02 March 2009


End of an era

Photo Centre 2Today I brought some rolls of black-and-white film photos, which I'd taken at Northern Voice and our vacation last week, to the Save-On-Foods one-hour photo lab at Metrotown in Burnaby. Since the film was not regular silver halide B&W, but the kind that can be processed in a colour print minilab, Save-On developed, printed, and scanned the pictures in an hour.

But at the end of the week, Save-On is shutting down its one-hour lab. That's the end of an era for me—I've been having film developed, as well as both film and digital pictures printed there, for about 20 years. It's a sign. Hardly anyone but photo enthusiasts uses film anymore. Since I started shooting film again last summer, I've hardly ever seen anyone else bringing film into the Save-On lab. Usually the attendant is reading a book.

There are plenty of other options nearby, including the inexpensive Costco one-hour lab down the hill, the nearby London Drugs, and maybe one or two in the mall. There are also numerous proper pro labs in the city that will process and print nearly any kind of film with loving care—and for a price. But I'll miss the corner of Save-On with its now-outdated big-ass sign featuring a giant model film roll and 60-minute stopwatch.

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There was a 1-hour photo development shop right in my neighbourhood (also sold film, did passport photos, sold frames, etc.). Just shut down last week. It was kind of sad, but I never used it; I guess it was just too specialized, and I don't use film all that much.
We always go to the ABC pro shop. I find London Drugs has colours that are really off, at least at the downtown stores. I'm sorry to see your lab go, though.
And when these other places go, Derek, you'll have to do what I do ... develop B&W film yourself. It's actually quite cheap and easy to do, and satisfying too, although to develop say 2 rolls (end-to-end) it will take an hour out of your life. And then you'll need a scanner .....

There are some pros still using film (mainly medium or large format) ... fortunately here there are still a couple of pro labs still processing.


Steve Taylor (aka The_BigBlueCat)
Melbourne, Australia
I never really enjoyed developing or printing film myself, though I did so with colour print, colour slide, and black-and-white stock back in the '80s. (My dad even had a colour develop/print darkroom in our basement during most of my childhood.) Fortunately, there's no shortage of pro labs in Vancouver; I think by the time there are none left, it will be impossible to buy film too.

And I think that's some time away, especially because of the continued professional use of film you mention. Canon and Nikon (not to mention Leica and all the medium- and large-format camera makers) are still manufacturing new film cameras, and Kodak and Fuji are still introducing new film stocks, so I'm not too worried.