The FIND Lab – A Film Lab Review

 

The FIND Lab

Founded by ‘Film Is Not Dead’ author  and photographer Jonathan Canlas the FIND lab began as an extension of the Film Is Not Dead workshops in that in the early days this labs services where only available to attendees of the workshop.

A casual look at their website shows that their prices are average to perhaps a bit on the high end, but a more in depth look shows their services typically include more value than at first apparent.

In the year I’ve been using them I can also state that The FIND Lab seems to be always looking to find new services and continues to evolve as one the top current film labs with unique services like Hybrid editing and their 1for1 film purchase program.  They’ve quickly become one of the top film labs in the county and I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Costs & Offerings

While their initial costs seem at best average it doesn’t take long to realize there are several value added services included in these costs.

First on all their scan choices when they are sent back to you the files are organized in folders based on the type of film used for that roll.
Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 2.51.47 PMSince I keyword all my images in Lightroom by film type this is a huge service.   I used to keep duplicates of my lab orders with the film types hand written in and then do my best to match them up and keyword them when I downloaded the scans.   This simple little service easily saves me 5-10 minutes of work per order at a minimum and takes the guesswork and occasional errors out altogether.

Second is their Feedback which comes on all premium scans and is available as an option on basic scans.  While sometimes the feedback feels a bit basic if there’s nothing that really jumps out at them (all the metering was good, focus good, etc) there are times, especially when experimenting, that the extra few minutes the lab invests on that feedback is quite handy.

Besides just because I’ve been shooting film since the ’70’s doesn’t mean I know it all.   When I switched to digital in 2001/2002 I was an mid level amateur at best.  I’m constantly evolving and sometimes their feedback is vital in that.

Besides I love it when they pick out shots they really loved from the set. 🙂

Third – the level of adjustments I think far exceeds what most other labs do.  Their premium scans include custom color correction, which is not just color and density adjustments on the scanner, but fine tuning color in photoshop if needed.   Only my last order it was noted that they removed the green cast to some skin tones from people close to the grass.  I know some of the other labs do this as well, but I don’t think they all do.

Even their basic scans include color and density adjustments in the scanner (which some other labs don’t do on their basics, they do 100% auto pilot on them).

The FIND Lab also offers proof prints, has E6 processing coming, recently added some Noritsu scanners and they’ve launched two new services that are pretty unique in the industry.

Hybrid Editing – Partnering with Kirk Mastin of Mastin Labs this is a service for those photographer who use digital cameras as well as film but want the color and tone on the digital to more closely resemble that of the film counterparts.

1for1 – A unique program that allows the lab to buy film in bulk and then pass along those better prices to people who use their lab.   For single roll prices there’s a savings of it looks to be 10-15% over retail.

My experience with the lab

 

I sent my first rolls into The FIND Lab just about a year ago, April 2014.   I was a fan of Jonathan’s book and was planning on attending one of the final “Film Is Not Dead” workshops in Denver later in the year, and for the most part just wanted to support his work a bit since I felt his book played a big part in my return to film photography.

In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much, at the time they where a Frontier only shop and I’d yet to find a Frontier only lab that really nailed the color the way I liked it – I always used Noritsu scanners.   To my surprise however it only took a few emails back and forth with  lab manager Belinda to have my scans coming back looking as good or better than anything I’d received elsewhere.

With E6 on the way my only wish is they could find a way to offer a “basic B&W” since I love shooting B&W for personal work and would love the chance to get a better price even if I had to do my own spot and dust adjustments.

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Recommendations

I think The FIND Lab is one of those top film labs that everyone should try, and while they might not be a perfect fit for everyone,  it won’t be for lack of services.

The FIND Lab Website

The FIND Lab Facebook

The FIND Lab Instagram

Until next time,

Mark

  • Beth Herzhaft - 2015/06/26 - 3:31 am

    My experience with The FIND Lab was completely opposite to yours, unfortunately. While everyone there seems extremely friendly, it seems that they are completely incompetent, at least with my order.

    I sent in three rolls, (2) 35 mm and one 120 mm: The 120 mm roll had to be rescanned and so somehow got separated from the 35mm. Here is the good part: they threw it out accidentally. Yes, a photo lab actually THREW A CLIENT’S FILM IN THE TRASH without checking with management, or calling the client – me – first, or seemingly asking any questions at all. Who on earth throws out film? I know they have a policy to throw unclaimed film out after 90 days, but this was less than half that time, and not unclaimed. Unbelievable. Apparently they are “really sorry” about this and “don’t know how it happened”.

    Now for the 35 film which was a whole other nightmare. The 35mm film was clearly underdeveloped. They suggested that either I had a bad batch of film or perhaps had underexposed it. However I buy film in bricks so they all are from the same lot, and no other rolls from that lot had issues when developed elsewhere. With regard to possible underexposure, the film was shot over time in every conceivable lighting situation. I have been shooting professionally for 20 years and can say quite confidently that I know how to use my camera. They seemed extremely eager to do anything possible to deflect responsibility away from themselves.

    Even once they grudgingly accepted responsibility, it seemed that one and didn’t know what the other was doing. One person would call and tell me they were doing something and then another person would follow up with completely different information.

    It is annoying when a lab will not take responsibility for their errors. I don’t need super sweet and friendly: I would prefer the truth.

    Anyway since this was my experience with The Find Lab I thought I would share that here.

  • Mark - 2015/06/26 - 11:44 am

    I think that even great companies drop the ball from time to time and unfortunately it typically only takes one bad experience to lose a client for life. I am curious though as to why you chose to use them in the first place, looking at your blog and website I see references to processing your own film, and your style seems a much more traditional look than the current and popular over expose everything by 2-3 stops.

  • Beth Herzhaft - 2015/06/27 - 9:28 pm

    Hi Mark. You make a good point. I was seeing if I could find an additional lab. In the old film days I had different labs are used for different specific things. One alarming thing however is it seems like almost every lab now only knows how to balance images towards that trendy, pastel, washed out, over romanticized look. No matter what instructions I have given to labs or two postprocessing digital editing houses I end up with the same magenta skin tones etc.

  • Mark - 2015/06/27 - 10:05 pm

    I do tend to agree that if shooting weddings and you want that “look” almost everybody can do it, but you try and get a little moody and it’s a bit more challenging. It’s funny, but it’s one reason why I started shooting slides in the early 90’s, my results would look like what I shot not what the scanner/printer operator thought it should look like.

    Since I don’t do weddings anymore and not all of my personal work do I want to be in the “Jose Villa” pallet I’ve been tempted to get an epson scanner and find a good place to just process the film.

    I have recently tried 1 other lab that I ran some personal 35mm work through that I’ll write a little review of and link up to, they really did remind me of that basic film exposure, Leitner-esque.

  • Beth H - 2015/06/27 - 11:02 pm

    Not sure what the reference is. Do you mean Saul Leiter? If so, he is one of the greats (in my opinion)

  • Mark - 2015/06/28 - 5:11 am

    Yes.
    This is why I should never respond to things late at night and with my phone.

  • dan - 2015/11/18 - 3:09 pm

    I usually use Richard Photo lab. I am sending a couple rolls of film to the find lab to see how they are. They have better pricing, but i’m willing to pay a little more if a get a better experience as a customer. I’m hoping for the best. Beth it sucks that you had that experience I actually checked the send my film back after scanning box. I keep my negatives in the basement storage area. It has the most constant temp in my house.

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