Photos & Projects Workflow

Legoland Windsor & giving AG Photo Lab a go

July 20, 2015

A few weeks ago, I helped my mate Ben celebrate his birthday by taking our respective kiddies to Legoland Windsor. Legoland was a place I dreamed of going as a kid. It has always been a place I’d imagined as being magically constructed entirely from Lego. Of course, the visit destroyed my dreams… It wasn’t entirely made of Lego at all. In fact, quite a bit of it seemed to have little to do with Lego at all. Still, it wasn’t for me, it was for Ben and his birthdayΒ the kiddies, and they enjoyed it quite a bit!

Cynicism aside, of course we enjoyed ourselves… It was a little on the warm side, but its hard to fault a family day out. And, I did get to see the mini lego city, which was the bit that I was really interested to see. Even as a 32 year old male I find it brilliant and couldn’t help taking a whole load of photos of it.

How interesting these photos are to anyone else, I’m not sure. At least subjectively they are mostly just photos of Lego, which can’t be all that enthralling…?

I posting them for another reason though. That reason being they represent a trial of a different photo lab. That photo lab being AG photo lab in Birmingham.

If you haveΒ a keen eye will know I’ve been using UK Film Lab fairly readily lately. That being the case, you might be wondering why the switch. Well, let me just prefix everything I’m about to say by emphasising the point that the change is not down to dissatisfaction with the experience, it is just down to wanting to try something a little different and perhaps a little more convenient.

Different because they use a Noritsu scanner where UK Film Lab use a Fuji, and convenient because my local London Camera Exchange have just struck up a deal with AG that allows me to drop my film in to LCE on a Monday and have the negs and scans back by the Friday. I’m a sucker for convenience… But what about the results…

Well, to make a comparison with what I have been posting lately slightly harder, these shots were taken with Portra 160 rather than 400. But, regardless of film, there is one very obvious difference, that being the warmth of the images. Now, I have seen this warmth in other peoples Noritsu scans, so was expecting it, but I don’t really know what of this is down to scanner and what is down to operator. Still, regardless of warmth, which I actually quite like, the objective quality of the scans seems quite high to me.

I shall continue to report back on progress with both UK and AG… But for now, I remain on a journey…

Here are some photos:

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor

Cheers for looking…

Hamish

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Amro
    July 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

    The photos are great, Hamish. I do like the scans too.
    Ag Photolab seems to be a bit cheaper than my usual Peak Imaging. I still haven’t recovered from the one and only time Royal Mail lost a whole lot of films I had processed at Peak Imaging a couple of years ago (when they moved sorting offices!).

    If they provide at least online storage of the scans then they would be perfect.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      They don’t seem to, though it is a question I intend to raise. It is one major thing I like about UK Film lab, they send the files digitally. But then, without paying the extra cash, they are slower too… Horses for courses

  • Reply
    Captain Grimes
    July 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Hi Hamish – fantastic post and pictures – these scans are IMHO for some reason much more pleasing to the eye than those you have posted before – not that the previous scans were in any way bad, but they now appear somewhat washed out by comparison. I think the difference is in the richness of the colours. Have you been heavily overexposing your images as per Johnny Patience – that may account for some of the difference? Many thanks again for an informative post – I continue to enjoy reading your posts and will have to give AG Photolab a go now. Best regards.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 21, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Nope. These were all exposed mostly at box speed. Maybe a little over, but certainly not more than 2ev. If anything there were more shots from the Cornwall holiday that were dramatically overexposed from when I was being lazy with the Leica M6.
      I’m almost certain that the tone is down to the scanner and the operators preference rather than the film itself.
      They look nice though don’t they, not what id expect from portra 160 particularly, but I’m not sure I’m worried.
      What I am starting to feel is that what I want from a scan is something I can work with rather than something “correct”. What I like from film is the rendering of light, the rendering of colour is feeling more and more like it is something for me to decide upon …
      More on this is a later post though I think …

      • Reply
        Captain Grimes
        July 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm

        Thanks Hamish. I am new to film myself and it is hard getting on top of all the variables! I wonder how much of the result is down to the resolution of the scan, as well …

  • Reply
    joby
    July 21, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    They are lovely! They do three sizes of scans so I was wondering which ones they were? I had a roll of pushed TriX I put through them recently and I liked them. I have also recently tried Boots in Tottenham Court Road (shocking!), Bristol Cameras (waiting to get that one back tomorrow), Snappy Snaps in Wardour Street (nice but expensive) and am trying Aperture in Rathbone Place next week. I’m trying to find the best value place but AG is the best so far….

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      These were the big ones. They are massive. Click through to Flickr, you’ll see the full size there.
      You shall have to keep me up to date if you find any better price/quality deal!

  • Reply
    joby
    July 22, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Will do! I’ve just decided to go back to film and I’ve bought a Contax G2 set and a T2 which are great so far. And will never get outdated unlike my Sony a6000 (which is also great)!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 22, 2015 at 6:38 am

      My digital cameras are Sony too, just remember. the out dating of digital cameras is just a state of mind … Consumerism is the problem, not the camera itself πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    joby
    July 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    So. I have been using loads of labs to see who is good in preparation for my holiday photos. I have just tried Aperture on Rathbone place with a mad Colour Implosion film and I like the results. Β£10 for big scans of about 10mgb. Bristol Cameras are Β£2.99! And they scans were small but very nice. Amazing value. With postage both ways it ended up around Β£7 so it’s cheaper to send a few rolls in at a time….

  • Reply
    Nick
    November 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Hamish, thank you for these posts, they are really valuable for film shooters trying to find that perfect quality/cost balance when it comes to processing and scanning in the UK. I’ve stumbled upon others in the past but they have always been reviews of US labs.

    I too had similar experiences with UK Film Lab; great service, excellent scans and colour was spot on but considering the cost I was a little disappointed by their fairly slow turnaround and also to find that when it comes to returning your negs they request an additional Β£4.50 to post them 2nd class (even for one roll!)

    I recently had some 120 scanned by AG and was pleased with the results, I’ll have to send my next roll of 135 to them ..or just bite the bullet and buy a Pakon!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      November 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      You will have to let me know how you get in with the 35mm from them.
      The other difference between AG and UKFL is the type of scanner. UKFL use a fuji, AG a Noritsu. I prefer the warmer images I get from the Noritsu scanner…
      I’ve thought about a Pakon myself… Just feels like a can of worms I’m not sure I want to open!
      Anyway, glad my posts are of help!
      πŸ™‚

      • Reply
        Matt
        April 28, 2018 at 11:17 pm

        A Pakon is not quite a can of worms. Just a mini project. But one that pays off nicely. Love my Pakon, as its so convienient, when its working well.

  • Reply
    Mike
    July 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Hi, thanks for a great source of information in relation to film development in the UK. I have been using UKFilmlab since last year for developing film and receiving scans. Although I have been very happy with their quality, they have decided to move to Canada and I am now in search of an alternative lab to send my film.
    AG seem like a good starting point but any advice on labs you have experienced since posting this review would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 2, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      I use AG all the time – you need to prepare yourself for a very different look, is my advice. UKFL have a great look to their images, but its frontier derived, and definitely has a signature. AG is Noritsu derived, and is much more default. Lots of contrast and bright colours, basically; compared to the slightly more delicate tones from UKFL. Hopefully that makes sense?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 2, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      … I should add, I really like the look, so I stuck with AG. I do talk a bit more about different company’s approaches here though.

  • Reply
    Lee
    August 8, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to share this, Hamish. I happened upon this after one too many let-downs from Lomography, who got good for a while but you have encouraged me to get over my fear of putting an exposed film in the post!

    Have you tried AG for scanning 120?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 14, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Yeah – they use the same scanner for 120 as 35mm, so it should be fine! good luck!!

  • Reply
    Lee Mackey
    May 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    THanks Hamish- Me again!

    Have you put slide through AG? BAsed on your reccomendation I have been sending them neg and am happy with the results. WOnderful customer service too, they sent me some great extras I asked for.

    But I just got a roll of Velvia 50 (6x6x) back and in the scans, the blues are a horrible electric tone. The sky blue is what I shot slide for!

    Have you any experience with reversal through this company?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 20, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Only one roll, and unfortunately I don’t have enough experience of reversal film to comment … sorry :/

  • Reply
    Sam
    March 9, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Hello there! Thanks for all your insights and info on this site. I just shot my first roll of film after many years shooting digital and opted for AG Photolab on the basis of this article. After a little mishap (they sent me someone else’s photos through the post), I finally have my first set of film images shot on Ektar 100. I opted for the high res JPEG scans. What do you usually choose? Is it better to ask for the medium res TIFFs instead? I don’t really know what quality I should be expecting from my files but overall I’m quite happy with them. This might be quite a newbie question but is the quality of film better when it goes directly to print rather than being scanned? I didn’t actually purchase any prints but kind of regret that decision now.

    Are you still using these guys? I did take a look at Canadian Film Lab and perhaps I’ll give them a go next time and do a comparison.

    I shall certainly shoot one roll of film on all of my future travel trips!

    Thanks again for all your information!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      I scan my own these days – but when I did use them I had tiffs as they allowed a little more room for me to edit them. Good luck in the path!

  • Reply
    Stefan
    March 7, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Have you (or any one else?) used them since this post? I had been a regular user of AG but the last few times I used them the scans were less than great, initially they were my go to processing/scanning outfit, with good sharp scans. I’ve now returned to my own processing and scanning. Used Peak a couple of times and I can’t say I was impressed, all very over exposed. Best were from UK Film Lab, but I’ve not used them since they moved overseas.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 8, 2020 at 9:15 am

      I use silverpan FilmLab these days – might be worth a go? He will take advice on how you want your scans to look I think

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