The Quest to Find a Cheap 35 mm Film Developing Service


I work in the public sector, therefore, I don't earn very much. Film photography is not a cheap hobby, so ever since falling under the filmy-goodness spell, I have been searching for somewhere that would develop my 35 mm film for cheap.

My first rolls of film were shot as part of Lomography London's workshops which meant that there was a discount for processing the films with them. The waiting time for these was a day. Even with the discount, it still was quite pricey to develop so I started looking for alternatives. Here are a few pictures that were processed by the London Lomo Shop which I believe used Snappy Snaps:

Credits: hahajaney

In an ideal world, I would be able to afford to get prints with the processing but as I'm also trying to save money for a wedding and a house at the same time, I figured having them scanned and saved on a cd would be fine for the time being (Also trying to save for a scanner too!) I could always get prints at a later date. I remembered when I was young that Truprint's postal service was quite cheap, so the next time I was at a service station, I picked up a couple of their envelopes and sent off a few films to be developed. The plus is that they sell cheap film too so I ordered myself a few 200 ISO films — £5 for 5! What a bargain! Here are some of the photos I got back from Truprint:

Credits: hahajaney

I still wasn't satisfied. I knew there must be another way of getting cheaper processing and the other thing that bugged me about using Truprint was the wait. I am too impatient to wait a week or so for the photos to arrive!

Onto the next one which is Costco. The massive wholesalers where you can buy anything from a lawnmower to giant tins of custard, to a flat screen telly to the biggest haggis you've ever seen. This place also has its own photo lab. The beauty of this was that you dropped your films off at the photo counter at the entrance of the store, went round and did your shopping and by the time you paid up and are ready to leave, the photos are already done. This one-hour service all came in under a very bargainous £5 — that's including prints and scan. The lab they have is extremely basic, I think it was one of those pop up dark rooms you can buy but I was pretty happy with the results.

Credits: hahajaney

You would think at this time that I'd have found my perfect lab. But no, it wasn't to be. Despite the quick processing turnover, Costco was simply too far away from where I lived or worked and it wasn't worth the time traveling there. Living in a city as big as London, I just knew that there must be somewhere else that would develop and scan for cheap. I needed to find the right balance between cost and waiting time.

After some internet research, I found West End Cameras. They offer a postal service and an online special offer for processing and scanning for just £3.99. Theirs is a 3-day service but the best thing was is that it is just down the road from where I work. It meant that I could drop them off and pick them up during my lunch breaks but they also opened and closed early and late enough for me to go before or after work. The staff is friendly and helpful and stock a lot of Lomography stuff too. The prices for 120 mm film developing, scan and prints are also pretty reasonable!

Credits: hahajaney

I think I have finally found my regular photo lab although I am very interested in any recommendations from other Lomographers!

This is a post submitted by Community Member hahajaney

written by hahajaney on 2011-06-13 #lifestyle #cheap #development #film-processing


  1. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Very patient searching work... but finally got a satisfying lab...<:)

  2. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    I wrote an article about my love for West End a while ago, although I am up North so have to post mine off to them so the wait kills me. As much as it hurts me to say it - you won't beat Asda for cheapness. For 35mm C41 (which is basically all they can do) it is just £8.97 to have 4 rolls done onto a CD!

  3. hahajaney
    hahajaney ·

    @kneehigh85 I saw your article about Asda and looked into my closest one - for some reason they don't have lab services in the Asda's in South London - again it would mean travelling too far to get it done!

    Gotta also say, that West End Cameras did have a bit of trouble with scanning some film from my diana mini since there was some over lap with some frames but it's been solved by not cutting future negs and scanning them myself at home.

  4. sixcupsoftealater
    sixcupsoftealater ·

    I have just spent the last little while trying to figure out where I was going to get my film developed cheaply, as really, as fun as it is, there is no way I can continue to get it developed in a lot of places, and even the boots next to my school, which is incredibly convinient, and really rather cheap (4.99 for 2 days, 5.99 for an hour) still is more than I would nessecarily like! Thanks so much :)

  5. 110isnotdead
    110isnotdead ·

    Greetings from the distant, exotic land of Ohio.
    For the Lomographers in the U.S., specifically in the Midwest, Drugstores like Riteaid, Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy usually sell their own brand of 35mm film (usually rebranded Fuji or Kodak) for pretty cheap. The selection frankly is lacking but beggers can't be choosers. I just picked up a couple 4-packs of color 200 ISO (24-exp) for 8 bucks.
    Also, my local Riteaid will develope my film and put it on a disc for $2.79 (depending if the only photographer who works there is working at the time. lol) The quality isn't the best, but it cheap and for the stuff I do, it works for me.
    Happy hunting, fellow Lomographers.

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