How to not scratch/flatten curly rolls (using EFH)

Dear fellow digitizers,

I am using EFH to scan some 40 years old rolls and since these are really curly after all that time they are getting micro-scratched on the glossy side (mainly) during the scanning as they travel through the EFH (on both sides as they tend to curl on both ends right away).

Any tips how to limit/control this pre and post curl or prevent the scratching in general?

Thank you!

I put my rolls (120 format) in separate sleeves and put them on a flat surface with books on top.
After a few days, I rolled them the other way and put them in a large round box for further unrolling.

Most of my films are in archival film sleeves though and are almost perfectly flat.

Thanks for sharing your process!

Seems like a good idea to sleeve the roll uncut and flatten it like this. Trying to look for the uncut 35mm sleeve, I haven’t really had any luck. BH doesn`t sell those anymore and they seem to be impossible to come around online.

I have just rolled a few of the rolls the other way and I will try to scan them in a week. I am just wondering whether it would be a good idea to moisten these up a bit (i.e. by closing them in a stamy bathroom for some time). I have read that them being all dry after all this time is part of the problem too, any ideas on that?

Would it help to wash the roll and then dry it as though you just processed it? For any old C41 films I’d suggest using stabilizer.

I use a couple of tricks in my own workflow…

Firstly when drying, I hang with a quite weighty clip on the bottom and let gravity do the work. When the negs are dry, then 9 out of 10 rolls are pretty flat.

If that does not work then I gently “adverse roll” (is that a term?) and then put them into a canister for a few hours.

If that does not work, then I cut and sleeve them in standard A4 pages and then adverse roll them around a cardboard Pringles tub for a day, holding them in place with some cardboard and elastic bands, making sure there is no tight band going over the negs themselves. When they come out they are as flat as a pancake.

After scanning, all my stips of negs are in archival binders, laid flat (not upright), so for re-scanning, flatness is never going to be an issue.

Hope that helps and gives a few ideas.


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How-to’s for re-washing negatives can be found in the Internet. Some are utterly risky imo.
Hanging a roll in a humid place might work, but will also increase the risk of having to deal with a negative that is even dirtier than before…

Andrew, thanks for sharing your workflow. It (or better said its 1st step “when drying”) is for freshly developed negatives though, correct? I am planning to cut the rolls and archive in A4 sleeves too but only after scanning as it slows down the entire process tremendously (+ one cannot cut the starting end so the EFH would accept it easier).

Not being a dark room person as I only want to digitize old family archive and I do not develop any negs myself I am quite afraid to use any wet process on these (apart maybe from hanging them in steamy bathroom) exactly for the reasons Digitizer is mentioning…

I think I`d rather scratch them a bit during the scanning process (assuming half of it happens only after the scan is taken…) as they will most likely never be scanned again than ruin them completely with amateurish re-washing.

I`ll see whether the “adverse rolling” I have just tried on few rolls will help and post back here.

I’d rather not use the EFH if it scratches the negatives…

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well I don`t think its EFH’s fault that much as the problem is the curl before and after…

Andrew food for though - some holders similar to these 35mm Negative Film Scanner — WUNDERSMACK | Handcrafted Multilayered Dioramas which would keep the negs flat for a few more cm before/after EFH would be a nice upgrade option… :slight_smile:

I used to store my 16 mm films in the can where the bottom had a piece of cloth wetted with the mix of glycerin, table salt and water. Basically it was just a solution which kept my rolls at proper humidity preventing curling. I don’t remember exact formulation, but when i looked on Amazon now i see they sell liquids to keep cigars in humidors at 70% humidity. I think what is good for cigars will be good for old negatives. Just place loose negative over some humidifying solution for a few weeks and strips will become much more pliable.

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