How To Safely Mail Film for Developing: What is the Cost?

After you’ve taken the photos, it’s time to develop the film. There are several places where you can develop your film, such as local drug stores or online labs. If you’ve decided to mail your film to be processed by an online lab, you may not know what steps to take to purchase affordable shipping or how to ensure your film arrives safely.

To safely mail camera film for development, place the film in a clear, resealable plastic bag, use a padded envelope or small cardboard box, and use a mailing service. shipping that provides tracking such as usps first class parcel service or usps express mail. It costs between $4.45 and $7.65 (before tax) to ship 1 to 10 rolls of 35mm or medium format (120) film, or 1 to 2 disposable cameras using USPS First Class Parcel Service. If you are shipping 10 or more rolls of 35mm or Medium Format (120) film or more than 2 disposable cameras, we recommend using USPS Priority Flat Rate Mail which costs between $9.45 and $21.50.

Reading: How to mail undeveloped film

Keep reading for more tips on mailing film to keep your film safe and how to keep costs down when mailing photo film for development.

is it safe to send undeveloped movies by mail?

yes, it is safe to send mail through the postal service and you will have no problem sending undeveloped (or unexposed) film to a film lab for processing. remember not to mail the film by placing it in a hot mailbox as it will degrade it. however, the most common concerns are the mail service losing your package and x-rays damaging your film in transit.

worry #1: the postman loses the movie

One of the main concerns people have with shipping film is that the carrier may lose the film. this is a big deal, as the memories and moments of your movie are irreplaceable. but there are a few things you can do to avoid this:

  • Clearly label the package. Be sure to clearly label your package with the address and return address. I recommend putting packing tape over anything that can be damaged by water (except barcodes). in the rare cases where there is a problem, the film will be returned to you.
  • get tracking. if you choose a service like usps first class parcel service or usps priority mail, tracking will be included so you have peace of mind knowing your film has arrived safely at the film processing laboratory. if something happens, you will have some recourse. plus, priority shipping includes up to $50 in insurance on the contents of the package and you can insure it for more if needed.

concern #2: x-ray scanning ruins film when mailing

Another common concern is that the film will be X-rayed upon shipment and ruined. if you’re shipping your film nationally, this won’t be a serious concern. It’s rare for a carrier like USPS to scan your package using x-rays for security reasons, unless you’re heading to or through larger cities or entering the country. however, scanning should not damage film that has a film speed lower than 800 iso (FYI, Polaroid and instax film are rated at 800 iso). if you are shipping film over 800 iso then i recommend using usps priority mail and letting the post office know when you purchase postage or have it delivered. the usps website also states that you contact your local post office if you have additional questions about x-raying items.

after speaking with someone at my local post office, they recommended that I ask for and use a “handle with care” label at their post office and write “photographic film – do not x-ray” on the outside of the package.

Note: According to the USPS website, do not simply write “do not x-ray” on the film package, as “you will not forget to x-ray a mailing, as it may result in the item is suspicious. and therefore more likely to be scanned.

To learn more about traveling with a movie, check out this article on how to fly with confidence with a movie.

how do I ship a roll of film?

When it comes to sending a roll of film for development, it’s a lot like sending anything else through the mail. Each online film lab ordering system will differ slightly, but the process for submitting film, but in general, the steps for submitting a roll of film for development are:

  1. Go to the online lab website. here is a list of 14 online labs compared by price. click on your web page to reveal the film.
  2. choose the type of film you want to process from all the options
  3. use the menu to choose your scanning options. Some labs allow you to choose whether or not to scan your negatives. if you’re scanning your own negatives, you can save a bit of money here. you can also choose if you want prints too and other options. (for example, if you want to push or pull your film or not cut your negatives)
  4. enter the number of rolls you have to process and click “add to cart” or a similar button to add your selection to cart.
  5. click “checkout” or a similar button when you are ready to complete your order by following the steps.</li
  6. postage of purchase to film processing lab, if required. i recommend using usps first class parcel service for the cheapest shipping rate, which ranges from $4.45 to $7.50 depending on the number of rolls and the distance you travel to the facility) . you can also use the usps postage calculator to calculate the best price (also see below for more information on the cost of mailing film).
  7. attach shipping label to a padded shipping envelope or box (do not use a paper envelope). you can find padded envelopes at the usps post office.
  8. insert form, payment, the film (placed in a transparent plastic bag with hermetic closure for protection as in the image below). be sure to tape the package up before dropping it off at a mailbox or post office
  9. drop off the package at your local post office or mailbox. however Do not put your film in a hot mailbox out of direct sunlight, as this will degrade your image.
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Here are also some tips to follow that will ensure your film reaches the processing lab or is returned to you safely:

  • Place the film in a clear resealable plastic bag. Be sure to pack the rolls of film carefully, using a clear resealable plastic bag. A clear plastic bag will protect your film from water damage and keep it from falling out if your padded envelope breaks during transit.
  • Use a padded envelope to send the film. Do not use bags, paper envelopes, or bubble wrap when sending mail for processing, as they can tear easily and offer no protection. only use a thick padded envelope when shipping small orders of developing film as it does not tear easily and place the film in a clear plastic bag before placing it in the padded envelope.
  • use a small box for a larger order. if you are shipping a large order of film for processing, I suggest using a small cardboard box along with some padding using newspaper or plastic bags. As with a padded envelope, you should also place the film in zip-lock clear plastic bags when using a box to keep the film together and prevent it from falling out.
  • Label the containers. People who work in a photo processing center are skilled professionals, but they are not mind readers. they don’t know whether to push or pull a roll or how many stops, so it’s important to label film canisters accordingly. It can also be helpful to label the rolls in the order they were fired. this will help ensure a consistent look across all of your images.
  • Use a proven carrier. i recommend using usps when shipping films to the processing lab in the united states. I’ve used them before and had no problem getting my film to its destination. Whichever carrier you use, I suggest you drop off your film at the post office or carrier location. you may need to do this anyway to buy the postage, but if you buy the label and print the mailing label at home, leaving it alone will give you peace of mind.
  • Save money on shipping. if you are shipping between 1 and 10 rolls of film, I suggest you use usps first class package service, which is approximately 10 rolls of medium format or 35mm film in a clear plastic bag), which will cost between $4.50 and $7.65 to mail depending on your destination. If you are mailing more than 10 rolls of film (which will weigh more than 13 oz or 368.5 g), I suggest you use a small flat-rate box, which will cost $9.45, or a flat-rate padded envelope for $9.45. 9.65, no matter how high and up to 70 pounds (31.7 kg).

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  • beware of hot boxes and leave your film at the post office. keep in mind that film is susceptible to heat and humidity, especially color film. therefore, when mailing film, be careful with mailboxes in direct sunlight, as it can be so hot in the mailbox that the film may begin to degrade. for this reason, it is better to leave your

how much does it cost to mail a movie?

Some online film developers, like thedarkroom.com and oldschoolfilmlab.com, offer free shipping to their lab for development through their website, but if you choose an online lab that is less expensive but doesn’t offer shipping free to your facility, such as dwayne’sphoto.com, you’ll need a way to get the film to the lab.

When determining the cost of mailing film, the size and weight of the package make the biggest difference. You can use the USPS online postage calculator to help determine the best price for your shipment, but in general, the cheapest way to mail movies is through the USPS First Class package service. The cost of this service is based on the following variables:

  • type of shipment: first class, priority, priority flat rate, etc
  • distance traveled: the further you travel the more costs to ship
  • weight: for retail, must be less than 13 oz (or 368.5 g) and commercial, must not exceed 16 oz (or 0.45 kg)
  • package size and shape: (maximum size is no more than 108 inches in length and girth combined.
  • how postage is paid: (at the post office vs. if the label is purchased online and printed)
  • package shipping time : It costs more to ship sooner than 2-5 business days than the estimated shipping time for usps first class parcel service, for example priority mail guarantees 2-3 days arrival and express priority mail starts the next day : 2 days at 6 pm, but both cost much more than the package service of first class and is best for packages weighing between 2 and 70 pounds.

I send from 1 to 13 rolls of film

If you’re shipping 1-10 rolls of film, I recommend using USPS First Class Package Service, which is one of the least expensive options and includes free tracking in case your package is lost.

a large padded envelope measuring 7.5 x 10.5 inches and weighing about 2.1 oz (or 59.5 g) using usps first class parcel service which has a maximum weight of 13 oz (or 368.5g) will hold about 13 rolls of 35mm or medium format film (120mm) in a clear plastic bag (together weighing about 321.7g or 11.35oz) and shipping by mail it will cost between $4.50 and $7.65, depending on the destination.

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A small cardboard box weighing 2.65 oz (or 76 g) will fit 13 rolls of 35 mm medium format (120 mm) film before reaching the maximum weight limit of 13 oz (or 368 g). .5 g) of USPS First Class Parcel Service.

mailing more than 13 rolls of film

If you want to ship more than 13 rolls of film (which will weigh more than 13 oz or 368.5 g), I recommend using USPS Priority Mail instead of USPS First Class Parcel Service. USPS Priority Mail comes with free tracking and premium insurance, and is flat-rate regardless of distance and up to 70 lbs. (31.7 kg). The list below explains the cost of each option, the size of each, and how many rolls of film they can hold.

  • a usps priority mail flat rate padded envelope provided free of charge by the usps post office will cost $9.65 (before tax) and holds approximately 14 rolls of 35mm film or medium format (120 mm)
  • a small usps priority mail flat rate box provided free of charge by the post office and measuring 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8 will cost $9.45 (before tax) and holds about 20 rolls of medium format (120mm) or 35mm film
  • a usps priority mail medium flat rate box provided free of charge at the usps post office comes in two sizes and measures 13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″ or 11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ will cost $16.10 (before tax) and holds about 40 rolls of 35mm or medium format (120mm) film
  • a large usps priority mail flat rate box provided free of charge by the usps post office measures 23-11/16″ x 11-3/4″ x 3″ or 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ will cost $21.50 (before tax) and will hold over 60 rolls of 35mm or medium format (120mm) film.

mailing disposable cameras

Disposable cameras weigh much more than rolls of film (4.10 oz 0.80 oz). so if you are mailing 2 or less disposable film cameras for development, i suggest you use usps first class parcel service to mail your disposable film cameras in a clear plastic bag with a padded envelope 5 x 7 inches, which will cost between $4.50 and $7.65 to the mail depending on its destination.

however, if you want to ship more than 2 disposable cameras, they will exceed the usps first class maximum package weight of 13 oz or 368.5 g, so i recommend using usps priority mail instead of express mail. usps first class packages USPS Priority Mail comes with free tracking and premium insurance, and has a flat rate no matter the distance and up to 70lbs (31.7kg).

  • a usps priority mail flat rate padded envelope provided free of charge by the usps post office will cost $9.65 (before tax) and will hold at least 4 disposable film cameras.
  • a small usps priority mail flat rate box provided free of charge by the post office and measuring 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8 will cost $9.45 (before tax) and can hold about 3 disposable film cameras.
  • a usps priority mail medium flat rate box provided free of charge at the usps post office comes in two sizes and measures 13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″ or 11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ will cost $16.10 (before tax). the largest box holds about 15 disposable film cameras.
  • a large usps priority mail flat rate box provided free of charge by the usps post office measures 23-11/16″ x 11-3/4″ x 3″ or 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ will cost $21.50 (before tax) and will hold at least 25 disposable film cameras.

where can i send undeveloped films?

check prices and send to other film developing items. In addition, it mentions pharmacies as an option.

It’s also important to consider the costs associated with developing your film. this will vary depending on the place. Although there are many options, some of the best options are:

1. photo of dwayne

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At the time of this writing, dwaynesphoto.com charges about $14 before tax ($6 for development + $3 for standard resolution scans + $5 and $0.50 for additional papers for return shipping depending on its location and how many rolls it had developed) to develop a roll of 35mm color camera film, medium format or disposable/single use. processing cost for black and white medium format and 35mm film is $15 ($7 for development + $3 for standard resolution scans + $5 and $0.50 for additional rolls for the return shipment, depending on your location and how many rolls you had developed). if you prefer the higher level scan resolution, add $4. dwayne’s photo does not offer free shipping to or from the lab, so I included the price in the total cost.

2. photo of the citizen

At the time of this writing, citizensphoto.com charges about $17 before tax ($5 for first roll development and $4.50 for additional rolls + $6 for medium resolution scans (lowest available ) + about $6 for return shipping, depending on your location and how many rolls you had developed). for 35mm color film and disposable/single-use cameras. the cost of processing black and white medium format and 35mm film is only a dollar more at $18 (before tax). if you prefer the higher level scan resolution, add $2.50. Also, please note that citizensphoto.com does not offer free shipping to or from the lab, which is why I added it to the total cost.

3. the dark room

at the time of this writing, the darkroom.com charges about $17.95 before tax (including $5.95 for return shipping) per roll of color or black & 35mm white film that includes “standard” size scans and a digital web gallery to view and download your images. thedarkroom.com will also stock single-use or disposable film cameras for around $11 without scans or $15 with standard size scans (included), $18 with enhanced scans or $23 with larger scans. thedarkroom.com also provides a free shipping label to ship your film to their facility so you can save on shipping to the facility.

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4. richard photo lab

at the time of this writing, richard photo lab charges $21.85 ($8 developing + $7 universal quality scans (the mid-tier) + $6.85 usps first class shipping to tn) to develop a roll of color or black and white film of 35 mm or medium format with shipping (without taxes). if you get the lowest scan, the price drops to $18.85. richard photo lab will also develop single-use or disposable cameras at time of writing for $9.49 + $6.85 return shipping without scans or $14 with web-size scans, $3 more with universal scans ($17), or $8 more with larger scans ($22).

at richard photo lab, you can purchase a shipping label for your film to print and attach to your packaging to ship the film on their website. the cheapest option is $11.95 (ups ground and not for international packages).

It should be noted that there are many other options for developing films by mail. When choosing which one to use, keep in mind the additional costs. for example, you may have to pay to have your developed photos sent to you.

how much does a roll of film weigh?

A roll of film can weigh between 18.4 g (0.65 oz) and 116 g (4.10 oz) depending on the film format, make and number of exposures (24 – 36), with 35mm roll film weighs the least and disposable cameras with built-in flash weigh the most.

35mm

a 35mm roll weighs between 0.65 oz (18.4 g) and 0.80 oz (22.6 g), depending on the type of film (color or black and white), who makes it, and how many exhibitions is able to make the film. celebration (24 – 36 exhibitions).

medium format film (120mm)

A roll of medium format (120mm) color film weighs about 0.80 oz (22.6 g), but can also vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and type of film.

disposable cameras

A typical disposable film camera with 27 exposures weighs about 4.10 oz (116 g), but this can also vary depending on the manufacturer, how many exposures, whether or not it has a flash, or whether the camera is waterproof. For example, the Fujifilm Quick Snap waterproof disposable camera weighs about 6 oz. (170 g) due to the plastic casing and the kodak sport waterproof disposable camera weighs 5.92 (167.8 g).

can you send an instant movie by mail?

yes, you can send instant film made by polaroid and instax by mail. You can do this in two ways: a single instant film without an envelope, and one or more sheets of instant film in an envelope.

option 1: mail a single instant film without an envelope

You may not know this is possible, but you can send your instax or polaroid film without an envelope and turn your instant film into a postcard. all you need is a sharpie marker and a stamp. To send a single sheet of instant film without an envelope, follow these steps:

  1. take a picture with your polaroid or instax instant camera (you can use all sizes of instant film)
  2. buy a first class stamp (you can get these at a local post office or at a grocery store) store and, at the time of writing, it costs $.58 cents)
  3. place the stamp on the bottom right of your instant film (in the large white part)
  4. using the marker pen, write the address on the bottom left of your instant film (next to your stamp)
  5. if you have a longer message, write it on the back of your instant film with your marker
  6. drop it off at any usps mailbox

option 2: mail one or more sheets of instant film in an envelope

To send one or more sheets of instant film, follow these steps:

  1. Place a sheet of cardboard on the front and back of the photo or stack of photos cut to size for the film and envelope.
  2. Tape them together with packing tape
  3. use a padded envelope to protect the film
  4. for added protection you can write “do not fold” on the front of the package
  5. ship usps first class for best price if the package is less than 13 oz (368.5 g)

final thoughts

Mailing a movie in for development may seem like a guessing game, but it doesn’t have to be. the cost to mail film can range from $4.45 to $7.65 (before tax) to mail 1 to 10 rolls of 35mm or medium format (120mm) film, or 1 or 2 disposable cameras using USPS First Class Parcel Service. If you are mailing 10 or more rolls of 35mm or medium format (120mm) film or more than 2 disposable cameras, then we will I recommend using USPS Priority Flat Rate Mail which costs between $9.45 and $21.50.

As long as the film is packaged correctly, you should have no problem shipping domestically. You also don’t have to worry about your film being x-rayed in transit and ruined. your film may be scanned if you are going to or passing through a big city. If you’re shipping internationally, you may need to think about x-rays damaging the film, although if your camera speed is less than 800, the film should be fine. if you are shipping film over 800 iso then i recommend using usps priority mail and letting the post office know when it is mailed. Keeping these tips in mind should help you successfully submit your film without any surprises.

Sources

  • And Things to Consider. – The Photography Professor – Film Photography How To and Help

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