Recently, I’ve been using DS Colour Labs extensively to print out large quantities of monochrome prints, as their prices are excellent, and their quality is very good. But I thought I’d give llford Labs another go after a bit of a disaster a while back.
As you might have guessed from the name, Ilford Labs are part of the same Ilford company that make black and white film, paper and chemicals. They have diversified into developing and processing not just black and white film, but also printing black and white digital images on their paper.
My first order with them a few years back was somewhat disastrous as I didn’t really get my head round the user interface on their website, and they were rather expensive. I’m pleased to say that their website seems to be simpler and better explained now, and the selection of images that I sent produced some lovely prints. The prints are cast free, and are a decent match for my screen, with not too much contrast.
I’ve done some side by side comparisons with the equivalent images printed at DS and there seems to be more tonality in the images, with slightly less contrast. But there’s something else, the Ilford prints just have a slightly different look to them that I can’t quite define that I really like, possibly a result of them being printed on Ilfords own silver gelatine paper.
Where’s the catch? Price. Ilford are eye wateringly expensive. A 15 x 10 at DS is 90p. The same size from Ilford is £7.99. Given the difference in the prints is noticeable but not significant, you’d need very deep pockets, or a major exhibition to print anything other than small quantities at Ilford.
Would I use them again? Yes, but not as a matter of course due to the cost, but for exhibitions and portfolios, then they are definitely worth considering.