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07-16-2013, 05:55 AM   #1
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new to film SLR - processing questions

Hi folks,

I am expecting a Pentax MX to arrive from KEH tomorrow. I'm very excited, though a bit nervous. I feel pretty comfortable with my DSLR but have never used a film SLR and in fact haven't even used any sort of film camera for probably 10 years or more. So, I have a few newb questions I am hoping you can help with.

I am not sure what to do when it comes to processing my film. I have no intentions of building my own darkroom, so I will be taking the film to a local lab, at least that's my intention. There is a fairly well regarded lab in Charlottesville, VA called Pro Camera.

My inclination is that I probably shouldn't get prints but get the photos scanned electronically. Is this what most folks do with film these days? My thinking is, especially in the beginning, it might be a waste to have photos printed since I don't know what I'm doing and may end up with a bunch of horribly exposed and out of focus shots! Plus, I need to check the camera out and that first roll may be wasted if there are problems with the camera. If I do get any keepers I would likely share them on line. I rarely get prints anyway unless it's something I really love.

So, that being the case, what sort of resolution of scans should I expect from film? I see Pro Camera offers an option for "professional quality" scans to CD at the size 4184 x 6415. Does this sound right? I always pictured film as having more "resolution" than that.

My other question is regarding film processing. The lab offers film processing with no prints or scans. So, forgive my ignorance, but what exactly do you receive if you choose this option?

Are there any other things I need to be aware of when I take my first roll of film in? Thanks so much for your patience with my newbie questions. I look forward to joining your ranks very soon!

07-16-2013, 06:09 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
Hi folks,

I am expecting a Pentax MX to arrive from KEH tomorrow. I'm very excited, though a bit nervous. I feel pretty comfortable with my DSLR but have never used a film SLR and in fact haven't even used any sort of film camera for probably 10 years or more. So, I have a few newb questions I am hoping you can help with.

I am not sure what to do when it comes to processing my film. I have no intentions of building my own darkroom, so I will be taking the film to a local lab, at least that's my intention. There is a fairly well regarded lab in Charlottesville, VA called Pro Camera.

My inclination is that I probably shouldn't get prints but get the photos scanned electronically. Is this what most folks do with film these days? My thinking is, especially in the beginning, it might be a waste to have photos printed since I don't know what I'm doing and may end up with a bunch of horribly exposed and out of focus shots! Plus, I need to check the camera out and that first roll may be wasted if there are problems with the camera. If I do get any keepers I would likely share them on line. I rarely get prints anyway unless it's something I really love.

So, that being the case, what sort of resolution of scans should I expect from film? I see Pro Camera offers an option for "professional quality" scans to CD at the size 4184 x 6415. Does this sound right? I always pictured film as having more "resolution" than that.

My other question is regarding film processing. The lab offers film processing with no prints or scans. So, forgive my ignorance, but what exactly do you receive if you choose this option?

Are there any other things I need to be aware of when I take my first roll of film in? Thanks so much for your patience with my newbie questions. I look forward to joining your ranks very soon!
Welcome to the film section!

I would skip the prints and just get medium resolution (around 8MB tif files) scans from your lab at the time of processing.

If you only get processing done, you will just get back a sheet of negatives/positives. For slides you would get processing/mounting done, so your slides are mounted. (For medium format 120 film most labs will not mount the slides)

I would get your MX CLAed after you run a roll through it, we use Eric for this services. The seals probably need replacing and Eric can recalibrate the meter when he does the CLA.

Eric's website: Home

Enjoy!

Phil.
07-16-2013, 06:13 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Welcome to the film section!

I would skip the prints and just get medium resolution (around 8MB tif files) scans from your lab at the time of processing.

If you only get processing done, you will just get back a sheet of negatives/positives. For slides you would get processing/mounting done, so your slides are mounted. (For medium format 120 film most labs will not mount the slides)

I would get your MX CLAed after you run a roll through it, we use Eric for this services. The seals probably need replacing and Eric can recalibrate the meter when he does the CLA.

Eric's website: Home

Enjoy!

Phil.
Thanks so much for the quick response and great info, Phil! I have definitely considered Eric for a CLA. Hopefully, I enjoy the film experience and if so I will definitely check that out!

Your post raises another question for me. You suggested getting medium resolution scans. What if I wanted higher resolution later? Is that possible or do you have to get that at the time of original processing? Do the scans come from the negatives? Sorry, I know this must sound like a dumb question!

Thanks!
07-16-2013, 06:54 AM   #4
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Good Morning Loco,
I have an MX too and it a great camera.

Here are some standard scans produced by a developing shop ( jpgs directly off their disk and unprocessed any further)
So you can see the resolution and typical color balance etc The film is Fuji C41 iso 400
A test card
https://app.box.com/s/l3wijhxbse41rztoruf2

A street shot with some bright colors and a wide range of bright and dark.
https://app.box.com/s/9t0giwtv46ogcrnd2wfi

07-16-2013, 07:01 AM   #5
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Thanks wombat! Those are very helpful. What was the pixel size of the original scan, if you don't mind? They look good. Love the street shot!
07-16-2013, 07:34 AM - 1 Like   #6
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You are welcome, Loco
Yes, we get no exif from those Pentax MX's ! -, so if you open the jpgs in an editor, (I use Gimp) the pixel dimensions should be shown.
Those shop scans, as standard, were about 1800 by 1200 pixels which is quite adequate I think
07-16-2013, 07:35 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
Your post raises another question for me. You suggested getting medium resolution scans. What if I wanted higher resolution later? Is that possible or do you have to get that at the time of original processing? Do the scans come from the negatives? Sorry, I know this must sound like a dumb question!
Yep you can get scans done in any size/resolution that you want. You can get scans done anytime, they are just cheaper when done at the time of processing. You will need to bring in the negatives if you want them done later, it's the same as if you wanted a print done.

Phil.
07-16-2013, 07:44 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I have had excellent results from this place:

Film Developing at The Darkroom | Develop Film by Mail for $10

07-16-2013, 08:05 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Congrats on the MX Lori! As others have said, run a test roll of film to see if new seals or a CLA is in order. I would opt for scans instead of prints, and have gotten good results from Dwayne's Photo in Kansas. A trusted name in photo processing for over 50 years - Dwayne's Photo Your local shop might save you shipping costs, too. If you really get bitten by the film bug, you might consider scanning your own negatives. The cost of processing (negatives only - no scans or prints) is pretty cheap for C-41 film. Then you could purchase a relatively inexpensive negative/slide scanner, such as the Epson V500, and scan your own. Have fun!
07-16-2013, 08:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
You are welcome, Loco
Yes, we get no exif from those Pentax MX's ! -, so if you open the jpgs in an editor, (I use Gimp) the pixel dimensions should be shown.
Those shop scans, as standard, were about 1800 by 1200 pixels which is quite adequate I think
Thanks so much! Then the "pro quality" scan they are offering might be overkill.

QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Yep you can get scans done in any size/resolution that you want. You can get scans done anytime, they are just cheaper when done at the time of processing. You will need to bring in the negatives if you want them done later, it's the same as if you wanted a print done.

Phil.
Thank you, Phil. That's very helpful!

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I have had excellent results from this place:

Film Developing at The Darkroom | Develop Film by Mail for $10
Thanks, I'll look into them!

As always, I really appreciate all the helpful and fast feedback.
07-16-2013, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I've also recently been bit by the film bug. If you are shooting B&W and enjoy doing things yourself, the investment of a change bag, developing tank and developing chemicals quickly pays for itself in processing costs (break even around 10-15 rolls of film). Scanning can be done with you DSLR and processed in lightroom easily and quickly.

I've also tried developing color neg's. I found the developing process pretty easy, but the home scanning has proven to be challenging and I have not managed to get the colour balance right yet.

Just thought I'd throw that out there - I don't have any expereice with other than my local film processor otherwise. For Canadians, I had some very valuable information from the fellow at www.e6it.ca and while I have not used him for processing, he seems to offer a reasonably affordable service.
07-16-2013, 09:01 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gareth.Ig Quote
For Canadians, I had some very valuable information from the fellow at e6it and while I have not used him for processing, he seems to offer a reasonably affordable service.
I like his opinion on digitally archiving film, I could not have written it any better! Hes also a slide guy so another plus.
Thanks, Phil.
07-16-2013, 09:30 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
Congrats on the MX Lori! As others have said, run a test roll of film to see if new seals or a CLA is in order. I would opt for scans instead of prints, and have gotten good results from Dwayne's Photo in Kansas. A trusted name in photo processing for over 50 years - Dwayne's Photo Your local shop might save you shipping costs, too. If you really get bitten by the film bug, you might consider scanning your own negatives. The cost of processing (negatives only - no scans or prints) is pretty cheap for C-41 film. Then you could purchase a relatively inexpensive negative/slide scanner, such as the Epson V500, and scan your own. Have fun!
Sorry, missed your post initially, Paul. Thanks! I appreciate the info and recommendation! We'll see about self-processing! I would have to get pretty into it for all that. This is all really just a grand experiment. I figured what cheaper way to get a full frame camera?
07-16-2013, 10:02 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I am expecting a Pentax MX to arrive from KEH tomorrow. I'm very excited, though a bit nervous. I feel pretty comfortable with my DSLR but have never used a film SLR...
The MX is a great camera, probably my favorite of all the K-mount film cameras, although there are other Pentax film cameras closely behind my MX ranking.

QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I am not sure what to do when it comes to processing my film. I have no intentions of building my own darkroom, so I will be taking the film to a local lab, at least that's my intention. There is a fairly well regarded lab in Charlottesville, VA called Pro Camera.

My inclination is that I probably shouldn't get prints but get the photos scanned electronically. Is this what most folks do with film these days? If I do get any keepers I would likely share them on line. I rarely get prints anyway unless it's something I really love.
There's still quite a few options. For most of my film I just drop it off at my local Walgreen's. I have a commercial account there and it's about $5 a roll for processing and scanning to a CD. I don't get prints. Many places like Walgreen's or CVS have a photo lab in their stores. A resolution of 1200 x 1800 should be just fine for online needs. There's no way you need more resolution unless you're printing large images. Yes, it would be overkill to get the pro scanning on test rolls and "just-for-fun" shooting.

QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
My other question is regarding film processing. The lab offers film processing with no prints or scans. So, forgive my ignorance, but what exactly do you receive if you choose this option?
You recieve just your processed negatives back.

QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
You suggested getting medium resolution scans. What if I wanted higher resolution later? Is that possible or do you have to get that at the time of original processing? Do the scans come from the negatives? Sorry, I know this must sound like a dumb question!
It's not a dumb question at all, especially for a beginner in film. I'll take my film to pro labs if the photos are for customers instead of my own, just-for-fun shooting. If you really like a low- or medium-resolution scan and you want it printed or scanned into a higher-resolution image, just take your negatives into a lab and they'll take care of you. Typically high-resolution film scans aren't cheap though, so if you're planning on doing this a lot, it may be cheaper to buy your own scanner.

Lastly, have fun. Film is much more enjoyable than digital for me. Post questions here when you have them. We're happy to help.
07-16-2013, 10:14 AM   #15
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Thanks, builttospill! That's a very helpful response! I think I'm getting this now. Can't wait for the camera to arrive and try it out!
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