View Full Version : Developing Film in Australia

13-Nov-2015, 10:05
Over the years, I have spent at least a few months a year in Australia. While I have extensively photographed many locations and worked for various conservation agencies, my commercial work has been digital. All the film I shot was private and I have been happy to take the risk of travelling with numerous boxes of sheet film. Aside from a very curious security official in South America, I've never even been as much as asked to see the boxes. Sometimes they pull my bag and ask me to open it, but they seem primarily interested in the lenses and what could be in them.

The long and short is that on a trip I will soon make, I have been asked to shoot film on a commercial basis. Mainly 4x5 in B/W and E6. Not wanting to take any risk here, I would probably send the exposed film to the EU (where I have my dark room) for processing. However, it may be better still to do some local developing. There are several options for this:

B/W: I bring a drum and locally source chemicals. Any advise on where I find Adox APH09 or Tanol, any stop bath and fixer (not so relevant which for APH09, alkaline in case of Tanol) would be most welcome. Photoflo or similar would be nice to have, but I can always fix drying marks or stains by washing the film again once I get home. Easiest would be in or near Cairns or anywhere along the coast heading down to Sydney. Mail order will also work.

E6: Impractical to develop under uncontrolled circumstances.

Alternatively, anyone who has a dark room I could use or rent would be great. Anywhere between Cairns and Sydney with a reasonable detour will work. If I do all the film, I'll be a while as I probably do 100-200 sheets B/W and 50-100 E6. 6 at a time if I work with a drum I bring, possibly more if you have something I can use. Of course I can only do a (small) part of this. I have a changing tent with me, so even just a working space would be fine, provided I can source the chemicals as per above.

Never looked into having my film developed in Australia, but a tip on a lab that does e6 on 4x5 well and affordable is most welcome too!

To anyone offering help, I am happy to return the favour if and when you travel anywhere near where I am. I have good facilities in Europe (Netherlands and Spain) and can advice on where to have film processed and scanned well and affordable in Hong Kong. Besides that, I know most of the large European (mainly German, a few Dutch and UK) suppliers quite well and can probably get my hands on most non-standard items or chemicals you would need when there. (odd ULF film sizes and emulsions, supplies, chemicals, possibly custom-mixed depending on quantity required, etc). The same goes for HK though there it would more likely be standard film sizes, but often at great prices and / or emulsions that are difficult to find (Velvia 50, som Pan film, etc).

Alas, not sure this thread will trigger many responses, but worth a try! Thanks to anyone who chimes in.

Daniel Stone
13-Nov-2015, 16:03
I've had good luck with Vision Image Lab, in Redfern(2-3 blocks or so from the Redftrain train station). The staff were very nice, and the processing was spot-on. I used them for 5x7 E-6 processing while visiting family in Sydney in late 2013/early 2014.


Nigel Smith
13-Nov-2015, 16:37
vanbars do mail order I believe

13-Nov-2015, 19:40
Here's Urbanlight's useful list: http://urbanlight.net.au/melbourne-film-shooters-guide/#lablist

14-Nov-2015, 03:15
Thank you both for the suggestions, looking into it over the weekend!

16-Nov-2015, 10:04
Update: Found a place that stocks chemicals and ships Australia wide, so that sorts the B/W situation. I'm good to wing that on the go. Have a quote for e6 around AUD 9 a sheet from 50 and up, which is serious money, especially considering I can do this number of sheets at home for under AUD 80... As such, still keen for suggestions on places for development or available darkroom to run it myself. I can order the chemicals, will just need a place to work (and doing 50 sheet in a hotel sink in the one 6 sheet drum I carry will hardly work...). Thanks for those who responded so far and open to suggestions or ideas.

Michael W
16-Nov-2015, 17:21
Things have changed in Sydney since last year.
There was a local branch of Vanbar for buying B&W and colour supplies however their warehouse was sold and due to the high rents in Sydney they closed that store and now operate from their Melbourne headquarters. They do mail order, but make sure the stuff you want is actually in stock as they are known for listing stuff that is out of stock and won't be back for months.
There was a gallery and darkroom called point light where you could possibly have developed your film but that was privately owned and he closed a year or so back.
The only pro lab that does E6 is Vision Imagelab, I presume that's where you got the quote from.
There is a lab called Blanco Negro, B&W specialist who stocks the full Foma range and does mail order. His business is processing B&W film and printing for clients but he is a nice guy so probably worth asking if you can hire the darkroom to process your E6.
What month will you be in Sydney?

16-Nov-2015, 22:23
Blanco Negro and/or Think Negative will fix you up with a darkroom, Blanco Negro will supply all your black and white film and chemical needs. E6 chemicals are hard to source here, post them home or pony up at Vision Lab. Vanbar in Victoria do E6 mail order I think but not any cheaper.

Darko Pozar
17-Nov-2015, 00:20
I recommend PROLAB situated in Kelvin Grove Brisbane QLD. They can accommodate Large Format E6 and C41 film processing. I find their standard high and turnaround very fast.

19-Nov-2015, 23:53
Thanks again all for the input. I'm waiting for an invoice, but seem to have sourced the required B/W chemicals. Had a look at prolab, but they have changed their developing times for E6 doing batches rather than daily runs. Anyway, I'll keep looking and see if anything else pops up. Otherwise I'll probably get the chemicals and rent a darkroom. Not terribly convenient given the number of sheets and drying conundrum, but we'll see. Open for suggestions.