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Camera Basics

TOMMY WILLIAMS / L’Observateur / November 9, 1998

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. Since we’ve noplace to go. Lot it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Well not exactly, but we aregetting very close to the busiest picture taking time of the year. More film isprocessed between the last week of November and the first two weeks of January than any other time of the year.

In our immediate area there are three mini labs that offer one-hour photo processing services, namely Eckerd, Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie. Which lab has thehighest processing quality? Which lab has the best prices on photo processing and film? Which lab gets the film ready on time (in an hour)? These are all very important questions that are going to be addressed and answered by putting them to the test.

When I worked for Eckerd Express Photo, a common practice by the corporate main office was to have an anonymous shopper bring in a test roll of film to help better maintain lab consistency and test for lab processing quality. Aperfect model for honest results.

First, I will have an anonymous individual (relative of course) bring a roll of film to each of the three mini labs and have them only develop the negatives.

Each lab will be receive a rating from one to four depending on their quality control. We are looking for negatives that are scratch free, properly cut andhave no visible chemical residue present. Quality negative processing is thefoundation for producing superior prints.

Secondly, the set of negatives that receive the highest rating will be brought back to the labs for printing. Each different lab will make the prints from thesame set of negatives. The prints will then be check for quality control. Here,we are looking for photos printed with the proper density, accurate color retention, no dust spots and free from finger prints or chemical residue. Theprints will also receive a rating from one to four for quality.

As a photographer, I know how costly processing can be, not only financially but emotionally. I say emotionally because it’s very discouraging when a individualmakes a solid effort to take great photos, just to end up having a lab either damage the film or produce less than adequate prints. So look for the testresults in the coming articles. It just might insure that your holiday photosappear delightful instead of frightful.

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