I have been postponing the purchase of a digital camera waiting for the resolution to increase and the prices to come down. However, an incident yesterday, which was dominated by incompetence, carelessness, and a good dose of cluelessness, has forced me to reconsider and and decide, much against my desires, that the time has come for me to join the digital age in photography. I have a very nice Olympus 35mm SLR. The camera operates anywhere from purely automatic to purely user controlled and everything inbetween. I've got some nice lenses for it and it's relatively new. It should give me years and years of good service. However, good service is something I can no longer rely on with photoprocessors. I took a recent roll of film down to the local supermarket, recently set up with a Kodak processing center. Because I wanted a photo CD as well as double prints my roll was shipped out for a few days. All well and good and probably the only reason the photo CD and double prints were ok. The problem came about when I wanted an 8x12 and two more 4x6 prints of one frame. The freshfaced counter people burbled with excitement over the fact that they could produce such marvels themselves. My natural skepticism bumped out of neutral into second gear. But despite the uneasiness I began to feel, I left the negative. Next day I return and pick up enlargement and reprints. Surprise of all surprises, the 8x12 was really an 8x12 and not an 8x10 (counter person the day before didn't seem to know the difference). But, clueless little counter person had left the protective plastic covering over the negative. The negatives had originally not been returned to me in the familiar plastic sleeves, but with a plastic covering attached with sticky-stuff at the top of the negative. All good, I had thought, until I saw my 8x12 with swirling, bubbly patches of plastic induced guck on it. The picture was also a bit blurry and indistinct. Exactly what you'd expect if you left plastic on the negative. I pointed this out to CP, and got the response "Oh, we *never* take that off" in bright cheery tones. The 4x6 reprints weren't as bad, but there were big red streaks across the prints from some foul-up in the process. CP had not noticed when CP made the prints. I peeled off the plastic strips, much to the amazement of the assorted CPs, and handed the negative back. Two hours later I got passable 4x6s and an 8x12. But no negative. Negative was quickly found, but then as perky bright CP retrieved it from the machine, she grabbed the negative by the center with her grubby fingertips. AAARRGGH. Don't they teach the people who run these things anything, like "handle negatives by the edges and don't put fingerprints on the emulsion"?!? So, I'm going to go digital and hopefully avoid such problems in the future. Although I feel badly about how much use I've still got left in my current camera. I hate buying something new to replace something else that's perfectly good.