After a brief period of 100% digital shooting in 1999–2001, I went back to primarily shooting with film, both black & white and color slides. I process my B&W film at home but my apartment is too small for a darkroom to make prints, not do I have a room dark enough, so I rent time at a shared darkroom. I used to go to the Focus Gallery in Russian Hill, but when I called to book a slot about a month ago, the owner informed me he was shutting down his darkroom rental business and relocating. He did recommend a suitable replacement, which actually has nicer, brand new facilities, albeit in not as nice a neighborhood. Learning new equipment and procedures was still an annoyance

Color is much harder than B&W, and requires toxic chemicals. I shoot slides, which use the E-6 process, not the C-41 process for more common color negative film. For the last five years, I have been going to ChromeWorks, a Mom-and-Pop lab on Bryant Street, San Francisco’s closest equivalent to New York’s photo district. The only thing they did was E-6 film processing, and they did it exceedingly well, with superlative customer service and quite reasonable rates. When I went there today to hand them a roll for processing, I discovered they closed down two months ago, apparently a mere week after I last went there.

I ended up giving my roll to the NewLab, another pro lab a few blocks away, which is apparently the last E-6 lab in San Francisco (I had used their services before for color negative film, which I almost never use apart from the excellent Fuji Natura 1600).

Needless to say, these developments are not encouraging for a film enthusiast.

Update (2007-12-14):

There is at least one other E-6 lab in San Francisco, Fotodepo (1063 Market @ 7th). They cater mostly to Academy of Arts students and are not a pro lab by any means (I have never seen a more cluttered and untidy lab). In and in any case they are more expensive than the New Lab, if more conveniently located.

Update (2009-08-27):

The Newlab itself closed as well few months ago. I now use Light Waves instead.