Friday, May 6, 2011

Film Hunting: Where to Buy and Develop Film

shoot film
Shoot Film, by: Tokyo Camera Style (used with permission)


We have been talking a lot about film and film cameras recently (and have more on the way), but a question that comes up often is where to buy and develop film. Well, if you have any local professional photography labs, those are usually the best places to start for both purchasing film and having it developed. To find them, you can look in the yellow pages, or do an Internet search for pro photo labs + your city, state. 

Most professional labs carry multiple types and sizes of film, beyond 35mm color negatives. They also usually have either the equipment and chemistry to develop the film, or have a trusted place that they send their orders out to. 

If you are shooting 35mm color negatives, the regular consumer film can be found in drug stores and at places like Walmart. While sometimes having them developed at your local drug store photo lab is fine, I would suggest not to take anything super important there. For one, their abilities are limited since it's all machine fed, and they typically only have the capabilities to develop that one type of film (and can't or won't push or pull it for you). Also, since the general population has switched to shooting their family vacation photos and what not from film to digital, these labs are experiencing far fewer customers coming in for developing. What this means is that there's a greater risk that their equipment and chemicals are not being properly taken care of as often as they should (cleaning, fresh chemicals, etc.). 

If you don't have pro photo labs in your town, you still have a few options...

For purchasing film: Find it on the web! There's a ton of places to buy film online, including direct from the manufacturer's websites, Amazon, eBay, and many photographic supply companies. 

For developing: If there is a university or arts education center that offers photography, then they may have a lab. It's more typical to have a black and white lab than it is color, so keep this in mind. If there is one of these, some of the centers offer memberships to use their facilities where you could develop your own film, or you could hire a student to do it. Along those same lines, you can fairly easily set up a black and white darkroom at home, or hire a local photographer with an at-home darkroom to develop your film for you.

Your final option is to send your film out. The best thing to do is get online and do a little research about where to send it out, and read any customer reviews you can.

To help in your search, we have included some reference links below for both places to purchase films, and places that develop professional and older, more rare films...

* Freestyle Photographic Supplies (film and supplies)
* Amazon (film)
* The Impossible Project (instant films)
* Fujifilm (35mm and instant)
* Digitaltruth Photo (film and supplies, and they have a big list of developing labs)
* Blue Moon (developing)
* Dwayne's Photo(developing)
* Ilford Photo (the site lets you search for places that sell the film and develop it by location)
* International Film Brokers (hard to find 8mm films)
* Richard Photo Lab (developing)
* Old-School Photo Lab (developing)