What do you look for in a film lab?

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Ag spends a whole page banging on about MB and DPI, but never gives us the most useful numbers, the pixel dimensions
This did make me chuckle. Esp when you go on their site to discover that every single medium scan is 18Mb. Be it 35mm, 645 or 6x9!
 
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Well I solved the letter box problem (not esp for returning negs) by sawing a bigger slot, in the wooden door, with a bigger letterbox (black wrought iron (y)) bought from the bootie for £1 :D
Maybe a little extreme for me, and I'm not sure how my wife would react (actually, I am pretty sure I do know!) if I were to saw a new hole in the expensive composite door we have. :D
 

excalibur2

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Maybe a little extreme for me, and I'm not sure how my wife would react (actually, I am pretty sure I do know!) if I were to saw a new hole in the expensive composite door we have. :D
..or a nice large lockable letter box just inside your front gate o_O ;)
 
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Sorry to jump in (great thread by the way).. but I was just wondering if anyone here has experience using Bayeux or Aperture Film Processing? (Both London-based). Thank you.
 
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Sorry to jump in (great thread by the way).. but I was just wondering if anyone here has experience using Bayeux or Aperture Film Processing? (Both London-based). Thank you.
I've not used either, but Bayeux rang a bell and it's because it was featured on this YouTube video:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOli_WWqjtM


Not sure if that helps, but at least you can see their setup. :)
 
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Bayeux have a good reputation, but they charge £43.20 for developing with large tiff scans after VAT, compared to £8 at FilmDev. This is probably why I haven't used them. I haven't used Aperture either, though I've spent far too much on gear at their various shops, they are nice guys, and their prices are more reasonable - £15 (jpeg) or £18 (tiff) for developing and large scans. Analogue Films in Hanbury St off Brick Lane might be worth a shot - the same price as Aperture for tiff and they are done faster (same day), or cheaper if you're not in a hurry or don't mind jpegs. But they don't specify scan sizes and once again, I haven't used them (though there are some promising reviews).
 
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Bayeux have a good reputation, but they charge £43.20 for developing with large tiff scans after VAT, compared to £8 at FilmDev. This is probably why I haven't used them. I haven't used Aperture either, though I've spent far too much on gear at their various shops, they are nice guys, and their prices are more reasonable - £15 (jpeg) or £18 (tiff) for developing and large scans. Analogue Films in Hanbury St off Brick Lane might be worth a shot - the same price as Aperture for tiff and they are done faster (same day), or cheaper if you're not in a hurry or don't mind jpegs. But they don't specify scan sizes and once again, I haven't used them (though there are some promising reviews).
Good to know, thank you!
 
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On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was a recently advertised service on Instagram offering dev+scan for £3.99. The guy got flooded with orders (roughly £5000 worth). Anyone with a basic grasp of economics and the time involved in processing + scanning + postage would know that you'd never make a profit at that price point unless you're running huge volumes.

People have now been waiting for almost two months and those who have got their film back say that the scans are rubbish (probably done on a flatbed) and the negs aren't even developed properly (heavy colour shifts). They're now looking to hire someone (who owns a scanner) to scan for them on a temp basis. There's another Instagram account documenting customers' troubles with the service, and from what I see the whole operation sounds like someone who shot film as a hobby getting in waaaay over their head. He's even going around London dropping off undeveloped film in the middle of the night. I feel sorry for the people who sent their film to him.
 
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Hi all - interesting thread and I thought I would chime in to correct in places and enhance the discussion.

We hear you loud and clear! We are addressing some of the oddities/shortcomings of our systems/info we dispense, in the next few weeks mainly with the introduction of a new website which is going to dramatically improve the order journey, give customers more information and allow customers to tailor their order to their preferences much more closely. This site has been long in coming - we've fallen out with 2 developers who couldn't deliver what they agreed to, and almost fell out with the latest one....but they pulled it round and we're very pleased with the result so far. We are at the final, and rather laborious, stages or populating it and entering sku's, images, text etc etc.

Another way we are continuing to invest in our business as it continues to grow: last week we commissioned Hostert Pro GmbH to build us a new B&W dip and dunk processor - we believe this will be the first machine of it's type delivered to a UK lab for probably at least 20 years, probably longer. This will replace our existing B&W processor which is now suffering from lack of manufacturer support and we want to replace it before our own parts stock dries up. the new machine will probably be delivered and installed in October.

This investment also expands our capacity - we will always expand capacity, rather than try and suppress demand (ie. by refusing business).

If anyone has any queries, I would always welcome direct contact either by emailing me to matt.wells@ag-photographic.co.uk or call us on 0121 366 0016 and ask to speak to me.


Just addressing some of the points made in the thread:

.................When Asda used to do film the girl told me that she puts in fresh chemicals everyday early in the morning (y) So if any lab does your film when the chemicals are nearly exhausted, it will show in the quality of results from the neg.
I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding going on here. Commercial processors that we or any lab with any level of volume will be using have chemistry standing in the main processing tanks which is replenished from separate replenishment tanks. The chemistry doesn't get exhausted, as long as the rep tanks are filled. But if they run dry most processors would not allow further film to be fed into the machine anyway. Draining the main tanks and re-filling is something that happens only occasionally for routine maintenance and cleaning. As every film passes through the machine the tanks are automatically replenished exactly depending on the film area (which is measured by infrared or by the weight of the film) and the existing chemistry is pushed out through an overflow. So the tanks are continually being "turned-over" - there is a critical mass required as the tanks (particularly developer) should be fully turned over every, say, 1 - 2 weeks (varies, depending on chemistry). The problems start when this isn't happening and where the rep is then starting to oxidise too. As many labs and the likes of Asda have seen their volumes fall, this triggers complaints as the quality cant be maintained, so they pull the plug and stop processing as it's just too much agro.

So, probably the employee in Asda was topping up the rep tanks every day, but highly unlikely (and very undesirable for consistency, and expensive) to be draining the main tanks and re-filling - although a bit wierd to fill the rep tanks as a daily routine as the concentrates are designed to make a set amount (eg, 10L, the volume of the typical tank) and you fill the rep tanks as and when the level drops and triggers an alarm. And that happens randomly. So not sure how they could be adding fresh chemistry "every morning", it doesn't really make any sense.

The way to best consistency and clean negs is a good throughput, so the tanks are being turned over frequently. It can be monitored with Control Strips and analysed.

That's C41.

E6 is another ball game and requires very tight control and absolutely a critical mass. We run Fujifilm control strips every day and these are analysed on a densitometer. The chemistry is then tweaked and balanced by a technician who needs to be experienced to do this. It's very hard to deliver consistency in any other way, and, as E6 customers tend to be the most demanding (for good reason, many earn a living from their film, or they are advanced amateurs) you would hear very quickly if something wasn't right. Over the years we have won a lot of E6 business based on our consistent and clean processing, such as https://www.brucepercy.co.uk/ who shoots almost exclusively on Velvia 50; and https://www.transientlight.co.uk/ also mainly Velvia 50.

B&W sits somewhere in the middle. We recently were forced to switch our B&W developer because Fuji Hunt killed off Negastar - this was a really great all rounder, very similar to XTOL in this sense, but more efficient to use as a liquid concentrate. We have now switched to Tetenal Neotenal which, again, offers a good all round performance - which is what is needed when we're processing for such an array of different customers and we need a one size fits all. There have been labs pop up and offer different B&W developer choices. The big problem with this is it's totally impossible to offer such choice unless you're charging quite a lot of money for it. Anyone not charging a lot wont have costed their time properly! Obviously, such bespoke development would have to be via small tanks, or mechanised small tanks (eg. Jobo or similar), which are fine for the photographer doing their own development, but totally inefficient for a commercial service.


We had hoped to run an open day this year, but with the Covid crisis, this obviously hasn't been possible. However, once the new processor is installed and we have settled in with this, and if the covid situation has subsided, then we will arrange this and hopefully get some special offers from suppliers etc. as well as giving customers the opportunity to come and see our set up and how it functions.


They could just tell us, though - e.g., Ag spends a whole page banging on about MB and DPI, but never gives us the most useful numbers, the pixel dimensions:
Personally, for me, I want to know how much data is in a file, as it comes out of the scanner. Maybe this is personal preference and just the way I work. But it is an industry standard and you'll find many established labs work this way.

eg: https://metroimaging.co.uk/price-list/#ccd

But we do understand that people like to work with the pixels - so we are addressing this. Our new site will give accurate dimensions and size information when you are selecting a scan option.

As far as Ag translucent sleeves are concerned, I bin them after transferring the negs to sleeves that fit a ring binder, which the Filmdev sleeves already do. As you say, it's all a matter of choice and long may we have that choice. :)
We will be introducing a choice of sleeving on our new site which will include a choice of 2 types of ring binder sleeves aswell as the standard sleeving.

This did make me chuckle. Esp when you go on their site to discover that every single medium scan is 18Mb. Be it 35mm, 645 or 6x9!
It does sound strange! This is all being addressed in the new site.


All the best,
Matt.
 

Andysnap

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Hi Matt, thanks for taking the time to answer all the daft questions we ask in here (and the not so daft ones as well). I'm impressed with the development you are planning and even though I personally haven't used your services so far I probably will in the future.
I think you may need to run more than one open day though, we could probably fill a day from this bit of the forum..
 
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Thanks Matt, that's very informative.

One thing I've noticed with my scans from elsewhere is that they seem to be scanned to pixel dimensions rather than DPI, with the short side of the scan being the same number of pixels whether the source is 135 or 120. This means that I get more pixels from a standard 135 scan than I do from a medium format 6x6 scan! When I scan at home, a medium format scan, while the same resolution in terms of DPI, would be correspondingly larger (in the same way that the original negative would be if compared against 135).

It's something I've only noticed as a result of this thread. Given that I've not had scans of both 120 and 135 back at the same time I've not spotted the issue before by direct comparison. The 120 scans are fine, but it's almost as though a medum scan of 120 is the equivalent of a small scan of 135.
 
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Can anyone recommend a good lab to develop and scan B&W film please? I don't think I'll be able to do this at home so would have to send away. Somewhere that can do a fairly large scan (e.g. 5000 x 3000px) but doesn't cost a huge amount (or is this just dreaming? :p)
 
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Can anyone recommend a good lab to develop and scan B&W film please? I don't think I'll be able to do this at home so would have to send away. Somewhere that can do a fairly large scan (e.g. 5000 x 3000px) but doesn't cost a huge amount (or is this just dreaming? :p)
AG Photographic would be my recommendation although they only specify MB size and not pixel dimensions. 18Mb for £9.99 and 50Mb for £15.99. You don't specify format, but AG deliver the same filesize no matter what o_O

Not sure if any of that qualifies as "huge".

Sadly Filmdev don't do B&W at the moment.
 
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Thanks Ian. I've found out that the 18Mb size is about 3000px by 2000px and the largest size equates to about 5000px by 3300px (approx). For me, I don't think 3000 x 2000 would be enough since I do crop sometimes.

Filmdev's large files when scanned are at least 5000px at the widest end and half the price going by what you said (only for C41 though)


AG Photographic would be my recommendation although they only specify MB size and not pixel dimensions. 18Mb for £9.99 and 50Mb for £15.99. You don't specify format, but AG deliver the same filesize no matter what o_O

Not sure if any of that qualifies as "huge".

Sadly Filmdev don't do B&W at the moment.
 

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You can still get XP2 devved at Filmdev....
 
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I have used filmed for the first time this week and, having looked at my scans (3 rolls from different cameras) here are my thoughts.

Service including turnaround time is excellent. No problems there at all. The price is very good. I paid £18 for three rolls of C41 (2x35mm and 1x120)

I went for the medium scans and asked them to go easy on the sharpening and there's nothing really wrong with them at all. If I open a medium scan from FilmDev, they measure 2048px compared to my 2958px from CFL.

Having worked with CFL for quite a while now, they have what they call Canadian Film Lab Pro which is a preference service with regards to colours, contrast, etc of your scans. I have to do very little when I get these back compared to doing a lot more with the FilmDev ones (although I am sure they would build up this type of relationship if asked).

The images from the roll were out of order, as in, not the order they were shot in which was really confusing.

I am glad I used them for my lockdown snapshots, especially as one of my cameras needs a new seal/curtain (just waiting for Miles) so would have been annoyed having paid more and I may continue to do so for rolls that are of similar use but for any jobs, like the Mini I photographed the other evening, they will still go to Canadian Film Lab.
 
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excalibur2

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I have used filmed for the first time this week and, having looked at my scans (3 rolls from different cameras) here are my thoughts.

Service including turnaround time is excellent. No problems there at all. The price is very good. I paid £18 for three rolls of C41 (2x35mm and 1x120)

I went for the medium scans and asked them to go easy on the sharpening and there's nothing really wrong with them at all. If I open a medium scan from FilmDev, they measure 2048px compared to my 2958px from CFL.

Having worked with CFL for quite a while now, they have what they call Canadian Film Lab Pro which is a preference service with regards to colours, contrast, etc of your scans. I have to do very little when I get these back compared to doing a lot more with the FilmDev ones (although I am sure they would build up this type of relationship if asked).

The images from the roll were out of order, as in, not the order they were shot in which was really confusing.

I am glad I used them for my lockdown snapshots, especially as one of my cameras needs a new seal/curtain (just waiting for Miles) so would have been annoyed having paid more and I may continue to do so for rolls that are of similar use but for any jobs, like the Mini I photographed the other evening, they will still go to Canadian Film Lab.
When you mentioned somewhere that you expect the results to be "spot on" (or something like that) using a lab and have no need to use Photoshop......well my shots from filmdev that were taken when getting dark all came out like daylight, of course I had to adjust them in Photoshop ;)
 

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The images from the [Filmdev] roll were out of order, as in, not the order they were shot in which was really confusing.
This for me is probably the most annoying thing about Filmdev's scanning, although in the grand scheme of things it's on the trivial side. I think the impact probably depends on whether your/my media management system (LR, Aperture etc) is set up to sort images by EXIF date or by file name. I think in the latter case you wouldn't notice. But it appears that Filmdev have an editing step that is used where their visual inspection suggests it's necessary, and during this step (which takes the file out to Photoshop) the EXIF dates get mangled. I haven't looked properly recently, but ages ago the EXIF dates were zeroed (so January 1904...). I think now the date may be in the same ballpark as the other images, but not precisely in the right order. I've talked to them a few times about this, but my technical understanding is too weak (as the above probably demonstrates) to help them debug it.
 
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When you mentioned somewhere that you expect the results to be "spot on" (or something like that) using a lab and have no need to use Photoshop......well my shots from filmdev that were taken when getting dark all came out like daylight, of course I had to adjust them in Photoshop ;)
I’ve read this several times and still don’t really know what it means.

I may have said somewhere that if I’m paying high end lab prices, I expect to process less. That’s correct.
So your shots from a film lab taken at night came out looking like nothing that you wanted? Or have I misunderstood?

Either way, one of the reasons I shoot film is so I spend less time in photoshop.
Actually a digital camera arrived on Monday. Haven’t used it yet.
 

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I’ve read this several times and still don’t really know what it means.

I may have said somewhere that if I’m paying high end lab prices, I expect to process less. That’s correct.
So your shots from a film lab taken at night came out looking like nothing that you wanted? Or have I misunderstood?

Either way, one of the reasons I shoot film is so I spend less time in photoshop.
Actually a digital camera arrived on Monday. Haven’t used it yet.
Well I did put a wink at the end and just a point that even if you used more expensive labs to filmdev they would not know (at times) how you want each frame to look for a roll of film.
 
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I haven't used CFL before but my first experience a few weeks ago at having 35mm film developed was with FilmDev. With regard to the results - I'm not sure if these are about average for a lab but I found that I had to do a bit of work in LR / PS. However, this could be the result of me setting the camera to 200 for Portra 400...I don't know. I just felt that the images were lacking some oomph (not necessarily contrast, although this was the case).

Size wise, Filmdev is excellent value for money - you pay £8 for a large jpg scan which is 6774 x 4492, compared with CFL which charges £16 for their large scan which is 3649 x 5444 (so twice the price for a bit smaller). However, if CFL was much better, I would pay the extra money.


I have used filmed for the first time this week and, having looked at my scans (3 rolls from different cameras) here are my thoughts.

Service including turnaround time is excellent. No problems there at all. The price is very good. I paid £18 for three rolls of C41 (2x35mm and 1x120)

I went for the medium scans and asked them to go easy on the sharpening and there's nothing really wrong with them at all. If I open a medium scan from FilmDev, they measure 2048px compared to my 2958px from CFL.

Having worked with CFL for quite a while now, they have what they call Canadian Film Lab Pro which is a preference service with regards to colours, contrast, etc of your scans. I have to do very little when I get these back compared to doing a lot more with the FilmDev ones (although I am sure they would build up this type of relationship if asked).

The images from the roll were out of order, as in, not the order they were shot in which was really confusing.

I am glad I used them for my lockdown snapshots, especially as one of my cameras needs a new seal/curtain (just waiting for Miles) so would have been annoyed having paid more and I may continue to do so for rolls that are of similar use but for any jobs, like the Mini I photographed the other evening, they will still go to Canadian Film Lab.
 
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Well I did put a wink at the end and just a point that even if you used more expensive labs to filmdev they would not know (at times) how you want each frame to look for a roll of film.
Not unless you tell them in the notes to the lab.

I haven't used CFL before but my first experience a few weeks ago at having 35mm film developed was with FilmDev. With regard to the results - I'm not sure if these are about average for a lab but I found that I had to do a bit of work in LR / PS. However, this could be the result of me setting the camera to 200 for Portra 400...I don't know. I just felt that the images were lacking some oomph (not necessarily contrast, although this was the case).

Size wise, Filmdev is excellent value for money - you pay £8 for a large jpg scan which is 6774 x 4492, compared with CFL which charges £16 for their large scan which is 3649 x 5444 (so twice the price for a bit smaller). However, if CFL was much better, I would pay the extra money.
Yes, FilmDev is excellent VFM, there is no doubt about that. I always, always expose Portra 400 at 200 and never (rarely) have to do much work to them in post, unless I feel the image needs something specific.

Of course, there are labs out there at many price points therefore everyone is catered for and for me, it's no=ice to have that option for when I test a nw camera or am just taking snaps around the house or whatever but for the good stuff, I will be sticking with CFL for the foreseeable (or Carmencita when CFL are not operational for whatever reason).
 
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I used the default Noritsu HS-1800 for Filmdev but I wonder if I should try the option for their Fuji Frontier SP-3000 next time as this is the same scanner that CFL uses?
 
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