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Boots film processing

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by Matt_Hunt, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. Matt_Hunt

    Matt_Hunt Well-Known Member

    Hi I've just picked up three rolls of 200 ISO Fuji film developed at boots.

    I shot them at an airshow, using for airborne shots EV of +0.5 to +1.0. Quite a few of the pictures are very pale in colour. In this the film or becuase Boots have automatically brightened everything?

    As soon as I've scanned some negs I'll post pics buy right now I am wondering if this Boots being useless?


  2. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    My experience with Boots is that they are excellent, both for film and digital. If you are not happy with your results, first look at the negatives to see whether they appear overexposed (darker than normal), if they seem Ok, ask Boots to reprint them, explaining your problem.
  3. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    I would echo Roys comments above.

    However, assuming for the moment that your films are correctly exposed and developed, I would suspect that this problem is related to the use of automated film processors in general, rather than Boots themselves. In other words, you would probably have suffered similar problems at any other high street processor.

    The difficulty is that these machines are set up for 'normal' consumer photographs, and do not always cope well with 'difficult' lighting or colour balance.

    I know this only too well, as I take a large number of 'technical' photographs in my work, and find that automated systems often struggle when scanning the resultant negs, no matter how well exposed they are. Similarly, camera metering systems can also struggle in difficult lighting situations, although the exposure latitude of modern colour negative films is usually more than adequate to compensate for the resultant exposure errors.

    A dedicated film scanner (such as those in the Nikon or Minolta range) will usually produce better results from 'difficult' negs than high street labs, but it is not always as easy as it looks, and you need to be prepared to spend time if you want to get it right.

    I would suggest that you take your negs back to Boots, as they are usually very happy to re-print unsatisfactory images, with adjustments if necessary: although I don’t know how much control the operators have over the final output.

    If that fails (and you are sure your negs are OK), I would suggest trying a professional lab, where the operators will have much greater control over the output. Alternatively, perhaps you know someone with a good film scanner .........


  4. jps

    jps Active Member

    I haven't ever had film processed at Boots, but have noticed recently that their cameras are hugely overpriced. I saw a Nikon F55 on sale recently for somewhere approaching what you could pick up a budget DSLR for if you shopped around.

    As for the original query, it could be the auto-correct settings that most high street printers have in operation. I went to Jessops last week wanting one digital print, & asked if they could do it with the auto-correct turned off. To be fair, the service was great - they did the print there & then for me, but also told me that, had auto-correct been on, I would have had different results depending on which of the shop's machines I used. They also said I'd get slightly different results depending on the time of day I went in (due to when the Fuji Frontier machine is calibrated). The print I was getting was high contrast, with a very dark background, & after printing the correct version the assistant brought up on the computer what I would have received had the auto settings been applied - the results were very different, with the dark areas "corrected".

    Still, in your case, if the machines had "corrected" for large expanses of sky then I'd expect the print to look darker than it should, not washed out...

  5. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    I would agree in principle, but in my experience, if these machines do not have an expanse of yellow sand or green grass as a datum point, almost anything is possible. Likewise, you will note that skies must always be deep blue, and flesh tones always tanned!

    More seriously, the point I am making here is that the minilabs don't just "auto-adjust" brightness, contrast, and colour balance, they can also identify and remove red-eye, and will "auto-enhance" certain colours as the computer sees fit. Most of the time this works very well, but it can also produce dire results.

    Unfortunately, the minilab operators seem to have little control over this process, as these machines process literally thousands of images every day, and operator input is usually limited to checking the thumbnails on screen before committing them to print.

    Clearly this system cannot match traditional hand printing (or experienced manual scanning) for sheer quality, but it does give the average consumer what they want most of the time for a reasonable price.


  6. Matt_Hunt

    Matt_Hunt Well-Known Member

    OK, thanks for the comments, I've picked out a few where the sky and grass are off colour, in one image the grass looks like a leprechaun has been sqaushed across it, a very virulent green, and I'll take those back to Boots as examples and see abotu reprints.

    I'll also scan some images on my scanner and see what happens. I tried this morning and it came out black? I could just see the image but itlooked like it was about midnight. Scan Elite 5400, Fuji 200 ISO colour neg selected. Any ideas please?
  7. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Just lately I've been having my prints come back from Boots with a distinct blue cast, this is generally mostly only noticeable in the shadows but occasionally it means blues skies come out a rather unreal shade...
  8. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    Hi Matt,
    What do your negs look like? If they are very 'thin' (or ‘thick’) you will have great difficulty in extracting a useful image from them.

    However, assuming for the moment that your negs are OK, it sounds as if your scanner may be having the same problems as the minilab.

    I sometimes use a Minolta 5400 Mk II scanner which is not identical to yours, but I'm sure the software is very similar.

    Firstly, I would try turning off ROC (Restore Old Colour) and Pixel Polish if you have these in your software, as they will attempt to "correct" the colours, and may be causing the problems that you describe. You may also want to turn off the "Auto Expose for Negatives" option on the main Preferences page, but I would try leaving it on to begin with.

    Once you have selected an image to adjust, click on the Image Correction tab. From there you can try using the Brightness Contrast and Colour Balance settings, and the Hue and Saturation settings to see which gives the best results. The “Auto” buttons in these tabs may work for you, but you'll probably get better results from manual adjustment.

    Better still, you could try using the Histogram and Levels control, which allows you to set white, grey and black levels with eye droppers. However, this could be difficult if you don’t have any suitable white grey or black reference points in your photographs!

    Another option would be to use a known good photograph (preferably on the same film) as a reference, and to save your settings from this.

    Once you have succeeded in producing a satisfactory image, you can save your settings as an "Image Correction job", from which you can scan your other negatives.

    Finally, scan your negs to TIFF files, so you can make any final adjustments in Photoshop.

    Let us know how you get on.


  9. Matt_Hunt

    Matt_Hunt Well-Known Member


    I'll try to get that done some point tonight or tomorrow and then I'll post back.

  10. mimi497

    mimi497 New Member

    forget boots, send your films to Club 35 in Ealing
  11. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

  12. robc

    robc Well-Known Member

    Personally I wouldnt take a film to Boots even if they were paying me!

    They are the pond-life of the developing world with ropey old kit and button-monkies who do the development.

    If you have to go high-street for the prices at least try Snappy-Snaps - in every one I have been to the staff are photographers and genuinely care about your pics.
  13. geehippy

    geehippy Active Member

    Just thought I'd share my recent experiance with boots photo developers. I thought I'd give them a go because I was only having a test roll developed after replacing the light seals on my trusty AE1.Overall the prints weren't to bad but there were drying marks on some of the negatives.The colour balance of the prints appeared to be fine.
    BUT while I was waiting for them to find my prints I watched one of the girls putting negatives onto a drying rack.She didn't wear gloves of any sort and was holding the negs between thumb and forefinger right in the middle of the strip.Not by the edges but right in the middle of the images.
    I normally use asda where they don't flaunt there mishandling right under your nose.
  14. Matt_Hunt

    Matt_Hunt Well-Known Member


    I used to use Snappy Snaps - they had a branch right around the corner in Broadgate and the man there was brilliant. Whever he is now I wish I knew. Sadly the shop has just closed and I am trying to find the next alternative...which seems not to be Boots. :(
  15. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    Hi Nigel,
    Are these always from the same store?

    From Negs or Digital?

    I believe the chemistry in these machines is checked at least once daily using test strips, but calibration of the scanning and printing side of things seems less well ordered.

    I suspect much of the problem stems from the woefully inadequate CRT monitors used to check the images before printing, which in my view are far too small to view any photograph properly, and I doubt are colour calibrated. (I certainly would be happy using one to edit my photographs).

    I don’t make a habit of using high street processors, but I collected some prints from Boots recently, all of which had a noticeable magenta cast. When I commented on this, the operator called up my pictures from the file server, and checked them on screen. They looked OK, but a re-print gave the same result. The lady said she was not too familiar with the machine, and phoned someone for advice.

    After some button pushing, the results were much improved, but I did notice that other customers prints had a similar cast.

    I solved my problem, but I wonder how many people have ditched perfectly good film cameras because of the mediocre results from minilabs?
  16. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Loads, I'm sure. Loads and loads. For many, the quality of prints they're actually getting from digicams is much better than the awful results they got from film not because of the ultimate ability of each medium, but because of the impact of the lab.
  17. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    I suppose at least Digicams provide the added benefit that the worst photos get deleted at source, which isn't an option with film.

    But for me it still begs the question: is the poor quality provided by many minilabs just a consequence of their design and poor management, or is there a cynical conspiracy within the industry to let standards drop, to get us all onto the digital conveyor belt? After all, how many of today’s digicams will still be in use in twenty, thirty of fifty years time?

    Certainly from what I have seen, there is no reluctance on the part of photo store staff to recommend new digital cameras to anyone who is disappointed with their prints, even though their disappointment has nothing to do with their chosen medium.


  18. Mojo_66

    Mojo_66 Well-Known Member

    It seems to be getting harder and harder to find a decent hight street lab. I tried to drop a film off at Max Spielman's today to be told it wouldn't be ready until next Monday and would cost £7.49. Last week I took a slide film to another high street processor to be told it would take just over 2 weeks. And that was the third one I tried. The others looked at my Velvia like it was something out of the Ark. All the time I was on this futile exercise the lower price and fast turn around times of mail order labs was going through my head. The only thing that put me off sending one film mail order like I used to was the fact that now postage is £1. Might have to wait until I get a few to process before sending them.
  19. aec

    aec Well-Known Member

    I use Boots in Solihull every now and again for D&P, but instantly ditch the prints. In my experience, the developing part is essentially automated and idiot-proof, but the printing is almost always awful - bad print colours, edges chopped (sometimes badly). I used to think it was 100% my fault, but I'm reasonably confident to use them for the developing bit and then scan the negs myself and things then seem OK.

    I've tried taking the prints back to be re-done, but seems to make no difference; always crap. Home scanning, that's the future ;)
  20. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    There are still some good labs around, but they are getting fewer all the time - especially if like me you use 120 roll film.

    For C41 I sometimes use RGB labs in Middlesboro, who will process a 120 or 135 film for £3.00. They'll also do proper 16 x 20 inch photographic prints for about a fiver from either film or file, and for a small additional fee will even adjust images in Photoshop - which isn’t something you'll find in many high street stores!

    For occasionl E6 processing I use Pyramid imaging in Edinburgh whom I also find excellent. I think I paid £7 each for processing rolls of Velvia including postage.

    Professional labs are fine for occasional use, and when you can't afford to get it wrong, but they can get expensive if you use a lot of film.

    In view of the cost and hassle of getting the film to and from a lab, I do nearly all of my own processing nowadays using Tetenal kits - it really is very easy once you have the routine sorted.

    C41 is a doddle using the Tetenal two bath kit, and produces results at least as good as the high street. It is also very quick (3 mins 15 seconds dev and 6 mins bleach fix plus washing etc), so its quicker than driving into town, or putting the film into the post.

    E6 is a three bath process which is slightly more demanding and takes a little longer, but is straightforward once you have done it a few times. The most important aspect of both processes is timing, temperature and thorough washing.

    In terms of cost, I think I paid about £37 for five litre Tetenal kits from Morco in Mansfield ( www.morco.uk.com ). Five litres will process up to sixty C41 or E6 films, although in practice I probably get about half that number. Still, £1 a roll isn’t bad, especially when you can do it in the convenience of your own kitchen!

    I tend to keep my exposed films in the fridge until I have enough to process. Having just come back from holiday, I had about fifteen rolls of C41 and ten rolls of Velvia to process, including some of my sons. I also processed my in-laws holiday films whilst they were visiting yesterday. (Gave me a chance to escape to the kitchen!)

    You will of course need a changing bag, a processing tank and thermometers, but with a one litre Patterson tank, you can easily process three 35 mm films at a time.

    If you wanted to give it a try I’m sure you will find plenty of help in the forum.



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