Black & White Negative Scanning | ScanCafe

Scanning Black and White Negatives

Black & White 35MMM Negative Frame Our B&W negative scanning is for 35mm and medium format (120/200) only.

We're proud and excited to deliver an industry breakthrough—an affordable, high-quality black & white negative scanning service:

  • Scanned and repaired by hand
  • Patent-pending process with superior detail
  • High 11MP resolution, 4000 dpi available
  • Safe, guaranteed. Door-to-door tracking, too
  • $0.37 per negative/slide (35mm)
  • $1.95 per negative (medium format)
  • Prices include scratch removal
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The scratching problem

Scratched Black and White PortraitA typical amount of scratching on a black and white negative. Photo: W Bradley.

Negatives are well known for scratching, and black & white negatives especially so. Unlike chromogenically color-processed negatives, they contain grains of silver halide. Brittle, 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), making tiny scratches that are not visible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, when the negative is scanned and the image is enlarged, these tiny scratches can be so numerous and large, relative to the image, that they nearly ruin it. To compound the problem, dust particles on the surface of black and white negatives are much more noticeable than on, say, the surface of a color negative.

A good scan is hard to find

Kodak Digital IceThe most commonly-used scratch reduction software cannot be used for black and white negatives

Many services scan color negatives, but they usually rely on software alone to digitally remove scratches. The most common of these packages is called Kodak Digital Ice, and it's reasonably effective in two conditions: (1) when the scratch is relatively small; and (2) when the image being analyzed is from a typical color process. With black & white negatives, the silver halide grains (the same grains that cause the scratching in the first place!) cause artifacts in the scan that do not produce a clean image for Digital ICE to process. Consequently, many services don't offer to scan black & white negatives at all—or, if they do, they don't offer any scratch removal at all. That can lead to some pretty unsatisfactory images, like the one above.

Our proprietary solution

Repaired Black and White PortraitThe same photo as above, handled under our new process, for $0.89 an image.

We recognize that there are many serious photographers with large analog archives of negatives. But 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've launched a black and white negative scanning service that harnesses our usual ScanCafe strengths and invents a new one:

  • Repair by hand.
    We scan all of our images, by hand, not just black and white negatives. But here, because the number of scratches is potentially infinite, our process is to enlarge your image to 100 percent of its maximum resolution (3900 x 2600 pixels) and remove the defects visible at that zoom level on our reference displays.

  • A patent-pending "wet mount" scanning process. We encase each of your negative frames in a special solution between two transparent surfaces (the details of how are patent-pending), and then scan using our Nikon/Epson scanners. This produces scans with extraordinary image detail, and our customers have been impressed.

How it works

Photo Scanning Process

  • The Industry Leader

    #1We've done more than twice the scans of anybody in the business. Put our experience to work for you!

  • Pay for What You Keep

    Pay for What You KeepWith ScanCafe, you get to review your scans before you settle your bill. You can delete up to 20% of your scans if you don't want them--no questions asked!
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  • Guaranteed. For Real.

    custom productThe only real guarantee in the business. If something happens to your originals while we have them, we’ll pay you up to $1,000.
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  • Experts Agree

    pop photography
    “The attention to detail was impressive. And so were the scans... pro-caliber work…”

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    “Best quality and cheapest…The best scanning service.”

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    “Bottom line? Good quality and, at $0.24 per slide and $0.27 per print, the price is hard to beat.”

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  • Our Customers

    "Your Black & White Negative scanning service provides me with a clean image file that preserves the tonal range and clarity necessary for bringing these files into Photoshop for enhancement, where one can more fully bring out the latent beauty and characteristics we've come to expect from 35mm B/W film. These scans save much valuable time allowing me to concentrate on making exquisite 10x15 and larger prints."

    - Roy Shigley (March 2009)

    The images I received were amazing quality - just like the original pictures...I loved that ScanCafe had great prices and that I could choose which images to purchase after they had scanned them all - what a deal!

    - Connie S.,Toccoa, GA (August 2008)

    I am a full time professional photographer for 17 years. I recently sent an equal amount of slides to both ScanCafe, and a major US competitor. The scans came back from Scan Cafe, and every single one of them was 100% perfect. 20% of the scans from the competitor were completely unusable, and 50% of them required adjusting in Photoshop. And to make it even better, Scan Cafe was one third the price of the competitor...

    - Brian S., Baltimore, MD (July 2007)

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