My Nan passed away last year at the wonderful age of 98 and while clearing out her house I discovered a treasure trove of old film negatives - long lost photographs that my Grandfather had taken in the 1950’s. (My Mom thinks he had a box brownie camera). I have several size negatives, all black and white, mainly single image negatives, but some are strips.
I’m looking to buy a film scanner, but I want one that will also be suitable for all these very large negatives. Hoping I can buy one type of scanner, not multiple!
Negative sizes are:
7cm by 11cm (single image)
6cm by 9cm (single image)
5cm by 7cm (single image or in strips of two images)
4.5cm by 4.5cm (strips of three images)
I also have a a selection on 35mm negatives and 110mm negatives.
I’ve looked around online and there are so many negative scanners, but most seem to only cater for 35mm film and slides and 110mm strips.
I did manage to scan a few images on a friends scanner, but I literally had to scan them in sections and piece them back together in photoshop. His scanner also struggled to detect a 110mm strip, only scanning the first image. I’m hoping someone can point me in the direction of a scanner that will easily cope with all these old negative sizes to make the job as easy as possible.
This is all a big new world to me, so I’m learning new skills, but obviously keen to recover all these photographs in the best possible quality. I figured if I asked on a place like this, there may be others that had a similar problem and could offer solutions.
Thanks in advance for anyone that can offer advice
Welcome to the forum. There is a veritable mine of information on here but your choice may be between a scanner and a digital camera with some essential extras so it might be useful to ask if you use a digital camera and so might feel comfortable with copying these negatives with that? Ideally it would be one with an interchangeable lens as you will need a macro lens but these need not be expensive for the larger negatives.
If you are looking for a scanner then that would need to be a flatbed scanner with what is called a ‘transparency hood’, in other words the lid has a light source which scans through your film as it travels across. Epson are perhaps best known for these types of scanner so you might be looking at the Epson V600 Photo or the V850 Pro but if you were prepared to buy secondhand then you could also look at the V700 & V750 or even the older Perfection 4990.
As you’ve noted these are unusual negative sizes so whether you use a camera or a scanner you will probably need to improvise somewhat by perhaps making your own masks.
The 110 negatives are likely to be the most challenging even with a camera and it is fair to say that it’s pretty easy to get better results with a camera from 35mm than it is with a flatbed scanner. The resol;ution of a flatbed scanner really won’t be sufficient for 110 even if they like to quote very high figures for ‘optical resolution’.
Thank you for the reply Harry.
I do indeed have a digital camera with interchangeable lens.
I have an Canon EOS 400D, though I’ve only ever used it on it’s very basic point and shoot mode. I only have the lens it came with plus a 300mm lens.
I could probably afford a V600, so it sounds like that would be good for everything bar the 110 negatives and they would be challenging using any method.
I’ll investigate the macro lens method and have a think.
My main concern was to avoid spending a lot of money and then discovering I’d bought something unsuitable.
Thank you for the advice
Thanks for your reply, to be honest a lot has happened in the digital camera world since 2007 and 10MP is a bit of a low bar. Unless you actively want to buy a new camera perhaps that isn’t the way to go.
You can search on here for “Epson V600” or just “Epson scanner”, quite a lot of information.
Epson Perfection scanners are sold at 400 to 900 depending on model. If you want Vuescan, you’d have to add that price too. Plus masks, if available, and possibly the things needed for wet scanning, if you want best conditions for good results.
Camera scanning requires a good camera and lens, a copy stand and a backlight and film holders, although you try to do without with the multitude of formats present. Buying all this will probably be more expensive than a scanner workplace.
If you have a mobile phone with top camera and a possibility to save images in raw or at least HEIC, you could try it. It might be good enough for smaller prints or screen viewing. There are contraptions that hold a phone over a print or negative, shop around for products and prices. For large prints, you can still ask a traditional photo lab near you.
Thanks for all the advice.
I’ve had a good read, a look around and googled a few things.
I think a Photo Scanner is the way to go. (Less for my old brain to learn!) I’ll be getting a small legacy left to me shortly from my Nan’s will and it seems right to use some of it to recover the old photographs she and my Grandad took many decades ago.
When I do I might pop a few of my first attempts up in these forums for you feedback on improving my scanning technique as I learn. I seem to have stumbled on a very helpful and friendly community here.
If you haven’t come across it this site is good on scanners in spite of it looking rather dated, most of the scanners are rather dated anyway.
Note that not all the scanners tested appear in the sidebar.
Amongst other things he tests their actual optical resolution against their claimed figures and in the case of the Epson flatbeds that is around 2400 ppi. That will be fine for all your larger negatives though and is adequate for 35mm, enough for a quality A4 print say. Quite a few years ago I copied my own Grandfather’s prints and negatives on a Umax 1120 that only allowed 1200 ppi and that was fine, you will probably find that the sharpness and detail in the negatives will not be very high in any case.