August 17, 2018 / By tracy mikulec / In Film Photography,Photo Lab Blog

Did you know retail and drugstores are no longer returning your original film?

Who develops film & returns negs?


110, 126 and Advantix

Have an old roll of film to develop? We can help

Developing old rolls of film

Big-name drugstores like CVS and Walgreens still develop film, but the days of 1-hour photo processing are long gone. Today, nearly all the big box stores send the film to third-party labs, with turnaround time ranging from three to five days at Walgreens and two to three weeks at CVS. Even more important, they no longer return the negatives, only providing your images as scans on a CD. Discarding negatives may be okay for the person with disposable cameras, but is a major drawback for the film enthusiast or the “found film” people.

Found film is actually a pretty big market for The Darkroom and its people finding an undeveloped roll of film in a drawer or the attic. These mystery time capsules can potentially contain images with huge sentimental value. Negatives are the foundation of shooting film and an important part of the traditional printing process. A low-quality scan of something sentimental or of an important subject is not an adequate replacement to the original film or “file”.

A List of Who Develops Film and Who Returns Negatives


Costco Film DevelopingCostco film processing chart

Costco film developing

More on Costco Photo Lab

In visiting our local Costco, we discovered that they’re no longer developing film. We were told by a photo lab employee that “we recently pulled their film processing equipment out of every building”.  Costco doesn’t even develop film online through their Costco Photo Center website.

Costco photo center stops developing film
Over a year ago, Kelvin Wang started a petition for Costco to start developing film again, but it hasn’t gotten much support.


Walmart Film DevelopingWalMart film processing chart

WalMart film developing

More on Walmart Photo Lab

WalMart is no longer returning negatives to save on postage costs and only providing customers scanned images on a CD. In researching, Walmart film developing services vary from each store or region and this may not be a company wide policy. Many of the stores have completely stopped processing film and, like Costco, may be in the process of phasing out film processing entirely.

Walmart Film Developing


Sam's Club Film DevelopingSam's Club film processing chart

 Sam’s Club film developing

More on Sam’s Club Photo Lab

In nearly all the stores, Sam’s Club stopped developing film in late 2013. Additionally, they don’t have in-store photo mailers and film development cannot be ordered or purchased online.


Walgreens Film DevelopingWalgreens

Walgreens film developing

More on Walgreens Photo Lab

Over 800 people a month Google “does Walgreens develop film“. It’s been reported that Walgreens stopped film processing on April 16th of 2015 and is using a 3rd party service. Using this service, Walgreens doesn’t return your negatives and it’s likely this 3rd party service destroys your negatives after scanning them. Walgreens film development cannot be ordered or purchased online.

Walgreens Film Processing


Target Film DevelopingTarget film processing chart

Target film developing

More on Target Photo Labs

Target removed the Kodak processing machines from many of the the stores and now offers a print-only photo center for those with digital files. This is true with our local Target, but may not be true with all stores.


CVS Film DevelopingCVS film processing chart

CVS Pharmacy film developing

More on CVS Photo Center

Not all CVS stores develop film and the ones that do are sending directly to 3rd party services. Negatives aren’t returned and orders take about 3 weeks.  Additionally, CVS has stopped online film developing.

CVS Film Processing
CVS Pharmacy processes film, but doesn’t return film negatives


you don’t develop with The Darkroom, we suggest that you verify with the individual store, whether it’s Costco, Walgreens, WalMart, Target, Sam’s Club, CVS or any other large retailer to confirm the send-out processing service returns your negatives.

Have an update or something to contribute? Please let us know!

 

18 responses to “Did you know retail and drugstores are no longer returning your original film?”

  1. Kathryn Smith says:

    Hi:
    I am looking for some old negatives to be developed and hoping you can help.
    Thank you,
    Kathryn

  2. Carol Rogers says:

    I have many rolls of 35 mm film I need to get developed. I would like to get prints not a CD. Lots of old memories! I hope you can help me.
    Thank you Carol

  3. Melvin Epps says:

    I have an old 620 film camera that I would like to shoot with do you carry 620 film and do you process the film.

  4. Deborah Day says:

    Hello, I too have many 35 millimeter rolls of film that needs to be processed but I only want the prints, no CD. Will the cost be the same if I just get the prints? I’m not even sure that the rolls of film will turn out since they were taken in yes Believe It or Not 1980’s and 1990’s. After divorce they got stored away and I recently moved and found them and had a pretty big box full of them and disposable cameras. Let me know if you think that it’s worth even bothering with them since they’re that old. Thank you thank you, Deborah

  5. Michelle Hoyt says:

    I have alot wwll like 7 sentimental disposable cameras that i found when my mom passed away. They are like 10+ years old. Been in and out of the cold and heat. From closet to basement to storage. Can you develop them? Do you charge per picture that you can retrieve well i mean develop? What are your prices?

  6. revelsdavid50 says:

    My local Walgreens used to develop one hour film up until about 6 months ago when they upgraded their machines and got rid of the film stuff. I used them because after using Walmart so many times before I realized that you were supposed to get your film back because I was new to the format at the time. I am now using the darkroom now since they have stopped one hour film.

  7. Stephanie R. says:

    Can you guys develop 25 expo film?
    My in-laws were cleaning their dungeon of destruction known as their basement and they found them.

  8. Stewart says:

    I found an old roll of film in a thrift store camera, and I’d love to process it to see if any photos were taken, but I also want the cartridge that the film came in to be returned to me (in addition to the negatives and prints). Is this possible through your services?

  9. Cathy says:

    I have a older photo (2004) CD from Longs Drugs – Fuji Digital Album brand. One image on this CD overlaps with another image – that is only about 25% of the next image appears connected to the previous image. Guess it was printed that way.
    Is there any way for a professional to fully reveal the image that only shows 25%?
    The image is extremely important to me. Thank you.

  10. Penny ross says:

    I have 110 film that’s needs developed can you do that?

  11. Lawrence Dawson says:

    I know it and it is unforgivable that those shops fail to return MY films. What would they do with slide film? I will not use the sevices of any shop which declines to return MY film. In particular, they have no idea at all what to do with the panoramics shot in my Hasselblad X-Pan. They can’t scan themproperly ans they can’t print them properly either. How about 6×6 or 6×7 medium format films? HAH!

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  13. Bill Conners says:

    Thanks for this updated story. my wife has about 10 rolls of 35mm and we were curious what is on them. I will check with local camera store chain Dodd camera here in Cleveland probably our best bet to get negatives back.