Frequently Asked Questions

What are photographic contact sheets?

Contact sheets (or contact prints) were, and still can be, a quick way of showing a photographer what they’ve captured on a roll of film. After processing, the roll is cut into strips which are placed in contact with a sheet of photographic paper - light is shone through the film for a few seconds and the paper is then developed, resulting in small prints of all of the images on a single, convenient sheet. Naturally, with the rise of digital cameras, contact sheets are rarely seen today - that is, until now!

The beauty of the contact sheet is in the functional, almost industrial-looking nature of the final print. Aspects of the physical film itself are visible: the sprocket holes and tiny imperfections; the frame numbering; the edge codes...these are of course just purely mechanical features of analogue photographic film, but when combined with contemporary digital imagery, the distinction between modern and traditional technologies starts to disappear. So, we thought, “wouldn’t it be great if users of the world’s favourite photo sharing app could present their imagery in what we think is the most evocative and visually striking of ways!” Ladies and gentlemen: RetroLab!

Does RetroLab use any actual physical film as part of the production process?

No. All representations of the films have been painstakingly artworked, and are based on very high resolution scans of 35mm negative and positive (transparency or “slide”) films. After a lot of practical experimentation, we decided to artwork all of the films in order to provide a consistent, realistic impression...basically, we think that they look brill!

What machine do you use for printing?

Well we made a decision in the very early days of setting up RetroLab to try and do everything as well as we could - that of course includes the machines that we use to produce your prints! We decided to use Canon 12-colour inkjet printers - these are designed for the photography and fine art markets, and produce consistently brilliant image quality. By using only the best, this of course also makes life easier for us here at RetroLab! These class of machines are frequently described as being “giclee” printers - giclee being a derivation of the French word “gicleur” or “nozzle” in English. Here’s a link to the Canon UK site if you’d like to read up!

Can I print my friend’s Instagram images?

Unfortunately not yet - right now, this service is just for you and your images!

Can I order RetroLab contact sheets via email?

Due to the nature of the product, unfortunately not - but if you have a project in mind that you’d like to discuss, please do feel free to get in touch at

Does RetroLab offer framing and mounting?

All of our printed sheets have been deliberately sized so that you can frame them easily at home...BUT, if you’d like us to do this for you, no problem! As we're the photographic printers, we leave the frame making to the experts - our particular expert is a nice man called David!

David says, “All of RetroLab's frames use 22mm wide (with 22mm depth) sustainably sourced painted and lacquered pine, with the exception of the mounted A1 sheets - these use 30mm wide (with 15mm depth) painted pine, again sustainably sourced!”...thanks David!­

“Oh, the mounts - Daler & Rowney are the only way to go for this...1.4mm thick, acid free, made in the UK - beautiful!”...thanks David!

“Oh, the glazing - 2mm thick acrylic is used in all of RetroLab's frames, rather than is colour neutral (some glazing can change tonal values), with great optical clarity...also, you wouldn’t want any breakages in transit, would you?” David! Thanks David!

Can I change the imagery used or cancel my order after I’ve completed the checkout process?

We’re really sorry but as soon as payment has been made, we cannot physically amend the order in any way, nor cancel it - so therefore please do carefully check the placement of your imagery and product selections before making your payment.

Do you change or modify my pictures at all during production?

Basically, no. All we do is place your images within the subtly rounded frames of the film (this “rounding” recreates the size of corner from the film transport mechanism of a 1983 Nikon FA - honest!). As we obviously don’t want any holes appearing between your pictures and the film frames, please note that we do have to overlap your images within the frames by just a few pixels. To complete the “in camera” effects, we’ve also artworked an authentic, almost imperceptible softness around the very edges of the frames (this effect was originally caused by light interference from the edges of the film window within the camera transport mechanism). So, all of the RetroLab action happens around your pictures, never on or over them!

How do I know that my pictures are going to print okay?

In July 2015, the image resolution (basically, the picture quality) that the Instagram app can produce increased, meaning that when your pictures are printed by RetroLab, you’ll get great results. Even if the images that you decide to use were created before July 2015 and are subsequently of lower resolution, you certainly shouldn’t be disappointed in what we produce! Oh and as a little bit of extra reassurance about quality, even though the whole ordering process is controlled on-line through the RetroLab site, a highly experienced analogue person (possibly with glasses) will assess your RetroLab contact sheet before printing - so if we spot anything that we’re not completely happy with, we’ll be in touch!

Do you deliver outside of the United Kingdom?

At the moment our website only offers delivery within the UK (this will be changing very soon though!). If however you're based elsewhere on the planet and really want RetroLab to print your Instagram images, please send a mail to and we'll work something out - excellent, excelente, Ausgezeichnet!

What methods of payment do you accept?

Our lovely friends at Braintree (part of PayPal, Inc.) look after all of this for us - we can accept Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, AmEx, Discover, Maestro and UK Maestro. With regard to payment security, Braintree are a validated Level 1 PCI DSS Compliant Service Provider - yep, Braintree are very smart, and have mighty financial roots!

Do RetroLab ever issue discount vouchers?

Yes indeedy!

When is RetroLab open and if I need to get in touch with you, how quickly will you reply to me?

The office is open 9.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (we’re unfortunately not around at weekends and Bank Holidays...probably out photographing things!). As customer is King (or Queen) at RetroLab, during business hours, we aim to at the very least acknowledge your e-mail within sixty minutes of receipt!

How long will it take for delivery?

Like us, no one likes to wait too long for their purchase to arrive, so all of our products are normally produced and packed within four working days. They are then despatched with either Royal Mail Parcel Force on a next working day delivery basis, or Royal Mail 1st Class - so, doing the sums, you can expect delivery within just five working days! As part of the order confirmation e-mail that we send to you, we will always specify our current “expect delivery within” time, just in case the whole world has beaten a path to our door! Oh and please note that the total time that we will quote for production and delivery will be “within” a certain period - in other words, if production is running normally, you can expect delivery in 2-5 working days.

Can I change a delivery address after my order is placed?

We’ll certainly do what we can. We tend to work pretty quickly (but carefully mind!), so if you do need to change a delivery address please contact our customer cuddlers via e-mail on

I’ve forgotten the Queen’s birthday (again!) - can I get my order delivered more quickly?

RetroLab work at one speed - professionally rapid! We never however rush...”measure twice, cut once” it says on the t-shirts! If you however need your item delivered earlier than our quoted “delivered within” time, simply send a mail to as soon as possible and we’ll certainly do what we can!

Who makes your deliveries?

Most of our items are sent with Royal Mail Parcel Force and are delivered on the next working day after despatch - these deliveries are trackable on-line (we will send you an e-mail letting you know that your order has been despatched and your tracking code will be contained within this mail). There are just four of our lower priced products that we send with Royal Mail on a 1st Class “signed for” basis - we chose this type of service for these products so as to not make the delivery cost disproportionate to the value of the product itself (please note however that this type of delivery is not trackable). RetroLab use Royal Mail because they’re very reliable and drive red vans - and if you’re unfortunately not around to accept the delivery, at least we all know that your order will be kept safely for you until you can collect it from your local Royal Mail sorting office.

I’ve got a question that you haven’t thought of!

Please feel free to e-mail us at and we’ll get back to you within an hour!