2219Scanning a negative
- Aug 6, 2004Hello, Bonnie Schroader has brought up the subject of using a digital camera
(rather than a scanner) to copy negatives. I do a lot of both, and here is
If you have a large number of negatives and want to see what is on them, the
digital camera and light table is very effective to get access copies for
evaluation. I can shoot about 90 of these an hour. You will get reasonable
quality copies, and can digitize a complete collection very quickly at
practically no cost.
The top problem you may encounter is the reflection of your digital camera
lens on the negative you are copying. I agree with using a mask around the
negative to block stray light. I also use black paper in front of the
camera, with a hole cut out for the lens. this eliminates 90% of the
If you have photoshop, you can use a batch action to process all your
images. You can invert them from negative to positive and adjust contrast
on one picture, and then apply this to all the photos in a file on your
computer. You can process hundreds of photos in just a few minutes
The result is suitable for making CDs to send to relatives, or web hosting,
or making small prints on a desktop printer.
If you want to make quality copies, you will need to scan them. Scanning is
very time consuming. The digital camera idea is great for sorting through
all your images and deciding which ones to put the time into.
One more thought is that you can set the digital camera to number the images
and start at 0001. If you can get an old Bates automatic numbering machine,
widely available at thrift stores, garage sales, or ebay, you can buy new
negative envelopes and use the numbering machine to number your new
envelopes (this is basically a big rubber stamp designed for making serial
numbers, every time you stamp an envelope it changes the number up one) And
this will make it very easy to come up with a complete catalog of your
I do this service professionally and do thousands of negatives every week,
it is the best, fastest, and lowest cost way to get intellectual control and
access copies of entire collections.
Once you do all this, you can use a computer to enter information about each
image. You will create a searchable database that serves as an index to the
collection. You can then use your computer printer to print the caption on
each new envelope. Your collection will be in good shape to pass on down
the family. HOw often do you run into people who get old family photos and
have no idea who anybody in the pictures is or what they are doing. (that is
what happened to me) This system is the best way I know to lock the caption
information with the image permanently.
Hope this helps and good luck.
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