Film photo of a street in North Carolina

Where to Develop Film in Charlotte in 2022.


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While Charlotte may be one of the fastest growing cities in the country, there are a very limited number of places to develop disposable cameras or film. 

You could always send your film to a lab for online processing, as many people do these days, but we prefer to handle things in person whenever possible.

No matter what type of film you like to shoot, you should have no problem getting it developed without yourself, or your film, ever leaving Charlotte.

Film photo of trees with fall leaves

CARDINAL CAMERA

Color (C-41)

Black & White

Slide (E-6)

35mm

120

Sheet

Established in 1969 by an early pioneer of photography, Cardinal Camera is a full service photo shop that offers film developing in Charlotte. 

Cardinal accepts every type of modern film; 35mm, 120, and large format are all processed whether color, black and white, or E-6. 

You could easily call this a photo “superstore” with their huge inventory, gear rentals, classes, and photo lab that handles scanning and printing, on top of developing film.

Cardinal has four other locations across North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

BIGGS CAMERA

Color (C-41)

Black & White

Slide (E-6)

35mm

120

Sheet

A full decade before Cardinal Camera opened their doors, Biggs Camera started developing film in Charlotte. And they never stopped.

Bigg’s can develop 35mm and 120 medium format film, as long as it is C-41 color or black and white. They offer quick turnaround, usually 72 hours. 

This is also a full-service store, offering other photo lab services, gear and accessories, fresh film for sale, and a good selection of used film cameras and lenses on their website. 

Film photo of a cabin in North Carolina

THE LIGHT FACTORY

Color (C-41)

Black & White

Slide (E-6)

35mm

120

Sheet

If you find yourself gravitating towards black and white film most of the time, it might be worth learning how to develop your own film. It’s not as hard as you might think!

The Light Factory is a cool nonprofit with a whole list of photography-related offerings, including a black and white darkroom available for rental. 

To use the facilities, you must have an active membership and pay an hourly fee. Chemistry for both developing and printing is included. 

While this isn’t somewhere that will develop your film for you, it may be worth checking out if you’ve ever found yourself curious about the darkroom. 

Other Options

With so few places to develop film in Charlotte, you probably want to know all of your options.

If you’re looking to have your film developed locally, there are some drugstore chains that still accept film. However, we consider this the absolute last resort.

The benefits of going this route are the oftentimes very low cost, as well as the accessibility. If you live a ways outside the city, it’s a lot more likely that you have a Walmart nearby than a photo lab. 

While the positives to developing film at the drugstore are short and sweet, the negatives are another story. You can expect long wait times and sometimes, critical mistakes that can ruin your precious film. 

We much prefer developing our film by mail over taking it to the drugstore. Just about every lab accepts film by mail these days, and there are even labs that operate their business completely online.

Even though sending your film in the mail isn’t as difficult or dangerous as many people think, we do still try to drop off in person whenever we can.

It’s common for some, or all, of the shipping fees to be covered by the customer when developing film by mail. And even the fastest labs will usually take a few days, just because of the time for your film to get to them.

We always recommend trying your local lab first – if it doesn’t work out, the next best option is to find a good lab that offers film developing online and by mail.

Map of Where to Develop Film in Charlotte

Anywhere Else?

Do you anywhere else that develops film in Charlotte? Have you tried any of the labs on our list? Let us know in the comments.

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