The next lab that I decided to try for digitizing my negatives was DigMyPics. They are competitively priced and have a reasonably fast turnaround time. I sent them two 36-exposure rolls of Kodak Gold 200 that date from 1996. My decision to try them was based on three primary factors. Price: DigMyPics charges 44 cents per frame for 2000 dpi scans. In-country processing: all processing is done at their facility in Mesa, AZ. Turnaround: they normally take 5 days to process smaller orders.
The price per frame includes a credit for one disc (either DVD or CD). If your order is too large to fit on one disc then they charge an additional $6 per disc. Return shipping is extra and starts at $12.50. When I sent my order in (November) Dig My Pics was advertising 5 day turnaround. This does not include 2-3 days shipping on either end. Turnaround times can vary and are advertised continuously on their website.
I shipped four sheets of negatives (two sheets per 36-exposure roll) via 2-day FedEx. After arrival it took Dig My Pix 5 working days to process and return ship (also via 2-day FedEx). From departure to return the entire process took 13 days (9 working days plus two weekends). The cost breakdown was as follows: $32.56 for 74 frames, $13.05 for outbound shipping, $13.00 for return shipping. Total cost was $58.61 or 79 cents a frame. Obviously this cost would be less for larger orders.
I received back two discs, one contained the 2000 dpi images and the other contained low-res images. Dig My Pics separated the images by roll in to different directories. They used my designated "roll numbers" to name the directories: these numbers were written on the negative sheets that I shipped to them. Within each directory the files were named using the roll number, an underscore, then a sequence number. An example would be "960524_001.JPG". Images were 2789 x 1822. Low-res images were 1278 x 835, or about 900 dpi. There were no frames, borders or apparent registration problems with any of the images. The scans were very dust-free, likely due to the fact that Dig My Pics uses Digital Image Correction and Enhancement (Digital ICE) technology to remove dust and scratch marks from the images. Unfortunately many of the images contain what appears to be a piece of lint along one edge of the frame. It takes the same shape and is located in the same spot in many of the images, implying that it was stuck in the processing machine during digitization. The mark does not appear on the negatives. I sent a note to the sales force and they have offered to correct the problem with post processing and send me another disc.
One concern I had with using a resolution of 2000 dpi was the image's appearance if enlarged to a print size of 8 x 10. I have also heard that Digital ICE can tend to blur an image and make it less suitable for enlargements. As an experiment I sent one of the 2000 dpi images to a local lab for printing at 8 x 10, and I had the same lab print the original negative at the same size. The difference between the two enlargements is noticeable but not pronounced. The enlargement from the negative is slightly sharper with a touch more color saturation and more "pop". There is a very slight amount of graniness to the digital enlargement in parts of the picture. But the differences are slight and the results from the digitized image should be adequate for most purposes. I will stick with 2000 dpi as a good compromise, but I don't think I will be throwing out my negatives any time soon.
Here is a sample image from the set I sent in for processing:
Overall I am very pleased with the results from Dig My Pics and I plan to use them to digitize more of my negatives.
photos are organized and sorted
low-res scans included
total time with shipping still takes 2 weeks