Walgreens To Stop In-Store Film Services: Why It Sucks and What Your Options Are Now.

It's a sad state of affairs for analog photographers these days.

Walgreens, which has continued to provide in-store photo-developing services for 35mm film rolls long after most others have discontinued the practice, recently decided to switch to a send-out service for all of its processing services at all stores. Come August, every store in the region will halt in-house photo services completely.

Save for a precious few exceptions, other national chains have been moving in this direction for a while now. Most have discontinued their processing services altogether — including, even, the send-out option, which Walgreens will keep.

For Walgreens, the move is mostly a new one. Though the earliest instances of Walgreens doing away with an in-store film minilabs began in March 2013, most stores around North Texas only began switching to all-digital, out-of-house processing services within the past year.

It’s more than just longer waits — four days, says Walgreen's media specialist Emily Hartwig – on send-out photo development services. With the changeover in service, customers that send their 35mm rolls off to be developed will no longer get their negatives back, either, just prints and/or discs with images uploaded onto them.

Even Walgreens employees are annoyed at that one: “What's the point of shooting film if you don't even get your negatives?” asks one Walgreens employee, who only spoke with us on the condition of anonymity. “My negatives are like my babies.”

Babies that are often mistreated: Scanning errors are inevitable part of the scanning process; without negatives, half-frame or scan-line mistakes are permanent and can't be corrected by later printings.

So why no returns on negatives? Walgreens declined to comment. Our best guess is that it saves some hassle and maybe some shipping costs.

Either way, these are bleak times coming up for analog photographers.

The format, however, is not dead just yet. While the days of the one-hour photo developing may be gone, film itself appears here to stay for years to come as instant photography continues its resurgence and as brands such as Lomography, CineStill, Revolog, and, soon, Ferrania, continue to make new products for film photographers.

As the times change, here are some things to keep in mind.

You’re not quite out of time to get your film developed in-house at some Walgreens locations in North Texas. We can't give you a final date for when all area stores stop offering in-store developing, no. And we did not check every store in North Texas, so you should still check with your local Walgreens to see if they still develop film in-store and for how much longer. But, for some bearing, here are four of the few remaining in-house 35mm film-developing stores and their approximate stopping dates.

• 4001 FM 2181, Irving. (May 12.)
• 2774 E Eldorado Pkwy, Little Elm. (July.)
• 541 Trophy Lake Dr., Trophy Club. (End of July/early August.)
• 3723 W Northwest Hwy, Dallas. (End of August.)

If you’re going to keep shipping your photos off to development with either Walgreens or Walmart, there are some things to keep in mind. Each chain has its pluses and minuses, and there are some key differences between each chain's offerings.

• Walmart.
Pros: It's cheaper than Walgreens, and you can get other film formats (rather than just 35mm film) that call for C-41 processing.
Cons: No wet chemicals are used for printing, so you get lower-quality prints than you would with wet photo printing, should you choose to buy prints.

• Walgreens.
Pros: They utilize wet photo printing, resulting in higher-quality prints.
Cons: Walgreens is more expensive than Walmart, they force you to buy prints and they will only process 35mm negatives.

Your last — and probably best – real option is to use one of the several independent photo labs around that can fulfill your film development needs. Mass development may be dying, but independent developers live on. Here are a few to consider.

• Photographique.
Address: 3111 Canton St #100, Dallas, TX 75226.
Phone: (214) 999-1120.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., M-F.
Formats processed: 35mm, 120/medium format, 220, push/pull/strip and 4×5.
Processes available: C-41, black and white, and cross-processing (a.k.a. developing slide film — which calls for E-6 processing — using C-41 chemicals and thus resulting in color differences such as more saturation and different tones).
Prices: See here.
Lead time: Usually next day.
What makes it special: This is the only lab that will cross-process slide film for you, and they will hand process for an additional charge.

• The Color Lab.
Address: 4442 Lawnview Ave, Dallas, TX 75227.
Phone: (214) 381-2105.
Hours: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., M-F.
Formats processed: 35mm, 120/medium format, 220, 4×5 and 8×10 (only available for B&W).
Processes available: C-41 and black and white.
Prices: See here.
Lead time: Orders are usually available the same day unless they are received after 3 p.m., in which case they will be available by 9 a.m. the following day.
What makes it special: There is a night drop available, and they offer pickup and delivery service for established accounts in the Dallas area.

• Barron Photografix.
Address: 2712 W 6th St, Fort Worth, TX 76107.
Phone: (817) 348-8080.
Hours: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., M-F; 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday, but only open for pickup, dropoff, and studio rental that day.
Formats processed: 35mm, 120/medium format; 220; 4×5; 5×7 (not available for B&W); 8×10 (only available for E-6); and legacy formats (110, disk film, APS, etc. — only for C-41). Processes available: C-41, black and white, and E-6.
Prices: See here.
Lead time: A few days — except for legacy formats, which take two weeks — but rush services are available.
What makes it special: This is the only local place that will process slide film for you with its intended E-6 process. However, this service is exceptionally high-priced with them.

• BWC.
Address: 616 S. Sherman St., Richardson, TX 75081.
Phone: (214) 528-4200.
Hours: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., M-F.
Formats processed: 35mm and 120/medium format.
Processes available: C-41.
Prices: $6 for processing and 68 cents per 4×6 print.
Lead time: They only process on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so a few days.
What makes it special: If you are a professional photographer and would like to sell your images, they can help by providing marketing services, building a website for you and offering creative solutions.

• Wolf Camera (Plano).
Address: 2401 Preston Road, Plano, TX 75093.
Phone: (972) 769-9901.
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m., M-F; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.; 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Sun.
Formats processed: 35mm.
Processes available: C-41.
Prices: $4.50 for processing (add $4.99 for scans on a CD); for 24 exposures, $13.99 for single prints and $16.99 for doubles; and for 36 exposures, $17.99 for single prints and $23.99 for doubles.
Lead time: One hour.
What makes it special: This is the only place in North Texas you will still be able to get photos in one hour from once Walgreens has discontinued in-store film services for all stores.

All photos by Carly Seitz.


















































No more articles