Think film is dead? We hate to say that you are missing out on a big slice of the Melbourne photography scene. If you are already shooting in analogue, you might only know of one or two places that do film developing in Melbourne, but who doesn’t want a backup lab? Over the past decade, there has been a lot of young blood injected into the film photography scene in Melbourne, and with it has come some great labs that brandish their own unique style.
Whichever side of the river you are on, here are the best places to develop film in Melbourne. We have also included prices and opening hours so you know how long you will be waiting for those scans to hit your email, or when you can get your hands on those negatives.
16 Black Street, Brunswick | 12-3pm (Mon-Thurs)
Naturally, we will start in Brunswick. The ultimate backdrop to any film photography project. Hillvale film developers have been around since 2013, starting out as just a black roller door and quickly becoming a preferred option due to their convenient business model. Essentially, you can drop off your film at Hillvale’s dropbox, or at one of the eight other physical Dropbox locations. This makes Hillvale Photo an option for Melbournians in the South, East and West too. This service means they don’t have to have wide opening hours, and they work quite quickly to send scans once completed. Your roll of film just goes in a printed envelope that you mark the type of film and contact details. You will then receive a PayPal invoice, and once paid your scans are automatically sent to you.
Hillvale develops film and scans 35mm, 120, 110, slides, APS, C-41, E-6 types and B&W. Developing film in Melbourne at Hillvale starts as low as $7, but you can view their full Hillvale pricelist. If you are travelling to Hillvale in Brunswick by car, expect some narrow roads and twists and turns. It’s in a unique position, but there are some great spots to shoot in these back alleys that are tucked behind Sydney Road.
6 Watertank Way, Melbourne | 12-6pm (Mon-Sat)
Many film developers in Melbourne will have analogue cameras for sale – but not like FilmNeverDie. FilmNeverDie is a one-stop-shop for new and established film photographers and a great place to scan and develop film in Melbourne CBD. Film can be dropped off and paid for in-store, and there is also an option to mail in your negatives. FilmNeverDie has really cultivated a film photography community in Melbourne, and it’s typical for an event or giveaway to be happening on their socials at any given time. If you are known to hoard film cameras, you will have to exercise some restraint as you can get a real bargain or a unique find at FilmNeverDie from their huge range.
FilmNeverDie in Melbourne can scan and develop 35mm, 120, 35mm disposable camera film, C-41, E-6 types and B&W. You can find FilmNeverDie’s pricelist, with film developing starting at $7 a roll. You can also be part of the conversation with our like-minded shooters, and join the FilmNeverDie Discord group. There are also zine’s that are shared periodically, so be sure to check them out and see if you can contribute to the next issue.
450 Gore Street, Fitzroy | 8:30-5:60pm (Mon-Fri), 9-5pm (Sat)
Vanbar Imagining has been around since the 80s, and so chances are most of your peers know about it. Not only is it popular for film developing in Melbourne, but it is actually a warehouse where you can buy all film photography supplies. You can also find digital photography equipment too, and even darkroom chemical solutions and photography paper if you want to set up your own mini lab at home. Vanbar Imaging is a must-visit, especially if you are new to film photography and want to see everything in one place and be helped by a big team of photography specialists. You can find Vanbar Imaging’s catalogue – which can be pretty overwhelming!
Vanbar Imaging can scan and develop 35mm, 120, C-41, E-6 types and B&W – although you might need to use the online chat function to get the most up to date pricing. You can also have your developed film in Melbourne made into a print, with their photo lab including some of the best printers available with a professional team working to your brief. If you also shoot and showcase digital photography, Vanbar Imaging might be the catch-all destination for your photography needs.
Photo Barn Burwood
172-210 Burwood Highway, East Burwood | 10-5pm (Mon-Sat)
Photo Barn Burwood is a great option if you want to develop film in Melbourne while you shop in a shopping centre. Photo Barn Burwood has been developing film in Melbourne for over 30 years and can develop all film types, including 126 film which is hard to come by. Given the experience level, you will find on the Photo Barn Burwood pricelist that they even encourage photographers to experiment with their developing process to get more creative results. This might interest some seasoned photographers who are looking to push the boundaries a little and are happy to let the developing process dictate the end result.
Film developing in Melbourne & Australia
If you are in and out of Melbourne and would like to rely on film development in Melbourne and beyond – there are some chain options. This means that you can find these names in other parts of Australia, and be familiar with their prices, style and turnaround time. There was a big uproar when Big W and Kmart stopped their film developing services as they appear to have pivoted toward smartphone photo services. Honestly? It’s no real loss in our opinion. There are some bigger players that are still developing film in Melbourne, so let’s get to know them.
You can find Michaels in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The name carries one hell of a legacy and has been trading on the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets since 1916. It remains a family business in its 5th generation to this day, and the hype is well and truly deserved. When you first walk into the Michaels camera store in Melbourne, you might think there is nothing there for film buffs. Walk to the back of the store and there you will find analogue film products, film, photo paper, darkroom chemical solutions and polaroid cameras. You will also find a service team who run the lab and can develop and scan your negatives. Michael’s develop and scan 35mm, 120, C-41, E-6 types and B&W.
Literally a few doors down from Michael’s you will find digiDirect. This is another big camera and camera supply store found in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and New South Wales (3 stores). What we like about digiDirect is that when you hand in a roll of film to be developed – they give you a fresh one back free of charge. Who doesn’t love a freebie? They also scan and develop film in one hour – which is pretty impressive! digiDirect develop and scan 35mm, 120, C-41 and E-6 types. Although they only develop B&W in their New South Wales stores so keep that in mind if you plan on dropping off mixed films.
Considerations for film developing in Melbourne
We would be remiss if we didn’t call out a key consideration for film developing in Melbourne! When you drop in your negatives to be scanned and developed – there will be a time frame in which you must pick up the negatives from the lab. If you fail to pick them up in this period, they will be sent to ‘deep storage’. This means that you will have to pay a ‘deep storage retrieval fee’ to have them collected, as this will require a staff member going to an external storage unit. This can be a kick in the teeth if you are unaware of this policy, but it is understandable that this rule exists given the volume of negatives they receive and store onsite. Next time you drop your film developing in Melbourne, be sure to ask how long you have to pick up!
We hope you visit and enjoy our favourite places to develop film in Melbourne, and are pleased with the work that comes back. Be sure to stay looped into our Melbourne Culture archive to hear more about photography and other hobbies alive and well in Melbourne. You can also follow us on Instagram and Pinterest to see more visual content!