

1/25/2004 7:11:23 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Cool.

1/25/2004 7:13:29 PM

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Photography Question 
Beverly Joanne Hoover

member since: 11/22/2000
  7 .  Old Photographs That Are Fading
My brother has OLD Family black/white
photos (Early 1900's) that are fading from the bottom up.?
Hanging on outside wall in cool fairly dark room.
How much would/could the cold affect the loss of image? Thank you.

12/5/2003 12:06:54 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  If you're asking me does cold temperature make photos fade quicker or why does a cold room seem to make pictures fade from the bottom up, I'm guessing that it might be an effect from humidity or moisture. I know many paper products are advised to be store in a cool, dry place. So maybe since they are hanging on an outside wall, that when the temp drops outside, that could cause a moisture build up that over time causes the photo to fade. And moist air is heavier than dry air, so gravity makes the bottom fade first.
But a photo from the 1900's, bound to have some signs of fading.

12/5/2003 6:16:50 PM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  These photos can and should be restored. Find a retouch person in your area and shell out the bucks, OR buy Elements 2 or Paintshop Pro (or Photoshop for $600) and learn to do it yourself in a community college course. If you have it done, be sure you get a CD with a full-resolution image for each job; an ink-jet print is as likely to fade as a store-made photo. Your great-grandchildren will thank you for it.

12/6/2003 1:23:38 PM

Beverly Joanne Hoover

member since: 11/22/2000
  Doug,Gregory:
Thanks so much for the information.
Most useful. Beverly J. Hoover

12/17/2003 7:09:10 AM

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Photography Question 
Oscar Magtibay

member since: 5/6/2003
  8 .  Airport X-rays
I will be flying to Las Vegas this weekend and I just wanted to ask you guys that if the airport personnel that checks the baggages insist that I run my camera bag through the x-ray machine, would it do any damage to my films? I still have half a roll in both my cameras. Thanks!

7/23/2003 6:43:31 PM

Judith A. Clark

member since: 9/14/2002
  Yes, the xray will distroy the film, but they should not insist that you run it thru. Ask them to hand check your bag.

7/24/2003 3:44:58 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  Unless things have changed a lot in the past few months, film under 800 ASA is said to be undamaged by the x-rays when you go through with carry-on bags. Checked luggage is a different matter; your film is likely to suffer damage. Federal law states that you can request hand inspection. Depending on the whim of the checker, you may not get it. Go to ricksteves.com and look for photography under Graffitti for discussions of this problem. Look also at beststuff.com for Bob Shell's comments on xraying film.

7/24/2003 5:40:52 AM

Oscar Magtibay

member since: 5/6/2003
  Thanks so much for your responses! As always you guys are great. Thanks again!

7/24/2003 8:39:09 AM

Mark Carter

member since: 2/8/2002
  I have just come back from a trip to the far east and put 16 rolls of film through about 12 or so airport x-rays and having had them all developed I have noticed no problems whatsoever. All my films were asa800 or less anything more just ask for the manual search.

7/29/2003 7:08:38 AM

Oscar Magtibay

member since: 5/6/2003
  Thanks Mark. I'm excited to see how my pics will come out. They ran my films through the machine on my way to Las Vegas but on my way back I requested a hand inspection and they did. Thanks again!

7/29/2003 9:07:24 AM

Nicky Trainor

member since: 6/12/2005
  I recently took a trip that involved numerous airports in the US and Canada. Some security officers were more willing than others to check my film manually. The first question they all asked though was "do you have 800 speed or higher film"? I picked up some 800 film for my return flights, and it did the trick - no questions asked - they just checked the film manually!

7/6/2005 8:16:45 PM

Daniela Meli

member since: 3/1/2005
  I'm sorry to say that asking to check the film manually does not always work. In my last trip I took a couple of 3200 films to guarantee that all my film would be checked manually and not through the x-ray (a trick I read in bp). The guard was very nice when he handed me a flier with "important information for photographers" that said that the x-ray is not dangerous to film and that ALL films should be checked through the x-ray. I begged the guard to check them manually, I swear I almost cried, but it didn't work (he was very polite though).
At the end, Iím happy to report that the film was not damaged (or not in anyway I can notice), and that even a roll of film that I accidentally left in the checked-in luggage turned out ok.
So I guess you have to try to get the film out of the x-ray, but if itís not possible, itís not the end of the world.

7/7/2005 2:22:30 AM

Oscar Magtibay

member since: 5/6/2003
  Thank you very much for all your responses. I really appreciate it!

7/7/2005 8:44:17 AM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  Carry a couple of rolls of 120 film. TAT can't go through an X-ray machine without being damaged.

7/7/2005 8:51:49 AM

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Photography Question 
Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  9 .  How Long Can I Keep Film Before Developing?
I have about 50 rolls of 35mm film which I began taking about a year ago. Money has been tight and while I cannot afford the developing at this time, I continue to take pictures and my collection of rolls waiting to be developed grows weekly. How long will a roll of film last after it has been used in my camera? Also- does anyone know of any developing services that give discounts on volume?
Thanks and God Bless.

6/12/2003 9:55:03 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Refrigerate any film (including exposued by unprocessed) that is not going to be used or processed promptly.

See Kodak's Pub. E-30, Storage and Care of KODAK Photographic Materials

"While storage in a refrigerator or freezer can be highly beneficial, you should not rely on it to extend film life beyond the "Develop Before" date. This is especially important with high-speed films, which can be fogged by cosmic and gamma radiation that is naturally present all around us. Neither cooling nor lead-foil bags will prevent this effect."

Take one roll of the oldest film and have it developed. If it's ok, then so should be the rest.

6/12/2003 1:39:42 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Jon-
Thanks for your quick reply. I will put all my film in the fridge as soon as I get home! Also, I will check the dates on the rolls. Still hoping someone will have a lead or two on inexpensive but good quality developing services.
Thanks again!

6/12/2003 1:47:48 PM

Jenna M. Anderson

member since: 3/27/2003
  Joann, film developing can be expensive, but a couple a options could be to find a discount store that has film developing,some send photos out which takes longer, but some charge according to what turns out. also, you could pay for a couple at a time to be developed a hold off on buying film. oh and it may sound dumb but saving up all of your lose change can really add up so you may want to consider doing that.

6/17/2003 7:42:00 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks Jenna- I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
I will take your suggestions to heart.
I do know that when I start developing this film it will be like Christmas morning every time I get another roll developed!
Thanks again-& God Bless

6/17/2003 10:31:42 PM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  If you can't afford printing, you should at least have your exposed film processed as soon as possible. The film will last longer unexposed than exposed. You can have prints made later. Unless you are using professional film, you are probably not gaining anything by refrigeration. The consumer films are optimized for storage at room temperature (70 deg F.)until the best used by date or a little longer. This information was given to me by the rep at Kodak where we buy our movie film and I'm thinking he should know what he is talking about.

6/18/2003 2:10:40 AM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks Wayne-
I never thought about processing the negatives without getting the photos.
I will look into it.
Blessings.

6/18/2003 4:17:32 AM

phil 

member since: 3/25/2003
  JT- Try Clark Color Labs - their processing/printing is very inexpensive and they really do a good job. I bring my critical stuff to the local processor but my dozens of vacation rolls go mail order to Clark. There are a dozen locations nationwide - just mail yours to the closest location. They're about 1/3 the price of a local processor... try clarkcolor.com Of the hundred or so rolls I've sent them, only one came back damaged.

6/18/2003 3:20:06 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks Phil-
I will check out the website today!
Jo

6/19/2003 4:24:02 AM

Melissa Williams

member since: 3/29/2003
  Develop only is a good money-saving idea because when you get your pictures back, there are usually a bunch you wouldn't want printed if you know what they were going to look like. Also, Kits/Ritz/Wolf Cameras has a membership that saves you money, but the membership isn't free. It saves a lot if you're the type that always gets doubles though, especially if you have a lot of film to be developed. And you can get new rolls of film back when you pick up your pictures.

6/24/2003 8:00:07 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks Melissa
Your information is very helpful. I will check out my local photo shops that you mentioned. I do usually get doubles and the replacement rolls are a real bonus.
Thanks again for your kind response.
Jo

6/24/2003 10:52:25 PM

Melissa Williams

member since: 3/29/2003
  They tend to be a little more expensive than Walgreens as far as developing goes, but they test their machines daily and calibrate them daily, and they color correct each picture that goes by. Ask them if they have a Fronteir machine, the Fronteir machines are even better quality than the older fuji machines like the SFA's. Some locations have them, others don't. I've seen some of the worst heat damaged film come out of a Fronteir looking almost normal. The Walmart near my house has a Fronteir but they don't know how to work it and their customer service is awful. At Kits/Ritz/Wolf the employees are usually really friendly and helpful. The ones who aren't, complain about them to their manager, or better yet, their district manager. I don't understand why there are so many bad apples working customer service type jobs. They don't deserve such fun jobs!

6/26/2003 7:20:09 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks again! You sure do sound like you know a lot about this subject. I am a real novice with much to learn.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. This sure is a wonderful site!

6/26/2003 7:57:44 PM

Andrea J. Scoggins

member since: 9/13/2003
  Be careful when waiting a long time to develop your film! I had a APS film camera that I used most of the time. But this could happen with any film based camera. Instead of taking the film to get developed one by one, I let it pile up. I guess almost a year's worth of film, 7 or 8 rolls. When I got the film back, NONE OF THE PICTURES TURNED OUT!!!! I almost started crying right there in the store. Upon inspection I found out it was not because of the film, something was wrong with my camera, the shutter was broken. If I had taken the film to be devoloped sooner, I would have found out that my camera was broken much sooner. That is why I don't recommend waiting a long time to get your film developed.

9/13/2003 9:59:47 PM

Joann  Tompkins-Winborn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  Thanks Andrea.
I have developed a couple of the rolls and everything was fine, so I am hopeful that the rest will show same results.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question.
God bless you and yours.

9/15/2003 7:36:50 AM

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Photography Question 
Michelle Campbell

member since: 4/10/2001
  10 .  Film Storage Prior to Developing
Hello. I shoot a lot of film. Carry my equipment everywhere. I want to record as many memories of my daughter's youth as possible. My issue is with the actual developing of the film. I allow myself one roll to develop a week, however, I shoot anywhere from 4 to 6 rolls a week... so I'm extreamely proud of my little one!
My question is how should I store the shot rolls of film until I can get them developed? I definately can't afford to get it all developed at once! I'd need a full time job just to support that!
Any input anyone could give me would be greatly appreciated!
Michelle

7/19/2002 5:12:41 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  Save the canisters and put the film in the canisters into your freezer.

7/19/2002 8:57:18 PM

Linda Smith

member since: 6/5/2001
  Michelle,
I too from time to time have more film to develop than my purse will allow.
I try to wait till my lab offers a special, then take several rolls to develop at once. I get the special price, but pick them up over several weeks. I do let the lab know what I am doing so they don't think I had forgotten them.

7/21/2002 8:51:58 AM

sherwin 

member since: 1/2/2002
  If you have a Costco or a Sam's club near you, they do a good job of processing print film. Sam's club is $1.99 for a roll of 24shots or $2.99 for 36. Costco is $2.99 for 24 and $3.99 for 36. They treat your negitives well and you use the 3x5 prints to check your focus/composition. From there you can get enlargements done at a higher end lab. I find that with these prices, shooting more will improve your pictures. The money you save on processing will pay for the membership fees and then some.

7/30/2002 2:52:41 PM

Leo Enriquez

member since: 12/2/2001
  My best advice is: Don't store them at all, the film has to be developed, because as you know the more time that the film is stored, the better chance to loose the bright colors!...

Don't develop the whole enchilada, just the film strip, get one of those film strips viewers or a big loupe with a nice magnifier and a small light box, and pick the ones you like to be printed on a 4X6 later!...

Developing the film strip only is not as expensive as developing and printing at the same time!...

7/31/2002 1:31:56 AM

Natalee Rice

member since: 1/22/2000
  What I do Michelle is when my choice photo shop offers a prepaid special on the film I like to use, I pick up 10 or 20 or more (blush) rolls and then when I go to get them developed, they cost nothing and I have SAVED HUGE on the cost. I basically get the film for nothing in this case. Carman's is the shop I use...I am pretty much satisfied most of the time with the results. I do like the other idea that Linda gave that you get them developed and pick them up one at a time...if you don't go the prepaid route. That saves you room too! Happy shooting!!!

7/31/2002 10:05:54 PM

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