FAQ's

+ What should I expect after placing an order?

From us, you can expect an order confirmation email after you've successfully placed an order through our website, as well as an email confirming that we've received your film when it arrives at Negative! Finally, when we've completed your scans, you'll get a confirmation email & a Dropbox link allowing you to download your scans.

Your film order will be assigned a unique order number. Please print out your order confirmation email and include it in your box of film. This helps us track all of the orders that come through Negative!

Haven't sent your film in the mail before? See our FAQ on shipping.

While we do have the option of in-person drop off for folks who are local to LA, most of our local clients also choose to mail-in.

+ Can I place an offline order?

Yes. You can send film without ordering through the website by downloading a paper order form here. We will contact you via phone or email to handle billing when your film arrives at the lab.

We're happy to accommodate Credit Card, PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, Cryptocurrency, and of course, traditional banknotes.

+ What scanner do you use?

At Negative, we specialize in using the Fuji Frontier SP3000. This is an industry-standard scanner made by one of the biggest names in film.

+ What are your scan sizes?

For now, we're offering large scans only. Our Frontier is defaulted to the biggest output sizes for all formats. For 135 full frame this is 5444x3649, for 645 this is 4842x3649, for 6x7 it's 4251x3649, and for 6x6 this is 3637x3637. If you're curious about another size, send us an email. If you want low-res scans, we’re happy to accommodate that too.

+ Can you scan my film with the frame edges visible?

Yes. We are stoked to offer frame edges in 35mm format only — for now! You can now get those lovely Frontier colours instead of having to use a flatbed scanner to achieve that look.

There is a small fee per roll to achieve this look because it takes much longer to scan a roll of 35mm this way. We hope you understand :) Frame edges are now available under the 'JPEG / TIFF' tab in our online store.

+ Are you affiliated with Mammum Film Lab?

In some ways, yes! Negative is Mammum’s reincarnation and has a branding connection to Mammum. Mammum was founded by photographer Brumley and Wells, and his film-geek brother Matt. Mammum is now the Handsome Coffee of film labs. Mammum Film Lab lives on through Negative Lab!

We are unfortunately unable to put you in contact with any of the folks who were behind Mammum – sorry about that!

+ Should I expect to edit my scans in Lightroom or Photoshop after they're delivered to me?

At Negative Lab, we will always try to achieve your “look” for you in the scanning process — all without requiring you to pay extra for fancy color profiles. Quite simply, since we are a small lab, we can take the time to get to know your work, eliminating the need for systems like color profiles (which are logical and effective ways for larger labs to maintain consistency).

With that said, even our biggest clients usually choose to make small edits to their scans after they receive them from us. Email us if you want some advice on editing film scans. And if you're spending more than a few seconds editing each frame when you receive your scans, we can help dial things in closer to what you prefer!

+ Can I get my scans delivered as TIFF files instead of JPEG?

We are happy deliver your scans as TIFF files at an extra charge that won’t break the bank! Just select TIFF on the “File Format” drop-down menu on the Place Order page under any film. Why do we charge for TIFF files? Well, the files are anywhere from 50MB to 120MB, which makes basically everything slower on our end. We hope you understand! :)

+ How should I ship my film?

We recommend UPS, FedEx, USPS, or DHL. Anything with a tracking number! Put your film in a plastic ziplock bag and be sure to include your printed order confirmation. If you don’t have a printer, you can write your details and order # on a slip of paper. Place your film in a box, make sure it’s safely packed (i.e., it's not going to bounce around during shipment) and you’re good to go. A box of film makes a great present for us, but a terrible shaker. Sorry, bad music joke! Really though, your film can get damaged if it's moving around too much in the box.

You can save some money if you pack the film yourself — just hang on to those boxes next time you order something on Amazon! Make sure the film is nice and snug in the box — newspaper or bubble wrap works great.

Ship your film to the address below:

19528 Ventura Blvd. #583
Tarzana, CA, 91356
United States

Or, if you're in LA, you can drop it off during business hours to mailbox #583.

+ What are normal turnaround times?

Turnaround times for process & scan are between 5-7 days after receiving your film. All film is processed in the order in which it is received (unless you place a RUSH order — read on). Outside of wedding season, turnaround can be faster than 3 days.

Negative is still a small lab and 99% of the work that comes through our lab is scanned by one tech.

If you are sending us negatives that have already been processed (scan only), turnaround time for scans should be slightly quicker!

+ Can you RUSH my order so I can meet a deadline?

Yes! We can deliver a RUSH order in 1-2 business days after receiving your film.

Rush orders require a bit of coordination on our end — please email us at hello@negativelab.co before you place your RUSH order.

For the fastest turnaround time possible, we recommend shipping with a service that offers early morning delivery times so it can go straight to processing when the lab opens! To place a rush order, just select "RUSH" on the Turnaround Time menu when you're adding film to your cart.

As with any order, we recommend numbering your film rolls so they can be scanned in order (this helps a lot with consistency!).

+ I’m new to this film thing and I don’t understand your lingo. Can you explain processing and scanning?

That’s okay! We love working with photographers at all levels — from professionals, to enthusiasts, to first-time film shooters. The mechanics of film can be a bit overwhelming if you’re used to an iPhone or DSLR. That’s where we come in! We really believe that shooting film should be easier, more fun, and less time consuming than editing thousands of digital photos when you finish a shoot.

Film is a physical medium, unlike the 1’s and 0’s that make up your digital photos! Photographic film is, basically, a light-sensitive “emulsion” on a plastic base. Think of it as avocado on toast. The base (toast) holds the active, light-sensitive emulsion (avo). Unlike avocado toast, buying film might actually make you money — maybe even enough to buy a house! (If you don’t get that joke, then you probably weren't on the internet enough in 2017, or you don’t live in Australia!)

Nowadays, most people use film in 135 (35mm) or 120 formats. We’ll save sheet film and the variety of different formats that used to be available for a rainy day — here at Negative we’re still mourning the loss of 220 film! 135 film has sprocket holes and lives inside of a plastic cartridge. 120 film is not “120mm” — it’s actually about 61mm high, producing negatives that are 6cm tall and a variety of widths (hence names like Contax 645 — 645 refers to the size of the negatives — 6cm x 4.5cm). Your grandfather might have known 120 film as “2 & 1/4 inch.” It lives on a spool with paper backing to protect it from light. With either of these formats, light has to strike the emulsion to make a photograph. When your camera shutter opens for a fraction of a second — long enough for light to enter the lens — it “rearranges” the structure of said emulsion which will later produce a negative when placed in developer solution by your lab. "Developing" film isn't necessarily the most accurate term, because chemical developer is just one step of the process required to produce a negative on exposed film, so we call it processing instead!

Everyone knows you can’t enjoy a negative without creating a print — or a positive. Enter scanning. Most people nowadays create prints from scans, which is why it’s so important to get the best scans possible! In the past, folks used negatives to create darkroom prints with light-sensitive paper. This is a wonderful, timeless process that we now offer as part of our Professional Print Services.

+ What's up with this “light and airy” aesthetic? Why didn't photography look like this in the past?

We're not experts on minilab history, but we think the light and airy look is due to a few happy accidents and the prevalence of minilab scanners (i.e. Noritsu, Frontier). Namely, color negative film has a great deal of exposure latitude. Photographers discovered that they could play it safe and overexpose, something that wasn't at all possible when folks who worked in color shot slides, which was the norm for most of the history of photography. Overexposing slide film doesn't work. And slides don't scan very well on minilab scanners; back then color photographs were drum scanned for print.

We don't believe the light and airy trend is faithful to the way a negative wants to look. If you'd like to know more about our philosophy on density correction in the scanning process, check out our blog on the subject.

If you’re a wedding photographer that wants more of a dark & moody look, a good starting point is to "overexpose" as mentioned above, but be careful to meter for the highlights instead of the shadows, all whilst keeping in mind that finding good lighting conditions is paramount.

You can successfully achieve this look in the scanning process without pushing, but check out our FAQ on Pushing for more ideas!

+ Will you ever offer Noritsu scans?

We’d love to! In fact, we’re hoping to be able to offer this service sooner than later. Noritsu scanners have their perks, including ultra-fast turnaround times and slightly larger maximum file sizes!

Noritsu scanners are also known and loved for their ability to retain shadows and highlights slightly better than the Frontier producing a flatter scan.

+ What is density?

*“Portions of the film which have been exposed to great amounts of light yield a considerable deposit of reduced silver upon development, referred to as higher density; areas of film exposed to less light yield less silver, or lower density.” — Ansel Adams, "The Negative" (1981)

While Adams is referring to black and white negative film in the quote above, his logic also applies to color negative. A negative that is underexposed is said to be too thin, while a dense negative is the desirable result of a good exposure. Underexposing film isn’t always the best thing to do from a technical standpoint, but can produce aesthetically pleasing results. Overexposing film is the “safest” way to go, and allows for more options in the scanning process.

+ What is pushing?

Some folks prefer to underexpose their film (generally being careful to meter for the shadows) and ask us to “overdevelop.” Pushing your film introduces all kinds of interesting characteristics — notably, increased grain & desaturated colors!

Pushing involves rating your film at a higher ISO than is marked on the box. An example would be shooting Kodak Portra 400 and metering at 800, then asking the lab to push 1 stop (or “Push +1”). Underexposing can be risky, but the Frontier scanner is well known for being better with underexposed negatives than the Noritsu.

Pushing should be indicated on each roll of film to make it as clear as possible for the lab when it comes time for processing (i.e. “Push +1,” “Push +2,” etc.). The film is then “pushed” accordingly — which means it is left in the chemical developer for longer than normal (or at a higher temperature).

Some folks choose to rate their film closer to box speed, and still opt to push in development. This will often times serves to increase contrast, while leaving your color saturation in tact.

If you’re pushing your film and are not happy with the results, we can try our best to point you in the right direction! Keep experimenting, and if you don’t already have one — invest in a good light meter. Film is a physical medium, so we can’t always fix a negative that’s lacking density. That’s where a light meter comes in handy!

+ Can you process slide film (E-6)?

Unfortunately, not yet! We hope to offer this service in the future. We can cross-process E-6 in C-41 chemistry. We can also scan transparencies, mounted or unmounted, that are already developed.

+ Do you offer bulk pricing?

Yes, we can often accomodate bulk pricing on orders over 30 rolls. Drop us a line via email at hello@negativelab.co if you’d like to know more.

+ Do you offer sit-in scanning sessions?

In some cases, yes! Please email if you're interested in setting this up.