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Film Processing in London: A Guide for Film Enthusiasts


Photograph of a man holding up a strip of 35mm black and white film to the light to inspect it.
Photo by Annushka Ahuja | Pexels

If you love shooting film, you might be wondering where to get your precious rolls developed and scanned in London. Whether you shoot 35mm, medium format, or even large format, there are several options to choose from, depending on your budget, preferences, and expectations. In this article, we will review some of the best film labs in London and compare their services, prices, turnaround times, and quality of work. We will also give you some tips on how to process film at home or by post, if you want to try something different.

 

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Why Use a London Film Lab to Process your Film

If you live in London or nearby, you might be wondering why you should use a local film lab to process your film instead of sending it by post or doing it yourself at home. Here are some reasons why using a London film lab can be beneficial for you:

  • You can save time and money on shipping fees and avoid the risk of losing or damaging your film during transit.

  • You can have faster access to your images and enjoy the excitement of seeing them sooner.

  • You can establish a personal relationship with the lab staff and communicate your preferences and expectations more effectively.

  • You can support the local economy and the film photography community in London.

  • You can take advantage of the variety and quality of services offered by some of the best film labs in the country.

  • You can learn from the experience and expertise of the lab staff and improve your skills and knowledge as a film photographer.

Using a London film lab to process your film can be a rewarding and satisfying experience that enhances your enjoyment of film photography. However, it also depends on your personal preferences, budget, expectations, and availability. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

 

Processing Film at Home

Processing your own film at home might sound intimidating at first, but it is actually quite easy and rewarding once you get the hang of it. All you need are some basic equipment and chemicals that you can buy online or from a local photo store. You will also need a darkroom or a changing bag to load your film into a developing tank without exposing it to light.


The process of developing your film depends on the type of film you are using: C-41 colour negative, B&W negative, or E-6 colour positive. Each type requires different chemicals and temperatures to achieve the desired results. However, the general steps for C-41 and B&W negative are broadly the same: develop, stop (B&W)/bleach (C-41), fix, wash, hang to dry. E-6 has a few more steps but is easy enough if you're familiar with C-41 or B&W development. Read more about developing your film at home.

 

Traia Photolab

Traia Photolab is a relatively new lab that opened in 2020 in South-East London. It is run by two passionate photography graduates who offer affordable and high-quality services for C-41 colour negative and B&W film processing and scanning. They also offer 6x4, 6x6 and 6x8 printing services. You can choose from the Fuji Frontier SP-3000 or Noritsu HS-1800 scanner for your scans. They offer three scan sizes: low-, mid- and high-res as well as a TIFF option. You can drop off your film at their studio or send it by post. Their turnaround time is usually 4-5 working days for C-41 and 7-10 working days for B&W film. Their prices start from £8 for C-41 processing and small scans and £9 for B&W processing and small scans. Have a look at the full price list.


Traia Photolab is a great option for film photographers who want to support a small and independent business that cares about quality and customer service. They have a friendly and helpful team that is always ready to answer your questions and accommodate your requests. They also have a loyal customer base that praises their work on social media and online reviews.


Bayeux

Bayeux is one of the most established and reputable film labs in London, with over 25 years of experience in the industry. It is located in the heart of Fitzrovia, near Oxford Street. It offers a wide range of services for professional and amateur photographers, including C-41 colour negative, B&W, and E-6 colour positive film processing and scanning, as well as printing, mounting, framing, retouching, restoration, archiving, exhibition production, and more. They offer low-res JPEG and high-res TIFF scans using a Noritsu HS-1800 scanner. They also offer customised scans with your preferred contrast, saturation, cropping, dust removal, sharpening, etc. You can drop off your film at their studio in central London. Their turnaround time is usually 2 working days for C-41 processing and standard scans, 3 working days for B&W processing and standard scans, 5 working days for E-6 processing and standard scans, and longer for premium or ultra scans or other services. Their prices start from £25 for C-41 processing and low-res scans, and £27.50 for B&W or E-6 processing and low-res scans. You can check their full price list here.


Bayeux is a perfect choice for film photographers who want to get the best possible results from their film and are willing to pay a premium price for it. They have a highly skilled and experienced team that can handle any type of project or request. They also have a prestigious clientele that includes some of the most renowned photographers and institutions in the world.


Aperture

Aperture is another well-known and respected film lab in London, with over 20 years of experience in the field. It is located in Bloomsbury, near Russell Square. It offers C-41 colour negative, B&W, and E-6 colour positive film processing and scanning, as well as printing, mounting, framing, and more. You can drop off your film at their shop or send it by post. Their turnaround time is currently two weeks per their website. Their prices start from £13 for C-41 processing and standard scans, £17 for B&W processing and standard scans, and £19 for E-6 processing and standard scans. The full price list can be viewed on their website.


Aperture is a good option for film photographers who want to get reliable and consistent results from their film and are looking for a convenient and central location. They have a professional and friendly team that can handle any type of film or request. They also have a well-stocked shop that sells film, cameras, accessories, books, and magazines.


Metro Imaging

Metro Imaging is a well established lab that has been processing film for over 30 years in Clerkenwell in the City of London. It is run by a dynamic team that aims to provide fast and affordable services for C-41 colour negative, E-6 colour positive and B&W film processing and scanning. You can drop off your film at their studio or send it by post. Their prices start from £12 for C-41 processing, and £14.50 for B&W and E-6 processing, or £28.50 for C-41, E-6 and B&W process and JPEG scans. You can check their full price list here.


Metro Imaging is a great option for film photographers who want to get their film processed and scanned quickly and cheaply without compromising on quality. They have a fresh and creative team that is always up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the industry. They also have a vibrant and colourful studio that hosts events, workshops, exhibitions, and parties.

 

Processing Film by Post

If you don't have a local film lab near you, or you want to try a different lab that is not in your area, you can always send your film by post. There are many online film labs that offer mail-in services for C-41 colour negative, B&W, and E-6 colour positive film processing and scanning, as well as printing, mounting, framing, etc. Some of them even provide prepaid envelopes or labels for you to ship your film to them. Here are two examples of online film labs that operate in the UK:

  • Exposure Film Lab: Exposure Film Lab is an online film lab that specialises in C-41 and B&W colour negative film processing and scanning. They use either a Fuji Frontier SP-3000 or Noritsu HS-1800 scanner for colour film. They offer two scan sizes: medium (3130x2075px), and large (6774x4492px), and you can receive the output in JPEG, or TIFF at no additional cost. They also offer customised scans with your preferred contrast, saturation, cropping, etc. You can order their services online and send your film by post. They provide free return shipping for orders over £25, otherwise return postage starts from £2.50. Their turnaround time is usually 5 working days for both C-41 and E-6 processing and scans. Their prices start from £11 for C-41 processing and medium scans and £14 for B&W processing and medium scans. You can check their full price list here.

  • Brighton Film Lab: Brighton Film Lab is an online film lab that offers C-41 colour negative, B&W, and E-6 colour positive film processing and scanning, as well as printing, mounting, framing, etc. They use a Fuji Frontier SP-3000 scanner for all scans. They offer two scan sizes: medium res (2728x3637px for 35mm), and high res (3649x5444px for 35mm). You can order their services online and send your film by post. They provide free return shipping for orders over £30. Their turnaround time is usually 3 working days from receipt, though at busy times they will let you know if it will take longer. Their prices start from £13 for C-41 or B&W processing and standard scans, and £21 for E-6 processing and standard scans, and return postage starts from £2.50. Their full price list is available on their website.

Processing film by post is a convenient and flexible option for film photographers who want to access a wider range of labs and services without leaving their home. However, it also involves some risks and drawbacks, such as the possibility of losing or damaging your film during transit, the extra cost of shipping fees, the longer waiting time for receiving your images, and the lack of personal communication with the lab staff.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many film labs in London that cater to different needs and preferences of film photographers. In this article we've only looked at a handful - there are many more out there to try. Whether you are looking for speed, quality, affordability, or convenience, you can find a lab that suits you best. However, if you want to save some money or have more control over your results, you might want to consider processing your film at home.

 

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I find Michaels guides on film photography very useful and written in an easy to understand format, especialy good for Newbies to film photography and as a refresher to the more experienced photographer coming back to film

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