In a digital world, shooting on film isn’t as easy as it used to be. Once you track down an analog camera and fresh film, you still need to figure out how to get your shots developed and digitized. The days of the neighborhood photo lab may be over, but we found dozens of businesses that are ready and willing to process your film.
Local Photography Stores
Most major cities have at least one photography shop or lab that still develops film. Try searching online to see if there’s one in your area, or check out this state-by-state lab list. (That list is from 2012, so remember to double-check for accuracy.)
Can’t find anything nearby? Read on for an extensive list of labs that accept film by mail.
With few small-town labs left, shipping film off for processing is more popular than ever. Dozens of companies throughout the U.S. will develop everything from 35mm rolls to 8 x 10-inch sheet film.
One of the most popular companies is The Darkroom. For $12, it will process a roll of 35mm or medium-format film and send back negatives, a CD of high-quality scans (11 x 14 inches) and a prepaid mailer for another batch of film. The Darkroom also uploads your high-resolution images to its website right away, so you don’t have to wait for your CD to arrive in the mail. Most orders are shipped back three to five business days after your film arrives at The Darkroom’s facility in Southern California.
If you don’t need scanning services, you can use Pro Photo Connection, which will return your 35mm color negatives for just $4 a roll (black-and-white and 120-format film is $5). Most companies also provide prints for an additional fee (4 x 6 color prints are an extra $5 at The Darkroom). To find the best combination of film services and prices at over 25 different labs, check out this handy chart created by Adam Ottke of Film Objektiv.
We’ve also compiled our own list of some of the best-known labs.
Indie Film Lab– Montgomery, Alabama
Photoworks San Francisco– San Francisco
State Film Lab – Louisville, Kentucky
Richard Photo Lab– Valencia, California
North Coast Photographic Services – Carlsbad, California
Old School Photo Lab – Dover, New Hampshire
The Find Lab – Orem, Utah
Film Rescue International – Westby, Montana (specializes in salvaging expired films)
Harman Lab – San Clemente, California (specializes in black-and-white film)
Big-name drug stores like CVS and Walgreens still develop film, but the days of 1-hour photo processing are long gone. Today, both companies send film to third-party labs, with turnaround time ranging from three to five days at Walgreens and two to three weeks at CVS.
The stores charge from $10 to $15 for a 35mm roll, depending on the number of exposures. That price includes 4 x 6-inch prints and a CD with fairly small scans (a Walgreens worker told us the scans could be blown up to 4 x 6 inches). Walmart offers similar services, with prices starting at $8 for a 12-exposure roll.
It’s important to note that these stores no longer return negatives, so re-scanning your film at a higher resolution isn’t an option.
If you’re feeling especially brave, you can always develop your film at home. The process is fairly straightforward, and B&H sells a kit ($147) with everything you need to get started. If you plan on developing a lot of film, the DIY method could save you hundreds in processing fees and shipping costs over time.
Unlike when developing prints, you don’t need a darkroom to develop film. Of course, you’ll also need to buy a film scanner to digitize your prints or pay to have them professionally scanned.