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Film Versus Digital Photo Printing

What has changed at the photo labs from six years ago? New service like red-eye correction in digital photos that old film developers didn't offer?

The Old

  • Offer one-hour, express photo-processing services
  • Enlargement of pictures up to 12R for analogue film images
  • Sold mainly film rolls, analogue cameras and disposable cameras
  • Use of traditional photographic printing methods

Processing is done in a photographic darkroom or within an automated photo printing machine. They key steps: a contact printer or enlarger exposes the image onto the photographic paper; this image is treated with a series of chemicals; toning may be required to modify or give a different color to the print. The final print is then textured, the process of giving it a matt or glossy finish, and dried.

The New

  • Convenient self-service terminals, called "kiosks" are available
  • Digital images can be enlarged only up to 10R for quality - too large a picture shows up the sharp edges
  • Sales of film rolls replaced with sale of memory cards, card readers and other digital-related accessories.
  • Automatic red-eye correction with digital processing
  • Value-added services: Printing in special formats, organized into various themes, with template and borders; Color-enhancement and special effects available; Conversion of film images into digital format.

Use of digital mini-labs to process images via traditional chemical photo-graphic processes. This can process both film and digital images by capturing images from photographic films, a kiosk that accepts memory cards or a website that accepts uploads. Color enhancement and editing, if needed, are made. Then, a laser or micro light valve array exposes the photographic paper with the image. The image is then processed from the mini-lab using the same method as the traditional photographic printing. The result should be as good and last long as traditional photographs since similar processes are used.


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