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calr Oct 22, 2004 10:29 AM

I know this is a digital forum but digital also includes scanned images.

My wife and I recently returned from a Hawaiin cruise. She was shooting 35mm and I was shooting digital. In order to avoid passing undeveloped film through X-ray machines at security checkpoints, she had all but two of her rolls of film developed at 1-hr facilities at places like Wal-Mart, Ritz, and Walgreens.

When we returned home, I started scanning the negatives for my wife. It was then that I discovered how badly the negatives were handled. Most of the negatives processed by Wal-Mart and Ritz are scratched. They have what appears to be chemical residue that I haven't been able to remove with available film cleaners. Even though the negatives are sleaved, they have dirt and smudges on them. I have been able to remove most of the dirt and smudges with cleaner.

Two rolls were developed by Walgreens back here in Oregon after returning. Those two were hand inspected at the airport. Anyway, these negative are clean but cut wrong! They are cut in the standard 4-frame strips but the film was misaligned when it was cut and consequently the edge of some frames are cut off and appear on the next strip. So far, I've been able to work around this problem with cropping.

My first clue that there was a problem was when I saw the Wal-Mart people handling the film with their bare hands (no gloves). I observed this problem several years ago in Fred Meyer stores (a Northwest discount department store, supermarket chain). I complained to management about it and they just blew me off, saying it was more difficult to use gloves and they didn't have the time. They also used the excuse "most people will never look at the negatives". They are still handling film with their bare hands.

If you have film to be processed, take it to a reputable dealer or have your local store send it out for premium processing.

Cal Rasmussen

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