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Author Topic: Online Black-and-White Processing Services  (Read 564 times)

Chris Kern

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Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« on: October 24, 2021, 06:55:05 pm »

I've recently acquired a fully-restored version of the first "serious" camera I used as a teenager: a Zeiss Ikon Contax II.  (The sample I purchased, which is shown in the link, was manufactured in 1937, a couple of years earlier than the camera my father gave me as a kid.)

My current plan is to shoot black-and-white film, to recreate my 1960s experience, and I've decided that I'm too old and my remaining time is too short to make the effort do my own developing again.  Translation: I'm lazy.

I've used a local custom lab to develop a few test rolls of Kodak TMAX and Fuji Acros, but I'm underwhelmed in several respects by their performance even though their clientele consists mostly of professional shooters, and I'm wondering if there might be a better online option.

I plan to do my own scanning, so all I need is quick-turnaround development service—although I would be happy to spend a little extra to get scanned contact sheets for each roll.

Any suggestions?  I'm in Maryland, on the eastern coast of the United States, so a North American provider probably would make the most sense.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 07:04:10 pm by Chris Kern »
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 05:51:07 pm »

I haven't worked with film at all since the early 90's, but having worked on a project several years ago requiring some color inkjet prints from digital files, I was very happy with LTILightside (https://www.lti-lightside.com). They were cordial, prompt, and patiently helpful with my questions. Their website indicates to me they provide what you need. They're in midtown Manhattan.
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Alan Klein

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 06:32:16 pm »

Chris,  You could try LTI Lighting in Manhattan.  They do dip and dunk and will push and pull.  They also scan but I do my own.  Their work is neat, film comes back flat in plastic sheets.  Ask them to cut it and not send it back as a roll.  Sheets will keep the film flat for easier and better scanning. 

I've recently been using North Coast Photo in Carlsbad CA because they do both BW and color.  (I shoot Tmax and Chromes in both 6x7 and 4x5)  Their work quality is similar to LTI who only does BW.   Prices for both are competitive.

Chris Kern

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 07:20:20 pm »

I was very happy with LTILightside (https://www.lti-lightside.com).

You could try LTI[Lightside] in Manhattan. . . .  I've recently been using North Coast Photo in Carlsbad CA. . . .

Many thanks for the suggestions, Gentle Men.  Both outfits look like reasonable alternatives to the local lab I've been using—and, actually, based on their websites it appears they offer at least comparable quality and might provide faster turnaround, despite the two-way shipping time.

As an aside, I also prefer to scan my negatives myself since that gives me considerable control of the digital images, including a chance to try, try again if I'm not satisfied with the initial attempt.

Alan Klein

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2021, 08:23:55 pm »

Chris, I know there's a lot of opinion on the matter of adjustments before the scan.  I've found that keeping the scan simple with minimal edits allows one scan required only. It leaves most of the edits to your favorite post-processing editing program after the scan. If you play around too much with settings before the scan, you wind up scanning and scanning to "get it right".  I limit my scan adjustment to levels only setting the white and black points to just outside the range of the picture in the histogram. 

Tmax is great for scanning.  Here are Tmax 100 and 400s.  I never used Acros. 

 I;d go with the 400 rather than 100 as you probably need the extra two stop if you;re hand holding.

Tmax 400 in 35mm (the last three are in 4x5).  https://www.flickr.com/search/?sort=date-taken-desc&safe_search=1&tags=tmax400&user_id=55760757%40N05&view_all=1
Tmax 100 in 4x5 and 6x7 https://www.flickr.com/search/?sort=date-taken-desc&safe_search=1&tags=tmax100&user_id=55760757%40N05&view_all=1

Alan Klein

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2021, 08:30:54 pm »

Oh, one thing about Lightside if I remember correctly.  They use XTOL which gives the best range and sharpness for Tmax.  However, if you have a special developer you insist on using, there's a $50 or so setup charge in addition to their regular charges.  It's been a while since I've known this.  So call them to check as their current procedures may have changed. 

Chris Kern

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2021, 10:55:06 am »

I limit my scan adjustment to levels only setting the white and black points

That's my practice also with respect to black and white negatives.  My goal is simply to capture all the detail available in the negative, and make any further adjustments during post-processing.

For color film, I've found the automated color adjustments available in Ed Hamrick's VueScan to be better than anything I am able to do in post.  That's especially true of color negatives which have faded over time.

Alan Klein

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Re: Online Black-and-White Processing Services
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2021, 12:08:38 pm »

That's why i shoot chromes only.
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