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Frequently Asked Questions
General
What is "C41 Processing"
This is the standard film process for developing colour negative / print film.
Regardless of make or speed, they all go through this totally standardised process. You will find this is the only process normally handled in house by the likes of the high street processors such Boots, Snappy Snaps etc. There are three black and white films on the market which are designed to process C41 but yield a monochrome image (Ilford XP2, Kodak BW400CN & Fuji Neopan 400CN). Other than these all other C41 process films are colour. Some examples include: Fuji Superia; Kodak Gold; Kodak Ultra; Fuji Pro 400H; Kodak Portra; Kodak Ektar (this is not an exhaustive list and over the years there have been thousands of different C41 films). Once processed these films appear as a negative and have an orange cast in colour. This is a special orange mask which makes them much easier to print - it's all extrememly clever. Films are normally marked "C41" if intended for this process.

What is "E6 processing"
This is the standard film process for developing colour reversal / slide / transparency film.
These films yield a positive image in the film, rather than a negative, just as the original scene was and may be projected in a slide projector or scanned. Regardless of make or speed, they all go through the same totally standardised process. Nowadays this is considered a much more specialised process than C41 and it's rare to find it on the high steet. Some films currently on the market that are process E6 include Fuji Velvia, Fuji Provia, Agfa Precisa. Films are normally marked "E6" if intended for this process.

What is "Cross-Process"?
This is the deliberate processing of a film in the "wrong" process.
Most of the time this means putting a film designed for process E6, through C41 process. The result is a negative (with no orange mask) which prints / scans with unusual contrast and colour. It's quite a popular thing to do, especially for artistic reasons. Sometimes the colours can be quite close to the original. Sometimes they are all over the place. Exposing a film you intend to cross-process is experimental until you get used to it. Some films cross-process "better" than others, but personal preference plays a strong role.

What is "Black & White process"
This is the processing of traditional, true, black and white films.
As mentioned in relation to C41 and E6, colour films all enjoy a totally standardised development time and temperature. Different black and white films have different development times. Furthermore, there are an almost infinite number of different black and white developer formulations and the same film will process at different times in different developers! For anyone doing their own black and white processing this is a bonus becuase different developers yield different results (some produce negatives with finer grain, some which higher sharpness, but more pronounced grain. Some help negatives achieve higher speed) and it means you can vary the results and achieve the look you want. In a commercial lab it presents problems because, unlike with colour, we can not just put all films through the processor at the same time - they have to be sorted into batches so they receive the correct development time. This is why it costs a bit more for Black & White processing and why many labs don't offer it. If you want to try processing your own B&W we have all the chemicals and equipment on our sister site www.ag-photographic.co.uk

What is "Fuji Crystal Archive paper"
It is the leading silver halide (light sensitive) colour photographic paper from Fujifilm.
This is a light sensitive paper which is capable of being exposed traditionally in a darkroom or digitally with the use of a printer like the Noritsu or Fuji Frontier etc. After exposure it is processed in the RA4 chemistry process. The core range of Crystal Archive consists of: Type 2, Supreme and DPII. Type 2 is the basic entry level paper used by most of the online photo printers like Photobox and also in places like Boots chemist. Supreme is the same paper apart from it's on a slightly thicker base. DPII is the top of the range paper with the latest emulsion - At Ag Lab we use DPII as it yields the best possible results. There are some special papers in the range such as Pearl (special high gloss surface, pearl effect) Fujiflex (on a plastic base).

What is a NORITSU?
Noritsu is a make of photographic printing machines made by Noritsu Koki Co Ltd. in Japan.

Founded in 1951, and established in Wakayama city in Japan, Noritsu Koki Co. Ltd has grown into a global leader in manufacturing and designing photo print processing equipment and photofinishing equipment. Their photo printers and scanners are the undisputed market leader for professional photo labs - nothing else comes close. We know, we looked into it in finite detail, before we opted for a Noritsu. www.noritsu.co.jp/english

What is "Kodachrome"
Kodak Kodachrome was an incredible colour reversal / slide film produced from the 1930's until 2009.
It was unique in that the film was essentially a black and white film and the colour was realised through the very complex development process, K14. Whilst Kodachrome has a superb colour stability (in dark storage and cool dry conditions virtually no colour shift is detected in decades, probably hundreds of years) it's weakness was the complex process which put it at a distinct commercial disadvantage as the E6 process came to dominate. Even in the height of popularity there may have only been a handfull of labs worldwide capable of handling Kodachome and most of these were run by Kodak. The last Kodak lab was located in Lausanne, in Switzerland, and closed in 2008 with processing holding out at the independent lab, Dwaynes, Kansas, USA, until 31 December 2009 when the last ever roll of Kodachrome was processed. The process and chemical formulas are well documented and since 2009 the owner of a Lab in Australia has managed to successfully process Kodachrome as colour - it was extremely difficult and he has ruled out ever offering the service commercially. However it is quite straight forward to process the film as a black and white and we recommend this approach to anyone with an un-processed roll. Please ask.

What is "Push / Pull process"
Films have a speed (sensitivity) rating eg: ISO 100; 200; 400 etc. However, to a degree, this is an advisory speed. Whilst, most of the time, photogaphers expose the film at the speed advised, sometimes you may want to expose the film at a different speed - most of the time this is faster than the advised speed because of lower lighting conditions. So the camera's light meter, or handheld meter, is set to a faster speed - eg. an ISO400 film could be exposed twice as fast at 800. In order to compensate for this, and achieve better negatives, the lab can be advised of this speed change and to "PUSH" process to 800 - this helps the film achieve the additional speed. Alternatively a "PULL" process would be advisable for a film exposed slower than the advised speed. NOTE: Normally faster films Push best, but it's best not to try to Push more than 2 stops - ie ISO1600 would be considered the max for an ISO400 film. NOTE 2: Some films Push better than others.

What is "RA4"
This is the standard chemisty process for processing colour paper. It consists of two main baths: Colour Developer and Bleach Fix (Blix).

What is "Silver Halide"
Is the term used to describe photo materials which are light sensitive, like Fuji Crystal Archive paper. This is because the emulsion coated onto the paper consists of light sensitive silver halide salts which form the image.

 
Prints
 
There is a lot of confusion about how photographic prints are made on a commercial basis today - this page will hopefully clear up some of the myths!

How are my photographic prints made at Ag PHOTO LAB?
C-Type prints are made by exposing the images onto real photographic paper - that is to say, light sensitive, photographic paper, made by Fujifilm and Kodak. The paper is then processed in the traditional way in photographic chemistry.

 

Paper Exposure

The Noritsu laser engine exposes a latent image onto traditional silver based photographic paper - the image is projected onto the paper through a lens. The paper is then processed in photographic chemistry to reveal the image, in the traditional way.

So these prints are made optically?
Yes they are, in so much as the paper is exposed optically. However this is a hybrid digital-traditional system, industry standard where highest quality output is demanded. The system allows accurate correction of images for density, colour and contrast.

I've had prints made by scanning and printing to photograhpic paper before from a different lab and I did not like them - Why?
Probably for one, or more, of the following reasons:
But if you scan a negative, surely that's just like taking a digital photograph in the first place?
No this is totally wrong. By scanning film all the character of the film is preserved and a scanner, even a basic one, is very effective at extracting all the detail from film, even detail you can hardly see. The Scanner produces a digital version of the film. The irony is that the scanner is the digital device that has probably saved from extinction film as an origination medium! The other bonus is that with a scanner it is possible to print from film that has been very under or over exposed and which would be impossible to print optically.

What about optical analogue prints if I really want them?
The only option for this today is to opt for hand prints - taking the paper and exposing it in a darkroom under the enlarger. These have a strong appeal for fine art photography, galleries, and print sales as they are one off prints and can be called hand made. Customers interested in hand colour or black and white prints please contact us.

What if I want optical / analogue machine prints?
The old analogue mini labs and machine printers are really now consigned to the photographic history book and it's hard to find anyone using them. They are slow and impractical to use in today's market and simply can not compete with the hybrid digital-traditional system for quality and flexibility.

Visit our sister site, Ag Photographic, for a huge range of Film, Paper, Chemistry and Darkroom Products.