Introducing Balc Film Lab
BALC FILM LAB is a South London based independent film processing lab headed and founded by Rashid Babiker.
"My personal photography led me to requiring fine art photographic prints for a photobook I was in the process of creating. I quickly discovered that the high quality dedicated film labs of London were far too expensive with little or no concessions for young film shooters. In like manner I discovered results from the cheaper film labs like Snappy Snaps and ASDA ranged from terrible to mediocre; scans had diabolical colour shifts and were too low a resolution and fidelity for print or digital showcasing.
In searching for a solution my high standards and natural intrigue quickly had me flirting with the idea of developing my own film. Countless nights of research and exploration later and I had accumulated the knowledge, the utensils and the ingredients required to process my first rolls of film - when placing my first developed roll to the light I was encouraged by the familiar silhouette of silver halide crystals, and on passing it through my scanner it seemed they had turned out better than I could have hoped for and my passion for this new found art form grew to new heights from there.
Every so often I'd have film shooters at my studio and listening to them I realised we had many shared experiences with photo labs, including experiences of disappearing rolls, unknowledgable employees and unreliable turnover times; the consequence I believe of darkroom artists being ousted from the darkroom process due to the decline of film and being replaced by franchises with employees whose understanding of the film developing process doesn't extend beyond the pushing of a few buttons.
I told them that I had started developing my own film and found the results to be excellent, I followed up this claim by offering to develop their rolls of film for them, they agreed; when I sent back the first scans the reaction was overwhelmingly positive to the tune of them only trusting me with their precious film rolls from then on in, it wasn't long after that I decided to offer my film processing services to the film shooting community.
Fast forward hundreds self developed rolls later & I feel the time is right to open BALC FILM LAB"
~ Rashid Babiker
"About two weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about this new lab that just opened in South London and assured me that this was THE place to get your film processed.
I had recently got back from a week long trip to New York City and had around 7+ rolls of HP5 developed that needed to be scanned.(Besides a painfully slow and low-res 10+year old Epson flatbed scanner that my college provides, I had no way of scanning these negatives that I was eagerly awaiting to see.)
A few days later, after some complications with Royal Mail, I received the Instagram DM I was waiting for. Within 2 hours of Balc receiving my negatives, I had 250+ TIFF files downloaded onto my PC. The sheer quality and speed that these guys managed to deliver in the service was amazing I think I told at least 5 people in excitement."
- Sam Cashmore, Junior Editor
"I usually shoot black and white and process it myself in the studio, but I was asked to shoot colour for a commercial gig I had. I was in need of a new lab, as I refuse to go to high-street chains & my previous lab went up in price and down in quality. I was immediately recommended Bayeux, but I just couldn't wrap my head around those prices. £20 per roll for 35mm c-41 36xp. develop + scan with image files at 16mb/72dpi?! No thank you.
After hearing about Sam's experience with Balc, and learning that they also had a postal service, I thought I'd try it out. Weirdly enough I also had issues with Royal Mail but as soon as the lab received my film I got a confirmation text and an hour later I had a WeTransfer waiting for me along with another text saying that as soon as I've sorted through the photographs I was to let them know which images to rescan at a higher res. This was perfect for the type of content I was receiving. Last thing I'd have wanted to do was to spend hours downloading roll after roll of large file headshots only to keep a small handful of them.
Very happy with the service I received. 10/10 would use again"
- Sadie Bailey, Editor in Chief
*Please consider that images have been reduced in quality for this website.