Everybody loves a good photograph, and when it comes to capturing a richness of color and mood, digital cameras are hard-pressed to beat a good film camera. Disposable cameras use photographic film and occupy a unique space in the imaging market – they’re analog, affordable, rugged, and easy to use. The question is, who develops the film inside the disposable camera? Let’s take a look.
Disposable cameras are developed by walk-in, mail order, and online photographic film processing houses. Customers can select various services, including developing, printing, and digitizing the photographs taken with a disposable camera, as well as the return of film negatives.
Once you’ve used up all the exposures on your disposable camera, you’ll want to get the film developed and have your photographs in your hands as soon as possible. You have two choices – either use a 100% online processing house with a mail order service or visit a walk-in film processing shop.
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What Services do Disposable Camera Developers Offer?
Before selecting a film processing house, decide what you want the processing lab to do with your film. Your options could include prints, slides, and digital versions of the photographs.
It would be best if you also ask whether or not the processing house returns your negatives – you’ll want to keep those for further printing in the future.
Once you’ve got your photographic shopping list written down, decide how long you’re prepared to wait for the photographs to be developed, delivered, or collected.
Also, set a budget for the process. Decide how many prints you want, what size of prints, and what digital format and resolution you’d prefer (you may want to make large prints).
Online or Walk-In Disposable Camera Developer?
Big retail chains, pharmacies, and walk-in camera stores have traditionally been the most convenient way to develop a disposable camera. However, the rise of digital photography and social media has put many of these film processing houses out of business. A few do remain though. So, if transacting online with a disposable camera developer isn’t your thing, read on.
When it comes to online disposable camera developers, several reputable film development labs are offering innovative services that will make the most of your disposable camera without you having to leave home!
With the preliminaries covered, let’s go walking – in analog and digital fashion.
Walk-In Disposable Camera Developers
Of the nationwide big-box stores, only Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS develop disposable cameras. There are private film processing shops in most cities that can be located using a simple Google search. Let’s start with the chain stores:
Walmart – The process requires going to the photo kiosk at the store and filling out a form on an envelope where you place your disposable camera. The envelope is then dropped into a box and sent to a third-party film processing lab.
The lab develops the film and sends the digital images to Walmart electronically for in-store printing.
Customers are then notified that their digitized film and prints (if ordered) are ready for collection. Turnaround times can be as long as three weeks.
The price of developing a disposable camera at Walmart is low, but you won’t get your negatives back.
Walgreens – Getting your disposable camera developed at the photo station at Walgreens will be a more personable affair than Walmart’s mute drop-box procedure. Still, the result will be much the same.
You’ll get reasonable prices on developing and printing at Walgreens, but you won’t get your negatives back. You’ll also wait for more than a week to see the results.
CVS – Once again, the national pharmacy chain has a photo printing counter but uses an outsourced film processing lab. You won’t get your negatives back, but the prices on developing and printing are competitive.
Let’s see what high-street independent photo shops offer:
Holland Photo Imaging – Based in Austin, Texas, this specialist photographic shop offers a full range of developing and printing services from its onsite lab, including developing disposable cameras (at a price point not far off what you’ll find at the big-box stores).
Comparing prices – to develop, scan and print a 24-exposure disposable camera:
- Walgreens charges $14.99 excluding hi-res scans. Turnaround time is at least ten days.
- Holland Photo Imaging charges $19.99, including hi-res scans on CD or via WeTransfer. Turnaround time is seven days.
Plus, you’ll get your negatives back, and you’ll be getting personal service from people who are passionate about photography. Visit www.hollandphoto.com
Camera Mall – Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this photo lab and store charges $15 to develop and print 12 photos from a disposable camera. You have a choice of print finishes, and your negatives are sleeved and returned to you.
Visit – www.cameramall.com
The Photo Lab – Located in Costa Mesa, California, this imaging shop will process your disposable camera film and have your negatives and prints ready for you to collect the same day if you drop your camera off before 13H00 (1 pm).
The lab uses premium quality gloss and matte photographic paper for a superior finish, rich color depth, and contrast.
The Photo Lab also specializes in Black & White photography. Yes – if you feel like trying your hand at classic artistic photography, you can buy a disposable camera loaded with Black & White film!
Online Disposable Camera Developers
You can have your disposable camera developed without leaving home. Using mail-order services, you put your disposable camera in an envelope along with an order form and send it to the photo lab. You get your negatives, prints, and scans mailed back to you in just over a week.
For example, three online film processing houses offer full-spectrum film development and printing services, including disposable camera developing and printing.
Processonephoto.com – Developing charge is $4.59 and, 4×6 prints are $0.39 each. They’ll scan hi-res images for an extra $4.99 and return your negatives.
They pride themselves on quality control and fast turnaround time.
Thedarkroom.com – This online film shop offers a postage-paid solution for disposable camera development. You drop them an online request form, and they send you a postage-paid envelope and an order form. Fill in the form and stash your disposable camera in the envelope and, away you go.
For $14, Thedarkroom.com will develop your disposable camera and upload a free digital web gallery for viewing and downloading. You can share the link and, for an additional charge, you can order prints from Thedarkroom.com.
You can also order hi-res versions of your photographs on a USB stick or DVD and, extra prints. And, each photo is color corrected if you ask for that professional touch. Yes – they return your negatives!
Shutterjunkies.org – Mail your disposable camera to their mailbox in Quinlan, Texas. Starting at $10, Shutterjunkies.org will develop your disposable camera, scan the images, upload them to their online gallery, and send you the link for viewing and downloading.
Like many other online camera and photo shops, they recycle all the disposable cameras they process. They care about the environment as well as your photographs!
It’s exciting to know that amateur film photography hasn’t disappeared. You can buy a disposable camera and have it developed, just like back in the day! We can clearly see that the specialist photoshops will give you a more personalized and proficient service, whether walk-in or online. You may pay a bit extra for that professional attention to detail, but then, can you put a price on a precious memory?
Guide for Using a Disposable Camera
If you would like some guidance on how best to use your disposable camera check out this article.