The Darkroom – A Film Lab Review

 

The Darkroom was one of the first labs I found when returning to film back in 2012 and in fact they processed that first roll of Kodak Portra 120 I ran through the Holga.

Holga camera and Portra 400 film

Holga camera and Portra 400 film

At this time they’ve been open more than 37 years, longer than most the owners/employees at the more recent labs have been alive. As a photographer who has been shooting just about the same amount of time there is sometime familiar and comfortable about their online presence and the style in which they process and scan. There’s nowhere near the amount of “Jose Villa inspired” Fuji 400H overexposed by 2-3 stops type of stuff that seems to be the bread and butter of most online labs samples but rather more of a film look in feel you’d expect if looking at photography art books from the last century, and as someone who learned photography well before that trend, it’s not at all unwelcome.

COSTS & OFFERINGS

At first glance they seem much more affordable with both 35mm and 120 starting at $11 a roll, but that’s for their standard scans which are actually smaller than the Walgreens scans I mentioned yesterday.

For an average sized scan that price goes to about $15, $20 for their largest scan. To this you can add $10 for 220 film and $3 for E6 slides. While slightly more affordable than more recent labs on the film scene, the difference really is negligible, but I’ll look closer at costs comparisons next Saturday.

They will also return your negatives immediately so every order has a 5.95 shipping charge attached to it, because of this it’s a better value to save up some film and send in larger batches rather than single rolls.

They are also setup to do proof prints and can even do true B&W Ilford B&W proof prints.

My experience with the lab

Besides that first roll of 120 film they are the lab I use when shooting Film Photography Projects PolayPan F film. They just seem to have the characteristics of that film down pat and always do a remarkable job with it.

Here’s a look at a few shots I’ve received from them over the years.

The Darkroom Lab   - PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab – PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab   - PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab – PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab

The Darkroom Lab   - PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab – PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab   - PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab – PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab   - PolyPan F film

The Darkroom Lab – PolyPan F film

Recommendations

If your sense of color film photography is more inspired by Saul Leiter than that of wedding blogs of the last decade or you’re into lomography then this lab might be perfect for you.    On the other hand if when you think film photography you think overexposed wedding bridal portraits on Fuji 400H and endless wedding details – this probably isn’t the lab for you.

Now that weddings are a thing of my past I think I might shuffle a few rolls of color 35mm from my point and shoot street photography their way in addition to being my goto lab for the PolyPan F film.

The Darkroom Website

The Darkroom Facebook Site

The Darkroom on Instagram

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