Saturday 13 January 2024

Scanning negatives - archive photo scan series


Having a while ago - on the advice of a friend - acquired a (cheap) second-hand Epson V330 scanner and scanned my first images for the 'archive photo series', I was recently invited over to the Continent for the weekend to scan some negatives. Folders and folders of them... 

Having  spoken to some scanner 'pros' about settings, we arrived in Bruges on the Friday afternoon and departed on the Monday evening. Over the weekend we managed to scan some 200 negative 'strips' - some with up to six images per strip - as well as numerous print photos. Most scanners can scan negatives if  the negative is adequately 'back-lit' - there's at least one decent video on youtube with some good tips. The Epson V330 and newer models feature a 'reflective light unit' in the lid. However the unit in my machine did not appear to be working, nor was the Epson software working with a new Dell laptop. Fortunately I'd brought my old Dell laptop with me (Windows 7) and this seemed to work although the scanner still didn't seem to be functioning correctly.  We soldiered on. The negative strips were organised into 'albums' according to who had originally provided them - and represented lots of time and effort travelling around Germany and Austria visiting the veterans. However the scans were coming out with all sorts of zig-zag 'effects', primarily in the 'highlighted' areas. Increasing resolution and 'slowing' down the speed of the scanning head seemed to work in reducing this effect....but obviously increases the scan time.

A few basic pointers; avoid fingerprints on negatives! Emulsion up, emulsion down seemed to make no difference to the quality of the scan. Select at least 600 dpi or higher, depending on the size of the final scan. 24-bit color at 200% also seemed to work well, although 48-bit color will give more pixels to work with, albeit each scan will take several minutes longer. Getting decent results from scanning a negative of course depends on the quality of the negative. To get the full value of the photo you will need some manipulation software since the scanned image needs to be 'enhanced'. The enhancement process is 50% of the work. "Photopad" image editor is a cheap and useful piece of software if you don't have anything else available. The 'Autocorrect' function does all the hard work too..