exposure compensation w/photo labs

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Jeff Playter, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. Jeff Playter

    Jeff Playter Guest

    So when I use a camera in automatic mode, it assumes overall 18% right? Now
    my question is this. Does the film labs (Walgreen's or other one hour
    non-professional labs) develop the pictures with that same theory? Meaning,
    do they try to achieve an 18% on the pictures as well. So if I compensate an
    exposure, would the film lab screw it up?

    I recently had some pictures developed at Walgreen's, they were horribly
    over exposed, but when I scanned in the negatives, they were considerably
    darker. More true to life.


    Jeff Playter, Oct 9, 2003
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  2. Jeff Playter

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    The lab can certainly affect the quality of the print. Automatic printers
    (and scanners) do make assumptions about exposure just like automatic
    camera's do. The operators of the automatic printers can adjust the exposure
    and color balance, if they choose to. The result is inconsistency. I had the
    same roll reprinted at the same one-hour lab and even the cropping was

    However, very few modern cameras use simple 18% averaging meters. Center
    weighted meters have been around for 30 or 40 years. Multi-segment meters
    are common and the algorithms for exposure are complex and varied. To say
    that a metering system is trying to achieve an overall 18% gray is gross

    On top of everything else, 'a good print' is very subjective. Some people
    like vivid colors and high contrast, others prefer deeper colors, etc. With
    a pro-lab you can give them guidelines for what you want. When you don't get
    it, you can go back and tell them what you want changed. Usually you can get
    close to what you want in a couple of tries. Many pro labs even build a
    round of changes into their 'custom' print pricing.
    Tom Thackrey, Oct 9, 2003
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  3. When it comes to exposure, you have two choices. Best is to expose the
    negative so it is exposed best and could produce the best (best in your
    judgment) results. However most of us have to face reality and we may well
    expose the negative so we get the best result. The difference is the
    adjustment of your exposure to match whatever the lab is going to do, which
    is seldom what they should do.

    Some labs are much better than others, but unless you find a good lab
    and tell them what you want, they will try to make your images fit what they
    or the machine think you want. Trying to outwit them by over or under
    exposing not only is a waste of time but it usually will result in even
    lower quality.
    Joseph Meehan, Oct 9, 2003
  4. Jeff Playter

    Hickster0711 Guest

    Most of these guys are not printers, they're paper salesmen. They don't look,
    don't care, don't want to know what's coming out the other end. I even went to
    the Fuji plant, ( to make a delivery); 1/2 an acre of machinery humming away,
    nobody watching. When you look thru the window and see some guy looking at the
    work and P/Sing every CD; that's the place. Bob Hickey
    Hickster0711, Oct 10, 2003
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