The Crown Print Process
Photo processing is complicated. To do it well you need to understand chemicals, printing paper characteristics, optics, electronics, digital printing software, networking, scanning and even laser beams.
At King Photo we combine these in a way like no other photo company to create CROWN PRINTS. Every photo product we sell goes through the exclusive CROWN PRINT process. This means your film is converted into negatives using a process called C-41. All photo labs use the C-41 process to turn color film into negatives but King Photo's C-41 process has some important differences. We use deionized water to mix our chemicals and in our final rinse. This improves the performance of the chemicals and leaves the negatives cleaner. There are some other differences in how we make better negatives but we can't share them all right here on the internet. All four King Photo labs use the best film processors made to turn film in to negatives. Maybe that???s why so many professional photographers have their film processed at King Photo.
Then those negatives are scanned to create a digital file of each image. The scanning process is how a photographic image on a negative becomes digital information in a computer. To avoid white spots on the final prints, it's important to keep the negative very clean during scanning. We gently wipe every negative with imported velvet to remove any loose dust that might be on the negative and then as a final step filtered air is blown over the negatives during scanning. For the extra clear prints, we scan the negative at extremely high resolution. These files and those that are presented to us already in digital form from digital camera users are then ready to be examined INDIVIDUALLY.
After examining each and every image, we calculate a correction for that image. How we figure this correction is our secret but it does include improvements in density (how light or dark the picture is), color, saturation (how deep the colors are), contrast, (the difference between the light and dark areas of the image). Once this correction is applied to the file, instructions are sent to a set of lasers to "write" the image on to a Kodak's best paper. (Kodak makes many types of photographic paper, but none is more expensive or makes a better print than the type we use: Kodak Royal paper.) Photo paper is like wall paper. Every batch has its own unique printing qualities so we test every batch when it arrives and then retest it every day to make sure the color balance is right. Once the image is exposed onto the paper it is processed using Kodak's RA-4 chemicals. A complex set of pumps, float switches and sensors all computer controlled make sure that the chemicals are the correct strength to accurately develop the paper. And again we mix all these chemicals using only deionized water.
The prints are then dried. You'd think that would be simple but temperature and humidity control are important here. If the prints dry to fast, they curl too much and are hard to handle. Dry too slowly, and they are sticky and allow dust to adhere on the emulsion. Every paper type has unique drying characteristics that vary from size to size and season to season. Once dry, we INDIVIDUALLY look at every print to make sure it measures up to our standards. If it doesn't, we refigure to correct and remake that print.
After all the photos in that order meet the CROWN PRINT process standards we select one special print to receive a "WOW" sticker. It says "Wow, what a great shot. I think it's the best on the roll" The print inspector personally initials the sticker and attaches it to the print. We then insert all the negatives in protective sleeving. And put the prints and the negatives into a special black and gold foil print wallet and the inspector marks their final approval of the prints by initialing the order envelope. Only after all this can the prints be called King Photo CROWN PRINTS.