pricing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by dpurdy, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    How much do you think it should cost to pay for "process and contact" of a roll of black and white film... assuming high quality processing in XTOL. "Normal" process of other than 3200 speed film.

    Dennis
     
  2. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    For you a lot :tongue:
    No, honestly i have never had a B&W film developed at a lab so i wouldn't know.
    Interesting question though.
     
  3. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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  4. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    I should have thought that $15 - 20 would be reasonable. Good quality means "by hand" because machine processing would have an "average" development time. All in all at least an hour's work so $15 - 20 would be a good number I think.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Pricing is quite difficult. Back in the early 80's a colleague and I used to do all the B&W work for a new Pro lab that set up near to us. Because there was volume we could afford to be reasonably priced particularly as the lab had to add a mark-up and remain competitive. At the same time my colleague was just starting out as a commercial/advertising photographer, he was working from my darkroom/studio so it worked well.

    Being realistic I would probably now charge somewhere around £5/$8 for film processing and £8/$12 for process & contact print for 35mm/120, with a premium for special developers. Material costs are very low particularly as I replenish Xtol, so the only significant cost other than labour is a sheet of RC paper.

    Ian
     
  6. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Ian,

    Surely one could only charge £5 on a commercial (by hand or Jobo) basis if doing several rolls at once, say a batch of 5 to 10 roll films? I'd have thought the other administrative aspects of processing for clients would push the time per run over an hour.

    Tom.
     
  7. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    £8 seems about right to me even without a contact sheet.
     
  8. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    A good rule of thumb in business is the selling price is about 3x the direct manufacturing cost. There are all sorts of businesses that don't adhere to this model, but the majority do.

    If you hire someone at $12/hour (+$6 taxes & benefits) to due lab work, and it takes them an hour and uses $2 of chems & paper to do a roll of film then you need to price the service at around $60 for an individually processed roll of film.

    Obviously, as a business this won't fly.

    Develop 5 rolls of film at a time in a large tank, supply digital proofs from a mini-lab printer or build some sort of quick-to-operate contacting machine and a dry-to-dry processor and you can get the labor down to 1/5th hour per film and the chemicals down to $1. Now the price becomes $11 with a charge for handling and shipping - it is best to charge these at close to cost.

    On that basis, to keep a worker busy on this one business, you will need to process around 30 rolls of film per day (figure 20 some days, 40 others) and pay the occasional overtime when you get a surge of orders.

    Now you can use the money left to pay for advertising [possibly the largest indirect expense relative to sales], marketing [schmoozing], rent, janitorial, laboratory equipment, shortage & scrap, business insurance, telephone, utilities, the BBB, the accountant, company taxes ... and maybe have a few thousand left at the end of the year to pay yourself, the owner/operator [notice that everyone but you is making decent money]. Obviously, you need to have some other source of money to support yourself through this start-up period.

    If you can grow the business to 3 or 4 workers it can begin to pay you a living. You will never work so hard as you will at this - don't think you would be making money on the sweating back of the working class.

    Or you can pay yourself the $12/hour and try to run the company evenings and weekends - not recommended.

    Or you can do it as a hobby-business, processing film in the evenings and on weekends in your own basement, pricing the service at what the market will accept, and count on word-of-mouth for most of your advertising. You will probably make more money flipping hamburgers, however.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2009
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    In theory yes, but I've always processed clients work alongside my own commercial or personal work. One advantage of using a replenished developer is it's very much faster to work with, no accurate measuring out chemicals & dilutions, temperature control is easy too as my UK darkroom is a fairly constant temperature. I stopped doing D&P for others about 7 years ago.

    I guess if I was offering a service again then I might start at a higher price and drop to the figures I gave for quantities/regular customers, in the past most of my customers were regular, one I began printing for when I was 18 and continued for roughly 30 years. You also have to be competetive not necessarily cheaper but it really depends on the customer base your after.

    Ian