Do most 35mm film developers in the UK still return negatives?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 3,394
Re: Do most 35mm film developers in the UK still return negatives?

RJDG14 wrote:

I haven't had any 35mm film developed for about 5 years. Back then most places in the UK, or at least where I went, still returned the negatives with film prints, but I've read that increasingly in the US most major places which still offer film processing are no longer returning negatives to customers, instead choosing to issue them with scans of those negatives on a CD. This makes absolutely no sense to me, because 1: the scans on a CD are typically low quality JPEGS of around 2MP (by comparison 35mm film is lossless and can theoretically be 20MP+), and 2: the postage cost for a 35mm negative reel should be no higher than the cost of a few prints or a CD in a box/sleeve as they weigh about the same. I have been able to get better digitisations of negatives using my DSLR than the ones on store CDs. My 18MP DSLR can give me negative conversions of about 12MP.

The fact that many major developers in the US are no longer giving the option of returning negatives sounds quite concerning to me, and makes me ask if film developers here have chosen to take the same route in the past 5 years or if most still return negatives to the customer as they did a few years ago?

I think there are a couple of issues with not returning negatives

1) people who've found an old film in the bottom of the drawer, want it developed and scanned, but then really don't care what happens to the negatives as they've no way of rescanning, or interest in doing so.

2) people who are interested in film photography but are just starting out, have bought a film camera (or a disposable) and just want the digital images back - they don't care about the negatives and have no way of doing anything with them if they did.

In both these cases the customer may choose to save the £3 or so and not get the negatives back. That's what seems to be happening, although in case (1) some of the developers may just simply not offer negative return as their market doesn't want it.

To answer your question about the UK, these are developers I've used who have returned negatives - in some cases I haven't used them for a few years but I don't think they've changed their position

* Photo Hippo

* AG Photolab

* Peak Imaging

* Ilford (mostly B+W but will develop/scan colour)

* SilverPan Filmlabs

I'm using SilverPan at the moment and they return scanned images via Dropbox and send the negatives back later.

Finally the quality that you can get from lab scans can be much higher than what you will get from a high street store, for example the following is a recent 30MP scan of 35mm film done by SilverPan on a Noritsu HS-1800.

Tomato - Nikon F5, Nikon 60mm f/2.8 Micro, Adox CMS-20 ii, Adotech developer, Noritsu HS-1800 scan

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