Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Rollei A110


So much about this tiny camera is compelling, first and foremost that it is, as I said, tiny. Super tiny. It’s barely larger than two stacked rolls of 110 film which, not coincidentally, is the kind of film it takes. It feels like a single, solid piece of metal with a silken finish. You feel like CIA or MI5 as you expand the body to reveal the viewfinder, touch the shutter button to make a photo, hear the shutter’s seductive “snick” sound, and compress the body again to wind to the next frame.

Rollei A110Rollei A110

The Rollei A110 packs a Tessar lens, 23mm at f/2.8, to wring every possible bit of performance out of the wee 13x17mm frame 110 film offers. Check out the sharpness and resolution this lens delivered on expired Fuji Superia 200 film the last time I shot my A110. If it weren’t for the odd aspect ratio of 110 film images, you might believe me if I told you I took this with one of my 35mm SLRs.

West Park Christian Church

For this outing with the A110 I bought some fresh Lomography Color Tiger film. I tip my hat to the Lomography people for keeping this old format alive. I shake my fist at the Lomography people, however, for a fault in the backing paper that allows light to leak onto the film. It appears as red splotches on images, as below. I should have covered the film-counter window with electrical tape. I hope they correct the problem as they manufacture the next batch.


My A110 isn’t perfect. It has a few minor nicks in the paint. The winding mechanism moves a little roughly — I’ll bet it was buttery smooth when new.

Park road

Also, its lens cover is loose. It’s supposed to slide out of the way when you open the camera and cover the lens when you close the camera. On mine, before I make a photo I have to tilt the camera to move the cover out of the way. I usually forgot to do this and got eight black photographs for my error.


Finally, even at moderate distances parallax is a problem. Standing 15 feet or so back from this entryway I centered the scene in the frame. This is what the camera saw.

Orange entrance

But none of this is so bad as to make my A110 a pain to use. It was easy as a breeze to carry in my pocket as my wife and I took a long hike through Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

Eagle Creek Reservoir

That Tessar lens is pretty sharp, as the carvings in to that tree trunk show nicely.


To see more photos from this camera, check out my Rollei A110 gallery.

Despite this camera’s charms, as I worked my way through this 24-exposure film cartridge I soon wished it would be over with already. I didn’t hate using the A110, but I didn’t find joy in it either. It was a novelty, and the novelty soon wore off.

Verdict: Goodbye

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Where can you still get film developed? (Freshly updated for 2017)

Just a few years ago you could get film processed almost anywhere: Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, Costco, Meijer. No more.

Digital photography did them all in. It also led Kodak and Fujifilm to kill several film stocks. But film has survived its long dark night. People born into the digital age are discovering what we longtime film shooters have always known: film is special.

And so I see more people starting film-photography blogs, sharing their film shots on Instagram, and scouring thrift stores and eBay for that next camera to try. And astonishingly, several new films are being introduced this year, including Kosmo Foto Mono, JCH Street Pan 400, Ferrania P30, and even a reborn Kodak Ektachrome. It’s a great time to shoot film!

But where to get it processed? If your town has a camera store, it might process film. I live in Indianapolis, where Roberts Camera still processes 35mm color negative film. I never order prints, just scans, which Roberts burns to CD. The scans are generous, 3130×2075 pixels at 72 dpi. I like generous scans! And the price is right, at about $8. And they turn orders around within two business days.

But what if you aren’t close to a camera store? Or if you shoot film they can’t handle, like black-and-white film or medium-format (120) film, or an uncommon format like 110 or 127? That’s when I turn to one of several by-mail labs around the United States. I’m going to recommend the ones I use. I’d love it if you’d share the ones you use in the comments, especially if you live outside the United States.

Old School Photo Lab

I’ve used Old School Photo Lab of Dover, NH, the most. Their Web site is They proces, print, and scan 35mm, 120/620, 110, 126, 127, 828, APS, and 4×5 sheet films. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

You order through their Web site. Processing a roll of 35mm or 120 color negative film and getting their standard scans costs $16 shipped both ways. (You can print a prepaid shipping label on their site.) Prices for other formats vary. They give discounts if you send several rolls at once.

I love OSPL because their standard JPEG scans are a generous 3072×2048 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order even larger scans, at 6774×4492 pixels at 72 dpi, for an extra $7 for JPEG or $17 for TIFF.

When your scans are ready, they email you a link to where you can download them. If you want a CD of the scans, it’s 3 bucks extra and you have to wait longer to get them. OSPL prints digitally. I occasionally order 4×6 prints and they’re fine.

I love OSPL’s service. I’ve gotten scans in as fast as four days after mailing them film! But it normally takes about a week. Quality is consistent and good. The owner personally responds when you contact them. The lab is active on Twitter and the feed is often a hoot.

Dwayne’s Photo

Dwayne’s in Parsons, KS, is perhaps the granddaddy of all by-mail labs. Their Web site is Dwayne’s processes, prints, and scans 35mm, 120/620, 220, 127, 110, 126, Disc, and APS films. They process color and b/w negative and color slide films.

Dwayne’s is great, except that ordering is complicated. You have to print a paper order form from their site, the right one for the kind of film you’re sending, and fill it out. When you send them more than one kind of film, you have to fill out multiple order forms.

Processing and scanning a roll of 35mm color film costs $14 including return shipping. Other services’ prices vary. They don’t offer a prepaid label to mail your film to them. But if you send more than one roll of film, they steeply discount shipping.

Their scans are 2740×1830 pixels at 72 dpi. You can choose to download your scans or have them mailed to you on CD; the price is the same for either service. I’ve not ordered prints from Dwayne’s.

Dwayne’s pretty consistently emails me a link to my scans within a week. Quality is consistent and good. And I’ve had good, if impersonal, experience with Dwayne’s customer service.

Willow Photo Lab

Willow Photo Lab of Willow Springs, MO, is far and away the price leader. Their Web site is They offer processing, printing, and scanning of 35mm, 120/620, and APS negative films, in color and black-and white, through their Web site. They process b/w film by hand!

With your first order they’ll include a list of all of their services, which includes 220 and 4×5 sheet films, the ability to specify D-76 or T-Max developer for b/w film, and discounts for large orders. When I order from this list, I pay directly through PayPal, print the receipt, write on it what I want, and mail it to them with my film. They always figure it out.

Processing and scanning one roll of 35mm costs just $7. Other services are similarly inexpensive but prices vary widely. Shipping costs depend on how far away from Missouri you are; most of my orders have been $3. They don’t offer prepaid mailing labels.

Scans are skinty at 1536×1024 at 72 dpi, sent to you on a CD. The last time I ordered their higher resolution scans, 3089×2048 pixels at 72 dpi, it cost me an extra buck. But that’s available only on their full service list. Willow still does wet-process printing on light-sensitive photo paper.

Willow is a small lab of just a few technicians. Send them film when time is not of the essence — they try hard to turn orders around within a week, but it can take longer. I hate to say it, because I really like Willow, but quality is uneven. I’m giving them extra chances because early this year a lightning storm took out a lot of their equipment, and it’s taken them time to get everything back the way they want it.

When you email them with questions, the owner responds cheerfully, personally, and promptly. A couple times we’ve struck up long email conversations about lab life and film photography, which is fun.

The Darkroom

The Darkroom, of San Clemente, CA, is the SEO king of by-mail labs. Google “film processing” and see where they show up! Their Web site is They process, scan, and print 35mm, 120, 126, 110, APS, single-use cameras, and 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 sheet film. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

The Darkroom offers online ordering and payment. You can download a prepaid shipping label from their Web site, or they will send you a prepaid mailer if you ask.

Processing, standard scans, the scan CD, and shipping both ways for a roll of 35mm color film costs about $17. Prices for other formats are similar. Scans come with every order, both via download link and CD.

The Darkroom’s standard scans are puny, 1536×1024 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order larger scans, 3072×2048 and a whopping 6774×4492 pixels, for an extra $4 or $9 per roll, respectively. I’ve never ordered prints from The Darkroom.

Scans are usually ready about 7 days after I drop the film into the mail. It takes up to a week longer for my negatives and the CD to arrive, but I expect that they’d arrive faster if I lived closer to California. I’ve never needed to contact The Darkroom for customer service.

Film Rescue International

Any lab can process expired b/w or C-41 color film. But sometimes you’ll find some very old, very expired film in a camera. That film can be fragile. Or perhaps the expired film is newer, but it’s crucial you get the best possible quality images from it. Send it straight to Film Rescue International. They process any film, no matter how old, and use creative darkroom and Photoshop techniques to coax the best possible images from it. Their Web site is They’re expensive, and they’re not fast, but they do outstanding work.

I’ve used Film Rescue just once, for a roll of Verichrome Pan I found in a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. That film had been in the camera for more than 40 years in unknown conditions, so I was afraid it might have deteriorated badly. They got good, high-contrast images from that film. They lacked “that Verichrome Pan look” but were crisp and clean.

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The Athanaeum

The Athanaeum
Minolta Autopak 470
Lomography Tiger

Camera Reviews, Film Photography

Minolta Autopak 470

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I admit I’m not a huge fan of 110 film and cameras. I haven’t been in 30 years, since my deep disappointment over the lo-fi images from my once-in-a-lifetime all-summer trip to Germany. I shot a $15 Keystone 110 camera with a plastic lens. It was all I could afford; paying for the trip had tapped us out. And then every image was grainy and soft. Bleagh. So today I won’t look at a 110 camera unless it offers something special. That’s why I’ve shot a 110 camera from Rollei and a 110 SLR from Minolta. And that’s why I shot this Minolta pocket 110 camera, the Autopak 470. I guess I want the format to prove its worthiness!

Minolta Autopak 470

The 1977-79 Autopak 470 was Minolta’s top-of-the-line pocket 110 camera. Only the 110 Zoom SLR sat higher in Minolta’s 110 hierarchy, but it wasn’t pocketable. The 470 featured a 26mm f/3.5 Rokkor lens, said to be of Tessar design, with a slide-out plastic close-up adapter. It focuses from 3 feet to infinity across four focus zones, selected with the red slider atop the camera; extend the close-up adapter and choose the 11-foot zone to focus down to 1.6 feet. The manual recommends taking most snapshots with the camera set to the 11-foot zone.

Minolta Autopak 470

Two SR44 batteries power the Autopak 470. To check the batteries, press the red button next to the strap lug. If a red light appears in the viewfinder, the batteries are good. When shooting, that red light means you need to turn on the attached flash. You’ll need a single AA battery to power that.

Minolta Autopak 470

The flash detaches, making the Autopak 470 even easier to pocket. I shot it this way except for one photograph I took just to test the flash.

My hat is off to the Lomography people, who started offering fresh, new 110 films a few years ago. Before these films, when a 110 camera fell into my hands I always bought expired film for them, and then could never be sure whether poor image quality was the camera or the film. Fresh Lomography film lets me remove one variable from the image-quality equation.

I bought a cartridge of Lomography’s ISO 200 Tiger color film and dropped it in. The Autopak 470 automatically adjusts for ISO 100 and 400 film, so I figured every shot would be a misexposed. Nope! Every shot was well exposed. Here’s my favorite shot. The candylike color is startlingly pleasing, and sharpness is pretty good given the graininess you can’t avoid with such tiny negatives.

GMC Truck

I shot a corner of my living room with the flash on. I’m not a big fan of built-in flashes because they tend to bluntly overlight things. But this flash lit evenly with little washout. Not bad. You’ll notice my screw-mount Pentax SLRs and my Yashica TLRs on the shelf.

In my living room

But pretty much every other shot reveals some challenge or limitation with the camera or the film. When I framed this photograph, I had positioned the open door much closer to the frame’s lower right. So clearly the lens sees a larger area than the viewfinder. This is a common challenge with viewfinder cameras, though. The shadow detail isn’t anything to write home about, either. There I go being too hard on old 110.

On Mass Ave

I framed this photo with a lot less street before the building, and a lot less dead space left of it. I remember being careful to frame this so I didn’t cut the top of the building off, either. It drives me crazy when a camera’s viewfinder isn’t reasonably true to what the lens sees.

Mass Ave

Sadly, a handful of photos had this speckling. The pattern varied from photo to photo. Was it a fault on the film? In the processing?


It’s too bad, because the speckling spoiled some otherwise delightful photos. I love the vintage feel of the colors on this photo. They remind me of a 1950s color slide.


The Autopak 470 struggled mightily with the setting sun reflecting off this pale building. The original scan was heavily washed out. I darkened it as much as I dared in Photoshop, but so much detail is still lost. In real life, it’s very easy to read “Sears, Roebuck and Company” above the doors.


My biggest challenge with this camera, however, was focusing. I usually plain forgot to adjust focus for my subject, despite the in-viewfinder focus display. I guess I just want my point-and-shoot cameras not to make me think too much. In this photo, notice how soft “Stout’s” is, but how sharp “Oldest” is at the bottom of the image. But my lab (props to Old School Photo Lab!) sent me a few gratis prints, including one of this image. The prints show a tiny bit of softness, but it’s not terrible. The prints were fine, really. There I go, expecting too much of this format again.


In 110’s heyday, who made enlargements anyway? This format was aggressively about easy snapshots. So let this Jeep be a little soft, too. It would look good enough on a print. I would be happy to get such cheerful colors in my prints.

Fuzzy Rubicon

See more photos from this camera in my Minolta Autopak 470 gallery.

I had fun shooting the Autopak 470. And I loved the color the Lomography Tiger film gave me; I’d shoot it again (and hope for no more speckling). But next time, I’d just leave this camera at its 11.5-foot focus setting and avoid close shots. That’s what 110 cameras were made for anyway.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out all my vintage gear reviews!


Photography, Stories Told

Rose-Hulman, Spring, 1986

What was I doing on the roof of my residence hall that spring day my freshman year of college?


Deming Hall, oldest residence hall on campus

Nothing more nefarious than taking photographs. I’m sure the administration would not have approved of me being up there, but when an upperclass friend with an illicit building master key bade a few of us come, we went.

Baur-Sames-Bogart Hall, from the roof

Baur-Sames-Bogart Hall, from the roof

This is our building, Baur-Sames-Bogart Hall. That summer, BSB would get new windows — thank goodness, because these aluminum-framed crank-out jobs gushed heat like a sieve all winter. In the photo you can see the guy wires stabilizing the antenna mast for WMHD, the now-defunct campus radio station.

Hulman Union

Hulman Union

We ate our meals in Hulman Union, across the muck pond from BSB. It’s been expanded and remodeled so much that you’d hardly recognize it as this building today.


Moench Hall in background; Olin Hall at right

When I wrote about my visit to Rose-Hulman last fall, I shared a current photo of the quad pictured in the distance here, all landscaped and pretty. In 1986, a long driveway led in, and that was that.

Templeton Hall, RIP

Templeton Hall, RIP

Templeton Hall doesn’t exist anymore. A classroom and laboratory building stands on this spot now. Like most schools, Rose has been on a building binge in the last 20 years or so.


Moench Hall entrance

I also took some ground-level photos, like this one of Moench Hall’s old main entrance. This brick sign was brand new. The campus switchboard used to be behind those doors, and for about 10 hours every week I operated that switchboard for pay. I was working when I took this photo. The switchboard’s bell was loud enough that I could hear it all the way out here, as long as that door was open. But on a weekend afternoon like this one, that bell seldom rang. I got a lot of homework done working the switchboard.


Olin Hall and some green space

Looking west from about the same spot is this uninspiring photo of Olin Hall, which was just a few years old. Rose does a nice job maintaining its buildings. When I visited in October, Olin looked just as fresh and new as I remembered.


Moench Hall demolition

Moench Hall was being renovated when I arrived as a freshman. The building is divided into five sections, A through E. When I started at Rose, A section had already been renovated. B, C, and D sections closed for demolition halfway through my freshman year. Some buddies and I broke in to record the detritus. My crappy 110 camera wasn’t really up to the task. A buddy of mine with a Pentax SLR took much better photos. I should get him to share them. Anyway, a day or two after our covert operation a memo went out to all students warning us to stay out of the construction area. We had been detected!

Demolition of Moench Hall

More demolition

Old Moench had hardwood floors everywhere. In the hallway on the second floor, you could see through the gaps in the planks right down to the first floor. I was not at all pleased to see that the wood was being ripped out in shreds and splinters.

We found some remarkable stuff in Moench, including an old teletype, a giant bathroom mirror into which “Class of 1932” had been etched in enormous letters, and miscellaneous ancient equipment. We wondered what would become of all of this cool stuff left behind. We took some inconsequential souvenirs that night. I wanted the room number plaque for room E-104 — and Rose students will know the significance of this room — but it was already gone. So I swiped the plaque for room D-122. I still have it.


A portrait of the photographer as a young man

This is what I looked like in those days. Could my glasses have possibly been any bigger? Oh 1980s, thank goodness your fashion sense did not endure.

That upperclassman with the illicit master key gave it to me when he graduated. The worst I did with it was let myself into the building before it was officially open at the beginning of the school year, as I liked a couple of quiet days to myself before students arrived en masse. And I used it to get toilet paper out of the supply closet on the weekends when the bathroom ran out. I don’t recall ever again using it to go up on the roof.

Camera Reviews, Photography

Where can you still get film developed?

Thanks for looking here for where you can get your film developed! I’ve written a new and improved list of labs you can send your film to — click here to read it!

The question burns: Where can you still get film developed?


Not long ago, the answer was everywhere. Costco, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, et al., processed 35mm color film in an hour right in the store. The quality could be dodgy, but it was convenient and cheap: as little as four bucks for processing and scans. But one by one, these stores have gotten out of the one-hour photo business.

If your city has a camera store, perhaps they still process film, too. The one in my city does good work at a good price, but their hours and location are too limiting. I also considered buying equipment to process my own. I’m charmed by the idea, but I can’t imagine where I’d find the time right now.

So I mail my film to professional processors. I was already using them to process the films the local labs couldn’t: black-and-white and slide films, and other film sizes, such as medium format (120) and archaic formats like 127 and 110.

Plenty of pro processors are available. Some cater to photographers with exacting needs. They deliver top-shelf quality and enormous scans, offer expert advice, and remember your processing and scanning preferences. But their white-glove service comes at a premium price.

Fortunately, several processors target hobbyist film shooters, offering reasonable service at a better price. Here are the ones I use, including their total price for processing a roll of 35mm color film, scanning the negatives, and shipping. All of these labs charge a little more for other film sizes and for b/w film and slide film. They will also print your images for a fee, and offer other services I’m not mentioning here.

My favorite labs

Old School Photo Lab, I use this lab the most now. They process 35mm, 120, 110, 126, 127, 828, APS, single-use cameras, and 4×5 sheet films. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

They offer online ordering and payment. Processing a roll of 35mm color negative film and getting their standard scans costs $16 and they pay shipping both ways. Prices for other formats vary.

Their standard scans are a generous 3072×2048 pixels. That’s big enough for any enlargement short of mega-poster size. Uprgraded scans of 6774×4492 pixels cost $7 more. When your scans are ready, they email you a link to where you can download them. If you want a CD of the scans, it’s 3 bucks extra.

These guys are fast, sometimes scary fast. Once I mailed them a roll of 35mm color film on Saturday and got an email on Wednesday that my scans were ready for download. Awesome! And the one time I had a problem with their service, they handled it with aplomb.

Dwayne’s Photo, dwaynesphoto.comI’ve sent a ton of film to Dwayne’s in Parsons, KS. They process and scan 35mm, 120, 220, 620, 127, 110, 126, Disc, and APS. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

Ordering from Dwayne’s is a little complicated, with different printable order forms for their various services. Prices vary widely, but processing and scanning a roll of 35mm color film costs $14 including shipping back to you. You pay to ship your film to them.

Their scans are 2740×1830 pixels. This is the only scan size they offer. And hallelujah: Dwayne’s now offers downloadable scans! No more waiting for a CD to arrive in the mail. You can have either downloads or a CD (but not both) for the same price.

I’ve had great experience with Dwayne’s customer service. They really goofed once, processing a roll of color film as black and white. I got a handwritten apology and a roll of replacement film with my negatives and scans.

Willow Photo Lab: This is the oddest lab in the bunch, because they operate entirely through eBay. For now, anyway; last time I ordered from them, they said they were working on a traditional Web site. Anyway, go here to see their eBay store.

Willow is far and away the price leader. You get better prices the more rolls you send them. I normally buy their two-roll deal: $14 for processing and scans or prints, including return shipping. You have to pay to ship them your film. Their best deal is 10 rolls processed with scans or prints for $42.75 shipped to you.

The downsides: They process only 35mm and APS color negative film. Scans are skinty at 1524×1024, sent to you on a CD. They offer no option for larger scans or for downloading scans.

And ordering is quirky, as eBay isn’t a natural fit for selling services. The deal you used last time might not exist this time. If the listing says prints but doesn’t mention scans, I’ve learned that if you send a note with your film asking for scans instead of prints, they’ll cheerfully do scans. It’s all kind of a hassle, but these are the best prices I’ve found anywhere and their work is good. And if there’s a problem, the owner himself handles it, swiftly and kindly.

Worth a mention

The Darkroom, I used to use this lab in San Clemente, CA, all the time. They process 35mm, 120, 126, 110, APS, single-use cameras — and 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 sheet film. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

They offer online ordering and payment, and online downloading of your scans. The scans are usually ready about 7 days after I drop the film into the mail. It takes up to a week longer to get your negatives and a CD of your scans back. Processing, standard scans, the scan CD, and shipping both ways for a roll of 35mm color film costs about $17. Prices for other formats vary.

Unfortunately, The Darkroom’s standard scans are puny, 1536×1024 pixels, or 1.6 megapixels. You won’t want to enlarge them beyond about 5×7. You can order larger scans — 3072×2048 and a whopping 6774×4492 pixels — but you’ll pay an extra $4 or $9 per roll, respectively.

Fulltone Photo, I haven’t used this La Grange, KY, lab in a while, but they always did great work for me. They process 35mm, 110, 126 and 120 films, negative and slide.

They don’t offer online ordering, but they’re so close to my Indianapolis home that mailing time is cut way down for me. I usually get a CD of scans back from them in about seven days.

Processing a roll of 35mm color film with standard scans is a bargain at $11.50, including shipping both ways. Prices vary for other formats.

Their standard scans are on the small side, 1818×1228 pixels, which won’t print well much beyond 5×7. Enhanced scans cost $5 more, and are generous at 4535×3035 pixels. For a buck a roll, they’ll upload your images for you to download. If you spend at least $15 with them, shipping is free, which lops $4.50 off the bill.

Film Rescue International, If you ever find long expired film in a camera, these are the best guys to process it. They process any film, no matter how old, period, and use creative techniques to coax images out of even the most fragile old films. For a couple particular old color films, they can only return black-and-white images — but that you get images back at all makes it worth it. They processed a roll of Verichrome Pan I found in my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, returning eight good scans of a family’s late-1960s vacation to Niagara Falls. See those photos here. Cost depends on a number of factors and is not cheap, starting at $37 (including return shipping) and going up steeply from there. But if they can’t get images off your film, you pay nothing.

It’s never been less expensive to shoot film. Read why.