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Photo Processing and Printing

As in the rest of the world, in the United States, digital photography has largely supplanted the conventional film camera. The old-style film is getting harder to find. Some film varieties preferred by professionals are no longer available. Camera shops, discount stores, drug stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets still accept conventional photographic film, however. Some have technologies to develop and print the photographs on premises, often in an hour or less. Others send the film to outside processing labs. Many users deal with these labs directly by mail. Nearly all these establishments are now set up to handle digital images also.

During the age of conventional photography, only a small group of hobbyists maintained darkrooms and developed film on their own. Instant photography systems like Polaroid filled in the gap for those who did not want to wait for their photographs. Now, easy-to-use printers allow users, even without a computer, to print digital images themselves at home.

Just as the Internet allows photographs to circle the globe without printing them in the first place, it also makes it easy for people to order prints by mail. Users upload their images, and then choose prints in various sizes, or have the images incorporated into novelties such as coffee mugs, key chains, calendars, or jigsaw puzzles. Discount stores, drug chains and warehouse stores allow customers to upload images to a central Internet site and then physically pick up prints and other products within hours at their local store. At many stores, customers can bring their cameras in to a special self-serve kiosk, transfer their photos electronically, crop or edit the photos, and receive prints in an hour or less.

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