If you’re storing many of your photos in negative format, you’re in luck – negatives give the best possible resolution for scans and allow to produce digital images that look simply amazing.
But at the same time, the need to digitize is more pressing – even though negatives offer unparalleled quality and resolution, they are also much more fragile than printed photos and are more susceptible to scratching, decay, and eventual loss of recoverable images.
So, if you want to turn your photo negatives into memories that will last forever, the best way to do so is to digitize them as soon as possible.
But where do you get started?
Well, the first step is pretty straightforward – you should see if you can organize your collection and discover what you have and what you want to digitize.
Obviously, this step would not be possible if you don’t have your negatives labeled and don’t have a viewer for sorting them. But if you can, sorting your negatives chronologically by date, by themes or by occasions could be a great way to make digitizing them much easier.
Whichever method you end up choosing, the important thing at this point is to get a better understanding of what you have and what you need to keep. For instance, if you can spot duplicates, that will save you some money and hassle because you won’t need to scan the same negative twice.
One thing to remember that you should always be an extra careful when handling the negatives – try to use gloves to avoid accidental fingerprints that could be hard to clean.
If you decide to use a professional scanning service, which is always a good idea if you want to have the best quality images, don’t cut the negatives apart. Instead, place them in an envelope and deliver in their original form. You could make the job easier if you label the envelopes and sort them according to your preferences.
What Types of Negatives Cab be Scanned?
There are a few types of negatives that could be scanned – they include 35mm, 110, 126, medium format, and large format. But if you’re going to try to do it yourself, you will likely be limited by the scanner that you have available.
If your negatives are in good condition, it’s likely that you’d be able to digitize them yourself if you’d dedicate the project enough of your time. But you would be ready to spend a lot scanning your negatives – without commercial-grade equipment, it would be a very long and tedious process.
Once the negatives are scanned, you will likely need to use specialized software to edit and crop the images so that they look as good (or better) than the originals.
Which Digital Image Format Should You Choose?
As far as formats for digitized negatives go, there are two main ones that are the most popular – you can either opt for a JPG file which is very widely used and versatile or chooses the more specialized TIF which is a raw file that has better quality but is definitely bigger.
Let’s dive a bit deeper to figure out which format is the right one for you.
In most cases, a JPG file will likely be more than enough if you plan on using the images for casual viewing or convenient sharing with friends and family. The format is much smaller, so you won’t need a large hard drive or cloud storage to store even a large number of separate images.
The quality, despite being smaller, is still quite good and almost indistinguishable on most everyday devices.
As for TIF files, they are a raw, unedited version of the scan, so unsurprisingly, it will take up much more space on your computer. If you’re a more advanced user that plans on doing a lot of editing on the images, a TIF format will give you much more flexibility.
However, to view and edit TIF files, you will need specialized software and the skills to use it, so it may not be the best choice if you’re a casual user.
Should You Scan Negatives Yourself or Leave It to Professionals?
Converting negatives into a digital format provides an excellent opportunity for creating images of the highest quality possible. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to have at least some experience in digitizing photos and editing them to make sure that they look good.
You can, of course, learn almost everything you need on the web, and if you’re willing to invest into the necessary scanning equipment and editing software, you could do it yourself.
But the time and money investment required makes negative scanning an unpractical try for most people – today, you can find affordable negative scanning service providers that will be able to give you high-quality results at an affordable price.
What’s more, instead of having to spend weeks or even months scanning the negatives yourself and learning how to digitize them, you could expect a professional digitize photos service to deliver the finished images much sooner.
Professional negative scanning companies use cutting-edge equipment such as Digital ICE technology scanners, which allows to remove most of the imperfections on the scans and give a picture-perfect result unless the negatives are in really bad shape.
Using consumer-grade scanners, it’s all but impossible to properly clean dust particles and notice minor scratches that should be removed during the scanning process. Therefore, without investing thousands of dollars into equipment, there’s really no way to do the same results as a professional company.
Even after scanning the negatives, it still needs to be processed so that the colors and contrast are properly optimized, and the grain noise of the film is reduced to a minimum.
When you consider how complicated the process can become, it’s easy to see why choosing a professional to help you with the project is the option that makes the most sense.