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Photography Question 
Shauna Linde
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/10/2004

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!

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10/14/2004 9:31:04 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  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.

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10/14/2004 10:50:06 AM

Peggy D. Odegard-Coleman   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.

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10/23/2004 6:24:53 PM

Terrill Province
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/19/2004
  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.

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11/19/2004 10:53:17 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto 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.

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11/19/2004 3:09:28 PM

Shauna Linde
BetterPhoto 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 that point, I decided I'm NOT going back there!!

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11/20/2004 8:40:16 AM

Lisa Lenderink   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' 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!

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11/22/2004 4:28:33 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto 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.

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11/22/2004 11:08:25 PM

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