Negative Scanning Services | ScanCafe

Color negative scanning, by hand

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. Negative scanning with ScanCafe can save them:

  • Scanned and repaired by hand, one-by-one
  • High 10MP resolution allows enlargements.
  • Safe, guaranteed. Door-to-door tracking, too.
  • Amazing value: $0.35 per 35mm negative frame, and Value Kit available from $0.21/scan.
  • Black & white negative scanning available.
  • 10 Business Days* processing available.
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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.

So when you send your negatives off to a negative scanning service, you expect them to be treated carefully. 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.

At ScanCafe, we think there's a better way. We think that every single negative you send us, frame by frame, should be examined by a highly trained technician with a good eye and a terrific set of hands. That's why we've designed our service from the ground up around the idea of a technician individually processing and correcting your images as needed. So you don't have to make a hard choice between being able to afford to preserve all your memories, and being able to preserve them well. At ScanCafe, you can do both.

Photo: F. Martin

Individual image adjustments

Converting slides to digital images is just one part of our slide scanning service at Scancafe. Every slide we receive requires some correction for the effects of time, since color slides inevitably shift color and scratch over time (unless you've stored them in archival-quality, subzero conditions). For every slide we receive, we will manually perform:

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

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

How it works

Photo Scanning 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

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    “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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