Photo Lab FAQ

  1. If you have a question that isn’t listed here or have a comment, you can do that on our customer service page. We will respond promptly (likely within 6 hours if during business hours).
  2. Before inquiring as to your order status, please review the Production Times FAQ
  3. If you are wondering if we have received your film yet, please check your inbound tracking number with the Post Office. If tracking shows your film has arrived at our post office, but you have not been notified, please allow 1 – 3 business days to enter production.

Current Status

Prints and Scans from Previously Developed Film

Current Status

Updated 6-23-2021 11:30AM PT
This status will be updated as the situation dictates.

The Darkroom is open and fully operational

 

Temporary Service Advisories

  • No local dropoff or pickup at our facility
  • Occasional slight delays due to Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford supply chain issues.  We expect these delays to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

Film Developing

Yes. Old film doesn’t go bad all at once – colors shift, contrast fades away, and fog builds up. Old film (~10+ years past the process date) will have faded, skewing towards magenta. In many cases, this is preferred and authentic to the time. Learn about old film developing. More on developing expired film.

Pushing ISO doubles every time you increase it 1 stop. So if the box speed is 400, then +1 stop would be 800, +2 stops would be 1600, +3 would be 3200. You can also pull your film – it works the same – you’re just cutting the speed in half for each stop you need to pull. So if the box speed is 400, -1 stop would be 200, -2 stops would be 100, and -3 would be 50.

Pushing and pulling will change the look of the film. Pushing is good for lowlight situations – it will add contrast and often make the grain more noticeable. Pulling will take away contrast giving you better detail in your shadows and will make grain less noticeable. Pulling film works great for black and white especially contrasty scenes with a lot of shadow detail.

You will also need let us know how much you push or pull your film so when we develop your film so we can change the developing time to compensate. Write down your push/pull on the order form which is a $2 fee and be sure to write on the film canister itself the push/pull.

If you would like a spool returned with your 120, 127, 620 film developing order, just let us know.  You must request at time of processing.  Note that the spool returned will be a similar type, but not your exact original.

The backing paper is not a returnable item.

Yes, of course, you always get your original film back with your order. Negatives are returned cut and sleeved. If you prefer your film uncut, please check the ‘do not cut’ box as well.

35mm slide film is returned uncut and long-sleeved unless you choose the slide film mounting option.

3 Ways…

1. Prepay online and follow the instructions on your receipt page.  (BEST and Recommended)

You will also get a link to your postage-paid label and have immediate access to your account dashboard. Remember, the shipping method you choose at checkout is for return shipping back to you.

Pay Online

Also, it’s a great idea to wrap a return address label around your film, just in case your envelope rips during shipping.  See shipping FAQ’s for further info.

2. Download the order form and prepaid mailing label

Download Order From and Printing Label

Then fill out the form, including payment info, put in a padded envelope, tape mailing label on the outside.

3. Request mailer packet

Request Mailer

    1. Print very clearly
      When completing the order form, please take the time to make sure easily read, especially your address and phone number.
    2. Take a photo of your tracking number
    3. Label/make notes on your film
      In addition to setting your options when ordering or completing the order form, using a Sharpie (permanent marker), write any development instructions on the cartridge itself.
    4. Use a heavy-duty zip-lock bag if you have lots of rolls.
      All orders must arrive in a single shipment.  Orders that arrive in multiple shipments will be considered separate orders.
    5. Only send in film.
      With the exception of sheet film holders, any packaging, cameras, or containers, etc. will be automatically recycled or discarded.
    6. How long will it take?
      Most orders are shipped within 3-12 business days after it enters production. We are located in Southern California, so mail takes 2-5 days to reach us from almost anywhere in the country. More details on film developing turn-around time. 
    7. Critical Film Shipments!
      For irreplaceable film, some customers prefer to use FedEx or UPS to ship to us.  See additional information here.

 

15 creative ways to mail your film!


For Fun

15 Creative ways to mail your film

mailing film techniques
Aside from seeing some truly amazing images, we see some very creative techniques ways our customers ship their film.

If you submit a roll to us and it produces no images, we will issue a voucher for future processing at no charge, less shipping.  Please note that “Develop Only” rolls or sheet film orders are not eligible.

Vouchers have no cash value, expire in 1 year, and are not replaceable if lost.

If you submit a type of film to us that we are unable to develop, (Kodachrome, Triple Print, damaged rolls, etc.) we will return the film and you will not be charged for developing.

Almost anything, including C-41, E-6 Slide Film and Black & White processes. We can also do all types of black & white infrared and E-6 slide infrared films.  Be sure to write on the package that it contains IR film.

Black and white films are processed using the manufacturer’s suggested times ( then adjusted based on film type trends) as a normal process. 35mm Slide Film is optionally mounted in GEPE plastic mounts.

If you send in old C-22 film, it will be processed as black & white. The chemicals necessary for this color process were discontinued many years ago.

We CANNOT develop any Kodachrome, Disc Film, Triple Print, AGFA Scala or 5247 Seattle Film Works film.

If you are unsure what you have, just take a photo of the roll with your phone and attach it to our contact form. We will let you know if we can develop it.

If you send it to us, and we can’t do it, we’ll let you know as well.

If you have any other questions about film, please check out our film index.

There can be hundreds of reasons why your film didn’t produce any images.

The main causes are:

  1. Not loading the film properly in the camera
  2. Severe under or overexposure
  3. Camera malfunction
  4. Not using a flash indoors

If you know you were shooting an appropriate speed film in the right lighting conditions, check on your shutter. If the shutter on your camera doesn’t open, your film can’t get exposed to light, and therefore can’t make an image! Simply open the back of your camera (without film in it, of course), cock the camera’s shutter (if necessary), and look through the lens plane while you click the shutter button. You should see a brief circle of light appear and disappear right before your eyes.

If you know you’re shooting the right speed film in the right lighting conditions and your shutter is working fine, your film may not be advancing within the camera. To make sure your film is advancing within the camera when the back door is closed, simply locate the rewind crank on your camera and watch it as you turn the advance wheel. The rewind crank should spin as you advance the film.

If you submit a roll to us for develop/scan or develop/scan/print orders and it produces no images, we will issue a voucher for future processing. The voucher will be returned with your negatives and has no cash value. Lost vouchers cannot be replaced or honored.  A voucher is not issued for “develop only” rolls.

General information

No—but please don’t misunderstand this as any lack of interest! We’d love to answer your questions.

We know the decision to omit phone support is unusual, but after experimenting with different approaches, we’ve found that starting with email enables us to provide the fastest response. We focus on providing fast and high quality responses by email, so you’re always talking to a human that can help first-hand.

We offer eGift Cards here:  Gift Cards

How to order:

  1. Choose the amount
  2. Enter the recipient’s email address
  3. Enter your name
  4. Enter optional message
  5. Click the optional “Postpone Delivery” box to set a future delivery date if desired
  6. Add to cart and checkout

No physical card will be mailed to the recipient.

Cards don’t have expiration dates or additional fees. The value of your gift card will be reduced when used to make a purchase

E-Gift Cards are non-transferable, non-refundable, and are not redeemable for cash

TheDarkroom.com gift cards are good for use on all products on TheDarkroom.com, with the following exceptions:

  1. Gift Cards cannot be used to purchase new Gift Cards
  2. Gift Cards cannot be used to purchase Holiday Cards

 

If you are sending in film to be processed, you can enclose a check, money order, or credit card information.

The best way, however, is to use the on-line prepay option. Our system will even remember your credit card details if you wish. You can also pay via Paypal online as well.  It’s also faster because your order goes right into production bypassing other orders being manually logged and charged manually. Additionally, online payment via credit card or Paypal is the most secure payment option.

Make sure you whitelist [email protected] so you get our emails.

We collect sales tax where legally required. These states currently include: AR, CA, DC, GA, HI, IL IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MD, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NC, OH, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, and WI but are subject to change at any time.

For further sales tax info, check out this article by Taxjar – the company that calculates our sales tax online.

For sales tax on info shipping, please see this article.

There are many sites that list coupon codes for The Darkroom, but they will not work.

We know there is a coupon field/gift card field on our checkout page and that many of our customers see this and then search for “The Darkroom coupon codes”, discount codes or promo codes. There are many “deal sites” that list fake coupon codes for The Darkroom and other companies to get indexed in Google and attract users to their website. Our coupon code field is used for very specific scenarios and The Darkroom has the policy to focus on aggressive pricing and value. Our approach is honest pricing and not to inflate the price and create coupons and marketing promotions to discount that inflated price.

Deal sites with coupon codes for The Darkroom are fake, so please don’t get frustrated by them. You are getting our best price.

Fake The Darkroom coupon codes

While The Darkroom doesn’t create coupon codes, we do have Gift Cards. These are emailed to the recipient on your behalf with a personal message and at a time of your choosing.

Learn more about gift cards

 

View Coupon Code Page

The following are our standard production times in business days*.  For any current service advisories, please see our current Lab Status Page.  We pride ourselves on quality, consistency, and quick delivery. Occasionally, there may be factors (unclear instructions, production problems, etc.) that might cause an order to be delayed. Although we rarely miss our production times, service times are not guaranteed.

  • Film Developing, Scanning & Printing – Most orders are produced in 3-7 days.
  • Single-Use Cameras – Most orders are produced in 7-9 days.
  • Cartridge Film – (110, 126, APS/Advantix) Most orders are produced in 10-12 days.
  • Damaged film – (torn sprockets, overlapped frames, uneven frames) Due to manual scanning, most orders are completed in 7-12 days.
  • Negatives/Slides – Prints and scans from previously developed film typically take 10-14 days.
  • Photo Gifts – Canvas, metal, and bamboo products generally run 5-9 days of production time.  These times will be extended from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
  • Prints – ordered from scans online generally take 3-6 business days of production time.

We are located in Southern California, so mail takes 2-5 days to reach us from almost anywhere in the country. Occasionally production times and shipping run a bit longer, especially before or after holidays.

If you track your inbound shipments, the USPS notification saying your order was delivered is actually acceptance by our local post office, it does not mean it is in our lab yet.  There’s typically at least a 1-2 business days delay between the post office “received” notification and actual delivery to our facility.  The folks at the post office know us by name and put our stuff in the front of the line! You will receive an email as soon as your order arrives and enters production.


If you are in a time crunch, you are welcome to FedEx or UPS Overnight your film to us and that should shave some time off of your turnaround time.  Be sure to send it to our physical address and not our PO Box.

 

*Business days are Monday-Friday and exclude legal holidays.

The Darkroom does not offer rush or expedited services.

Although we don’t sell film, we can recommend a few places.

Film Photography Project
Freestyle Photo
B&H Photo

For film reviews, check out our Film Index.

Prints

Due to our automated print queuing and print nesting, print orders cannot be changed or canceled after being placed.

The Darkroom’s black & white prints are printed on Ilford Galerie RC Digital Silver Paper. Our preferred format for this product is 8-bit Grayscale JPEG format images. Make sure your monitor isn’t too bright as most monitors are too bright at their default settings.

File size should be 200-300 dpi at the output size for optimum quality.

A guide to Silver Gelatin Prints

We primarily print color prints on Kodak Royal Paper. It is available in Glossy or Matte/Lustre surface. For the technically inclined, you can read more about Kodak Royal Paper.  Occasionally, due to supply issues, we will print on select Fuji papers as well.

If you order True Black & White Silver Gelatin prints, they are printed on ILFORD GALERIE RC DIGITAL SILVER. It is available in Glossy or Pearl (Matte) surface.  Learn more about preparing digital files, mounting, displaying images on silver gelatin paper.

Prints and Scans from Previously Developed Film

Yes, you can get prints or scans from your negatives! We support 35mm negatives or slides, 120/220, APS, 110 and 120 Format Film. We scan your film negatives or slides, upload them for convenient web download and send you a CD.

Learn more about Reprints, Enlargements and Scans from Previously Developed Film

Scans, Web Uploads, Albums and FOS Storage Subscriptions

After we have developed and scanned your film, we upload it to your “My Account” password-protected portion of our website. Then you’ll get an email and an optional text from us that the images are available along with a link to login.

You can then make products including real photographic prints, photo gifts etc.

You will download will be delivered in a .zip format, usually to your Download Folder.  Most Mac computers will unzip automatically.  Most Windows systems will require a right-click to “Extract All”.

We are not an image backup or long-term storage service provider. You should always keep backup copies of your photos stored safely on a device or service specifically designated and intended for backup purposes.

The Darkroom requires that you maintain a backup copy of all images and content stored on the Service such that in the event of a catastrophic data loss on the Service, your images will also be available on your local computer or archived media. The download or upload of any material through the service is done at your own discretion and risk and that you will be solely responsible for any loss or damage to your content or image or any damage to your computer system or loss of data that may result in the download or upload of any material. You are solely responsible for creating back-ups of your digital content.

 

The Darkroom Film Ordering System (FOS) will store each photo album online 60 days for free and as part of your order. The 60 days is valid from the date the photos were uploaded. Storage beyond 60 days requires a subscription.

A subscription will cover all your active photo albums, but not the ones that have already expired*.


Photo storage is $1.50 a month and payable $18.00 annually.

Subscribe


*What if my album expired? You have up to 2 months to subscribe and recover albums. Album is not viewable beyond being expired for more than 2 months. If you need to recover an expired album beyond 60 days, please contact us

 

Photos Prior to November 2015?
The Darkroom used Lifepics, a third-party service for images and albums. On October 25, 2016 The Darkroom discontinued support, online print ordering, and image hosting for the Lifepics platform.  Any photos on that system are no longer available and users did receive emails from The Darkroom and Lifepics warning of image deletion.

This is, by far, our most requested question. It’s kinda complex and has some exceptions so bear with us. Here at The Darkroom, we do many kinds of scans –Standard and Enhanced are the most common.

Standard Scan

Our standard scan is a 1024×1536 pixel scan. This equals 4.5 MB when opened in an image editing program like PhotoShop. These scans come as jpegs so they will look small in the file browser but will “puff” up when opened. Depending on your subject matter, some images will compress more than others. This scan is great for prints up to 5×7, emailing, Facebook etc. We have produced tens of millions of these scans in the past several years.

Enhanced Scan

Our enhanced scan is a 2048×3072 pixel scan. This equals 18.1 MB when opened in an image editing program like PhotoShop. These scans come as jpegs so they will look small in the file browser, but will “puff” up when opened. Depending on your subject matter some images will compress more than others. This scan is perfect for prints up to 12×18. It’s just 3 bucks extra for these scans.

Super Scan

Our new, super scan is perfect for those who want professional resolution or to never worry if you have enough resolution for current and future projects. It works very well for advertising, giant prints, and large posters. Scan Sizes 35mm Film – 4492×6774 pixels – 87.1 mb Medium Format 645 – 3533×4824 pixels – 48.8 mb Medium Format 6×6 – 4760×4760 pixels – 64.8 mb Medium Format 6×7 – 4815×5902 pixels – 81.3 mb

Super Scans are 4492×6774 pixels or 87.1 MB when opened in an image editing program like Photoshop. Remember that the file size will appear much smaller until you open it up in an image editing program like Photoshop.

For more information, please see our scan page

A couple of disclaimers:  If you have a square format, the scans will default to the short dimension. The standard scan is 1024×1024, and the enhanced is 2048×2048. What we are trying to state is that, if you do not have a 2×3 aspect ratio original, your scan size will vary.

Our scans are 72 dpi. It sounds low, but it’s because it’s the pixel dimensions that matter, not the dpi by itself. If you get your scans and are still concerned, convert them to 300dpi in PhotoShop. Make sure you uncheck the “Resample Image” checkbox. You’ll see the image stays the same. For example, an image that is 5″ x 7″ at 300dpi is the same resolution as a photo that is 29″ x 21″ at 72dpi.

If you have film that requires the sprocket holes to be scanned or have panoramic images, please note there is an extra charge.  Sprocket holes can only be scanned from the “Sprocket Rocket” camera.

You may also order color or black and white prints in various sizes, make canvas prints, bamboo blocks as well as order metal prints.

You can also transfer them to your Facebook page, Dropbox or share with friends and family.

 

Shipping

Yes, we can ship to most countries via US Postal Service / Your local mail system or FedEx.

If you are not in the US, it is best to order online.  You will see additional return shipping options that are not listed on our order form.  We are not responsible for duties and taxes required for international shipping.

We prefer to receive sheet film in the manufacturers 3 piece boxes.  Film boxes will be returned.

If you do not have access to the boxes, you could use a dark bag made for sheet film.  They are available here.  If you use one of these bags, please pack carefully so it is not cut by postal equipment.

Please keep in mind that film holders are heavy, so please plan on selecting USPS Priority Mail or FedEx for return shipping if you send in the plastic film holders.

Make sure you identify exactly what kind of film is being submitted as many notch codes are very similar.  Also, do not combine different film stocks in a bag or box.

 

 

 

You can choose various methods for return shipping.

 

USA

US Mail First Class – This usually takes 2-5 days to reach most parts of the country from our California Lab. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

US Mail Priority Mail – This usually takes 1-3 days to reach most parts of the country. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

FedEx 2 Day – Takes 2 business days to reach almost all destinations in the 50 states.  You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab. No PO Boxes.

UPS / FedEx Ground – Usually takes 2-5 business days to reach most parts of the country. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.  Not available to Alaska or Hawaii. No PO Boxes.

FedEx Priority Overnight – Available via Online Ordering Only. Next business day delivery. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab. No PO Boxes.

 

US TERRITORIES – Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (US), American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, United States  Minor Outlying Islands.

US Mail First Class – You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

US Mail Priority Mail – Estimated service time is 1-3 days.  You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

FedEx – Service times vary depending on your location.  Available via Online Ordering Only. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab. No PO Boxes.

 

CANADA

US Mail/Canada Post – Will take 3-14 days to reach most areas of Canada. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

FedEx – Services and times vary depending on your location.  Available via Online Ordering Only. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab. No PO Boxes.

 

INTERNATIONAL

US Mail/Your Mail/Post – Service times vary depending on your location.

FedEx – Services and times vary depending on your location.  Available via Online Ordering Only. You will receive a tracking number when the shipment leaves the lab.

You will receive an email notification when we enter your order into production.  Also, you will receive an email if we have any questions about your order before it enters production.

 

Yes, we can ship to our Northern friends. You will need to apply the correct postage because our prepaid mailers only work in the U.S. Then select the Canada shipping for return shipping. Your package will arrive back via US Mail / Canada Post.  FedEx is also an option for return shipping if you order online.

You can use this label on your package to send to us.  You will need to check with Canada Post to determine the proper postage rate.

video-label

DOWNLOAD SHIPPING LABEL

Use for international shipping or large packages

If you are wondering if we have received your film yet, please check your inbound tracking number with the Post Office. If tracking shows your film has arrived at our post office, but you have not been notified, please allow 1 – 3 business days to enter production.

Additionally, check your SPAM folder for notification or in case we sent an invoice for additional payment due. We use the Paypal platform for invoicing. You do not need a Paypal account to pay an online invoice, any Visa, Mastercard or AMEX credit or debit card will work.

Almost all film we receive is via the US Postal Service using our free postage paid mailers, or our labels taped to a 6×9 envelope. Make sure you record your tracking number before mailing.

Instead of using our free postage paid mailers, some customers feel more comfortable using FedEx, UPS, or DHL, as their shipping systems do offer better tracking of your shipment and a guaranteed delivery time to us.  If shipping FedEx, UPS, or DHL, be sure to read the FAQ for FedEx/UPS as you cannot ship to our P.O. Box, you must use our physical address.

FOR CRITICAL FILM, WE SUGGEST USING FedEx OR UPS SHIPPED DIRECTLY TO OUR LAB.

The Darkroom does not have the ability to track inbound USPS shipments and cannot assist with USPS issues.

If you prefer to ship to us using FedEx , UPS or DHL, you will need to ship to our physical street address and NOT to our P.O. Box address.

The Darkroom
946 Calle Amanecer, Suite A
San Clemente, CA 92673 USA

Note that the postage paid inbound labels are only for USPS. The shipping choices on the order form or online are for RETURN shipping only.

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