Negatives: Scanning & storage

This week we're running you through everything you need to know about negatives, including how to store and scan your developed film.

After you've got your developed film negatives back from the lab, it can be easy to forget that film is still affected by heat, light and moisture. You want to take care when archiving your film to maintain its quality over time. Dirt, dust, oil and heat can cause scratches and deterioration. All film should be kept somewhere dry, cool and dark.

Photo from St Paul's Darkroom

Here are some storage solutions that are easy to get hold of and will protect those precious negatives for years to come!

Negative storage pages

Negative storage pages or sleeves will protect your film from dust, scratches and general grime. It also allows you to keep all your negatives organised and together in one place. Because the sleeves are going to be in direct contact with the film it is important to choose negative sleeves that are up to archival standard - look for brands such as Printfile and Kenro.

Photo from Parallax Photographic Coop

Negative storage box

With the hole punched edges, you can just collect up all your negative sleeves and keep them in a ringbinder folder. However, negative storage boxes are specifically made for the long term storage of film, and all materials used are acid free and suitable for archiving. Being able to fully close the lid also prevents dust and light getting in, and these boxes are easily stacked if you begin to build up a collection! Using these storage methods, you can really organise and streamline the process, labelling your film with locations and dates.

These aren't specifically storage solutions, but gloves and an air blower are handy things to own, especially if you are going to be scanning negatives yourself and repeatedly handling film. These items are both cheap and will make a huge difference in preventing oils from your hands or dust settling on your film.

Photo from Parallax Photographic Coop


Let's move on to scanning. We'll be talking you through developing your film at home in a few weeks time, but lots of people prefer dropping film off at the lab to be developed, and then later scanning in the negatives themselves.

Why should you do this?

It's faster, with no need to wait for the lab to get round to your film. It can save you money as well, especially if you frequently get through a lot of rolls. You have creative control - you get to make the decisions on any adjustments and that feeling of being involved across the whole process is really exciting.

What will you need?

Gloves, air blower, scanner, computer and your developed film.

Photo from

Choosing a scanner

This is another case of preference, and having a look at what is available at your price range. The Epson scanners tend to be the more popular, and come highly recommended, but most flatbed scanners will allow you to scan both 35 and 120mm film.

Scanners will come with an accompanying software - this is really straightforward to use, you just need to understand what your different options mean. Try and set up your scanning station somewhere where dust isn't an issue - this will be the bane of your life if you constantly have flecks and dust spots across your scans! Give the film and your scanner a quick clean with the air blower before you begin, then slot your negatives into the film holders, matte side up.

Photo taken from King Jvpes video

There are a few options to select once you've loaded up the scanning software - make sure you've selected film scanning. For image type, its 24 bit colour (for colour photos) or 16 bit grayscale (for black and white). Resolution really depends on what you're planning on using the final scans for. If you're planning on creating a big print, go for a larger resolution, but bear in mind this will take longer to scan. For smaller prints and for online uploads, anything between 1200 dpi and 2400 dpi will be fine.

Some scanners give you the option for additional adjustments - this is all down to preference and they usually give a preview of what effects this will cause, so have a cycle through these options to decide whether you want to use any of the features.

Photo from Casual Photophile

Another option to bear in mind when it comes to saving out your scans is file type. JPEGs are compressed, so will give you a smaller file size but with slightly less detail. TIFFs are bigger but contain much more detail. JPEGs are perfectly fine to use but if you have a hard drive and the space to store much larger files, you might want to save your scans out as TIFFs.

The motto of film photography is practice, practice, practice, so don't worry if it takes you a little bit of time to get the hang of scanning your negatives in - remember you can always edit and tweak your final photos later in Lightroom or Photoshop!


Parallax Photographic Coop stock film storage solutions 

Author: Becca Knight 

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