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Great Places to Get Your Film Developed

With the emergence of digital photography, it may have seemed as though film took a back seat to this new form of capturing photos. Though a number of film labs have been displaced by digital alternatives, there are still some amazing places for artists to find refuge. The film community is still very much alive and thanks to some great stores and companies, film enthusiasts everywhere are able to process their film. Check out some of our recommendations on where to get your film developed.

Retail/Drug Stores

If you’re looking for speed, a nearby retailer with a roller transport processor machine is often the quickest option. Your local drug or grocery story can be an quick, low cost way to get roll film developed.

  • CVS Pharmacy will develop 35mm film or a disposable camera with your prints; ready in 7-10 business days. If you’re interested in Advanced Photo System (APS), Black and White, 110, or slide film, CVS will take care of you and prints will be ready in only 3 weeks!
  • Walgreens will happily process your film, negatives, or disposable cameras and can have prints ready for pickup in 3-5 business days.
  • Walmart can also help with your film development. It’s affordable and the turnaround time takes approximately 1 week.

Pro Tip: if a roller transport machine isn’t carefully maintained it can scratch film.  If you have multiple important rolls, consider submitting a test roll before you give a lab all your film.  This can save you hours of retouching.

Pro Labs

While less prevalent, there are still some fine professional photo labs offering conventional developing & printing services. ‘Dip and Dunk’ film processing machines (which are gentler on your precious film) are typically only found at pro processors. If you want to have color, large format negatives developed you need to go with a D&D processor.

Development Companies by mail

If there are no processing labs at a location near you, you can always send your film by mail to one of these trusted companies!

Harman Labs

If you are a fan of black and white photos, you can trust this lab. They specialize in black and white film and developing all 35mm and 120mm films.

The Darkroom

Located in sunny California, The Darkroom specializes in film processing. From 35mm to sheet film, they can handle all of your needs. Their lab is also equipped to test newer films and infrared films!

Old School Photo Lab

Another reputable online photo lab is Old School Photo Lab. With free shipping included, they will handle all of your developing needs. They specialize in developing, scanning, and printing; everything from 35mm to 126 film and offer negative and slide film processing for bigger formats, including sheet film. They also return your negatives!

Richard Photo Lab

For over 40 years, Richard Photo Lab has specialized in scanning and processing film. All you need to do is select your service and send for processing. They use the  Dip & Dunk technology to insure quality and consistency.

Do-It-Yourself

If you’re feeling extra independent, why not do it yourself?  Developing your own film will be a great learning experience and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you had your hand in the process from beginning to end.

  • If you don’t have the luxury of using your home, try finding a  Local DarkRoom
  • Check out what Ilford has to offer! Not only does Ilford manufacture great film, they make a wide range of developing chemicals and photographic paper.
  • Read The Darkroom Cookbook – Now in it’s fourth edition, Steve Anchell’s book is an authoritative guide to developing chemistry.

Do you know of any film processing labs? Share them with us! We would love to add to this list!

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12 comments

  1. The Find Lab in UT is my go to lab

  2. NorthCoast Photographic Lab Services, Carlsbad, Ca.

  3. I love developing my own B&W film for 35mm & 120.

  4. The Shutterbug in Salem, OR develops c41 process film in house and their prices are reasonable.

  5. Great post Caela, but a few things I have to mention….

    Although the “big box” druggists DO process film, they have one seriously fatal flaw that most people should be well aware of: the do NOT return your negatives. Film is collected and shipped to a central processing facility, it is processed, scanned, and then uploaded to the store where it was dropped off, and then your negatives are destroyed. I know many people aren’t concerned with getting their negatives back, but it’s a pretty huge deal when you think about it. Negatives are the original “raw files” of film photography, and just like a Raw file from a digital camera gives you more options for editing, the negative gives you countless options not only now, but well into the future. Technology continues to improve, so a negative you shot twenty years ago can look even better with today’s scanning technology than it did when it was originally shot. And there is no way to predict what the future holds, but as long as you have your negatives, they can be rescanned years from now for even better quality, clarity, resolution, etc. If you don’t get your negatives, it’s much like having a photo taken from an early cell phone, where it looked neat at the time, but in the face of modern technology, it’s terrible, and can never be improved. In addition, many companies only scan at a medium resolution unless you pay more for a better quality scan, but by the time you realize you’d like a bigger scan, your negatives have likely already been destroyed.

    There is little reason in today’s world that film photography can’t be almost as fast as digital. Although big box stores take a week or more to get your images, the smaller labs can have your images to you very quickly. Old School Photo Lab, for example, will process your film when it arrives in the mail, so your only wait is for the postman to deliver it to them, whereas big box stores will hold your film sometimes for days or weeks to ship it out in a batch with others. I own a film lab here in Wilmington, NC, and we process film the day it arrives, so if it takes two days to get here in the mail, you’ll see your photos in two days, not a week. And for local shooters, it’s even better. Although we do not offer one hour photo, depending on what time you drop it off, it very well could be ready in an hour, as we collect film during the day and run it every afternoon/evening, so at most you’ll be waiting around 12 hours to see your photos.

    I love what you guys are doing, and there is no denying that KEH is doing great work keeping film alive with a great stock of used film cameras, but I think it’s important to remind people that your negatives should be treasured, even if you only put them in a box until they’re needed, so don’t fall victim to the big box lure of convenience and lose out on your negatives, because there is always a better option, even if you don’t have a local lab right down the street from you.

  6. I am not financially associated with them, but consider the folks at The Darkroom as friends that I met through using their services. Always prompt, high quality service. Films always come back clean, flat, gorgeous. I highly recommend them.

  7. Walgreens and Walmart no longer return negatives to the customer. CVS is probably the same way.

    The two labs I find to be reliable:

    Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS: This lab is famous as having been the last Kodachrome processor in the world. They no longer offer that service (it ended in 2010), but they do very good C-41, E-6 and black & white processing of 35mm and 120. They also process Disc, 110, 126 and 127 films in C-41, E-6 and back & white. Dwayne’s runs well-maintained roller-transport processors. They offer develop-only, prints and scans. I like to send C-41 to Dwayne’s because they’re better=priced. Find them at http://www.dwaynesphoto.com.

    Vista+CRC (they appear to now call themselves Vista Imaging Group), New York City: Color Resource Center is a film lab that opened in Manhattan in 1993. In 2009, they added wide-format and grand-format printing; if you need an 8×10 photo, they can square you away…and just to be clear, that’s 8×10 FEET. They use Refrema dip-and-dunk processors, so they can develop sheet film. This is primarily an E-6 lab; all three processes are priced identically, and if you carry film into their New York location they can turn E-6 in three hours or C-41/B&W in 10. They also have the best E-6 pricing in the US. Find them at http://www.vistaimaginggroup.com.

    Standard disclaimer: my only relationship with either lab is as a customer.

  8. Be aware that most of the drug stores (walgreens, cvs, etc) no longer have their own minilabs in store and send it out. There have been lots of reports that you get your prints/cd/download just fine but they do not return your negatives, so be careful if you want to keep them (which you should!)

  9. Alkit Pro labs (Alkit.com; Freeport, NY)….digital and film with all the pro finished products.

  10. PhotoSmith in Dover NH Good, reasonable cost and quick!

  11. Southerlands Photo, Inc.
    2357 Whitesburg Drive
    Huntsville, Al. 35801

    C41 processing and printing + scanning to CD, 35 mm & 120, hand process black and white, over 30 years.

  12. CVS and Walgreens don’t return your negatives anymore. Or develope on sight.

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