How can you get your photos developed on the cheap without sacrificing quality?

Cheapest Film Developing

TDS Reader Solutions


Cheaper Film Developing?

Does anyone know of a less expensive way to get film developed?
Becky B.

Professional Advice

I run a photography co-operative, and the question of finding cheap color developing comes up a lot. Unfortunately, it is difficult to reduce the cost of developing color film without effecting the quality. I know of several ways to develop film:

  1. Clark and York photo have the cheapest development. Their advertising and developing envelopes are often in the box when you order from another company. They usually charge about $4 to $6 for a roll of 36 exposures, plus about $2 for postage. You mail it off, and it takes a week to get it back. I consider the quality poor, but it is acceptable for many people. It is worth trying. You can request their mailers from clarkcolor.com and yorkphoto.com.
  2. Try drug stores, K-Mart, Walgreen's, mall photo stores, etc. You know about these. Prices are moderate, quality is average.
  3. Professional photographer's stores. Just because it is a camera store does not mean it fits in to this category. Look for a store where they color-balance each individual shot. This will be the place where professional photographers go. The quality can't be beat with these stores, and I feel they are the best value. You pay only for the shots that come out. I once opened up the back of my camera after shooting my friend's wedding. A store like this saved all but 3 of my shots. No other kind of store can.

I have learned it is better to cut photography expenses by getting cheap film than by getting cheap development. Cheap film will still perform very well. You can find very good color film in 100, 200, and 400 speeds for only about $4 for 36 exposures. I even like it better than Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa.
Holly

Cheapest Film Developing

Go Digital

This suggestion sounds like it goes against the frugality mindset, but bear with me. I went through a great deal of film which got very expensive. I decided hi-tech was the best option and got a digital camera. The newest ones take pictures that are indistinguishable from film when printed. You can even get free prints when you sign up with Shutterfly.

If you are willing to put down a bit more up front, you'll save a great deal down the road. Since getting my camera, I have taken over 3000 pictures (about 83 rolls of film) and that has saved at least $850 in developing fees alone.
Brad R.

Web Resources

I recently tried Shutterfly and Snapfish. When you upload your digital photos to Shutterfly, they will deliver prints through the mail.

Their prices are reasonable, and by only developing the photos that "turned out," you are saving yourself a lot of money! Also, when you first register on their site, they give you credit for 50 free prints right off the bat.

Snapfish.com sent me a free one-time use camera when I registered on their site, which I promptly used and returned to them - all for free of course! They then processed my photos, put them online and sent me a set of prints all for $1.69 shipping & handling. You can order additional prints off the site for a very discounted price.

I have been very pleased with both of these companies and have received very prompt, reliable service and quality work.
Debbie M.

Reviewed January 2018


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