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Ilford opens US lab to meet demand for black and white film development

By dpreview staff on Sep 2, 2013 at 04:00 GMT

Following its 15 years of success in England, ILFORD's mail-in black and white film processing and printing will now be more readily available to North American customers thanks to the new lab in San Clemente, California. As digital photography has taken over, most local labs can no longer provide processing of true black and white film, nor can they print on real silver gelatin paper, instead opting to print black and white images on color paper.

The ILFORD LAB DIRECT mail-in service 'can process any make of black and white film, and prints will be made on ILFORD black and white paper,' according to the company. ILFORD LAB DIRECT accepts 35mm and 120, and turnaround time is 2-4 working days. Basic film development costs $16, which includes 6-megapixel medium scans. See the site for more.

Swan Photo Labs, believed to be the company servicing ILFORD LAB DIRECT. Photo by Ned Bunnell

The physical address listed for ILFORD LAB DIRECT is 946-A Calle Amanecer, which is the address for Swan Photo Labs in San Clemente. Swan Photo Labs is a contract photo processing lab that's been in business since 1993. 

Comments

Total comments: 83
Andrea McLaughlin
By Andrea McLaughlin (7 months ago)

This is not exactly a new service! The San Francisco Bay Area has several photo labs like Photolab, Gamma and Lightwaves that still process black and white (and color) film on a daily basis. Not just for locals, these labs have been doing mail order and working with pros for years. I believe these labs all have traditional darkrooms too!

Maybe Ilford senses growth in the market for black and white film. If so, that's a really good thing for all these labs!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (2 months ago)

Photolab in Berkeley is an especially fine lab, in my experience.

0 upvotes
petepictures
By petepictures (7 months ago)

Its up to us to keep the film alive. I shoot only film for my personal work, and I won't give it up for digital. Long live Ilford film

1 upvote
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (7 months ago)

While I have my own high end fine art darkroom and do my own processng, there are two things I am really happy about with this news. One is that as Ilford continues to realize what a great niche film is, especially black and white, the newly announced Kodak Alaris umbrella is also re-tooling for this niche and it looks like we might all have the best of all worlds after all, photographically speaking.

But I have to say...the best news of all might be that it would appear that dpreview is also realizing that film is not only not going away, but that it totally makes sense that the site matures in scope as the use of film does. There is simply no reason anymore to have this bashing going on, which is better or not, it has always been senseless. 20 years I have been happy to use digital, but there is simply no way I would ever give up black and white film, not when gallery print sales keep going up.

Good job Ilford, good job dpreview, keep it up.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Great news and so close to my home as well :).

4 upvotes
El Kid
By El Kid (7 months ago)

This is in response to AlanG.

Ilford has to setup its own lab to process Ilford B&W film. Ilford processes its own b&w film much like a color film.

0 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (7 months ago)

I read the Ilford announcement and it does not say that they set up a new lab but simply announces the availability of services.

"HARMAN technology Limited, the company behind the ILFORD brand of black and white photographic products is pleased to announce the availability of processing and printing services in California, USA. Serving North America, Ilfordlab-us.com is now ready to accept film orders by mail."

So you don't think Swan was previously able to process b/w film and make prints? Their web site explains how they do this using Refrema dip and dunk processors and optical printing. Perhaps they are using Ilford papers now, if they did not use them previously, and are printing images from Ilfordlab-US.com only on traditional b/w paper.

http://www.swanphotolabs.com/swan08/black_and_white.php

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (7 months ago)

I'm trying to understand what makes this service any different than what Swan Photo was already offering. Is it just marketing, mailers and convenience? I think the title, "Ilford opens US lab" is misleading.

It seems to me that the world of commercial photo processing is consolidating to several large labs (printing services mostly) that still offer analogue work along with their expanding digital printing services. District Photo is a huge opperation that consolidates work from CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Shutterfly, Snapfish and many other "partners."

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (7 months ago)

Nice! Ilford 400 b&w is a wonderful film.

0 upvotes
lbuclk=
By lbuclk= (7 months ago)

I never tried their film, I used Tri-X 400 & luv to print on Kodabrome II RC when I had my B/W darkroom.

0 upvotes
Kendunn
By Kendunn (7 months ago)

Was looking at a print I did a while back and wishing I had a place to put my darkroom up again. There is just something about those prints!

5 upvotes
KitHB
By KitHB (7 months ago)

Excellent news

0 upvotes
Raymond Cho
By Raymond Cho (7 months ago)

For fast pace sure digital will be better suited but if one is doing it as a hobby or fine art as a job, film is still ok when you don't need a quick turnaround. But for those who compare digital to 150 rolls of film. Did you guys use that much film for a hobby in the film days and when film back then was much cheaper? But again, certainly for work or hobby like weddings, wildlife, sports I would never dream of shooting film but if it's just a special outing, like travel, landscapes, walk about at the campsite holiday, do you shoot that much ...

0 upvotes
Raymond Cho
By Raymond Cho (7 months ago)

My first real camera was a 1999 year old Canon Rebel or an EOS 3000 and simply shot Fuji Superia and Kodak Gold. I just developed my first roll of b/w film last week. It is so easy I don't know why they don't do it themselves.

I got a few utensils off my camera club. No labs quality is better than DIY. As a home user, the developer can be used as a one-shot and throw away, the stop bath you might want to use it just 2x of just as a one-shot since it last up to 5yrs. The fixer I mix up a litre at a time and just do a guestimate and pour it in b/c it has a long shelf life even after it is mixed with water. Ilford says you can use a litre for 6 rolls of film, I only do it 2 b/c an old timer said that you can but he was told by someone after you know how to look for fog .. With the USA chem prices, provided you do 6 rolls every 6 months b/c powder is cheaper. You do 6 so you don't waste it. Per roll it's $2US all up. Or it's $25US for the entire set, some last 6months or 5yr ..

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (7 months ago)

Glad to hear Ilford is doing well. Most of the BW films I shoot are from Ilford. I hope to be able to shoot it for a long time.

6 upvotes
kometa
By kometa (7 months ago)

Wonderful News for an Old 35mm M3 User from " Way Back " !!!

1 upvote
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (7 months ago)

Of course, they probably did invent COLOR film stock, color film processing, and color printing since Black & White first came out, right?

0 upvotes
DonnaRead54
By DonnaRead54 (7 months ago)

SWEET! *dusts off old film camera* I love Ilford B&W film processing but was having it developed locally with mixed results. Good news!

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sap
By sap (7 months ago)

awesome news.

i wonder, is that a digital image of the lab?

2 upvotes
Ned-B
By Ned-B (7 months ago)

I didn't have time to use Tri-X, but It was shot with my Ricoh GR in BW mode which is quite nice nonetheless:)

4 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (7 months ago)

That's GREAT news !!!

1 upvote
harold1968
By harold1968 (7 months ago)

Great, well done Ilford - all the best!

3 upvotes
TitusXIII
By TitusXIII (7 months ago)

Looks like my Leica M4-P, Zeiss Ikon RF and Nikon FE2 will be seeing some action again.

4 upvotes
OBI656
By OBI656 (7 months ago)

They should scan to .TIFF format that will complete my satisfaction ...

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

It is probably available on request.

0 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (7 months ago)

Best photo news I've heard in a very long time

4 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (7 months ago)

A great news.

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

This is a good move by Ilford. Swan has a great rack record of quality. However one can also get true B&W processing and printing on real B&W paper at Fromex in Long Beach and possibly a few other places.

5 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (7 months ago)

Thanks for the B&W resources Photomonkey !

3 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (7 months ago)

I almost cried. Whoo Hoo! (that's for the benefit of my American Brothers, I say, we don't do anything like that in England, that's simply not cricket what!). Fantastic news! Go Ilford, Go Ilford, Go Ilford!

PS. Shhhh! (very, very quietly) I actually prefer Tri-X, but don't tell anybody.

2 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (7 months ago)

in Rodinal, but with you on the Woo Hoo!

1 upvote
Fredcritter
By Fredcritter (7 months ago)

Yes, Tri-X in Rodinal. But Ilford papers are beautiful!

0 upvotes
kixigvaq
By kixigvaq (7 months ago)

Tri-X in Rodinal? Are you crazy? It's D76! One thing about HP5....I've discovered that it scans really nice. I've always been a Tri-X man except for when HP5 came out with the 72 exposure rolls. But now I shoot both. I love digital but I also love my old Leicas.

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (7 months ago)

I use dilute HC-110 exclusively. Brings out those classic Tri-X tones almost as good as D76. HC-110 is the most wonderful and flexible developer. Its great with both Tri-X and HP5+. Tri-X in dilute Perceptol and dilute Rodinal is sweet. Pity I can't get Plus-X.

0 upvotes
vkphoto
By vkphoto (7 months ago)

Very good news.

1 upvote
68craigdale
By 68craigdale (7 months ago)

England? Where's that? Maybe it's in the United Kingdom? Where's Great Britain and Northern Ireland gone? maybe it's part of Scotland or even Wales? I don't know anymore...

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (7 months ago)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England

6 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (7 months ago)

Interesting news. Gives me kind of a warm fuzzy feeling - and evokes the smell of a b/w lab and its shimmering orange light

4 upvotes
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (7 months ago)

http://www.thelocal.ch/20130731/220-workers-lose-jobs-as-ilford-shuts-fribourg-plant

http://www.thelocal.ch/20130808/ilford-works-rescued-in-management-buy-out

(They found a Japanese investor to replace the British one)

0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (7 months ago)

That's paper only, and an unrelated company.

3 upvotes
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (7 months ago)

Ilford Switzerland was near of bankruptcy about one month ago; they are producing print papers, not film if I remember correctly. It was owned by a British corporation and has been saved in extremis by a Japanese firm. It remains to be seen whether the new investors just wanted the (newly installed) machines and knowhow, or whether they will keep the manufacture and about 200 employees working.

0 upvotes
Andreas Stuebs
By Andreas Stuebs (7 months ago)

This is not a subsidary of Ilford in Switzerland but of Harman Technology, a management buy-out based in Cheshire, UK. To quote the ilfordphoto.com website:

HARMAN technology Limited is a pioneering professional imaging specialist based in Mobberley, Cheshire in the centre of the United Kingdom. The company announced the launch of its pioneering HARMAN PHOTO inkjet media range, suitable for both colour and monochrome photography, in August 2006; and the first products became available in the UK and USA in February 2007.

The ILFORD range of colour photographic products, including ‘ILFORD Galerie’ inkjet media, is not manufactured or marketed by HARMAN technology, and remains a separate business operated by ILFORD Imaging based in Switzerland.

This Lab is part of the BW business of Ilfordphoto and not of Ilford Switzerland.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (7 months ago)

Ilford Switzerland is toast, at least where photo products are concerned. But they are strong with dyes, pigments and inks which fortunately have other uses. Ilford UK is a separate entity and for now the monochrome business is good, no doubt in part due to everybody else getting out.

0 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (7 months ago)

Only 6MP digital files from a medium format film scan?

0 upvotes
Ken Phillips
By Ken Phillips (7 months ago)

Well, that's all you get without an upcharge!

2 upvotes
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (7 months ago)

That's what comes with "basic" film developing. I'm sure you can pay extra for higher res.

0 upvotes
samhain
By samhain (7 months ago)

This is awesome news, love seeing film make headway in a digital world.
BUT- competition with Northcoast & Richard photo lab will be stiff. It'll be interesting to see how the quality compares to the above 2, which are arguably the best in the country.

1 upvote
photonius
By photonius (7 months ago)

Well, despite the advantages of dSLR, a nice print on good quality film paper should last a long time. In that time you have to keep buying new technology every few years and copy your stuff again and again if you want to save it into the future. Hopefully some new stable technology will come along. I thought CDs and DVDs would last, but seems they don't. (hard drives fail of course routinely).

2 upvotes
steveh0607
By steveh0607 (7 months ago)

A quality inkjet print can last well over 100 years framed, even longer in storage.

Nevertheless, it's good to see film surviving for those who prefer to use it.

0 upvotes
JakeB
By JakeB (7 months ago)

Yeah, and paper is forever.

0 upvotes
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (7 months ago)

Today I'll tell you that my product will last 100 years, and you'll believe me. Where's my proof and will my company be around in even 50 years to back it up? No. It is foolish to feel warm and fuzzy that someone has "rated" a inkjet print at 100+ years when the inkjet process has only matured about 10 years ago. No history, no guarantee. Film prints on silver gelatin are proven.

1 upvote
NickR
By NickR (7 months ago)

$16 a roll?
150 rolls or a $2400 DSLR, which would you rather have?

3 upvotes
Damo83
By Damo83 (7 months ago)

Plus the initial cost of the film.

0 upvotes
foto guy
By foto guy (7 months ago)

The film, absolutely!

2 upvotes
misha marinsky4
By misha marinsky4 (7 months ago)

"A film camera is like a mortgage, with payments for life."
- Pedro Meyer

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
inframan
By inframan (7 months ago)

Seems a pretty reasonable price to pay for some necessary discipline.

0 upvotes
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (7 months ago)

Film, unless you do sports with "spray and pray".

2 upvotes
DonnaRead54
By DonnaRead54 (7 months ago)

HEY! I resemble that remark! I'm a spray and (not so much) pray sports photog! I DO love film for street though. Nothing like B&W street shots in your hands. It's a tactile thing. :D

0 upvotes
Kendunn
By Kendunn (7 months ago)

How often are you updating that $2600 camera? 150 rolls of film can last a long time if know what you are doing and shooting only landscapes or fine art

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (7 months ago)

Developing B&W film is quick, easy, and kind of fun. It's slide and color negative film that is much more difficult.

But Ilford makes excellent quality film and I'm happy to read that they are opening a lab. It's a pity that the included scans are only 6 mp, but perhaps there is an upgrade service.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

They offer scans of up to 4492x6774 (30mp) from 35mm film.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (7 months ago)

Yeah I meant the included scans as part of the $16 developing service but thanks. Good to know.

0 upvotes
tommy leong
By tommy leong (7 months ago)

best news 2013 !

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (7 months ago)

Well, well... not bad for a dead medium!

Seriously, I chanced to try an FP4 125 Plus roll during the past two weeks. After seeing the results I must say I'm impressed with the sharpness and contrast this film is capable of. Grain is not as smooth as Kodak's T-Max, but somehow it adds expression to the pictures.

0 upvotes
foto guy
By foto guy (7 months ago)

"dead medium"?
They're opening a lab because the demand is there. Sounds to me like the medium is quite alive.

3 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (7 months ago)

I'm sorry. It was intended as a sarcasm. I keep forgetting there are people who can't interpret sarcasms and take everything literally. I promise I'll be more careful next time.

1 upvote
BJL
By BJL (7 months ago)

foto guy,
the demand is there partly because people like me have lost access to local labs that used to provide this service, and local darkroom rental options (and do not want to mess with photographic chemicals in our bathrooms). So good news, but not due to any increase in overall B&W film usage, I suspect.
I like the idea of getting scans too, since I suspect my bigger prints from B&W film will be inkjet or an online digital file printing service.

1 upvote
E Dinkla
By E Dinkla (7 months ago)

Harman (Ilford Photo and more) so far made better marketing moves after the split than Ilford Imaging did. This will be another example I expect. A relative small company filling a market niche with their own proven technology and the right brand name to attract customers. Fuji made some new medium format film cameras and has a chromogenic B&W film but it is probably too big for a similar undertaking. Offering the B&W silver halide print service next to the B&W film development rounds it off.

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (7 months ago)

A film company that is actually expanding is a very positive sign.

I hope they can maintain a viable product over the long term and not go all Kodak.

5 upvotes
shaocaholica
By shaocaholica (7 months ago)

JPEG only scans? Thanks but no thanks.

0 upvotes
wherearemyshorts
By wherearemyshorts (7 months ago)

My black & white film has been in the freezer for over 30 years. Time to use it.

1 upvote
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (7 months ago)

I have mostly color film in my freezer but I do have B&W also.
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5196/5842743706_b1ecffa5a1_b.jpg

0 upvotes
BillFe
By BillFe (7 months ago)

Yikes Joe, you need a bigger freezer.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (7 months ago)

With chemistry disappearing from camera stores and with the prohibitions and cost of the shipping of chemistry through the mail or predatory couriers, this is a good idea.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (7 months ago)

In the US, you can get any chemicals you'd ever need from B&H or Freestyle Photographic. Some of the liquid developers like Rodinal have to go via ground shipping but none of the powders like D-76 have restrictions.

3 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (7 months ago)

I love shooting digital, and I still love shooting film as well, hence I like this kind of niche initiative.
Currently i deliver my films to the local lomography shop, which can handle all kinds film sizes, because their cameras also offer a very wide range of negative sizes, including cameras that expose the sprocket area. I have not yet tried their black and white processing, their colour processing is ok but the scans are rather rough.
Hence it is good to see Ilford coming back with a good quality service towards black and white shooters.

2 observations made during my rediscovery of film: next to indtant gratification, one thing that is so great about digital is immediate ISO change per picture, not so with film!

1 upvote
DenWil
By DenWil (7 months ago)

Considering there are other labs in both Orange County and Los Angeles to get film processed and many areas in the country have none it is a bit ironic that of all the places to situate a company branch they chose this spot 10 minutes from the beach in southern California.

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

I expect Ilford plan to get film sent in for processing from all over the country, so the location my not be so important.

0 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (7 months ago)

To follow a market trend, and satisfy a specific niche of customers. Perhaps it is now a good deal for them. An idea, Ilford should make an free app for smartphone focused only on black and white photography. Could be a good way to get to know the brand and products for many new users.

3 upvotes
ArcaSwiss
By ArcaSwiss (7 months ago)

What's film ?

0 upvotes
inFocus
By inFocus (7 months ago)

Think Oscars...

4 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (7 months ago)

@inFocus You mean the movies that are shot on digital cameras, processed in a 100% digital workflow and have plenty of CGI in the visual effects scenes which make up 80% of the movie? That kind of 'film'? :)

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (7 months ago)

Somebody has to pick up the pieces...

That's good.

.

3 upvotes
Total comments: 83