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Best way to scan photo (film) negatives?

We have a huge (and I mean HUGE) photo collection pass down to us by my husband’s Grand-Father. Part of this collection is made out of negative films. I do own a scanner and would like to know the steps to scan and digitalized these. I use GIMP, but can also have access to photoshop.

We do have as well thousands of slides, but for these I will eventually buy a slides scanner.

What I am interested to know is how I can make a good job with a scanner and theses old 4 x 2 1/2 inches negatives.

    Posted 6 years ago

    If your scanner doesn’t have a negative/transparency setting built in, consult the manual for recomended settings.

    Clean negs gently with a soft brush.

    Scan: test output- you may have to play with settings to get good results. You will need a high resolution anyway.

    If your scanner isn’t giving you satisfactory results you’ll need to find a better scanner.

      Posted 6 years ago

      Well apparently my old scanner does not do much. I’ll need to find the manual, but since it is an old scanner I don’t have much hope.
      I will have to make some investment. The quantity and quality (historical and ethnological) of this photo collection is worth the investment.
      The grand-father was a doctor and after WWII he traveled a lot to Africa, Tibet and some middle East countries to give free care to people in need via some kind of early “doctors without borders” group.
      He took thousands upon thousands of photos, unfortunately many (most) are unidentified. Some are dated, but no location. We will need to read all his notes and try to match dates with places.

      I did scan one anyway, I tried various setting in GIMP. This is from a 1946 negative. It is the portrait of a teen African boy carrying wood on his head. Might be from Nigeria, since we know he went there early in his career and he went there very often. Here’s the result:

      I scanned the negative, then with GIMP did “color/ invert” and played a bit with other setting. The negative was in bad shape. Having some of the most interesting ones done by professional might be an idea too. The can remove scratches I heard and make these negative looks pretty good once they are done digitalizing them.

      I am showing some of them here: African photo collection
      The other ones were scanned from photos, not negative and they indeed look better.

        Posted 6 years ago

        Negative scanners are fairly cheap if you’re scanning a lot, and really easy to use. The “Innovative Technology” one on Amazon.com for $32 is a good little machine (I have one myself). Does slides too and the bundled software does a good conversion. I’ve got tons of old negatives from when my grandmother worked for Kodak (and therefore took huge numbers of photos because she got a fair bit of free processing). It takes a little practise to figure out how to restore them, but there are a lot of great tutorials out there (Google ‘photo restoration tutorials’ to see what I mean), and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake as long as you always save it as a duplicate first.

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