I've been shooting a lot of film in the last couple of years. One common question is, "Oh, can you still get that developed, or do you develop it yourself?", and another is "I didn't know you could still buy it."

Buying film

It turns out there are plenty of places to buy film. Here in Longmont, CO, almost every grocery store carries it. King Soopers market recently ran a sale on C-41 process black and white fillm, so I bought all of it at one local store. The little store by my house sells Easyclix brand film. I've never tried it before, so I bought a couple of rolls to experiment with. My take is, don't bother. Maybe it was poorly stored, but my shots were slightly fogged and low contrast. I also have had numerous people give me expired film. I find high ISO stuff is normally not worth shooting unless it's been cold stored. Low ISO color and slide film usually works well as long as it's been cold stored. If not, there is often a color shift in the resulting photos. Black and white film 400 ISO and under seems to show few ill effects from being used a decade or more past its expiration date in my experience.

Mike's Camera in Boulder sells film. They have it mostly located in a set of cubes behind the film counter, so it is located too far away from me to see what is available, unfortunately. Last time I was there I noted they had a bunch of Fuji APS film. They also have a film refrigerator which you can look in, but it doesn't seem cold inside, so I'm uncertain the film there is actually cold stored. Victory Camera in Lafayette has film in a variety of formats stored in a fridge - some expired, some not. I've had good experiences with this store.

I've also bought film from B&H photo in New York and from random sellers on ebay and amazon. It's all worked out well for me.

Developing film

I don't do my own developing. There's a number of reasons including a lack of required space, and the desire to not mess with another hobby involving dangerous chemicals. Then there's the matter of complying with local environmental regulations here in Boulder County which are quite stringent.

I shoot a variety of formats - 35mm, APS, 110, 120, 620, and 4x5. I shoot C41 process color film, black and white film, and E6 slide film, so getting it all developed can be a puzzle.

35mm (C-41) and APS are the easiest. I just go to the Walgreens down the street. They only charge you for the pictures that actually come out, and they often are running specials. They apply the discount even if you don't have a coupon. Your film is developed in one hour, and I pay for the photo CDs as the scans are good quality and decent resolution (1280 pixels on the longest edge). The prints are nice and they can even do custom print dimensions and such (such as large square photos) which are not on the list of items on their website. One nice thing about Walgreens is you pay by the frame, and you only pay for a frame if it came out. Walgreens is the only place around here that I've tried with this policy.

For 35mm black and white and slide film, and 620 and 120 roll film, I typically go to Mike's Camera in Boulder. I get a discount as I'm a member of their "smile club" because I bought a camera there for a friend a while back. They do a good job developing C41 and E6, and sometimes black and white, but honestly, sometimes when I get the black and white negatives back from them it looks like they had gravel in the developer tank - lots of deep scratches, requiring a lot of work to fix.

The standard resolution scans they do are 1024 pixels on the lowest dimension and heavily pixelated. They aren't even adequate for web work in 2013 - they need to up the bar for the standard scans. They sell higher resolution scans for an additional price, but I found about 25% of the time I ordered high res scans, I got low res scans and had to take the negatives back to get them rescanned. When they were rescanned, the negatives were usually scratched in the process. The hassles with this eventually drove me to purchase my own film scanner, so now I just ask Mike's to develop. The only hassle I still have with them is I ask them to give me the negatives uncut, so I can cut them to work well in my scanner. About half the time they cut them anyway, and so I have to use a less efficient workflow to get them scanned.

I have not had good luck with 4x5 film at Mike's. The first time I gave them exposed 4x5 film, I gave them the negatives in a plastic bag wrapped with tinfoil. They exposed the negatives to light before developing them and then sent me a note explaining tinfoil isn't opaque and that's why my film didn't come out. I imagine this would surprise companies like B&H photo which sells custom film wrapped in tinfoil. I recently tried giving them the film holders with the film still in it. I had two film holders with two sheets each in them. I got back 3 developed slides and both my filmholders. I didn't ask what happend to the fourth slide.

On the plus side, I have found Mike's will return your 620 film spools if you ask when you get 620 film developed there. Developing at Mike's is 1 hour for C41 within certain hours, otherwise next business day. E6 and black and white are next business day.

For 4x5 film I have found the best choice is Boulder Pro Photo. They do not develop onsite and they ship it out to Denver to get it developed. This can take 1, 2, or sometimes 3 weeks to get your film back. I've also tried E6 and black and white 120 roll film here. The plus side is the developing is done perfectly - no issues ever, of any kind. They can scan here, but now I have my own film scanner, so I haven't tried it.

I haven't found any local places that do 110 film processing, so I have been using thedarkroom.com via mail. I've had great luck with them developing and scanning film. When I send 110 film out, as long as there's room in the mailer, I've included 35mm and 120 roll film also. I have had great results, they are very fast for mail order, and put your scans on the web so you can download them before the CD arrives in the mail.