Let’s start with the basics – a normal picture is what we call a positive image. A negative image is the inversion of a picture, where the light areas appear dark and the dark light. Most people recognize negative images by their x-ray-like appearance and they typically have less contrast but a wider dynamic range than their positive image counterparts.
In this article, we’re covering the basics of film negatives, benefits of digitizing them and 5 ways you can convert your negative film into digital photos. Let’s get started!
THE INVENTION OF THE NEGATIVE
In 1839, what most film enthusiasts consider the birth year of photography, Henry William Fox Talbot discovered how to make photographs on light-sensitive paper coated with silver-based chemicals. Before Talbot’s breakthrough of a paper-based development process involving calotype negative and salt print, earlier photography had used a metal-based daguerreotype process that just wasn’t practical in the long run – or affordable.
BENEFITS OF DIGITIZING NEGATIVE FILM
With the introduction of digital photography in the late 90s/early 2000s, most film cameras and film development processes slowly became obsolete. A large number of people have old photos stuck on film strips sitting in boxes in their attic. By turning these negatives into digital photos you can share your family history with a new generation and relive cherished childhood memories.
5 Ways to Convert Film Negatives to Digital
Use a Digital Camera
If you have a professional camera like a DSLR or mirrorless camera then you can take photos of your negatives and have some incredible success. Take your lens off your camera and place the film negative directly in front of the camera. Confirm the emulsion side of the negative is facing the camera and snap a photo. You will be surprised at how effective this method is to digitize negatives.
There isn’t anything a phone application can do these days, including digitizing film negatives. You can use an app like Filmory to do this. Simply download the app and take a photo with your smartphone and the app does the rest. They provide editing tools to help you color adjust, crop and edit your photo. The app is free for 12 scans and afterwards you’ll need to pay a fee. Something to consider if you plan on printing your images is that you won’t have a high quality digital image.
If you want to scan a large amount of film negatives yourself you might want to consider purchasing a scanner. There are two types of film scanners to consider:
Drum Scanner - High resolution is the best reason to use this type of scanner. Your negatives will be digitized with great detail and sharpness. The downside of this type of scanner is how expensive it is to purchase. You can find drum scanners on eBay starting at $1,600.
Flatbed Scanner - Cost savings are the biggest reasons to consider using flatbed scanners to digitize your negative films. They are more affordable than drum scanners, can connect directly to your computer and can be used to scan other types of media like documents, photos, etc. Downside of using these flatbed scanners are the lower quality results and post processing needed to make the scanned negatives look good.
Camera shops are a great way to digitize your negative film because they are professionals with experience. They will likely not ruin your negatives and give you high quality photos. The downside to local print shops is the high costs. These shops are usually small scale operations and therefore need to charge more per customer. This option may be worth it if you only have a small amount of negatives you want digitized.
If you have a large amount of film negatives that you would like to preserve at an affordable price, consider using Legacybox. We have the benefit of dealing with large scale orders so we can offer our customers the lowest prices to scan negatives. Our dedicated team of professionals can take those negative analog images and turn them into positive digital pictures that you can enjoy and share with friends and family for generations to come.
Don’t lose your family photos by letting your old film negatives wither and fade from time in old rolls of film. After all, those aren’t just pictures, those are your memories wasting away in storage. So get them digitized today by using our negative scanning service before it’s too late!