Shoot film, post digital: Richard Photo Lab gets you there

Film is not dead. And it won’t be going away real soon.
OK, it may become a more expensive commodity, but it’ll be here. And honestly, I’d like to shoot it now and again.
But the labs are disappearing, and those jugs of chemical won’t be living in my house anytime soon.
This is a short story about how I came upon a film/digital solution, with little pain.

    Re-Cap

I love panoramic photos.
Not necessarily for the landscape photography advantage, but the ability to use a wide format to tell another kind of story. Prefer being able to shoot on the street, and capture the urban landscape in one frame.
After spending a tedious afternoon on a certain sequence of images meant to be strung together, working the CS5 stitching plug-in again and again, it was time to think about alt solutions.

Maybe I should just be shooting panoramic to begin with., although I don’t have the $30,000 needed for a Seitz digital panoramic camera, and the gigapan is a bit to unwieldy for the streets. U2 loves em, but….


above shot with a Noblex 135 U

Years ago, I tricked out my Nikons with a panoramic matte, made by Minolta, that would crop my neg and allow the use of any lens in the arsenal.
It was time to have another look at those negatives and see what was really there.
The scanning began. Digging into the archives, brought out sweet wide format memories.

two shots above, made with a Nikon F3 and a matte in camera

Maybe now it was time to find a true panoramic camera and shoot some film, again.
Off to Ebay where a Noblex 135 U/35mm was fought for and won. 19 shots on a 36 exp roll. Sweet.
But where to get the neg processed? And then what? Were there still pro labs who did this kinda work?

After consulting with my hard core, old school, film shooting friends, the name that kept coming up was Richards Photo.
People from across the country would send them film for fine art, portraits, and weddings.
Going from a time of chimping, where you check your shots IMMEDIATELY after shooting, to the days of yore, when processing and waiting for contacts took a little bit of time, was going to be an interesting experience.
The timeline went something like this:
Drop off on a Friday, ready by 3:00PM the following Tuesday. As always, you can pay a rush fee.
Here is the beauty part though: Once your rolls/sheets are processed, they get uploaded to an FTP site so you have access to beautiful huge scan files.
Nice right? We were just in NYC when I got the email about a coupla rolls being posted and downloaded the images the old fashioned way. One at a time.
Never again. Too time consuming. Now I’m using Transmit FTP program, which is a much simpler way to go, and not too costly.
Freeware FTP programs are a bit complex, and I’d rather keep retrieving the files a simple task.
This is the rub: the files are so huge that you need to plan your download accordingly. Like start it, and go to a movie.
Or set the program to start at midnight and wake up to your photos in your specified folders.
It does take time. The files will be available for download for a month. you can’t use them for your cloud.
Now they will also burn you a DVD and ship that out to you with your negs. I went for both.

The cost is, of course, more than digital.
The film is about $4.00 a roll (forgot that number, right?)
and the full tilt processing/ large file scanning deal is about $26. per roll with tax.
Check out their full price list.

If you do a ton of work like a commercial or wedding shooter, you should invest in the RPL Color PAC which will create profile just for you and your work, insuring the scans are consistent through out the year.
Shoot one or two rolls in 6 months and it’ll be hard for any lab to match it all.

Have you’ve been itching to shoot some film, and then sit with CS5 for your digital darkroom?
Then we highly recommend Richard Photo Lab.
Good, friendly, incredibly knowledgeable staff. They treat your negs with tender loving care.
They are located in Hollywood, CA

Now if panoramic is something you’re interested in, here are coupla samples of the Noblex images and one of the Nikon with a matte, after the jump.

Noblex above, Nikon F3 below

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