Support your Indie camera stores!

Why?  Because they provide the best service, and exist mainly through your willingness to go to them.  I’ve been doing that for a while, but when I agreed to shoot a show for a friend of mine, I planned on taking them to the *ahem* local drugstore chain (that wants to buy up every good corner location in America, it seems), because my friend needed the pics ASAP and Drugstore Chain could do it quick.  Well, it turned out not to work that way.

I drop them off, I figure 3 rolls in 2 hours wouldn’t be pushing things, get some other stuff done and come back for the film to find out they didn’t scan my negatives, so I was charged $6.00 per roll just for development.  Wow.  So the conversation with the lady in the photo department (the same one I know from years back) went something like this:

“I wanted these scanned, but there’s no cd.”
“I asked you if you wanted them printed, you said no.”
“I don’t want prints, but I did want my negatives scanned.”
“Well, ‘print’ means ‘scanned.'”

So, clearly a miscommunication, but it’s one that cost me time, and I had the option of waiting 30min for the negatives to be scanned (which would have made me late for my class that day), or picking them up when I got back, which would have been about 5hrs later.  Not good options, considering I only went to them in the first place because I wanted them done fast so I could send them off to my friend.  Perhaps my own fault with a lack of communication, but I decided the bigger mistake was not taking my film down to the real camera store in the first place.  It’s cheaper, and their scanner is higher-resolution.  Win-win.

My local indie camera store isn’t local, it’s about an hour from my house, but it’s close to my classes.  They’re getting so much business right now that if you drop film off on them unannounced, you might have to wait until the end of the day to get your film back.  Still, I’d rather go there than anywhere else; they know me by name, and they know the definition of the word Scan.  And hey, they sell lenses pretty cheap too, I picked up a wide-angle for my Pentax.  There’s really no need for me to ever go anywhere else.

One more story: A year ago I was going to my cousin’s wedding so I called around Shreveport for a camera store that did film processing.  No luck!  I did have a good conversation with an owner of one of the camera stores, and evidently the drugstore chains back in the early 2000s were undercutting the competition by so much ($1.50 for film processing and scanning?  Wow!) that they drove most of the camera stores in Shreveport out of business and the only ones that survived now only deal with digital photography.  Of course, once they killed the competition, the drugstores drove the prices back up (mine charges $9.50 for processing and scanning).  I wonder how many people they drove to digital by doing this?

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5 thoughts on “Support your Indie camera stores!

  1. I totally agree with you on supporting the specialist film labs, but I decided to swing by Walgreens one more time to see if they were able to just develop and scan. Asking the clerk specifically for just scans revealed that they scan the prints! He said that they weren’t able to give me a CD without first printing the photos. So, technically, I’d have to pay for developing, printing, and scanning. This encouraged me to visit a film lab, and the guy there immediately understood me when I said I wanted scans only.

    • Usually how it works is that there will be a big machine that takes the roll of film, opens it up, and processes it, and dries it. Then someone takes the film out and feeds the roll through a scanner built in to the machine.

      I find it very unlikely that your Walgreens optically prints from a negative, and then uses a flatbed scanner to digitize the prints. I suppose it’s possible, but looking at your images, I wouldn’t say that was the case, but you can compare/contrast from the real film lab.

      Also, there’s the issue with how your shots have been turning out, and I suspect that’s due to a faulty scanner setting. The other possibility though, is that there’s something wrong with your camera…

      • Now that you’ve explained it, it does seem unlikely that they’d optically print from a negative (unprocessed film if I’m not mistaken) and then flatbed scan the prints. That sounds repetitive unless they’re unable to obtain the digital files from the film scanner. I’m not familiar with the film scanning process so I’m not sure if there’s a midway there. I just assumed they flatbed scan the prints since I wasn’t able to purchase a CD without also purchasing prints.

        The scans from the real film lab do look better than the ones from Walgreens though. I’ll be posting them tonight or tomorrow.

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