Where to get film developed?
January 22, 2007 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Where do I get 2.5 year old black and white film developed?

I have a newly refound roll of black and white film taken two and a half years ago that has a very special picture on it. Where do I have it developed?
posted by hampton to Technology (11 answers total)
Not CVS. You need to take this to a professional and explain it clearly to them.

Do you know which exposure on the negative is the important one?

IANAP, but if this were motion picture film I would tell you to get a non-vital portion of the negative clipped off, fog tested, and then developed. If it didn't look right I'd tell you to repeat until you got a print that looked decent before attempting anything with the vital part of the negative. Cause once it goes in those chemicals, you can't go back.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2007

I am pretty sure it is toward the end of the roll but I can't say for certain. There may be other important pictures on there, just not as important.
posted by hampton at 6:22 PM on January 22, 2007

B&W film should still be pretty good after 2-3 years. Use any photolab that offers the service. Where are you?

A snip test is only useful if the entire roll was exposed exactly the same or it might make things worse. Develop normally (if it was exposed normally).

If necessary rescue the photo in printing or scanning+Photoshop .
posted by Fins at 6:48 PM on January 22, 2007

You want to watch for a photolab that develops using B&W chemicals. Often places will do it, but just process it in the same way they do color film.
posted by Eekacat at 6:51 PM on January 22, 2007

If you live in, or know someone in Rochester, I know Kodak will do processing that no one else will touch.
posted by fvox13 at 7:03 PM on January 22, 2007

I've successfully developed 3+ year old Kodak Tri-X and Tmax film by following normal developing charts using standard black and white process with very little detrimental effect at all.

Take this to a competent photo lab, preferably a local one where the person who takes it from you will be the one who develops it (they're hard to find, but every town I've ever lived in has at least one shop like this). Chances are probably very good that your photo will turn out fine!

Also, as Fins suggests, you can probably fix anything but the most major problems in the printing process or by scanning and working on it digitally...
posted by sablazo at 7:41 PM on January 22, 2007

Look in the local yellow pages for photo labs - professional. At most it will take $10-15 to process and print and as others have said, two and a half years shouldn't affect the quality unless you had it sitting in a very hot and sunny place.
posted by JJ86 at 5:54 AM on January 23, 2007


I have an 8 year old roll of undeveloped bw film..is it even worth trying to get developed? (every time I find it, I mean to get it done, but then I misplace it...this has been going on for 7 years)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:33 AM on January 23, 2007

Cat Pie, if you have images on the roll that could be worthwhile to see and have then sure. B&W film is pretty forgiving to develop unless you are expecting gallery quality or if the film is extremely old.
posted by JJ86 at 9:50 AM on January 23, 2007

You don't say where you live, but any major city will have a decent pro lab with dedicated B&W chemistry. Or, it's actually not very difficult to develop it yourself - see if there's a local photography school or photography club that can give you an orientation and let you rent their film sink and use their chemistry for a fee.

If it hasn't been stored in the refrigerator, it might be a good idea to "push" process it (i.e., leave it in the developer for a bit longer time) to combat the effects of residual fog.

And for Cat Pie, I once developed a couple rolls that had been sitting in the refrigerator for 15 years, but I got nothing at all. It could be that I accidentally put them in fixer instead of developer, which would of course totally destroy the latent image.
posted by matildaben at 10:28 AM on January 23, 2007

You didn't say where you live, so it's hard to give particular recommendations...but you might want to ask on the Photo.net Film & Processing board. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people there, and you're sure to find a place in your area (or in the nearest major city) who can do it. If you do some searching, you probably won't even need to ask a new question. They have archives with thousands of threads, going back years.

If you're in New England, I can personally recommend Kula Photo in Hartford, CT (there used to be another good place called Photo Laboratory, but I think it's gone now).

The key, IMO, is to find a place that does "dip and dunk" processing, rather than the cheaper continuous-feed method. It's easier to tweak the time that the film spends in the chemicals in a dip-and-dunk, and there's less of a chance of scratching. (It's also a sign that you're dealing with a pro lab rather than a 1-hour place with pretensions.)

If you can't find anyone else, you could mail it away to Rocky Mountain Color, who are probably the world leaders in the processing of old film -- much older than yours -- but are pretty expensive.

Frankly I'd avoid Kodak except as a last resort; they are set up for "industrial scale" processing (I'm told the way they process is by splicing a few thousand feet of film together onto 35mm movie film platters, and then running it at once through huge processors), not for doing strange things to individual rolls. They're probably the best of any mail-away service, but you can almost certainly do better at a local pro lab. Plus, I've had them lose stuff of mine waaaay more often than they should.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2007

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