Photo Services and Shops
in Trondheim and St. Petersburg:
personal experience by Vadim Makarov
a part of his Photo Pages
I always expect some degree of professionalism from a photo lab.
Most of the services I tried failed to exhibit it, to put it mildly.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if a lab is good enough for you
until you've tried it. Of course, you can also listen to other's experience,
taking it with a grain of salt.
When you are about to send your film to a new lab, assume the worst.
Make your expectations clear to them.
Don't give them any important shots first few times
and inspect what they return carefully.
In particular, majority of the lab technicians are incapable of handling
film and mounted slides without putting their bare fingers
(and sometimes other dirty and abrasive things) into the image area,
treating your originals as expendables. Damaging the originals is way worse than
not delivering the result you want, but obviously most of them think the opposite.
Karl Johansgt. 4 - it is located in the very center of the city, 50 meters from the central station.
Yeah, Oslo is big enough to have a shop that actually stocks
few good loupes, several types of carbon fiber tripods,
light tables that are not complete junk, etc.
Trondheim doesn't have one - when it comes to pro gear, you have to order it.
So when I got to Oslo, I spent few hours there (taking that time away from my visit
to the National Gallery).
Many local shops including Tapir Data at Gloeshaugen,
Simon Engen Foto and Foto Schroeder on Nordre gt. 6 send orders to this lab.
Foto Schroeder and Tapir generously sponsor our local photo competitions.
- E6 processing: no longer available. In the beginning of 2002, they had a fire in the processor.
It was decided not to replace it, due to shrinking demand. Slide film is now sent to Kodak lab in Oslo.
Before that, I had about 250 rolls processed in the Foto Schroeder lab at Fossegrenda.
If was a same-day service. The processing was overally consistent, with occasional minor screw-ups.
Two frames were cut apart, one mared with a large smutch of brown dirt,
several had tiny stains, a few lightly scratched and quite
a lot had faint drying marks, mostly near sprocket holes.
None of my rolls were severely damaged or lost, and processing
was nearly always done in time (Jan 1998 through Dec 2001).
- Digital slide printing on photo paper:
done in their large lab at Fossegrenda. It has average quality by default
(i. e. badly cropped, often not optimal prints).
However, they can give you several versions of the same print,
do proof matching and print full-frame at ordinary prices after the
lab manager tells you a secret word to write on the order envelope
(you may talk to him in person in the lab at Fossegrenda).
As with any CCD scanner, it would be advisable to know that
they cannot use the whole dynamic range of the slide
and the print inevitably loses details in either shadows or highlights,
depending on operator's decision, unless the slide is low-contrast one.
Oh yes, they sometimes put fingerprints on the glass of my mounts.
Later comment: now that I've tried some image scanning and processing myself,
my opinion on the job Foto Schroeder does raised. It's hard and they often
do the best that can be done without spending hours in PhotoShop.
- Scanning to Master Photo CD: they send those orders further to KodaPost,
screwed up my slides sent directly to it (Nov 1999).
part of Japan Photo network, which also has on-line shop
This is the cheapest camera shop in Trondheim. Period.
You may be OK buying goods there
(in particular, brand-name film is sold at fixed low prices),
but their service suffers because they cannot give you something for nothing.
The shop carries a lot of cheap poor accessories that others don't sell,
probably because of low quality (ever wanted to buy uncoated filters
or the flimsiest tripod? This is the only place that has them).
Though, custimers like it: there is a long waiting line during busy hours
and the shop recently moved into a new bigger place (I've learned later that the building
they occupied before required a complete overhaul). One-hour processor.
Used equipment (the only store in Trondheim that sells it).
- E6 processing without mounting:
of course, I wouldn't use them myself,
but a local camera club processed film from a competition there.
My roll had few small scratches and one of the cuts between strips went
a little bit into the image area (Oct 1999).
- C41 processing with 10x15 printing:
I processed my first few rolls there: nothing special,
just bottom quality for bottom price and long waiting with additional delays
- Dealing with equipment returns:
While I might expect too much from a used Yashica SLR bought there
with a half-year warranty,
two weeks later the salesman with a loupe kept saying
"test pattern on this negative is just as sharp as on that one"
looking at a clearly failed (for me) autofocus test we shot together
and refusing to send the camera for repair or accept return.
It focused behind the object and it could be seen both in the viewfinder
and on 10x15cm prints.
Today I might just go to the customer protection office (or whatever it is called
in Norway, ombudsmann?),
but then I agreed to return the camera in exchange for
a shopping credit 300 krones less than the original price.
That's how they keep the cost low: by screwing unexperienced novices (Nov 1997).
Simon Engen Foto
The store burned down to the ground in the catastrophic fire on December 7, 2002 that destroyed a whole city block, and re-opened half a year later in the next block on Nordre gt.
This shop appears to be good.
I've made quite a few purchases there. Some salespersons actually are or were photographers.
Any pro gear can be ordered: you then handle it in the store and buy if you like.
Some printing and processing orders are probably sent out,
but the shop has a one-hour processor and a digital printer.
located in Trondheim Torg: long opening hours. Part of
Elite Foto network.
Can communicate with you via email. Prices for gear are higher than in other places.
They have two high-end digital printers - Fuji Pictrostat 400 (400dpi)
and Fuji Frontier 370 (300dpi), film scanner (included with the Fuji Frontier)
and PCs with Photoshop in the store.
You can have a print from film or digital file you bring them
done in less than an hour.
It used to be that you could control the process yourself, but now they've
hid the equipment in the back room and wouldn't allow this
(not without a big extra charge, at least).
To know how your files will print, you can order a small proof first.
Hint: pictures from my site look OK printed on the Frontier 370;
I found, however, that prints from the Pictrostat 400 look different in color,
but not necessarily worse.
They print from files "as is," with no adjustments except resizing when necessary.
That means that sharpening is your own
responsibility: prepare files with proper size and resolution (400 or 300dpi,
depending on the printer), then sharpen. Some trial-and-error might be required
One-hour processor in the store.
Also, it is the only processor in Trondheim that agreed to print me a roll
of negative film with the same print exposure for all frames (at increased cost).
However, at that point I switched to slides instead and didn't try it out (Nov 1997).
They sold a used Nikon LS-2000 film scanner
(was actively used in the store for a while) at 60% price to my friend.
The scanner turned out to be in terrible condition.
Before we could do scans, it had to make two trips to the Nikon service center
(at store's expense; May 2001).
Other Shops in Center of Trondheim
If I don't write much about those stores, that doesn't mean they are good or bad -
I just haven't had enough experience with them.
Now I've mentioned all seven photo stores that have outlets in the downtown.
- (Optec closed circa 2002)
- (Foto-Dahl closed in 2001.
Too bad, I don't know who else makes photo T-shirts)
- Preus Foto (Nordre gt. 12)
The lab is located in Kolbotn, 130 km south of Trondheim.
A very reputable mailorder company located in New York, USA.
Despite 23% import tax (MVA) you pay for imported photo gear in Norway and
shipping expenses, the resulting price is often not higher than local one.
If you pay with a credit card and choose FedEx
shipping option, the order arrives in few days and its customs clearance takes
no time: you only get a bill with the import tax later.
If you return the purchase, don't forget to obtain
an export declaration when you send it back to recover the import tax
from the tax authorities.
- Traditional slide printing in Trondheim:
I brought them a difficult slide. It was printed exactly how I told the lab technician,
but he was printing from unmounted slides and mine got fingerprints. It is something
you wouldn't expect from a professionally looking lab with pretty high prices
I used B&H a couple times and it worked as expected.
St. Petersburg, Russia
terrible experience with four E6 processing labs (in 1998).
I am not trying to process my film in Russia any more.
2005: no, Ive tried one more (i.e. fifth) lab in St. Petersburg just to see if they have learned how to process E6. Out of two test rolls, two came out with stains.
There are few shops carrying professional equipment at competitive prices,
Demand for pro gear in Russia is low, so don't expect it to be
in stock - call well beforehand.
on Moskovsky pr. 105, tel. 327 9752
- Yarky Mir (Bright World) on Nevsky pr. 6, tel. 314 7028
(English is spoken)
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