If you're anything like the majority of our clients, you've found yourself with boxes of old archives. Bins, shoeboxes and dusty folders are probably what we would find if we came searching through your basement or attic. Today we wanted to take a moment to zero in on the process of converting negatives to digital.
The theory goes that you can store negatives for many decades but that only rings completely true if they are stored in the right environments. We know everyone does their best to protect their memories but we get it - it's hard to keep basements and attics cool and dry. Even closets in the main part of your house can be subject to extreme humidity in the summer months (or all year round depending on where you live).
For these kinds of reasons we recommend using a negative scanning service (hey, we just want to give you the best advice possible!). Since we ourselves are made up of people so passionate about photography we have consolidated information from each corner of our office we all thought would be valuable for you to know too!
It's pretty obvious why we recommend you use a negative scanning service but in all seriousness, scanning negatives to digital is not a simple task. There are a few points that can be a little bit of a thorn in your side - color management being a key area. Each original film has different color characteristics. When scanning, it is vital to the quality of the final image that the scanning personnel adjust for the specific characteristics. Color management can prove to be very difficult when not being performed by a professional. The scanner needs to be aware of the specific color attributes. For example, the imaging professionals at FotoBridge all have a training background before scanning negatives for customers.
When trying to scan negatives at home you have to be mindful of the fact that the average over-the-counter technology will not yield results anywhere near what a high tech, more expensive, dedicated negative scanner can do. Negatives take a little longer at FotoBridge than say print or slide orders but this is due to the fact that negatives are not positive images. The computer is required to interpret and reverse the image. The machine takes the negative image and converts it to a positive image.
It is important for you to know what the end product of a scanned negative will look like. The image normally will be less "contrasty" than you would imagine. If you like the way prints show up, you probably would prefer a more "contrasty" image. However, in getting an image with more contrast out of a negative, "clipping" will have to be utilized. In simple terms this is when you'll lose details in the highlights, like shadows. The image will be of a lower quality but will look more similar when compared to prints. On the other hand, we have found most professional photographers to prefer a full capture. Photographers usually want the freedom to play around with the image. Negative scanning services at FotoBridge can cater to both preferences.
Black and White Negatives
Black and white negatives should be closely inspected before scanning them yourself or sending them to a negative scanning service. Most dedicated negative scanners use infrared digital cleaning among other techniques but fine scratches appear on black and white negatives from moving them in and out of sleeves. Take a close look at them to make sure they are free of lint and dust.
Negatives are just as important as slides, prints, movies - as all of your archives. We hope these tidbits provided you with more insight into the negative to digital process. Read our ebook on how to select the right scanning service for you here >>
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnsc/