Cheapest way to develop C-41? (Mail order?)
Old 07-13-2010   #1
dyao
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Cheapest way to develop C-41? (Mail order?)

I don't have a Costco membership, so the cheapest I've found is Wal-mart at $5 a roll... I have my own scanner so I don't really need scans on a CD or prints.

It looks like Dwayne's does developing only for $4 a roll, but you have to factor in shipping both ways, so it's only economical for larger quantities.

What's the cheapest way you've found to develop C-41 while still maintaining good results?
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Old 07-13-2010   #2
Tim Gray
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If you don't want scans, photoworkssf.com is pretty good. Write to them and they'll send you some mailers with prepaid shipping. You might have to pay return shipping, I can't remember. They do good work. $5/roll if I recall.
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Old 07-13-2010   #3
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I get my C-41 developed at Target. $0.97 per roll for develop only.
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Old 07-13-2010   #4
Dave Jenkins
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So far, so good. But where do you get C-41 in 120 size developed for cheap?
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Old 07-13-2010   #5
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I've started developing my own. If you can do b&w, you can do color. Freestyle sells the Unicolor powder kit for $18, which yields 1L of developer, blix, and stabilizer-- enough to do at least 8 rolls of either 120 or 36-exp 35mm. You may be able to wring more out of the chemicals depending upon what you consider acceptable results.

I took a whack at it this weekend, and have been pleased with the results. You can see one of the shots at http://natebutler.tumblr.com/

I know others on RFF also do their own C41; hopefully they'll chime in with more and better information.

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Old 07-13-2010   #6
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I don't think my Target does C-41 instore anymore - $1 a roll would be pretty fantastic though!
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Old 07-13-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Gray View Post
If you don't want scans, photoworkssf.com is pretty good. Write to them and they'll send you some mailers with prepaid shipping. You might have to pay return shipping, I can't remember. They do good work. $5/roll if I recall.
BTW photoworkssf scans are very high quality and reasonably priced for mail order. A high resolution scan is only $10/roll.

Interestingly, they do not offer this same price for walk-in service at their shop here in SF. Nor can I mail my film to them, they only offer that price to out-of-town mail order.
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Old 07-13-2010   #8
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I use Target as well...$1 a roll and always fast and reliable. Minilab machines being what they are today, the results are very consistent. They do scratch my negs all the time though, so I'd make sure your scanner has ICE.
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Old 07-13-2010   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Jenkins View Post
So far, so good. But where do you get C-41 in 120 size developed for cheap?
I just got a few rolls of C41 back from Wal Mart out processing (Fuji Labs) that cost me a whopping $0.74 a roll

Grab one of the envelopes, mark "special instructions" and write "120 C41 Develop Only Send Out". And whatever other instructions you want to give them. Takes between 1 and 2 weeks, but its CHEAP.

120 black and white on the other hand isn't as cheap through them...$7 a roll...OUCH.
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Old 07-13-2010   #10
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I don't think my Target does C-41 instore anymore - $1 a roll would be pretty fantastic though!
I just got my negatives back 3 days ago. Mine still does.
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Old 07-13-2010   #11
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I have used Photoworks (http://photoworkssf.com/) for most of my developing. It's close to my house and they do a nice job in developing. They also offer a 10% student discount. I recently got their hi-resolution scans for one film, and they were very good (they use a Noritsu scanner in case you wonder). However the colors of the scans were a bit off here and there; color-wise my home scanner (canoscan FS4000US) did a better job, but the noise of their scans was much lower than mine. For walk-ins they charge $20 per hi-res scan (all prices are online btw.).

I have tried a few mail-order places:

Coopersimaging--terrible scans, developing was OK. Developing only for C41 was $6 per roll, return shipping $1.99.

Bison Photo--scans were OK, prints and developing was good. $4.99 for developing only, don't remember what the shipping was, maybe free?

Dwayne's Photo--scans were really good for the price ($2.99). Developing and print also. At $3.99 a roll I think it's quite a good deal, and I will probably use them again for larger quantities.

Wolf Camera--absolutely useless scans (calling it "hi-res" is a joke), developing was very bad as well. It could not have been the camera or the film, I used both before and had way better results. Others here have mentioned that it really depends on the operator, and that good results are quite possible, however I don't want to take the chance, I will never go there again.

I will keep using my local lab for now. I just don't want to have any of those cheap labs ruin my film again, I rather spend the extra $2 at the local lab. For larger quantities I will probably use Dwayne's again, getting a quite acceptable scan for $2.99 can't be beat, here is a link to one of their scans, untouched in original size: http://tebert.com/dump/9167412001NEG0013.JPG

By the way, mailing in a film shouldn't cost more than $2. For some reason you cannot get this price when trying to print a shipping label via USPS online though (at least I couldn't figure it out). This is a drawback for me, since my post office is not exactly close by.
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Old 07-13-2010   #12
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Originally Posted by PatrickT View Post
I just got a few rolls of C41 back from Wal Mart out processing (Fuji Labs) that cost me a whopping $0.74 a roll

Grab one of the envelopes, mark "special instructions" and write "120 C41 Develop Only Send Out". And whatever other instructions you want to give them. Takes between 1 and 2 weeks, but its CHEAP.

120 black and white on the other hand isn't as cheap through them...$7 a roll...OUCH.
This is quite intriguing - I wonder if it will work for 135 too. Maybe I will drop by the wal-mart tomorrow with a roll and write this and see.
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Old 07-13-2010   #13
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I think 35mm is a bit more expensive, due to the fact that they won't send it out and will do it in house. I could be wrong though...never tried it as the nearest Wal Mart isn't that near to me
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Old 07-14-2010   #14
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All the Wal-marts near me are very new and don't have any in-house C-41 machines... I asked the lady and they said they send them out to Fuji about three times a week. going to give it a shot today!
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Old 07-14-2010   #15
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I use Target as well...$1 a roll and always fast and reliable. Minilab machines being what they are today, the results are very consistent. They do scratch my negs all the time though, so I'd make sure your scanner has ICE.
And I was about to run to my local Target. I don't know what they charge, but I guess I will go and see. But I would pay more to get non-scratched negatives. That's something I just can't abide.

My local CVS is actually pretty good. I think I recall for develop only they do it for something a little more or less that $2.00. I often do that to see what is worth printing, either myself, or by them. Especially for my 6 yo grandson. For some reason, he likes to do a lot of things I do, including taking photos.
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ten days and good results on "send out"
Old 07-14-2010   #16
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ten days and good results on "send out"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dyao View Post
All the Wal-marts near me are very new and don't have any in-house C-41 machines... I asked the lady and they said they send them out to Fuji about three times a week. going to give it a shot today!
Even if the Walmart has a local machine, I use "send out". That way no one in the store handles the film. Send out is consistent and easy to do. It's like sending film to a pro lab (they use Fuji or Dwaynes), except that Walmart is covering the postage/shipping.

Prices are fair. I just got back a roll of 120 with sleeved negs AND prints for $8. No scans.

In cases where Dwaynes is used, Fuji lab sends it on and back through Fuji. Has not affected the ten day turnaround that I can see.
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Old 07-14-2010   #17
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It never fails to amaze me how people spend huge amounts of money on cameras and lenses and then go cheap on color film and processing. Why blow all that money on gear and then use cheap film and have the stuff devved by a chimpanzee at Walmart or costco?

I wonder how many people have lost that once-in-a-lifetime shot because they tried to save money by using old film or substandard processing.
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Old 07-14-2010   #18
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Dropped off a roll at Wal-mart today - let's see if I can get it for under $1...

Zathros, appreciate your comment, but honestly if I wanted absolute perfection I would have stuck with digital. I shoot film now because it's more fun than digital.

Also, Wal-mart as far as I know mails film out to Fuji labs, if anybody on here knows otherwise please feel free to correct me.
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Old 07-14-2010   #19
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I do not know if it is the ceapest way, but if cost is a concern a do it yourself kit may be the way to go. The process is easy, as pointed out by a previous thread opened by Martin grounded on work of Petronius.

A kit costs as much as 14 Euro and you may get something around 30 rolls out of it. Even more, if you are feeling adventurous. In terms of time, liberally speaking, you have to invest around 30 min per batch excluding scanning and/or printing. Seems reasonable to me. The results are, well, film...if digital is more convenient for you, consider switching.

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Old 07-14-2010   #20
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Just to make my personal preference clear. Shot 1 was taken with a D90 and the 1.8/50 lens. The rationale for post processing was maximizing the information in the RAW with a personal touch. Shot 2 was taken with a Summitar, [email protected], developed in Diafine. Sure, this is a subjective comparison. What works for me need not necessarily work for you, so in general, it is a matter of personal preference.




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Old 07-14-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyao View Post
snip...

Zathros, appreciate your comment, but honestly if I wanted absolute perfection I would have stuck with digital. I shoot film now because it's more fun than digital.

Also, Wal-mart as far as I know mails film out to Fuji labs, if anybody on here knows otherwise please feel free to correct me.
I shoot film because I dislike digital, so we obviously have vastly different perceptions on what constitutes "absolute perfection". I tried going the cheap route years ago and had my film ruined on more than one occasion. Just little things like dusty and dirty negatives, scratches that ran the entire length of the roll, fingerprints, uncorrectable color casts due to poor process control and physically damaged negs as well. A lot of the pictures may not have been important at the time, but a lot of those rolls contained photos of family and friends who are no longer living. I now avoid these problems by developing the film myself, in my own darkroom. I am very careful to keep the whole process within recommended tolerances, using the chemicals one-shot and my success rate has gone way up. DIY C-41 developing is ridiculously easy.

I couldn't tell you if Wally World ships to Fuji labs or not, since I refuse to do business with them under any circumstances, but I have used Fuji's labs in the past, and while their work was generally acceptable, I am happier with my own developing, or a lab that really makes the effort to not screw up my film.
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Old 07-14-2010   #22
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Quote:
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Dropped off a roll at Wal-mart today - let's see if I can get it for under $1...

Zathros, appreciate your comment, but honestly if I wanted absolute perfection I would have stuck with digital. I shoot film now because it's more fun than digital.

Also, Wal-mart as far as I know mails film out to Fuji labs, if anybody on here knows otherwise please feel free to correct me.
Yep, Fuji labs! Haven't had a problem yet, aside from the fact that for the last roll I sent in, a blind monkey must have cut the negatives. From now on, I'll be specifying "do not cut"
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Old 07-21-2010   #23
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Picked up the roll I dropped off today... they ignored my instructions and made me regular prints and charged the full price (~$5!) Worst part was they stickered over the special instructions part with the actual price so you couldn't even see my special instructions. Guess somebody must have made the prints, seen the special instructions, then stickered over it.

IT's okay though because I found a local lab that will do $3 a roll for just developing. Someday when I have time I'll investigate doing it myself..
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Old 07-21-2010   #24
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I used to use Target. I would get dev and a CD for around $2. Sometimes. Sometimes it would be $6. Sometimes I'd get prints with it even though I didn't ask for them.

Then I moved. The Target at the new place ruined the first two rolls of film I dropped off (exposed them to light before developing) AND charged me $6 for developing. About a month later they stopped doing on site development. Walmart followed suit about 3 months later.

I use NCPS now instead of photoworkssf. I liked photoworks, its just that for the same price I get bigger scans from NCPS.
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Old 07-22-2010   #25
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My local CVS does an excellent job. No scratches or fingerprints for $2.19 per roll, developing only. The employees there seem knowledgeable and professional. Since I scan my own negatives, it is perfect for me.

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Old 07-22-2010   #26
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Self process B&W (35mm, 120, 4x5).
Target for 35mm C-41 color, develop only, about $1/roll.
Universal Color Inc. in New Hope, MN for 120 C-41 color, develop only, about $7/roll.
4x5 color...umm...I've not crossed that bridge yet.
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