Photo Services and Shops

in Trondheim and St. Petersburg: personal experience by Vadim Makarov

a part of his Photo Pages Dead tree

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.

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Kameraservice

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).

Trondheim, Norway

Foto Schroeder

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.

Japan Photo

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).

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.

Torget Foto

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 (Jan 2001).

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.

Fjellanger Wideroe


The lab is located in Kolbotn, 130 km south of Trondheim.

B&H Photo-Video

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.

I used B&H a couple times and it worked as expected.

St. Petersburg, Russia

I had terrible experience with four E6 processing labs (in 1998). I am not trying to process my film in Russia any more.
2005: no, I’ve 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, for instance

Demand for pro gear in Russia is low, so don't expect it to be in stock - call well beforehand.
Vadim Makarov
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