It’s time to face the facts: Instagram filters just aren’t cutting it anymore. In the age of digital photography, people are reaching for more old-school ways to capture a moment. The countless photo-editing apps and the rise of the Instax Mini Polaroid camera have been hints that the culture is yearning to return to the source: film photography.
Film photography appeals to many because it's the antithesis of iPhone and digital photography. Film has a limited number of shots per roll. There’s no way to know the results until after development — once the moment has passed. Film’s novelty taps into a desire for imperfection, especially in the age of the perfect Instagram photo. Photographers, Instagram users, and even celebrities have taken part in the film trend by using everything from disposable and point-and-shoot 35mm cameras to the usual Polaroid.
The easiest film method is the Kodak disposable camera. Pick one up at a big-box store, crank that sucker up, and drop it off at a photo lab at CVS or Walgreens once you’re done snapping pix. A week or two after the photo lab sends the camera to a developing facility, you’ll have prints. But if a more controlled, personal process is what you crave, check out these locations throughout South Florida that still develop and sell 35mm and medium-format film.
Carousel Studios3700 NE First Ct., Miami
Carousel Studios takes some of the trouble out of finding the right film camera by doing it for you. The studio searches for used film cameras in good working condition and sells them to customers. It mostly stocks 35mm, but on occasion, it receives medium-format types.
Coral Camera & Computers10427 NW 10th Ct., Coral Springs
Coral Camera & Computers sells some used film cameras but also repairs them. Olympus, Canon, Minolta, and Nikon are some of the brands the shop has carried. Coral Springs is a bit of a drive for Miamians, but fixing a sentimental film camera might be worth the trek.
Darkroom and Digital331 NE 59th Ter., Miami
Darkroom and Digital runs color negatives in a dip-and-dunk processor, so nothing but chemicals touch the film. This processor differs from other methods such as roller transport, where the film travels through rubberized rollers, which might scratch or deposit dirt on the film. It processes black-and-white and medium-format. Film costs $8.50 to $16.50 to develop.
Pitman Photo Supply14321 S Dixie Hwy., Miami
Pitman Photo Supply is a bigger photography store that stocks 35mm, medium-format, and even large-format film. For those who like the instant gratification of a Polaroid, Pitman carries i-Type and 600 film. It also sells film cameras from time to time. The store charges $7.65 to $19.99 for film development.
Pro Lab of Pompano2651 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach
Pro Lab of Pompano develops and scans 35mm film onto CDs and develops 120mm in-house. The family-owned business has been in Pompano Beach since 1986. Although Pro Lab's location north of Fort Lauderdale might put off Miamians, the store's perseverance in the era of digital photography is still impressive. Pro Lab charges $15 to $19.95 for film development.
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Thackers Film Lab805 SE First Way, Deerfield Beach
The younger generation just getting into film photography will appreciate Thackers. The store sells a variety of film, ranging from well-known brands such as Kodak and Ilford to experimental kinds like Kono, Revelog, and Psychedelic Blues, whose film stocks are pre-exposed to create effects. Plus, Thackers accepts film for development and print by mail. Film costs $8 to $10 to develop.
Taking your photos to a lab for development can be a learning experience. Lab workers can give tips and tricks and offer solutions to recurring problems. If you’re in the market for a used film camera, they might point you in the right direction or know someone selling a hard-to-come-by camera. Because few film cameras today are made new, preowned ones are easier to find and probably easier on the wallet.
Regardless of where you buy film or a camera, don't take the process too seriously. Film is fun: Its surprise factor gives the medium a bit of soul that digital photography and editing apps simply can't duplicate.