Where to Develop 35mm Film: A Comprehensive Guide

Where to Develop 35mm Film: A Comprehensive Guide

There used to be film labs in every town with 35mm film developing services, but now it’s a little more difficult to know where to develop 35mm film. However, with the recent resurgence in film photography, more people are looking for 35mm film processing locations. 

Capture has been dedicated to preserving your memories for over 20 years, including photo prints. That’s why we put together this guide to 35mm photo development to ensure you can cherish your undeveloped rolls of film.

Keep reading to learn about 35mm film development, factors to consider when choosing a processing service, and some good brick and mortar and mail-in options.

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Understanding 35mm Film Development

35mm film is a small-format photo film that’s used in single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs), film cameras, rangefinders, and disposable cameras. Each spool of 35mm film usually has 36 exposures, but it could vary depending on the specific film roll. 

This type of film is one of the most popular types of film in the digital era for a few reasons. First, compared with medium format film, 35mm offers a soft resolution that brings a nostalgic slightly grainy appearance. Since we can achieve a crisp, high-resolution picture with digital photography, many film photographers adore this lower resolution aesthetic. 

Another characteristic is the ISO level. Most 35mm film comes in an ISO range of 100 to 400, which means you can choose a different type of film for different lighting and situations. In addition, there are different types of 35mm film depending on your purposes including color film, black and white film, slide film, and reversal film.

Regardless of the type of film and film camera you choose, you will need proper development to ensure a high-quality photo print.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Film Development Service

There are some important factors to consider when deciding where to develop 35mm film including their specific analog services, turnaround time, pricing considerations, and types of film they accept. 

Location and Availability

The location and availability are the first things you should consider. If you’re looking for “film developing services near me,” then you probably want a service that offers in-person locations and pick-up in your area. In addition, you want professional film developing services that are currently available.

Reputation and Customer Reviews

Assuming you want the best places to develop 35mm film and create high-quality results, make sure you check the photo lab’s reviews and reputation. Some may have fantastic reviews while others will offer similar results to developing film at home

Turnaround Time and Processing Speed

You probably don’t want to wait months to get your developed film, photo prints, color negatives, enlargements, and original roll of film, so make sure you checkout their typical 35mm film development turnaround time and processing speed. 

Pricing and Cost Considerations

Obviously you don’t want to overpay when choosing film labs for developing 35mm film, so make sure you compare 35mm film developing prices. Additionally, there may be other cost considerations like mailer or USPS costs, specialty services, and more. 

Specialized Services

Not all online or local film processing options will offer the same services. If you need something special like development for C-41 color film, e-6 slides, B&W film, or film scanner services, make sure you find out what each option offers. Additionally, check FAQs sections to see what type of film they process because some may only accept big name film makers like Fujifilm or Kodak

Top Places to Develop 35mm Film (Brick and Mortar)

These are the top in-person places where you can develop your film and depending on the location they may offer local pick-up and drop-off. 

CVS

CVS Photo still offers some film developing services including 35mm film and disposable camera development, photo prints, drop-off at any location, and APS processing of black and white film, 110, and slide film. Their price for a 35mm roll is around $15. 

They also have a turnaround time of as little as 7 to 10 days for 35mm and disposable camera film types (approximately 3 weeks for other film types). As a large company, they have a good reputation, but aren’t really a go-to among film photography enthusiasts and professionals. 

Walgreens

Walgreens Photo, like CVS, offers 35mm film development for around $15 per roll including local drop-off and pick-up. While they no longer offer one-hour photo services because they use a third-party to develop film, some locations also offer 110 and APS film development

Walgreens also offers CD services, which means they put your photos onto a CD for easy organization and digitization. While their services are a little more limited than other options, they do have a 3-5 day turnaround time and great customer service. 

Film Developing Stores in Your City and Area

There may also be film developing services in your area that you don’t want to disregard. While you’ll have to do your own Google search, you may be surprised to find a local photo lab that offers good turnaround time, convenient services, and great prices. 

You can also use Ilford Photo to locate darkrooms, photo labs, and other film services. Some places that are known for nostalgia and analog film photography, like Portland, Oregon or New York City, may have lots of locations for processing film while other areas may have few or none. However, it’s always worth a shot!

Mail-In Film Development Services

These are online and mail-in film development services, which means you can simply fill out the order form and mail your 35mm film to them yourself. Then, they’ll mail back your order including the original film, prints, and more. 

The Dark Room

The Dark Room is an online photo service that’s been around since 1976. They offer lots of film developing services including darkroom prints, photo DVD or USB copies, and professional film developing for 35mm film, 110, 120, C-41 color negatives, E-6 slides, and true black & white film.

To use their service, you’ll pay online for the services you want including no prints, color prints, or B&W photo prints, and your recommended scan size. You also have the option of paying online. Then, you can request a mailer, send your film, and they’ll process the film and mail it back when complete.

Their pricing starts at as low as $12 and they have a good turnaround time of 3 to 7 business days for most orders. As one of the longest running mail-in film processing services, they have fantastic reviews and hold a 4.7 star rating on Google. They are trusted by many professional film photographers as well. 

State Film Lab 

The State Film Lab is another good film developing option that’s been around since 2012 that offers mail-in film processing services. Whether you have Fuji 35mm film or APS, 110, 126, E-6 slide film, or many other types, they offer the necessary services. 

Their pricing starts at $20 and they offer film scanning to JPEG and TIFF format as well. You can film out their online order form, pay online, and then mail it in (similar to Dark Room). They will update you on your order via email. 

Their turnaround time is not as fast as some options at 8 to 15 business days, but they have a fantastic reputation in the film photography community. That’s why they have a 5 star rating on Google with 22 great reviews.  

Richard Photo Lab 

Richard Photo Lab is another online film developing service that accepts C-41 film, B&W film, and slide film as well as disposable cameras, 35mm film, 120 film, 220 film, 4x5 film, and 8x10 film. They also offer photo prints and digital film scanner services. 

To use their service, simply order and pay online with their easy online order form and add any special instructions for your order. Then, print out a copy of your invoice and put it in a plastic bag along with your film, and mail it to them. They will email you when your film arrives at their film lab

They have a turnaround time that changes depending on the day and their schedule, but it is often listed at 3.5 business days or 5 business days. They have a 4 star rating on Yelp and a 4.4 star rating on Facebook as well as a growing reputation in the online photography community. 

Tips for a Successful Film Development Experience

Now that you know where to develop 35mm film, you need to ensure a safe and successful experience for you and your photos. Here are a few film developing tips and techniques in addition to choosing the best color or black and white film developing services. 

First, make sure you properly prepare and package your rolls of film. While different companies have slightly different instructions, you need to make sure you put them in a zip lock bag and seal them carefully. Additionally, it’s a good idea to print special instructions, names, and addresses to include with the shipment as well as a clear return address. 

Second, make sure you tell the lab what you want. They offer special instruction sections so you can add in any preferences. While this may not be something that all photo labs offer, the most professional ones will be willing to do their best to ensure your film turns out exactly how you want. 

Finally, if you want to keep your own film negatives, let them know. Not all film labs will send back your negatives, but most will (especially the film labs that we recommended). Keeping these ensures your memories are not lost forever and you can even send negatives to Capture to digitize them! 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of options if you want to know, “Where can I develop 35mm film?” You can try local stores like CVS, Walgreens, or photo labs in your area or use a highly rated online mail-in developing service like the Dark Room or State Film Lab. Just make sure you check services, reviews, pricing, turnaround time, and other FAQs before deciding on the best option for where to develop 35mm film. 

If you want to digitize your photos and negatives to preserve them forever, you can also choose Capture. We’ll digitize your photos, albums, and negatives to ensure future generations can share and enjoy them. Click here to learn more. 

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