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Thread: digitizing 35mm negatives

  1. #1

    digitizing 35mm negatives

    I'd like to digitize and print some of my old 35mm negatives. The photo shop near me does this part time, but I understand from checking the net that I might be able to do it at home with or without a special device that does this. There are some on Amazon, but totally unsure what I would need. I have a 35mm camera (does not have interchangeable lenses), a Mac computer and printer with a scanner.
    Can anyone advise me?
    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. #2
    Most of the at-home devices for doing this do not provide a high quality digital result. I have used a service that does this commercially, and returns my slides (or negatives) along with a CD (or if I request it, a flash drive) with my digitized photos, and is much better quality. As I remember, the last time I did a bunch of slides, I got a Groupon which significantly decreased the price for this service.

    If you are looking for something to save snapshots, a home device might work, but if you are wanting to digitize high quality photos from negatives or slides, I would recommend a commercial service.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by triumph View Post
    I'd like to digitize and print some of my old 35mm negatives.
    Of course, the two are not interdependent; if you want to "make prints", do so directly from the slides. The advantages of digitizing are:
    • halt the further degradation of the film
    • reduce the physical space required to store them
    • allow manipulation (e.g., color correction, editing) of the content
    • reducing the cost of "distributing" copies


    The photo shop near me does this part time, but I understand from checking the net that I might be able to do it at home with or without a special device that does this. There are some on Amazon, but totally unsure what I would need. I have a 35mm camera (does not have interchangeable lenses), a Mac computer and printer with a scanner.
    Chances are, your scanner is just intended for scanning "paper originals". Film scanners have considerably higher resolutions. E.g., 1200 dpi is high for scanning paper but bottom of the barrel for scanning film. Consider the "documents" that each encounters:

    • A sheet of paper is ~7" wide and ~9" long (you're not interested in the margins, typically). At 1200 dpi, you'll have 8400 resolvable points along that width and 10800 along its length.
    • A 4x6" photograph (postcard sized) would need double that resolution to have the same level of detail available (4 x 2400 = 9600 dots high; 6 x 2400 = 14400 dots wide)
    • A ~1.5x1" slide would need four times THAT (i.e., 9600 dpi)


    In addition to resolution, there are also quality issues. Does your scanner "see" the same red that is present in the image? Or, does it just see A red? What about blue? And all the shades/hues between? How will you be reproducing these images? On a video monitor? Printed to paper? Are each of those devices color calibrated ALONG WITH the scanner?

    [When I scan images, I calibrate my scanner(s) with an IT8 color target (a reference photograph with accompanying data to tell me exactly how red each red is, how blue each blue is, etc.). Then, the video monitor (I have a device that "looks" at the screen as the calibration software tweeks the colors that are being displayed). Then, the same sort of process with the color printer. Because I don't do this "regularly", its a tedious process and only worth doing when I can't "hand off" the chore to a service bureau.]

    Finally, there is the "boredom/frustration" factor. It takes a LONG time to scan photos or slides. Your document scanner MIGHT be equipped with a sheet feeder to make scanning multiple pages convenient. But, most slide/film scanners rely on you to load individual prints or sllides, preview the image, then commit to the scan. Then, eject the original and move on to the next. And, of course, the only way those scans can be expected to be labeled is "SCAN001", "SCAN002", etc. So, if they should, instead, be "Baby's First Birthday" or "1965 Mustang", you'll have to add time to do that, manually. Note that this is also true if you let a service bureau do the job for you -- but, you won't already be fatigued from loading slides into a scanner all afternoon (or weekend)

    Can anyone advise me?
    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Think about your motivation for wanting the images scanned. And, how much you care about the quality of the result. And the time (vs. money) you're willing to invest. And, how curious you are as to the process. You may find it "fun" to try. But, probably won't relish the idea of doing it again, any time soon!

    [I've made video slide-shows for friends -- as gifts. Folks seeing these ALWAYS want you to "do one for them" -- as if it's just a 30 minute process (the length of the slide show!). "Ohhh! I'd love to have the slides of my Dad when he was in the service. Will you do that for me? I'll pay you!" "I tell you what, pay the guy at Kinkos to do it for you and we'll all be happier..."]
    Last edited by automation; 12-02-2018 at 09:39 PM.

  4. #4
    Thanks so much for the comments!
    I will probably have to use a commercial shop. Meanwhile I have been looking at youtube videos and reading up on this. It seems there's a way to photograph my black and white 35mm negative using my 35mm camera, then since it's in your camera digitized, then print on photo paper for a positive image.
    The negative would need to be placed flat on a surface with a light source under it (I have a device for viewing slides that's about 12x12), then photographed, apparently using manual focus for camera setting.
    I haven't tried this yet, and wonder if either of you can comment on it. It's only about 5 or 6 black and white negatives that I need to print into 4x8 or so, prints. Time is a factor as they "might" be used in someone's project, so I may end up taking to a shop. However, as a totally amateur photographer several years ago, I'm intrigued by this.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by triumph View Post
    Thanks so much for the comments!
    I will probably have to use a commercial shop. Meanwhile I have been looking at youtube videos and reading up on this. It seems there's a way to photograph my black and white 35mm negative using my 35mm camera, then since it's in your camera digitized, then print on photo paper for a positive image.
    The negative would need to be placed flat on a surface with a light source under it (I have a device for viewing slides that's about 12x12), then photographed, apparently using manual focus for camera setting.
    I haven't tried this yet, and wonder if either of you can comment on it. It's only about 5 or 6 black and white negatives that I need to print into 4x8 or so, prints. Time is a factor as they "might" be used in someone's project, so I may end up taking to a shop. However, as a totally amateur photographer several years ago, I'm intrigued by this.
    Many years ago, back in film camera days, NL shot everything on slide film, then had a commercial lab print directly to photograph paper. Back in that day, the process she used was Cibachrome, which was extremely stable, producing archival prints that haven't faded or degraded over the years. I talked to her about her thoughts and she suggested that since you seem only interested in getting a print(s) from these negatives that you find a lab that will print from your negatives, rather than add a generation to your negative by digitalizing them.

  6. #6
    Thanks! Looks like it makes better sense to go with prints made from my negatives, using a photo service, and just skip the digitizing. The photos might be used as "still shots" in someone's video, and need to be good quality to be considered for use.
    Really appreciate the advice given - very helpful in figuring this out.

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