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Specialist or dead?


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We are now convinced that we can no longer compete with the big boys as they seam determined to trade at a loss/ or the big supplliers in our industry are going at stupid prices to gain turnover. The lack of digital growth is disturbing, however being a dedicated minilab we are looking at specialist services all the time as boots etc are dropping services in favour of mass market product. :-/

We are looking at processing black and white film (hp5/fp4 etc ) with a small jobo setup, but need advise on developers. Can any one help?

Your views are highly regarded!

Wayne

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buy a patterson developing tank  a couple of measuring cylinders and a thermometer on e-bay,get some Kodak T-max developer and fixer from tetenal, and you are ready to process b/w film. Youill need a changing bag or a dark room (realy dark room!)and access to  a sink with running water :)

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You are right about our inabiltiy to compete with the big boys (at least on price).

I agree with above posts regarding B&W developing, just use a small tank and do them by hand. You could find every thing you need for next to nothing on ebay. I  use D-76 developer, as it's a good general purpose developer.

Not too many people around here wanting B&W film developing though.

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There has always been a price differential between minilabs and the mass merchants - even back in the D&P days. We're still growing our digital print volume despite having much higher prices. Our customers seem to like the service and convenience. Try getting that from some of the big boys. I've seen so many people go up to their kiosks, spend a few minutes - then walk away. We spend the time to get them settled and always achieve good orders. I think the key to success is having more services customers can choose in our shops like photo books. To my mind they are more of the way forward than chasing the diminishing film market.

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my biggest concern with hand developing commercially would be the higher risk of development faults on hand developed film, from air bubbles to water marks.  That and you have to spend a lot of time following the life of one film,.. shaking at precise intervals with the dev in, then with the fixer in, then giving it a good long rinse and then finding somewhere apropriate to hang and dry it dust free.  Then theres the fact that each brand/speed film needs a different length of developing time, and that how vigorously you shake it/how strong the dev is affects the contrast etc. etc.

dont get me wrong, devloping B&W can be very fun and rewarding, but I imagine very few customers would value the service enough to pay the REAL cost it would require to be commercially viable, unless your do not value your time all that much.  I personally have not developed any B&W film for a few years and would be anxious about backing up the quality of my developments without practicing again with 20 or so films, even then theres an element of suprise when doing these things by hand (part of the joy of the process when its your own, but when it is someone elses filmi??)

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Virtually every customer who has brought b/w film in for developing has balked at the price, and we outlab it.

For me to spend the time (and invest/build in a drying cabinet) I would be expecting to at least double the price. Anything else and you are paying to develop their film for them. The market down here just wouldn't bear it. After saying that, there is a chap about 15 miles away (not a lab) who charges

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We do all our B&W developing by hand using the good old paterson tanks and reels.

It tends to be a bit seasonal, most of our B&W customers being photography students. The local uni has an archaeology dept and they send us about 30 rolls about 6 times a year to dev and contact.

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