View Full Version : 1 hour labs film quality

9-Jun-2008, 02:47
Hi folks,

In an article in this months Black and white photography magazine, there was some throw away comment about the archival quality of 1 hour or express labs negatives. I've never heard of this before, and it's a bit worrying. I use Asda (Walmart) in house labs and use them for all my family snaps (precisely those photos you would want to last!).

Can this comment be validated with any data or anyone's experience?



9-Jun-2008, 11:11
I've used Walmart processing a few times for color negatives while on trips and needing to see results quickly... have never had an issue with the quality of the C41 processing. There shouldn't be any problem with their color negative film processing... they use the same processing machines (Fuji or Frontier) as most other labs use for 35mm or MF films. No experience with using them with B&W films.....

Nate Battles
9-Jun-2008, 11:12
Are you referring to the archival quality of negatives processed or prints developed at a "1-hour lab"?

I've worked at a couple of photo-labs for a number of years. :( thankfully not anymore :)

Prints developed would depend on a few factors, the quality of the paper, the quality of the chemistry-specifically the bleach fix and the print rinse/wash. If the bleach fix is exhausted and not properly replenished, then you're going to run into archival issues from improper fixing, just like BW printing. Likewise the print rinse will affect photos as well. I didn't work at Walmart, but I think they used to use Fuji Crystal Archive paper which is very good paper and extremely durable and archival IF the chemistry used to develop the prints is in-line. It all depends on how well the printer knows his machine and how well they're maintained. Consequently, not saying you're doing this, but storing your family snaps in a shoebox will not help them last very long even if a print has been developed properly.

As for processing negs, mostly the same applies. In-line fixer and neg rinse are critical for clean/archival negatives.

9-Jun-2008, 14:23
It is in an article by Philip Jones Griffiths (now deceased) and (quote) '..but processed film has a limited life (especially when processed in one hour photo booths). In 20 years there will be no record of the Gulf War as the negatives will have faded away'

I haven't seen any of my negs processed in any way deteriorate after 36 years (that's how long I've been photographing).

Think I'll write to the magazine with the question, and maybe quiz the Asda 'technician'.

Thanks for the replies.

Nate Battles
10-Jun-2008, 06:23
That seems like a gross misrepresentation of one hour labs. Unless Mr. Griffiths was referring to another highly unstable process of developing film of which I'm not aware, I don't see how this could be true.

Dave Parker
10-Jun-2008, 10:28
Somebody has step out there on this one, as has been said, you can run into bad labs, but I have stuff that is well over 20 years old now, with no signs of deterioration, and I worked in our local lab that does 1 hour process, with kodak chems and prints on high quality kodak paper and we never had a problem with deterioration of out stuff.