Negative Scanning Services | ScanCafe

Negative Scanning Services

We scan 35mm, APS, 110, 126, 127, medium, and large format color negatives.

Your color negatives, even in protective sleeves, are in danger from the color shifting and scratching that can occur over time. We can scan your negatives to digital at ScanCafe and keep these memories safe from physical decay.

  • Scanned and repaired by hand, one-by-one
  • High 10MP resolution allows enlargements.
  • Safe, guaranteed. Door-to-door tracking, too.
  • Amazing value: $0.37 per 35mm negative frame, and Value Kit available from $0.25/scan.
  • Black & white negative scanning available.
  • 10 Business Days* processing available.
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To make it easy for you to try out our negative scanning service, we have designed the whole process to be as pain-free as possible. We start the important work of converting your precious old negatives to digital the moment they reach us. When we are done, we ship your negatives back to you and make their digitized images available for downloading.

Negative Scanning - How it works

Photo Scanning Process

What Sets Our Negative Digitization Service Apart

Handcrafted quality

Hand Scanning

Chances are, your negatives are some of the most precious things you have. They're actually much more precious than prints of the same image, since the negatives will usually produce much better scans. And some images may only exist as negatives, making them all the more valuable.

So when you send your stash of negatives off to a negative scanning service, you expect them to be treated carefully. You want to be sure that the person on the other end really knows how to scan negatives. At ScanCafe, we understand that. Scanning negatives is a task that calls for extremely gentle handling, and even something as simple as identifying the right side to scan (i.e., the emulsion side) takes a trained touch. We never run your negatives through some automated correction process, where a piece of software guesses its way through a batch of your most important memories. All too often, however, that's just what other services do.

We are familiar with the intricacies of scanning 35mm negatives as well as other non-standard negative formats. We think that every single negative you send us should be examined, frame by frame, by a highly trained technician with a good eye and a terrific set of hands. In our experience, that really is the best way to scan negatives.

Photo: F. Martin

Individual image Fixes

At ScanCafe, we've designed our service from the ground up around the idea of a technician individually processing and correcting your images as needed.

Scanning negatives to convert them to digital images is just one part of our negative scanning service. Beyond that, each image requires some amount of repair and correction since color slides inevitably experience color shifts and scratches over time (unless you've stored them in archival-quality, subzero conditions). We routinely carry out the following fixes to make your digitized negative images look their best.

  • Re-orientation
  • Cropping
  • Scratch and dust removal
  • Color correction
  • Red-eye removal

In short, for our standard negative scanning service, a technician will spend approximately four minutes per negative addressing all of the problems above, and then some. Based on our experience scanning millions of negatives, this produces amazing quality almost all of the time, for just pennies per image. (Some negatives may be so damaged they require our expert photo restoration service, but that's relatively rare).

Our cost promise

Our service is not just affordable, it's much less expensive than many other services that don't offer the same level of quality. This price comparison list will give you a sense for the ScanCafe difference. And so that you don't have to scrutinize every negative in your collection before you ship it off to us, we give you the option of discarding a portion of your scans (upto 20% of them) -- the ones you don't want to keep -- from the final order. Through all this, we make sure we are not cutting corners or compromising on quality in any way. So you don't have to make a hard choice between affordability and quality when it comes to preserving your memories. At ScanCafe, you can get both.

Why it makes sense to use a Negative service

In theory, you can scan negatives at home if you own, or can rent a quality film scanner. But there's a substantial cost involved here in terms of personal time and this is something to consider when you are weighing the pros and cons of DIY versus using a professional scanning service. After all, spending priced weekend hours scanning many sets of negatives is nobody's idea of fun.

In addition, negatives require special handling because of how delicate they are. Black and white negatives contain grains of silver halide and this causes a buildup of tiny scratches over time. Dust particles also tend to be more entrenched and visible on black and white negatives. And so, apart from scanning time, you will have to factor in time required for editing out these blemishes.

Given ScanCafe's experience with scanning negatives, we can tackle these and other challenges in order to deliver optimally scanned and carefully repaired images to you at the end of the process.

Frequently asked questions

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» Is it better to scan the print photo or the negative?
It is always better to scan the negative because it is usually in better condition, and the scanner can produce a digital image at a higher dpi resolution. Furthermore you get to keep the photo displayed in your home during the scanning process. That said, we do offer great photo scanning and slide scanning solutions.
» How do I know which side of the negative to scan?
Theoretically, it is very easy, but practically, it is very difficult. You need to scan the side that has the photographic emulsion. This emulsion side is usually less glossy. However, it takes a long time to figure this out. The best option for telling which side is which is to look at the numbering scheme on the negative. When using a negative film scanner, align the negative such that you can read the numbering scheme. You are now looking at the opposite side of the emulsion.
» Can I use Kodak Digital ICE while scanning black and white negatives?
Actually, no. The infrared light that detects dust and scratches is not compatible with the silver halide emulsion on black and white negatives. If you scan with ICE, the digital image will look "silvery" and out of focus. The only solution is to disable ICE and manually restore the B&W scan at a later time using a clone stamping tool such as in Adobe Photoshop. However, using clone stamping requires a lot of practice. If you have more questions, feel free to contact our customer support team, and we would be happy to answer your questions.
» Can you scan my curled black and white negatives?
We use a "wet mount" process for the scanning of black and white negatives. We encase each of your negative frames in a special solution between two transparent surfaces, and then scan them using our Nikon 9000 scanners. The resulting scans have extraordinary image detail.
However, this process does not support significantly curled negatives. If you are not sure if your negatives are curled, go ahead and send us a snapshot of your negatives to [email protected] and our customer support team will be able to assist you. For more information on our black and white scanning, visit
» Do you scan Medium Format negatives?
Yes, we do. Most commonly, this format comes from 120 or 220 film. But for us, really, it's any format that is larger than traditional 35mm and smaller than 4" x 5", which is where our Large Format category begins.

Common Medium Format frame sizes that we scan are 6x6cm, 6x4.5cm (sometimes called "645"), 6x7cm, and 6x9cm.

We scan these on our Nikon 9000 EDs. Also, for black & white medium format negatives, we apply our patent-pending wet mount process that virtually eliminates the scratches that affect so many old black & white negatives.

We scan, by default, at 3000 dpi. The file sizes created for each medium format scan depend on the exact size of the frame submitted, but are in general at least 7MB and as much as 25MB.

That translates to a recommended printing size range of up to 33 x 22 inches. At that size, the print would be rendered at effectively 300 pixels per inch, a common printing standard for up-close viewing. (If the print is intended to be viewed from many, many feet away, you might be able to print larger with no noticeable defects).

We can scan Medium Format slides if they are color, but we currently cannot scan medium format slides if they black & white, as they are incompatible with our wet mount process.

» Do you scan Large Format negatives (or positives)?
Yes, we scan both positives and negatives in Large Format.

We are very proud to offer Large Format scanning at an outstanding price for our professional photographer customers. There is a very rich tradition of Large Format photography that we're excited to help preserve.

For frame sizes of 4"x5" or even 4"x6", we charge one price, and for frame sizes of 8"x10" we charge a bit more, due to the sharp increase in scanning time.

We perform these scans on dedicated Epson 10000 XL's at 3000 dpi, which creates some very large files suitable for a wide range of uses. A 4" x 5" Large Format scan from us will be about 50 MB in size, and suitable for 36" x 46" prints. Similarly, an 8" x 10" Large Format scan from us will be about 200MB in file size and suitable for prints intended for up-close viewing all the way up to 75" x 96".

We do not currently scan Black & White Large Format because our patent-pending wet mount process, designed to virtually eliminate scratches, is not available for Large Format yet. However, if you believe scratches will not be an issue for your Black & White Large Format negatives or positives, contact us and we'll make arrangements.

* Processing time is calculated from the day your order is received at our Indianapolis facility to the day we post your scans for online review. The number of days indicated here is good for 1000 or less standard photo media (without pro-options).
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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

    When I got my DVD back with the photos, I could not believe the quality of the scans! It was like I was transported back in time....It was truly an emotional experience reliving those photos on my computer with such startling clarity and quality.

    - Matthew C., Columbus, GA (Dec 2007)

    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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