As an online photo lab, we wanted to get an idea of the value and services, along with the good and bad aspects of developing film and printing photos at retail photos centers and doesn’t factor in photo gifts or cards. This review is from our research and includes results from an informal social media poll. See all retail photo labs reviewed.
Prints from Film
Prints from Digital
With around 9.600 Retail locations*, CVS Photo Centers are convenient and located in nearly every region. CVS was very popular in our social media poll, but Google reports that online searches for Walgreens Photo Center was one of the lowest among the big box retailers. For printing photos, CVS ranked 4th best photo printing service of 2017 with TopTenReviews. It’s not clear if it’s for their online or in-store photo centers.
CVS is one of the last three major retailers that even supports film developing. Walmart Photo Center and Walgreens Photo Center being the other two. Customers drop off film rolls in store (film developing not available from their website) for shipment to a processing center in Greenwood, S.C., run by Japanese photo company Fujifilm.
Pros – Ranked #4 photo printing service with TopTenReviews. Because most towns have a local CVS, they’re convenient to use for prints and film developing.
Cons – For Film Developing, It was nearly mentioned by everyone that CVS Photo Centers doesn’t return the negatives, and as Jake from Texas puts it “The negatives are the point!”. A common complaint was quality, both in scanning and printing and very long turnaround times. See experts below for examples.
Excerpts from users
Some were edited for readability, some grammar, and brevity.
Wilson A, Atlantic Beach, Florida – CVS still develop film in my area, but only C-41. They have to send it away and it takes about 4-7 days. However, they do not send back your negatives. All you get back is standard 4×5 prints and a CD with your photos on them. I found this out the hard way.
Jake S – I only got my film developed at CVS Photo Centers and I’m pretty satisfied with the prints. The downside is you don’t get your negatives back and it takes like 5 weeks. The price is good for the quality and I would definitely develop from them again.
@zerlix_detroit – I’m in Michigan…Most of the drug stores (CVS, Walgreens) stopped because the C-41 machines broke down, they send out their film. I use a local camera shop for the 35mm and 120.
@danbien30, Poughkeepsie, NY – When I got into 35mm I started shooting like a madman figuring “oh when I worked in the photo at Walmart (in 2008) we processed film”. They don’t. I also checked Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens in my area (Poughkeepsie, NY). Nothing in-house, they all send out with a week or more turn around time. Also, they DO NOT send negatives back as I asked. There is, however, a wonderful place about an hour north (Albany) that processes c-41, E6, etc… very pleased with results. A little pricey, but I’ll take quality.
Charles R. L, Virginia: Nearly all CVS’s have switched to digital only processing and printing, mostly DIY.
@burlesontx , Houston, TX. – CVS sends out the film to be processed at their district photo lab.
More on Walmart Photo Lab
Source: 2017 https://www.statista.com/statistics/269425/total-number-of-walmart-stores-in-the-united-states-by-type/