Cheapest Place to Get 35mm Film Developed and How Much Does It Cost?

Film cameras are becoming increasingly common since people are getting more interesting in learning about film-based photography. Since 35mm film cameras is one of the most portable and less expensive options available, most people are beginning with the 35mm film format. Luckily, there are many options still around to get your film developed like mailing your film to an online film lab and a retail store or drugstore (like Walmart, Walgreens, or CVS). With these options you may be wondering, which option is the cheapest place to get 35mm film developed and how much does it cost?

The cheapest place to get a roll of 35mm film developed is Walmart, which costs $9.96 for a role of 24 exposures and $13.96 to get a roll 36 exposures developed. While their service includes a free CD of digital scans and a set of 4×6 inch color prints and takes 2 – 3 weeks, you don’t get back your negatives and you receive low-quality scans and prints.

The cheapest place to get a roll of film developed with the best quality is the online lab Dwayne’s Photo.com, which costs $11 to develop a roll of 35mm color film ($6 + $5 for return shipping) and they will return your negatives. For $3 more ($14 in all before taxes), Dawyne’s Photo will also deliver high-quality scans of your negatives to your email.

When getting film developed either locally at a drugstore or sending it off in the mail there are a several things to consider. Keep reading to learn more!

Option 1. Developing Film At Walmart

Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart are retail and drugstores that can develop film and are most likely located near you. These stores will develop 35mm film in both color and black & white and includes a set of 4×6 inch color prints with digital scans on a CD for decent price, with Walmart being the cheapest of the three.

However, usually the scans you receive from Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS are generally low-quality, low-resolution, and you won’t get your negatives back to fix bad scans or create a higher-resolution scan for larger prints. These stores also price development as a range of how many exposures your film roll holds.

How much does it cost to develop a roll of 35mm film at Walmart?

Walmart is the cheapest drugstore that will develop for color or black & white 35mm film and costs $9.96-$13.96 for 24-36 exposures. Note the the price varies depending how many exposures your roll holds and how many prints you want – a single set of color 4×6 inch prints or a double set. Many people like to shoot film with a higher number of exposures (such as 36) so with this option you will be paying at Walmart on the higher end of the prices at $13.96 (before tax). However, if you choose the 24 exposure option which is more common with 35mm film, it is one of the cheaper options available.

Number of Exposures Film Roll Holds
Single Prints
Double Prints
24 Exposures
$9.96
$12.96
27 Exposures
$10.96
$14.96
36 Exposures
$13.96
$18.96
Cost of 35mm Film Development and Prints at Walmart

Walmart can also develop other film formats and types like black & white 35mm film, slide film, APS (advantix), and 110mm film for the same price as 35mm film.

How to Get A Roll of 35mm Film Developed at Walmart?

The process to order film development at Walmart is relevantly straight forward. To order your film to be developed you first have to go to the location you want to use, fill out the order form / envelope, place your film inside the order form and seal it, and then drop your film in the collection box. The store will notify you once your order has been processed and ready to be picked up.

Back of the Film development form from Wal-Mart
Back of the Film development form from Walmart
Front of the Film development form from Wal-Mart
Front of the Film development form from Walmart

What is the Turnaround Time for Processing A Roll of Film at Walmart?

While Walmart is the cheapest price to develop 35mm film locally, it takes the longest to process at 2 – 3 weeks. Both CVS and Walgreens have a shorter turnaround time at around 7-10 days but this is for color 35mm film only and the wait time is extended to 3 weeks for black & white 35mm film and other film formats like slide film, 110mm, and APS (Advantix).

Walmart Compared to Walgreens and CVS

While Walmart is the least expensive drugstore to develop a roll of 35mm film, the next expensive place to develop a roll of 35mm color or black & white film is CVS which costs about $14.42-$16.99 for 24 – 36. Walgreens is the most expensive of the three drugstores at about $14.99-$17.99 for 24 – 36 exposures. CVS and Walgreens have a slightly faster turnaround time but still produces low-quality, low-resolution scans and don’t return the negatives.

Location
35mm Film?
Scanning?
Returns Negatives?
Turnaround Time
Price*
Walmart
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
2-3 weeks
$9.96 – $13.96 (CD & Set of Prints)
CVS
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
7 – 10 days
$14.42 – $16.99 (CD & Set of Prints)
Walgreens
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
7 – 10 days
$14.99- $17.99 (CD & Prints)
Chart Comparing Price of Developing 35mm film at Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS. * = at the time of writing.

Like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens can also develop other film formats and types like black & white 35mm film, slide film, APS (advantix), and 110mm film but the turnaround time pushes farther back to 3 weeks.

Pros and Cons for Developing Film At Walmart

Pros:

  • Convenient since you likely live near one of these stores
  • No shipping cost
  • Price is inexpensive
  • Can do both color and black & white 35mm film including disposable / single-use film cameras
  • Many locations available so it is likely near you
  • CD of scanned negatives and prints included with development cost
  • Will call you when your order is ready
  • Good option if you are using expired film and not sure how the negatives will turn out since it is so inexpensive

Cons:

  • Long wait time of up to 2 – 3 weeks depending on the film type
  • Low resolution scans and prints
  • Low quality scans
  • Don’t get your negatives back (Biggest Con for me)
  • Very little, if any, customer service – drop film in a paper envelope in the store
  • No online film development ordering available (must go to location)
  • No bulk pricing available
  • Different cost to develop film rolls with 24 exposures and 36 exposures (unlike Dwayne’s Photo)
  • Will not give a discount on scanning if the roll is blank

You can find more details and comparisons developing your film at Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens by visiting this guide.

Option 2: Online Mail-In Film Processing

Another option for inexpensively developing film is to have your film mailed to an online lab for processing. Online labs generally all develop 35mm in both color and black & white (among many other formats and kinds) and cost the same to develop not matter the exposure count.

You will find a wide range of prices from these stores because most of them process film in bulk so they don’t have to charge as much as drugstores. Online labs generally won’t include prints in the overall price of processing (like Walgreens, Walmart, or CVS) but you have the option to get high-quality scans and your film negatives returned to you if you wish.

Another nice thing about online labs is their services can be customized. You just want your film developed and not scans or prints? They can do that! You want film developed and you want a higher-resolution scan than standard? They can do it!

Dwayne's Photo Website
Dwayne’s Photo Website

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Roll of 35mm Film?

Since Dwayne’s Photo doesn’t change the price depending on the number of exposures on your roll like Walmart (and Walgreens or CVS for that matter), the cheapest option for online lab development is Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, KS. Dwayne’s Photo charges $11 to develop a roll of color 35mm film ($6 + $5 and +$.50 for additional rolls of film for return shipping of the film negatives). Black & white 35mm film costs $7 to process ($1 more than color) and for an additional $3 you can get high-resolution scans of your negatives delivered to your email.

Film Lab
$ Without Scans*
$ for
Color
35mm + scans*
$ for
B&W
35mm + scans*
$ for Return Shipping of Negatives*
$6 for color, $7 for b&w
$9
$10
$5 + $.50 per add. roll
Chart of Film Processing Prices for 35mm Film Development at Dwayne’s Photo

Something to consider when using mail-in film processing labs is the price of shipping film to and back from the store, which will add to the overall price. Dwayne’s Photo only charges $5 (+ $.50 per additional roll) for return shipping but doesn’t provide free shipping to the store like other online film processing labs.

Dwayne’s Photo also offers a higher resolution scanning of negatives in place of the standard $3 scan for only $8 and as well as 4×6 inch color prints for $3 more or 5 x 7 inch prints for $6.

See this article for more details about the services offered at Dwayne’s Photo.

How To Process A Roll of 35mm Film at Dwayne’s Photo?

The process to order film development at Dwayne’s Photo is very easy. You have two options to order film development: online form or using the downloadable and printable ordering form.

To use the online form:

  1. Go the services web page of Dwayne’s Photo website
  2. Choose the type of film you want to process from the different categories
  3. Use the dropdown menu to choose scanning options, if you want prints and your print options, if you want to pull or push your film
  4. Click “Add to Cart” button to add your selection to the cart
  5. Change the number of rolls you wish to develop of that type or click the “Continue Shopping” button to add more film formats to process
  6. Click “Proceed to Checkout” when you are ready to complete your order by following the steps
  7. Attach shipping label to a padded mailing envelope or box (don’t use a paper envelope) and tape it closed.
  8. Insert this form, payment, film and drop it off at a mailbox

To use the film processing order form:

  1. Go to this webpage to download the film processing order form
  2. Click the correct film processing order form to download it
  3. Fill out the form as necessary and print the ordering form
  4. Attach shipping label to a padded mailing envelope or box (don’t use a paper envelope) and tape it closed.
  5. Insert the ordering form, payment, film and drop it off at a mailbox

Once your order is received and processed, you will also receive the digital scans in your email if you chose that option with your order and Dwayne’s Photo will send you an email notifying your order has been shipped.

What is the Turnaround Time for Processing A Roll of Film at Dwayne’s Photo?

The turnaround time at Dwayne’s Photo can be up to 12 days but is usually faster than this. With online labs you will get your scans faster than you will receive your negatives and/or prints. If your film is taking longer than expected, you can contact them at (620) 421-3940 on Monday – Friday 8am-5pm and they will check on your order.

Dwayne’s Photo Compared to Other Online Film Labs

Dwayne’s Photo is one of the cheaper online options to get your film developed online at $6 for color 35mm film ($7 for black & white 35mm film) and only $3 more for high-quality scans. Below you can see a chart that lists out 5 other options, if they offer development without scans, their prices, and if they offer free shipping to and from the facility.

One of the biggest factors of price for online labs is the shipping cost. It is interesting to note that some places provide free shipping to the facility (like The Darkroom) while others provide free shipping to the store and return shipping in the overall price (like Old School Photo Lab).

Film Lab
$ to Develop Without Scans*
$ for
Color
35mm + Scans*
$ for
B&W
35mm + Scans*
$ for Return Shipping of Negatives*
Free Shipping To Facility?
$8 for color and b&w
$12
$12
$5.95 for return shipping
Yes
$6 for color, $7 for b&w
$9
$10
$5 + $.50 per add. roll
No
n/a
$13
$13
$4.50
No
n/a
$9.95
$9.94
flat $7.95 for there and return shipping
Included in Shipping Price
$13.75 for color and b&w
$19.75
$21
Free there and return shipping
Yes
Chart Comparing The Best Price for 35mm Film Development

Like Dwayne’s Photos, the online labs list above offer more than just 35mm film and disposable camera development and offer prints. Most of these labs listed (except for Dale Labs and MPIX) can develop other film formats like Medium Format, sheet film, APS (advantix), slide film, 110mm, 126, disc film, movie film, etc. Some of the major benefits to using an online film lab is the options for processing that are available, most of these labs are small enough that you can talk to an employee to get a bulk discount on development, and quality customer service.

Read this article for more detailed information about the online labs lists above as well as other online labs available.

Pros and Cons for Developing A Roll of Film By An Online Lab Like Dwayne’s Photo

Pros:

  • Generally faster turnaround time than Walmart (less than 12 days)
  • Receive your scans faster
  • Competitive pricing
  • Can do both color and black & white 35mm film plus other film formats like disposable / single-use cameras
  • Easy mail-in process that can be completed online
  • High-quality scans of your negatives
  • Will get negatives back (also with low cost shipping)
  • Good and knowledgeable customer service
  • Bulk pricing available at most stores
  • Same cost to develop film rolls with 24 exposures and 36 exposures (unlike Walmart, Walgreens, or CVS)
  • More convenient than drug stores because you don’t have to travel to a physical location
  • Will give a discount on scanning if the roll is blank

Cons:

  • Can be slightly more expensive than drug stores like Walmart, Walgreens, or CVS because of shipping cost

Develop A Roll of Film At Home To Save Money Long-Term

Of course, another option that hasn’t yet been discussed is to learn how to develop film at home. While the upfront cost of developing film at home that involves getting the necessary chemicals and equipment is more than getting your film developed at a drugstore like Walmart or mailing your film to an online film lab like Dwayne’s Photo for processing, however the high upfront cost will pay off in the long run. For example, once you purchase what you need to develop black & white film at home (around $146), you can develop 84 rolls of film before you need to replenish the chemicals which works out to be about $2 per film roll.

For more specific information about developing film at home read this article I wrote on how to develop black & white film at home or this article I wrote about how to develop color film at home.

Conclusion

Where you develop your film all depends on what you value. If you want your film developed for the cheapest price but don’t care about getting your negatives back, different charge for different exposure count (24 vs 36), or the long turnaround time, then go to Walmart.

Professional online labs like Dwayne’s Photo make up for their shipping and processing time by their high-quality scans and development. In addition, if you are shooting film with 36 exposures the cost for development is roughly the same between the two. Unlike Walmart, you will receive your the scans within a few days before you receive your the negatives and prints, if you chose those options. Overall, Walmart is the cheapest place to get your film developed if shooting film with 24 exposures but Walmart does not produce the same quality images as an online film processing lab like Dwayne’s Photo.

Lee

My name is Lee and I love photography and learning. I received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 2010 and have worked as a university professor for the last 10 years in addition to being a working photographer. I started this website to learn more about digital and film-based photography and to provide a resource for all of my students.

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