Old Still Film Processing – Comprehensive Gallery Service

The safest processes on earth for expired photographic film – We don’t charge for still films that turn out blank

Virtually without exception, we process any and all still film ever manufactured. We’ve done our best to keep this page orderly but there is a lot of information we like to provide to be clear on our service. This page is sorted basically in the order of importance and underlined words in orange are links to further information about the topic discussed. Should you desire a more straight forward service please see here…SIMPLE SERVICE. Offering old film processing has its challenges. The vast majority of our clients don’t know what is on their film or what the condition of the pictures will be. The reaction from client to client, as to what is an interesting or important image vs. what is of little value, is highly variable. Our approach to this service has been to provide a system where there is a “softer landing” so to speak for those with images that are either not of interest, of extremely low quality or both. All that said – we are very good at this and will get the best possible images from your long expired film. Please Note: The chemical process that we use to develop your film is one that is most likely to render an image. In most cases this means processing your color film into B&W then, if requested, judging the results and making a decision to bring the film into color using a technique called “film acceleration“(exceptions are B&W film and Kodachrome film which can both only be done into B&W). Please see “Processing method” below for a more complete explanation.

Price policy

  • Prices and billing are in US dollars with one exception: Film Rescue Europe orders are billed in Euros*
  • When applicable, VAT, GST and/or PST  will be added to European and Canadian orders
  • *Film Rescue Europe orders must be sent to and returned through the Netherlands location

 

Step 1 – Processing and Download of Digital Picture

Film will be processed in the safest possible manner – B&W – to give us the highest chance of salvaging an image.  If you’d like your film in color, we can do that too but only after first processing safely into B&W. See “Film Acceleration” below for details. The negative is then scanned and manually Photoshopped™ , image by image — an important step that goes a long way to improving faded, long expired film. The images are then uploaded to a private gallery for client-preview and/or download as jpeg files; the jpegs large enough to make snapshot sized prints.

Remember: we do not charge for processing if a film turns out blank or without recognizable pictures.

8 to 15 exposure films (Does not include film on spools) US$ or  25.00
Film on spools & 18 to 27 exposure films US$ or  30.00
36 or more exposure films US$ or  35.00
Any multi exposure film that turns out with less than 4 recognizable pictures  Our definition of a recognizable image US$ or € 20.00
Oddball price exceptions -These are rare formats that we need to process by inspection with infrared  goggles in trays by hand and are labor intensive.

Any film greater than 70mm (I.E. 122, 130 format film) in width – 40.00 if there’s more than 3 recognizable pictures, 30.00 if there’s 3 or less recognizable pictures, 20.00 if blank.

Sheet film, glass or acetate – 6.00 per sheet with image – 3.00 per sheet with no image (Minimum Charge 30.00)

Film Acceleration (making your film color) – optional – add €/$ 10.00

With color film other than Kodachrome,  we can do an additional chemical process that creates a color version of your negatives (already safely processed into B&W negative).

FILM ACCELERATION EXPLAINED

If there are no detectable images on your film, there is no charge.

Step 2 – Optional

You may order large, low compression digital files (on cd or downloadable) or prints by adding the item to the cart in your gallery.  Order within one week of receiving the link to your gallery and take advantage of our 20% “Early Bird” discount on prints, cd or download.

Digital image Suitable for enlargement and image editing (on cd or downloadable file) or traditional style snapshot sized print US$ or  0.99

We do offer 4×4, 4×5 & 4×6 traditional style snapshot prints

Order within one week of receiving the link to your gallery and take advantage of our 20% “Early Bird” discount on prints, copy to cd or download.

Return Shipping and Handling

Within USA and Canada  $12.00*
Film Rescue Europe  link
All others  Contact Us
Clients Who Choose Downloads Only (Nothing Physically Returned)  No extra charge

*Shipping charges may be higher for exceptionally heavy, large, or fragile orders.

  • If you would like to send us your film please fill out the order form here…Order form

Payment

Since we don’t charge for processing if a film is blank and because we offer previews so the client is able pick and choose only the pictures they want, we have special motivation to do the best possible work. If we don’t get pictures from your film, we make no money; the better the quality of the pictures we produce, the more likely a client is to place an order for those pictures. A final cost cannot be pre-determined so we cannot accept payment by check or money order.  You may pay with Mastercard, Visa or Paypal.

Turn Around Time

Film is processed in regular 8-10 week cycles.  Unlike a conventional processing lab that may do one or two large volume processes in-house,  we have 12 small-volume processes.  We need to process in batches, mixing fresh chemistry and preparing for each process before moving to the next. Only after all the processing is complete does the negative scanning begin. Once that step is complete, the film acceleration is done as applicable. Once the accelerated films are scanned, the digital enhancement work is done and the image galleries created.  Finally, approximately 6 weeks after the cycle cutoff date, the galleries are ready to upload.   If you place an order after previewing your images, it may take 2-4 weeks to complete and be ready to ship.

Film for the next cycle must be in our hands by the cutoff date. The next cycle cutoff is:

Friday, September 30th, 2016

This will be the final full cycle before Christmas.
Rush processing is available upon request. For further information on our turn-around click here. Please don’t wait until near the beginning of a cycle to send your film.  This slows down our administrative stage at the start of each cycle, delaying work for everyone.

Processing Method

We have huge experience in processing lost and found expired film. Through our history we’ve kept records of each and every film type we get in and how it is performing in different chemical processes. That list exceeds 500 unique film types at this point. One approach we’re particularly proud of is our ability to do the safest possible processes with most color films by first processing them into B&W and then afterwards, if requested by the client, do an additional chemical process known as film acceleration.  This step brings the B&W negative into color. Of course, we first protect the first, safely-processed B&W images by scanning them. What we may end up with in color is unpredictable, as described below.

After first processing these two color films into B&W negatives, the resulting scans give us this. The B&W versions were good quality so there is a chance that the color version would also be.  These two films undergo an additional process to finish them in color.  The resulting scans give us this.


While both of these pictures are from separate films from early 1990s Kodak film shot by the same client, the end results in color were very different.  This shows just how unpredictable color processing of expired color film can be.  This is why we first process and scan all color film into B&W first before proceeding into color.

  • Color films less than 10 years beyond their process before date have a very good chance of accelerating well into color.
  • Color films 10 to 20 years beyond their process before date aren’t too likely to have quality color but the effect can be interesting and perhaps “artistic”.
  • The cooler your film was kept over time the more likely you are to get good color.
  • It is rare to have a film older than 30 years old that would ever render decent color – expect highly distressed color images.
  • Kodak brand films (including Seattle Film Works, Signature and RGB) and Scotch 3M film are more likely to end up in color than Fuji and Konica brand films.

About Our Guarantee

When we are deciding whether to scan or not scan a client’s film we are doing this upon visual inspection of the processed negative. Often times it is difficult to tell what the end quality will be without scanning and enhancing the negative. We therefore will continue with scanning and enhancing any film that we see anything on, whether that be a person, animal or object. We do not want to be put into the position of trying to make a subjective determination of what may or may not be important to a person. What is one mans trash is another’s treasure. Really terrible quality films will still be charged for – entire blank films will not. You will not be paying for absolutely nothing if your film is unexposed, improperly exposed or completely age fogged.

About Our Scans

Our scans result in an image that is 8 inches at 300 DPI on the short dimension or your frame. Example — a 35mm frame would be 8 x 12 inches at 300 DPI — a 110 frame would be 8 x 10 inches at 300 DPI. When you place an order for images from your gallery that we will link you to, if you choose “downloads only” upon check out, the image size is reduced to 4 inches at 240 dpi on the short dimension. This is still plenty of resolution for snap shot sized prints, on-line postings and virtually all practical applications. Because we are so often dealing with very low contrast negatives the scans are done at a high bit rate, then adjusted for brightness and contrast before down converting to 8 bit JPEGs. This creates a much smoother gray scale with very faded images than would be possible had the images been adjusted for brightness and contrast at 8 bit.

About Our Digital Image Repair

After scanning each picture on your film, all are brought into Photoshop for a hands on correction to adjust the brightness and contrast of each picture. This is a very important step which greatly improves the picture well beyond what would be possible with conventional photo finishing. This is included in the base price of your film processing.

About Our Gallery Images

The images that are put into your private online gallery are of enough resolution for making a snap shot sized print and are fine for most social networking needs. Higher quality, much larger versions of the images can be added to the cart from the gallery which we recommend if you have important images there. The images provided that are directly downloadable for free, while not obviously noticeable, have a high degree of compression on them.

About Our Prints

Our prints emulate the look of the past with wide borders and glossy paper. The short dimension of your image is 4 inches. Example — images from 126 film are square so the print is 4 x 4 inches – 35mm is printed onto 4 x 6 inch paper. You will see no night and day difference between our prints and that which a quality print service will give. We provide this primarily as a convenience to our clients and for those that want prints with a vintage look to them.

About Process Only

We do not offer a “process only” service.  Too often in the past, we had “process only” films returned to us that a client was unable to scan, due to the condition of the film.  We, however, were able to get images from the exact same negatives. We now scan all film and provide the online image gallery with our Comprehensive Gallery Service.  You aren’t obligated to download the images from your gallery or order anything from the gallery.  You will receive your negatives back unless you indicate on the order form that you do not want them returned to you.

Trust us.  All we deal with is expired film and we have the experience and techniques to salvage image from poor quality negatives:

  • With some negatives that have edge fogging, the effect is greatly reduced by doing yellow light scans which required optical grade yellow filtration within the scanner.
  • Some negatives after processing are as dense as welding glass and conventional scanners can not see through them.
  • Some negatives have such an extremely faint image on them they can not be recognized with the preview scan on a conventional scanner making them very difficult to locate your marquee correctly during preview. Auto frame selection will not work on these negatives. Do not assume if you don’t see images upon a quick inspection, there is nothing there.
  • Some films such as GAF cassettes and Triple Print blue label films are processed into an unstable reflective negative that begins fading after processing. Not only do they need to be scanned right away, they are scanned wet because the contrast on the film is much higher when wet and they can not be scanned on a normal scanner because light will not pass through them.

 

Example of an image that was over looked by the client after he closely inspected his negative.

If your negative is in very poor condition after processing, we are very good at salvaging something from them. This customer did not want our on-line previews and simply asked that we copy all of the pictures to CD. Upon receiving his order back and not having access immediately to a computer to view his CD, he inspected the negatives and couldn’t find any images. Not understanding why he was being charged for blank film when Film Rescue doesn’t charge for blank film he called with his concern. We opened our archive folder of his images and while the quality was quite poor we had in fact managed to salvage 13 fully recognizable very old pictures from a roll of film the customer could only see with close inspection, as being entirely blank. Many thanks to Mr. Berg of Seattle Washington for letting us use this picture and tell his story.