E-6/Quickload processing problem,rollfilm question

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I'm new to 4 x 5 and before I started to put my system together I decided to check that I would be able to get 4 x 5 E-6 processing in my area at a reasonable price and with reasonable convenience. Otherwise I would use a roll-film back since 120 film E-6 processing would not be a problem. I found two labs that fit the bill. After putting my system together I shot some slides (Quick Loads) and brought them to lab #1, where I was told in advance that processing would be $2 a sheet with two day turn around. When I finally picked up the slides ten days later I was told the original quote was in error and that the cost would be $3.75 a sheet. Although the job was well done (forgetting the eight day discrepancy) at $3.75 a sheet I can't afford to shoot except only once in a blue moon.

I shot more film and went to lab #2 who promised $1.75 a sheet and one to two hour turn around. After picking up the first batch of slides I found first that the clear plastic slide covers were scratched and in some places, creased. The slides were also scratched. As a beginner I decided to give the lab the benefit of the doubt. I unloaded some new Quick Load envelopes straight from the box, went to my back yard to make some test exposures, then delivered them to the lab a couple of days later. Same problem.

I've been gearing up for my first out of state trip with my 4 x 5 and not having a lab I can trust with my exposed film makes me uneasy. I was hoping somebody could offer some me some input:

1. Can anybody account for the scratches on the slides? I have a hard time believing that the scratches were due to poor handling of the Quick Load envelopes on my part since I have always handled them very carefully, never pinching or bending the envelopes and keeping them in a box at the top of my pack. 2. Would there be any problem with shooting 6 x 7 or 6 x 9 with my 4 x 5 lenses? I really prefer 4 x 5, plus I've selected my lens focal lengths based on 4 x 5 use. Having already spent a princely sum on my equipment a roll film back for this trip is out of the question, but perhaps a future consideration since ultimately the camera movements are my top priority. 3. Anybody know of a good lab in the western suburban Chicago area that can handle 4 x 5 slides?

Thanks in advance for any responses and my apologies for the lengthy post!

-- Andy (akkup@mindspring.com), September 30, 2000


Why not try process by mail? I'd recommend hollandphoto.com, $1.95 a sheet, 10 days turn around, good job, there is a shipping charge though.

-- Aaron Rocky (ar7786@hotmail.com), September 30, 2000.

Andy, I have shot hundreds of Quickloads, never had a scratch. It is virtually impossible to occur while exposing (unless you drop them in sand or some silly maneuvre). Change lab. Send your films to a lab who processes for professionals. Otherwise you get an intermediate, and therefore, more handling (scratches) and increased prices. Shooting on rollfilm is definitely a good option, unless each of your shots is a prize winner! I use more rollfilms than 4x5.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), September 30, 2000.

To show some examples, I posted 4 contact print scan at www.photocritique.net(architecture)

-- Aaron Rocky (ar7786@hotmail.com), September 30, 2000.

Andy, don't feel bad, everyone goes through the "school of hard knocks" when getting started. Most likely the lab scratched your film... as for low cost processing...I use Pro Lab in Portland, at $1.50 per 4x5 its worth the postage! Vicki, the owner does all the E6 herself and does a magnificient job. The best lab I have ever dealt with, and I have tried at least 15 of them. Of course if you only shoot 2 shots, you may find a lab that is local... as for Roll film backs, my opinion is that you loose a lot of film area vs. 4x5, so you loose some of the benefits of 4x5...and more importantly, as Sal has educated me, there is no roll film holders on the market that will not leave a bit of a buckle in the film exposure area due to the film travel path being forced to go over a roller prior to being in the exposure area. It takes only a small film buckle when in the exposure area to really cause sharpness issues, mainly noticeable when enlargements get greater than say 4x. I personaly have not experienced this since I use my RFH very little...but after Sal explained this to me, I examined my RFH and can see the potential of this occuring. So this may be something you should consider. And yes, all LF lenses are good for sheet film and / or roll film... best of luck...

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), September 30, 2000.

To follow up on the previous post, I've exposed well over a thousand color slides using a roll film back and have never had a softness problem due to film flatness problems. I typically enlarge my initial proofs of good shots to about 5x and have done enlargements up to 30" x 40".

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), September 30, 2000.

To expand a bit on what I told Bill, film flatness becomes a significant problem when using short focal length lenses, large apertures and significant enlargement. One's personal criterion for an acceptable circle of confusion, as well as the type of shooting being done (e.g. movements may permit placing the plane of focus in a position where not much depth of focus is required), combine to determine how much roll film can deviate from flat before a lack of print sharpness becomes evident. Everyone should perform their own tests before concluding this issue is or is not important to them. Apparently, in Howard's work, all parameters are coming together the way he wants them to.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestinternet.net), September 30, 2000.

I will second Howards comments... roll film backs generally do a fine job at film flatness. With reverse curl backs like Horseman and Wista, I will burn one frame if the film has been sitting for more than an hour. On the other hand, when advancing frames to bracket, for example, there is no need to waste frames. The film has to sit on the roller for a while to acquire a kink. Linhof Rapid Rolex, Sinar, and Toyo backs have a much less severe bend before the film gate, and are less susceptible to film flatness problems, although they have their other excentricities.

That said, there is no reason for Andy to abandon QuickLoads. Image quality and cropability of 4x5 are still superior, and he has chosen lenses based on that format.

Roll film backs are more prone to scratching than QL. In the field, a single grain of silt on a roller can leave a scratch down the entire length of the roll. I have yet to have a scratch on QL. Sounds like the two labs Andy tried are sloppy. There should be a plethora of first rate professional E6 labs in a commercial market the size of Chicago, but the won't likely be in the western suburbs. Either drive to the commercial district to use a first rate lab, or send them out. Many professional labs have reasonable priced courier services as well.

By the way, professional E6 labs won't necessarily be expensive. In Denver, Houston and San Antonio, I pay an average of $1.90 a sheet for 4x5 E6. $3.75 a sheet is highway robbery.

-- Glenn Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), September 30, 2000.

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