Photo Labs & Photo Processing

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Making copies of old black & white photos

March 2007

I need to have copies made of several 8x10 black and white photos of our house. The photos were taken in the 1930's or 1940's, and seem to be professionally done, but I don't know how old the prints are and I don't have the negatives. I know one option is to have them scanned and reprinted, and another is to have negatives made. I am looking for the option that creates the highest quality reprint at a reasonable cost. (One shop quoted $100 per print to scan and reprint, that seems unreasonable.) Any amateur photographers out there have a great shop and/or person to recommend? Holly

How high quality do they have to be? At Longs (and probably others), you can scan a b photo, do some minor adjustments on the contrast, etc., and have it printed it out within an hour for about $1 for a 5x7. It's pretty cheap to give it a try. R.K.

Before you spend a fortune, why don't you try to find a friend who has a printer with a built-in scanner (a common commodity these days). You can scan your picture and print it out on photo paper--you may be pleasantly surprised by the results and be able to forego the professionals altogether. We have done this with a number of black and white family pictures that are now framed and displayed in our home. Good luck!

Having prints made from digital photos

Oct 2006

Anyone have a recommendation for a place to have digital photos developed, either online or a store in or near Berkeley? We bought a digital camera a year ago & I've never had prints made. So, I have a zillion kid photos that I need to have printed. I've heard the quality of digital photos can really vary depending on who's doing the developing. I'm looking for decent quality at a decent price. Thanks. Debbie

We've been happy with storage of photos AND printing at Kodak Easy Share. ( From a Mac uploading is a breeze - one or two quick steps. It can't be that much more difficult from a PC, I don't think. Also, sharing albums is fun and really easy too. Don't work for them, just honestly happy with their site -Alison

I love the work they do at elephant pharmacy - and I'm a professional photographer. Just 30 cents per print. Very Picky

Try Elephant Pharmacy on Shattuck and Cedar Jill

I'm like you and haven't developed as many pictures as I should. I have used Shutterfly online service and really like it. It's fast. I also like the way that you can easily send pictures to family through their service. On a side note I also highly recommend Picassa free software from Google. It's a great photo management software & it makes it really easy to view and upload your pictures to different services, emailing, blogging, etc. Jennifer

If you're a Costco member, I've found the Costco in Richmond does a great job with digital photos for a great price. You can bring in your card or upload everything to their website and then pick up the photos at the store (or pay a little extra and have them mailed to you). JP

I have had amazing success with Costco's digital photo services. I post from home and they mail them to me for free in a few days. The quality is as good as your skills as a photographer. Here is some unsolicited advice: turn off the flash as much as possible! Claire

I have had success with two different companies. Ritz Photos has a service that you can submit the pictures on their website and pick them up at a local store. The per picture price is more, but there is no shipping. I have had a few problems with the data not arriving at the store, but I believe that it was an employee issue. Ritz makes very nice prints. I have been turned off, however, by the poor service at the stores. Shutterfly has been great. It is possible to print whatever you want on the back of the photo which I find handy for organizing. The website is easy to use and the pictures always arrive very quickly. I like the ability to share photo albums on the web. Joan

I develop all of my digi photos on I love it. Easy to use. Great editing options like applying borders, making photos black and white and they come on good quality photo paper not the thin cheap stuff that they give you at other online sites. It is easy to use and they send you coupons for free shipping and discounts all the time. I order pics at least 2 times a month since I have a toddler and have never had a problem. I highly recommend it. SM

When I asked the same question to my friends, I was told Costco is a good place (cheap, decent quality) to print digitial photos. You can upload on the web and then eithe have them mailed or pick them up if you go shopping there (you need to be a Costco member) Still have tons of pictures on file!

Try Rite Aid- they have a developing machine for cameras/cell phones. The associates help you with it. Photos come out nice. Redwood City mama

I've gotten excellent results at decent prices at It's easy to use, too. pix snappin mama

We've always used Ofoto, which is now Kodak Gallery. Easy to use, good service, and good quality prints. check it out at --digital photographer & scrapbooker

Cd of photos from film in berkeley?

Oct 2006

I'm looking for a place to get cd's developed from a film camera (ordinary 35mm rolls of film, 24 exposures, that sort of thing, along with the photos themselves). I used to use the Campus Store, which sent out to Kodak and did a great job, but they don't have this service anymore. I have had the Fuji CD's done since, but the pictures on the CD look very ''grainy'' (they are huge files, but still grainy). After consulting the Kodak web site, I took my last roll to Walgreens, they said it would take 11 days, it is now 12 days and they cannot find my film, so I'm not happy with this option either. Any suggestions? Close to UC campus would be best but I'll go farther if necessary. Thanks! JC

I had prints and a CD made from a roll of film at that photo shop on Shattuck just south of Center St--I think it's called Color Express. I believe it was ready the same or next day, and the quality seemed fine

Try ''The Looking Glass'' on Telegraph, a block or two north of Ashby. They're a great camera store, and can probably develop your film themselves, or give you a reliable recommendation of who can do a good job with it. Dianna

Fantastic Color photofinisher

March 2005

I am desperate to find fantastic photofinishing for color print film. The first month of my baby's life is not recorded on film because the shop I used destroyed the negatives...I'm not sure what they did, but the negatives came back mangled and the prints were underdeveloped and scratched beyond belief. It was awful. I've since been using different places in Oakland and Berkeley, but haven't found the right place yet. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

You could try scanning the film at a really good digital house. I have used in SF and they scanned very old scratched film and made it like new. they run a sctrach removal device on it. The underdevelopment may be hopeless, but its worth a try to fix it digitally. The guys there would be able to tell you if its saveable and also they can do the work. Good luck! Also, I like Action Photo in concord and Photoworks in SF. Spindlers in SF does wondeful black and white. I'm a professional and I've used all these places. Christina

Here are two photofinishers I recommend without hesitation: Elephant Pharmacy on Shattuck at Cedar is mid-price and very good quality. Cantoo, at 813 Heinz Ave (west of 7th street and down the alley) is top quality and premium price but the best in the East Bay. I work as a photographer and MUST have beautiful and consistant results. These labs give both. Dana

I love Montclair Photo ( on Antioch Street in Montclair Village - right around the corner from Peet's. They've done excellent color prints from film and from digital stuff for me - I've had stuff developed there that I shot with my little point-and-shoot that came out looking better than stuff my friend shot with a ''real'' camera. The staff seems to be friendly and knowledgeable, too. JP

Lightwaves on Pardee in Berkeley is a professional lab that is used by most of the photography faculty and students at CCA. They are small, friendly, well-educated in all things photographic, and they do beautiful work. Amy

Film processing, slide and print

Feb 2005

I would appreciate hearing some current recommendations for Film processing (both slide and print- 35mm) in San Francisco and/or Berkeley. Thanks! anon

Montclair Photo in Oakland ( does a great job with film. I've also had them do slides that turned out well. Go for the non-one hour option, and you'll get beautiful prints! Its the only place I take my film. picture lover

Hi. I'm not sure if you are looking for color film processing or black and white, or both. If you are looking for color film and slide processing, I recommend Tony Moltore, the owner of Cloneworks. Phone 326-2323. His shop is on Sacramento and Dwight. He does great custom color printing and processing at very reasonable prices. He also does digital printing for larger prints at a great price. beth

I have had my 35mm film developed at Costco, and have generally been happy with the results. Prices are reasonable too. Lori

Converting old slides to prints

June 2004

Anyone have any experience in converting old slides to photo prints? I've got maybe 100 slides selected that I'd like to convert to prints. Where would you do it? I've thought of Sarber's in Montclair, and would love feedback on them if you have any, as well as any other locations... Thanks! Carrie

I had about 60 slides scanned onto a disk and had some prints from slides made at Ritz Camera at the top of Solano. I was very happy with the results. The slides were from the 1950s and 60s. Jennifer

Two good places to make photo prints from slides are: Cantoo at 813 Heinz Ave in Berkeley. (A good, professional lab that might be a little hard to find without directions.) I suggest you call them first at 540-0291. Elephant Pharmacy at Shattuck and Cedar in Berkeley can print from slides. Either lab can print up to 8by10 inches. Both have the new generation of equipment which saves you about 70% compared with the old process. Dana

Black & White Film

May 2002

We used to take our black-and-white film to be developed by AAA Photo in San Francisco, but they are no longer in business. Can anyone recommend a place, either in San Francisco or the East Bay, that does quality developing and printing of black-and- white and color film? Thanks. Patty

I had lots of luck with a small place in Montclair Village called Montclair 1 Hour Photo, which I had contacted initially when I was desperate for a fast turn-around on some B photos I needed enlarged. None of the bigger name places would do it - they all send them out. This place not only did it right away, they were cheaper than the non-one-hour prices at the other places and they were totally cool on top of it all. [339-3686] -Jean

PHOTOLAB at 2235 5th Street in Berkeley specializes in B processing. 510/644-1400 G Antokal

If you live in SF, try Bay Photo; they are wonderful. In the East Bay, I would use Looking Glass, on Telegraph. Mary Schmida

I have been happy with the black & white film developing done by PhotoLab at 2235 Fifth Street near Bancroft Way. They also have a large informative ad in the yellow pages. Laura Yerkovich

Looking Glass Photo on Telegraph (at Oregon, I think) is the place to go. Fantastic staff. Sarah Lee

In San Francisco, I've used Bay Photo Lab (Arguello & McAllister) and also Photoworks (Market & Church) for b film processing and enlargements. Both do excellent quality work; the folks at Bay Photo are particularly friendly. Caroline

My dad is a professional photographer (mostly black and white) and has used Custom Process in Berkeley for years with great results. I think it's on fifth street. Amanda P.

For black & white I like Photolob at 2235 Fifth St. in Berkeley. That's all they do, though they send color work out somewhere else. For color photos Ag Photo at 6034 College Ave. Jennifer N.

A comparison: is Kodak much better than Costco?

Someone asked a few days ago for a recommendation for a photo developer. I have an interesting experience to share with the readers of the UCB parents digest, which shows that the question is not that simple to answer. It is obvious that the quality of the pictures depends on three factors: camera, film, and development. Some half a year ago I bought an amateur-level SLR Nikon camera instead of my point-and-shoot camera, and tried out different films and developers to find out if my thousand dollar investment in a new camera has changed anything in the picture quality. I bought two types of film, Kodak 200 and Costco-brand film (Kirkland), and had them developed in three combinations:


  • Costco film (about $1.30/roll) - Costco development (about $2.50 for one set of pictures) = about $4 in total
  • Kodak film (from $2.50 to $4.50/roll) - Costco development = about $6 in total
  • Kodak film - Kodak processing (about $5-7 for 1 set of pictures) = about $10 in total

    I went to a park on a sunny day, and shoot all three rolls, trying to get more or less identical pictures on each of the films. I ended up with 6-7 triplicates of photographs showing the same landscape/trees/flowers, which I labelled on the back to remember which is which. Then, I asked 3 of my friends to arrange each group of three pictures in the order of their quality. I also compared the results of this test with my prior similar (but less systematic) experience with a point-and-shoot camera.

    With pictures taken with my old Olympus, I never saw any advantage of the Kodak processing in comparison to more than twice-as-cheap Costco development. The pictures were always decent, no matter where they were developed, but never outstanding. In fact, I even liked the Costco pictures better for their somewhat brighter colors than those I would get from Kodak or Longs Drugs.

    Experiment with pictures taken by Nikon were much more decisive. The combination Costco-Costco had obviously inferior quality (lower contrast and noticeably lower color saturation), and were unambiguously rated as the worst by all three people. Kodak-Costco and Kodak-Kodak were very close in quality, and the selection of the best picture was somewhat arbitrary. I guess, in 60-70% of the cases Kodak-Kodak was found better by my friends, and in 30-40% - Kodak-Costco. It is worth noting that the comparison of the pictures taken by SLR Nikon and point-and-shoot Olympus was not an issue: the superiority of the pictures taken by the Nikon in terms of the accuracy of color rendering, contrast, and sharpness was striking.

    This test lead me to an interesting conclusion: it seems that the quality of pictures is determined by the three above mentioned factors in the following order: camera - film - photofinishers. Since camera is the starting point, it determines the limit of quality which can be achieved by the photofinishers. Therefore, I think that spending money on good film and development is a waste of money unless you have a good camera. If you use point-and-shoot camera with a plastic lens, better take your film to Cotsco and save 60% of the cost. Kodak film with Costco development is a reasonable compromise between cost and quality for relatively sophisticated compact cameras. Finally, the expensive Kodak-Kodak combination is worth going for only if you have an SLR camera and want to get the most from your pictures.

    Another thing to mention: all books on photography recommend to have an exposed film developed immediately, or kept in a refrigerator until you can get it developed. The picture quality does degrade a lot with the time of storage, and I did observe it in my own experience!

    High Speed Film

    does anyone know if it is possible to buy APS film in speeds higher than 400 ASA (for example, 800 ASA) and if so, where is a good place to do so? thanks Fran
    Looking Glass on Telegraph a couple of blocks north of Ashby is one of the best places for these kind of products. Giulia

    Film Processing

    I am trying to find a reasonably priced place in Berkeley to process my endless rolls of film. I have been dropping off all my baby pics at Walgreens for the last year and a half, having been attracted to their cheap prices and free doubles, but I am finally fed up of the poor quality. If any one has any good suggestions I would greatly appreciate them.
    Try the Kodak processing at CostCo. More expensive than regular CostCo (which is cheaper than Walgreens, I believe) but much higher quality.
    Try Looking Glass on Telegraph. They have several different choices, all quality. Probably a little more expensive, though
    We always used Longs Drugs 'In Store' Photo Processing. They can individually adjust the processing or if there's a problem you can also ask them to redo some of the photos which I sometimes did and I received them right away. There are often specials with their coupons in the magazine that you can pick up in the store. You can ask for a frequent buyer card, after ten you'll get one processing for free. The quality is much better if the photos are processed in the store rather then sent out, even if it's Kodak. Often cheap processing costs are also related to overuse of developer liquids and so on.
    'The Looking Glass on Telegraph in Berkeley is what professional photographers use for film buying and processing. You pay about a dollar more than at Walgreens/Longs but it is well worth the difference in get contact sheets as part of the service and, on Fuji Film developing, you get those great coupons for FREE enlargements (8'' by 10'') with every roll of film!! Enjoy!

    Copying Old Photos

    I am looking for a reputable place that will copy old family photos to a high quality without damaging the original. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    David and Vivienne
    Photolab in Berkeley specializes in black and white and does an excellent job with old photos. However, it is costly to have the new negatives of the old photos done! Once you do the prints are no more expensive than any other b/w prints. I've seen cheaper jobs from places like Walgreens and they were not as good. I think it's worth it to have it done well, but it was not cheap!
    I would recommend East Bay Photo. 131 Berkeley Square( Shattuck Ave between Center and Addison in Berkeley.510-848-4246. I had many of my family's old pictures redone (many were in terrible shape) and I loved the results. Good Luck.

    Photo Booths

    Anyone know of any photo booths in Berkeley or I guess a place to make photo stickers of different sizes? Thanks. Alice.
    there's one at the Emeryville Market Hall at the end that faces toward the movie theater. Linda
    I haven't been there in awhile, but there used to be a photo booth at the Emeryville Market near the toddler ball room. Cathy

    On site photo labs


    After two bad experiences with developers losing my precious photos (Photoworks, previously Seattle FilmWorks - which did recover them, and Embarcadero Pharmacy, which two months later has not), I am reluctant to entrust my precious Halloween film to another place that sends its photos off to a lab somewhere else to be developed (i.e. the void). Does anyone know a place other than a one-hour developer (I want better quality than that) which does good quality developing on site (Oakland or downtown SF preferred)? Thank you!! FTR

    I like Wolf Camera at the corner of Ashby and Telegraph Avenues in Berkeley, kitty corner from Whole Foods. They develop on site. I think the quality is as good as Looking Glass just up the street and, wonder of wonders, they have a drive-through window (which is great if you have a napping child in the car). If you pay the membership fee, you get a discount on developing, which is well worth it if you like to take pictures. Penny
    I recommend Wolf. There is one at Drum and Sacramento in downtown San Francisco, and they have other downtown locations as well (on Market and on Mission I believe). The Wolf at Ashby and Telegraph also develops on site. They use Kodak Royal Gold paper so the prints usually are great, and if you don't like the color, they'll redo them for you. You might also try Photo Express in Embarcadero One, right around the corner from the Embarcadero Pharmacy that lost your photos. Amy
    Brite Ideas on Lakseshore Ave (3 or 4 doors up from Peet's Coffee. My hubby, Zac Wittmer, is a photographer and he HIGHLY recommends them. Good luck and thanks for the heads up on Photoworks! Trish
    Custom Process on 5th street I believe does their own developing on site. Also Albany Photo on Solano ( near Ensenada) is a one hour photo place but they do excellent quality work on the premises. Lynn
    I use the Long's in Downtown Oakland at 20th and Webster. I have been extremely happy with their in-house photo lab. I have been taking my film there since my 4-1/2 year old daughter was born. Shoshana