Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blue Moon Camera and Machine

I took a trip to Mansfield, Ohio for a photo weekend two weeks ago and I've been anxiously awaiting the results of that shoot.  I shot six rolls of film and a couple packs of Fuji and Impossible Project film for my Polaroids.  I just received my negs and scans yesterday; I'm excited to post the results and provide an overview of my experience, but I would be remiss if I didn't make this post first. 

In my last post, I discussed the amazing customer service that Michael Raso of the Film Photography Podcast (FPP) provided me.  I'm still blown away by it and I'm happy to report that the film he resent did make it in time for my weekend photo shoot.  So, thanks again Michael!

In this post, I want to bring attention to a great lab.  If it wasn't for FPP, I would've never found it.  The lab I'm talking about is Blue Moon Camera and Machine.  Blue Moon Camera and Machine is located in Portland, Oregon.  They sell film cameras, film and typewriters.  In addition to that, they are one of the last remaining optical printing labs.  They still process film by hand and will also print using an enlarger.  In addition to that, the staff is comprised of individuals that love and care about photography and are photographers themselves.  They've taken some amazing images and I highly recommend you check out their galleries. 

My first experience with them was for film.  I recently picked up a circa 1950s Kodak Tourist camera off of eBay.  This camera takes 620 roll film; unfortunately, 620 film is not made anymore.  The good news is that it's simply 120 film on a different spool.  So, you can still use 620 film cameras by respooling 120 film onto a 620 spool or by purchasing modified 120 film rolls.  Since Blue Moon Camera is also a machine shop, they are able to modify the rolls for 620 cameras.  So, I purchased a few rolls of film from them and received great customer service.  During one of our emails back and forth, someone bought the remaining stock of the film I was interested in and Blue Moon Camera graciously emailed me when they were restocked and I received my film in time for my photo shoot.  Once again, a customer service experience that big corporations should pay attention to.

The last couple of rolls I had developed, I decided to try out the Lomography film lab.   They had a nice package of negs, scans and prints and their price for all of that was pretty comparable to other places, so I thought why not?  While they did a nice job, it took three weeks for me to receive one roll of my film and a month for the other roll.  They mention that they will let you know where your film is at during the entire process, yet I received absolutely no communication from them at all.  In addition, they claimed that it would take 1-2 days to process the film and send back from the time they received it.  That is a false claim and because I had to call numerous times to insure that I finally received my film, I most likely won't be using their lab services again.

So, for my Mansfield rolls, I decided to use Blue Moon Camera and Machine.  They offer development services as well as scans and prints; it's up to you to decide what you want.  I sent them six rolls of film which they received in two days via priority mail.  They called the day they received it and they were done in exactly a week.  They called the day it was finished, it was shipped that day and I received it two days later.  They did a fantastic job and I plan on using them again. 

So, anyone that's looking for a great lab, I would highly recommend you check out the gang at Blue Moon Camera and Machine.  Visit their site here.

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