High-Quality & Affordable Black & White Scanning Service. Preserve Your Memories & Start Scanning Today!

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Digital Download

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USB Drive

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Hard Drive

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Black & White Negative Scanning

Why Should You Digitize Black & White Negatives?

If you’re a photographer that used film cameras back in the day and processed your own negatives and or prints, you’ll probably agree nothing is quite as magical as seeing images come to life in the darkroom! Although scanning B&W negatives may not be quite as magical, it is a worthy pursuit because you may uncover long-forgotten family memories and wonderful images you shot decades ago. In addition to their historic, artistic, and nostalgic value, scanning black and white negatives is essential because they can deteriorate. These four issues are primary contributing factors:

  • Poor environmental storage conditions
  • Photographic processing chemical residue
  • Rough or inappropriate handling
  • The composition of the film negatives

Too often, old negatives are stored carelessly in less than optimal conditions. Yet even with proper storage, the following issue is a notorious culprit that frequently damages the picture quality of black and white negatives.

How Scanning Black & White Negatives Works

We have designed the whole process to be as PAIN-FREE as possible.

Black & White Negative Scanning


All you have to do is ship us your photos and we will get to work on scanning your black and white images for you

Black & White Negative Scanning
Black & White Negative Scanning

ScanCafe's Technicians

Your black & white film gets manually scanned & repaired. Your film will be transferred at our Indianapolis lab with a 3-4 week turnaround time.

Black & White Negative Scanning
Black & White Negative Scanning

Enjoy & Share

By the end of the process, you have all your negatives digitized and available for digital download or USB drive.

Common Black & White Image Scanning Problem: Scratching

Black & White Negative Scanning
A typical amount of scratching on a black and white negative. Photo: W Bradley.

Negatives are prone to scratching, and especially black and white negatives. Color negatives have dyes that fade over time, while black and white negatives have a single layer of light sensitive silver halides converted into silver metal during processing. These grains easily scratch the surface of the negative, even when handled gently (jostling inside the negative envelope itself can often be enough to scratch the film). Most of the time, these tiny scratches are invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, when these negatives are scanned and enlarged, numerous larger scratches are revealed that may severely mar the picture quality or even ruin it completely. To compound this problem, dust particles on the surface of black and white negatives are much more noticeable than on color negatives.

What Sets Our B&W Scanning Services Apart

Our Proprietary Solution

Black & White Negative Scanning
The same photo as above, handled under our new process, for $0.48 an image.

We understand many serious photographers have large analog archives of negatives, however not everyone has the time, desire, or top-notch equipment to properly digitize negatives. Scanning black and white negatives the right way requires training and advanced scanning capabilities. After months of research and testing with some of our professional customers, we launched a black and white negative scanning service that reflects the top quality ScanCafe is known for, with additional benefits that yield the best digital images. With our service, you’ll no longer have to worry about how to scan black and white negatives nor shell out thousands of dollars on a professional scanner for great results.

Safety Measures

At ScanCafe, we've pioneered a number of industry best practices to guarantee the safety of your precious memories at our state-of-the-art lab and in transit, including door to door tracking and the following:

  • Installation of 60 high definition surveillance cameras covering the entire property
  • Recording and retaining video of your package being opened
  • Items weighed to the gram
  • Surveillance video recorded and retained during the entire scanning process
  • Items weighed to the gram prior to shipping back to you and compared to arrival weight
  • Recording and retaining video of packing up your materials
  • Scanned files retained on our servers for a period of time after your package has shipped

Our Cost Promise

At ScanCafe, we give you the option to discard up to 20% of your final order. This means you don't have to make a hard choice between affordability and quality when you preserve your black and white memories.

A Good Black & White Negative Scanning Service is Hard to Find

When professional scanning services digitize color negatives, many frequently rely on software alone to remove scratches. This approach is effective if scratches are relatively small and a typical color process was used to process the negatives. With black and white negatives, silver halide grains cause artifacts in the scan that don’t produce a clean image. Consequently, many services don't offer black & white negatives scanning – or, if they do, scratch removal isn’t included. The end result can be unacceptable, like the scratched image shown above.

If time hasn’t been kind to your negatives, we suggest checking out our photo restoration service that offers an array of benefits including more extensive repairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most people have thousands of pictures in different formats. Over time, it’s common for slides, negatives, prints, and videos to shift in color, fade, and get damaged. Professional scanning restores and preserves these precious memories so you can enjoy them for years to come. Scanning photos also provides other benefits, including:

  • Decluttering, which makes it easier to organize sort, date, and label photos
  • Sharing USB copies with friends and family
  • Creating photo books for special occasions
  • Uploading digital pictures to online photo sharing websites

If most of your photo collection is comprised of negatives, scanning them is preferred to prints because:

  • Scans from negatives are much higher quality than paper photos, since negatives are the original media and some quality is lost in the printing process (and this can vary greatly depending on the lab that printed them)
  • Negatives are less expensive to ship (negatives weigh 1/10th of paper photos) and require a smaller box
  • Negatives are already numbered in a sequence, so they’re easier to organize when scanning

Absolutely. It is critical that we get as much of the original photograph as possible. You can refer to our restoration gallery for examples of torn photos that have been restored.

Our office hours are 9:30 am to 5:00 pm EST Monday to Friday, closed on Saturday and Sunday. During office hours, we make every effort to respond to emails within six hours and return voice mails within four hours.