PetaPixel

How to Have Your 120 Film Developed at Walmart for $3 a Roll

Update: We’re hearing that Walmart is no longer offering medium format film development.


Want to try your hand at shooting medium format 120 film but not sure where you’d get it developed? Stacie Grissom of Stars for Streetlights recommends WalMart as an easy and affordable option:

I have an awesome tip for you. I actually got my Holga prints developed through Walmart for about $3 per roll. That’s it. I could not believe it. Here’s what you need to do:

For each roll of film, take a separate film envelope and write “SEND OUT ONLY” at the top. Then fill in your info. “Send Out Only” means that Walmart will send it to a photo lab to be developed instead of developing it in the store. I don’t know how many (if any) Walmarts still develop 35mm film, but they definitely won’t do 120 film. Just send it out to a lab that knows what to do. Next, in the special instructions section, make sure you write “120 Film Processing, 4×4 prints.” And then drop them in the box! It’s seriously that simple. I was really paranoid when I sent out my film, but Walmart actually did a nice job.

Grissom also offers a number of other tips for shooting with Holga cameras.

7 Tips for Holga Cameras [Stars for Streetlights]


 
  • Ruben

    and there go all the shops that did 120 film properly and are in the area of a wallmart

  • http://twitter.com/ibkc Dorothy N. Gray

    They send it to Dwayne’s, if I am not mistaken. My local Walmart actually still develops 120 in-store.

  • http://twitter.com/ibkc Dorothy N. Gray

    And Ruben, there isn’t a local shop in my area that does 120 except that one Walmart. Unless you count driving 45 minutes to an hour “local”. *shrug*

  • http://twitter.com/DoctorOctothorp Doctor Octothorpe

    Wow.  Is this true of black and white 120 film as well as color?

    OTOH, I just realized I don’t have a Walmart close to my house.

  • http://www.ericspiegelphotography.com/ Eric Spiegel

    Yup, Walmart will develop 120, 110, and 35 mm for B&W, color negative and color slides.  They used to do Kodachrome as well, by sending it to Dwayne’s, before Kodachrome was retired.  They send out their films to regional Fuji labs, but if you are in the mid-west, I believe they still send it to Dwayne’s.  Most of their send-out service takes about 2 weeks.

    I’ve even gotten them to cross-process my slide film by marking out E-6 on the cartridge with a sharpie and writing C-41.

  • Paul

    why bother shooting film if you don’t care if its done properly.  Photo labs still exist for a reason, even if your just shooting a holga.  I wonder what you would think if walmart started to take away your job?

  • Joey Hiller

    Any tips for getting mailers for folks not near a WalMart?

  • http://twitter.com/ibkc Dorothy N. Gray

    Paul – the guy at the Walmart near me DOES do my film “properly”. He’s been working in photo labs for 30 years and he knows what he’s doing. I send out my E-6 to a lab that you would probably approve of, though, simply because they aren’t a chain. 

  • Alan Dove

    Wal-Mart photo processing is essentially a front end for Dwayne’s Photo, so they can do anything Dwayne’s does – which is pretty much everything, and top quality at that. I generally send mine directly to Dwayne’s because it’s more convenient, but it’s probably slightly cheaper through Wal-Mart.

  • guest

    Eric, by having your film unsuspectingly cross processed ( I’m sure WalMart staff doesn’t do a dip test) you contaminate the processing chemicals and can cause film damage for other rolls processed behind yours

  • http://twitter.com/Tonks07 Mandy

    Not sure if this works for all Wal-Marts. I asked the random guy at behind my photo counter and he seemed uterly clueless about what 120 film even was. He didn’t know if he could even send it out somewhere to get developed so I take all my film elsewhere now.

  • julie

    Careful though, I had a roll of film destroyed after “sending it out” .  Was bummed but what can ya do? 

  • Guest

    sure, if he’s running a dozen or more rolls through the same batch of C-41 chemistry.  But a single roll taken to walmart is going to have little to no effect on later C-41 rolls before they changed.

  • Dreamflyte

    It’s great that there is this option through Wal-Mart for people who live somewhere that doesn’t have anyone who will do 120 but I’ve never trusted my film to places that send it out. Luckily Minneapolis has three places I can name off the top of my head that process 120 on site for the rare times I shoot it. 

  • http://twitter.com/scotthuckphoto Scott Huck

    why on earth would anyone take film to Walmart for processing, let alone throwing a  roll of 120 film in an envelope and hoping that they will process it. That is a terrible idea! I’m glad it worked for you but that is way to risky! Use http://www.120processing.com or process the film yourself. I’m sure you can find a local lab in your area that still processes film.  YES … my 2 cents!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XWS4NNT2UXPJEX7JJKCBUFEBFU donuts222

    i would be SCARED TO DEATH!

  • http://www.starsforstreetlights.com/ Stacie

    Usually the Walmart people have no clue what 120 film is– that is why you have to write “Send out only” on the envelope so it goes to the people that *do* know. :) 

  • Guest

    We’re talking about low-fi plastic cameras here, so.. I wouldn’t be too worried.

  • Guest

    and thank you again for sharing the knowledge, I had no idea Walmart did this. never stepped foot in one considering the closest is about two hours away, but now I have a reason to.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    just send it to dwayne’s. quit giving walmart monies!!!!

  • Sam Lehman

    Holgas don’t necessarily shoot low-fi photos.

  • ME

    DO  NOT DO THE SEND OUT SERVICE
    Just got back 7 rolls of film from Walmart.I said “Do Not Cut Negatives”
    my negs were cut and not even sleeved.
    I had staple holes through some of the photos.
    I put “develop and scan to cd” in BOLD Letters.
    They made prints and tried to charge me $15 even though on the package I had written NO PRINTS.
    The people working at walmart were no help and were idiots.
    Just pay the extra money and get it done at a pro lab

  • Safeashouses

    I’m sorry but Walmart didn’t have much hand in killing off the labs that develop 120 film. 

  • Safeashouses

    Huh? Only “low-fi”.

  • http://twitter.com/goodyweaver Goody Weaver

    I really, REALLY want to use my local shop, but they charge $10 a roll just to develop color (no prints) and $12 for b&w.  Then $1.00 per print.  Walmart charges me $2 to develop AND print 120 color (I haven’t sent B&W yet, but I’ve heard it’s $7-9).  I literally can’t afford to use the local guy unless I shoot one roll every couple weeks.  

  • Squalomusic

    I kept seeing online how cheap it was to send it to walmart so I gave my first roll of 120 a shot there. It was a cheap test roll of shanghai b&w and it said d-76 process. I know next to nothing about the different processes but it cost me $11 for the developing, not the $3 everyone else seems to get. 

    Is this just because the process I specified costs more? Is c-41 cheaper? And are there alternatives to this d-76 that is cheaper (I read the wrong process can bleach the negs and leave them white)

  • Hellziggy

    Yes, black & white processing usually costs more. The lab I work at charges $5.95 to develop a roll of C-41 120 and $9.00 for B&W. This is because we can machine process the color stuff but the B&W is done by hand. 

  • danmhood

    You obviously didn’t read the post.

  • jade

    I instantly pictured Robin Williams’ character from “1 Hour Photo”.

  • Chris

    That’s actually good to know. I have kind of a test roll I just shot with my Holga that I’m going to take to WalMart and see how it goes!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.molina.58 Joseph Molina

    Does any one know if they will make scans for you? I really would rather develop it myself, but cant afford a scanner, and im having trouble finding anyone in my area that will scan 120 film. If anyone knows if i can get scans only from this, i would really appreciate it.

  • Erin Rivera

    Unfortunately, Walmart has now changed their policy and your negatives will NOT be returned if you send film out going forward. I called my local Walmart and asked if this included medium format film, and they told me that it did. But a friend of mine a couple of towns over said they told her that they would still return negatives for medium format film. They have new envelopes that clearly state they will provide a CD at no extra charge, but that negatives will not be returned. It was good while it lasted, but it’s not worth the risk for me to lose my negatives, and I definitely won’t be using them again.

  • Elicia

    Argh, they really won’t return the negatives?

  • Rebecca

    I sent a roll of film out on November 29th, and it still hasn’t came back three weeks later. They take their dear sweet time to get to you.

  • Ilford user

    may be you can check for copying attachment for your camera, some camera have slide copying attachment, may be they have attachment for 120 also.

  • Ilford user

    if you take B&W, think it’s much better to develop the negative and printing yourself, cost of develop 1 roll is less than $1, and quality is much better. color is another matter.

  • Brian

    Will they return the 620 spools?

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.shine.92 Bill Shine

    They return 120 film negatives. I just had a roll processed last week, for 3.24, and they returned the negatives.

  • redflyer

    Nat Cam, West Photo, Mpls Photo Center?

  • Dreamflyte

    West Photo, Linhoff & Universal color.
    I’m pretty sure Nat Cam sends out to Universal color for their 120 & E-6 processing.
    I always forget about Mpls Photo Center since it’s not a retail store. Do you have to be a member to process film there?

  • Ali

    This worked for you? I am curious because a class project has me developing 8 rolls. They are still photos so speed is not important to me. Just wondering if you had any special instructions or tips to give me.

  • Alabama Photographer

    04-15-13 A couple of observations. First, most of us who drop 120 film at Walmart for processing understand that Walmart Employees have no idea what is up with 120 film. Second, Walmart Employees have nothing to do with the actual processing or printing of your film. Third, we all know the film is “Sent Out” to an offsite lab. (exactly where is anyone’s guess ) Fourth, most local labs in smaller (non-metropolis) communities send their film out to offsite labs for processing. Fifth, we all know and understand there is risk associated with dropping 120 film at Walmart for offsite processing (as there is when dropping it at any lab.) Sixth, many of us are willing to take the “risk” that something will go wrong, in exchange for the reward of harnessing the vast distribution network and buying power of Walmart to save money. Seventh, I have dropped maybe a dozen 120 rolls at my local Walmart for processing within the past 90 days and have yet to have a “bad” experience. (one roll was really slow coming back and when it arrived, there was a note attached apologizing for damaging one of my negatives….I checked and honestly saw no damage….and the processing and printing was free….AND there was a complimentary roll of 120 film included in the envelope. Eighth, I have had both c-41 and E-6 processing performed offsite by Walmart at the “Mystery Lab” and although the prints leave something to be desired the cost ($1.88 for a 102 roll developed and printed with negatives returned) I think it creates a great opportunity, for budding photographers or those returning to film, to get out and shoot more film. ) For the record the Velvia 50 and Provia 100 transparencies I received back were uncut, sleeved in a continuous plastic of some sort and inside a hard cardboard tube for protection .. I seem to recall the cost for processing 120 E-6 in this manner was $4.88.
    So, for all the naysayers, keep in mind that there are amateurs out there just starting or re-entering the medium format film scene…. we probably are not planning to later send our negatives out for drum scanning and printing at 120″ x 120″…. We are having fun, exploring medium format film, and we will probably learn something from each roll that comes back processed from Walmart or rather their off-site lab…I cannot see any real downside to harnessing Walmart’s machinery for our own benefit. Sure, local labs may lose out on some business, but most of us would shoot less film if we knew it would cost $12+/- to send out a roll with mailers and return postage and have it processed and printed elsewhere (probably the same lab Walmart uses) and I doubt the net result is a negative… Just think of how many people are re-entering the medium format film scene as a consequence of knowing that there are inexpensive processing alternatives.
    Just my 2 cents for what it is worth. And YES, Walmart off-site processing turnaround is slow… 2-3 weeks on average in my experience….and I agree avoid contact with the Walmart on site lab folks..they don’t understand what we are doing or that it is even possible..at least until our film comes back developed, printed with negatives to their surprise. (If they call to tell you that your negatives will not be returned …Just say….I am willing to take the risk.. send them out please.. and they will…) .Developing and printing a 120 roll for $1.88 with no postage is pretty hard to beat.
    My experiences are all as recent as May, 2013.

  • Sydney

    Thank you so much for your comment! After hearing about Walmart no longer returning negatives, I’ve been on the hunt for alternative labs for processing. I’m one of those amateurs looking to experiment, especially if I can find a lab with inexpensive, or at least somewhat inexpensive, processing costs. I’m glad to know it’s worth at least sending a test roll out through Walmart. Also, thank you for kindly addressing all the reasons why using Walmart for this isn’t the end of the world!

  • Kat Johnson

    they develop B&W, but it’s between $8-$10.

  • matt

    what if i wanted my prints to be scanned onto a disk as well, how would i be able to make that happen?

  • RELI

    DO YOU HAVE PICTURES TO PROVE QUALITY?

  • tomatoketchup

    This article is over a year old, but as of September 2013, Walmart still processes 120 film as a send out service. C-41 is still roughly $3 per roll, E-6 is between $5 and $6, and B&W is $10. I’ve gone through at least 20 rolls through Walmart; the prints are excellent, and the negatives are handled properly.

  • daftsupernova

    This is good to know, have you tried several Walmarts to make sure? I have an old Ansco box camera and I’ve always wanted to test it out but film processing is so expensive around here.

  • tomatoketchup

    I’ve had success at 3 different Walmarts. The price varies a little sometimes. Not sure why, but it’s still cheap by any standard. Black and white processing is a bit too pricey for me, so I started developing those on my own, but you can’t beat the price for color and slides.

  • tomatoketchup

    You’re out of luck. I requested scanned files with my order once and got nothing. Best option is to buy an Epson V500. Scans both 135 and 120 negatives. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made.