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Negative Scanning

We scan traditional negative sizes and also APS

We believe there are two main reasons for scanning slides, negatives or photographs.

The first is to preserve your images and memories. Digital files do not age like physical media. Negatives can fade, get scratched, pick up dirt, bend or generally suffer from being kept in boxes. As a rule, they may have no backup. Digital files can have backups and do not suffer from the same problems of aging. That is why we supply all our images as .TIF format. It’s bigger than a JPG but it does not suffer from compression problems like a .jpg file can. Our .TIF files come as suitable for standard 300dpi printing.

The second is that your images come out of the box or album for viewing more regularly. Either on PCs, phones, tablets or a modern large screen smart TV can be used the same way as pulling the albums out from cupboards. Probably not as exciting but viewed more easily and often by everyone.

Most of these formats do not like .Tif files – they are too big. That is why we supply .jpg files with each TIF file. The big one is your perfect store, a digital negative for you, whereas we supply a smaller .jpg sized to HD screen resolution that you can view easily. It’s friendly to any High Def or 4K TV. PC. Tablet or laptop screen. These files will have a long side of 1920 pixels and be 300dpi. .

It used to be that screen resolution files were supplied 72-90 dpi only and we know some still do this, but with improved technology on Apples for example going to 244dpi we maintain the 300dpi setting. However, if you wish to print from our files, we recommend using the TIF as source.

The examples below are scans from negatives:

  • Budapest
  • Goal
  • Ferry
  • Estonia
  • Richmond Park
  • The boys
  • Aberdeen
  • Springfield Park
  • Budapest
    1996 negative of a bridge over the Danube, Budapest. Taken on a Pentax SF7, Fujicolour film
  • Goal
    1982 negative of Les Bradd scoring with a header at Lincoln City FC from Agfacolour film.
  • Ferry
    1999 black and white negative of a ferry in Shanghai, China
  • Estonia
    Early 2000s negative in poor light taken in Estonia
  • Richmond Park
    Early 1990s negative of deer in Richmond Park
  • The boys
    1997 medium format negative of two kittens.
  • Aberdeen
    1995 negative of Aberdeen harbour in Hong Kong island, taken on a Canon T90
  • Springfield Park
    1980s black and white negative of old sporting stadium Springfield Park. Taken on a Canon A1

APS Scanning

APS scanning is different as the negatives do not leave the cannister the film is in so cannot be processed or handled the same way. We do a number of things to compensate for this.

APS is still in the tin

Whilst we will normally brush slides and negatives before scanning to remove dust and some blemishes we cannot do this with APS.

Any grit or dust that is in the cannsiter or on the brushes at the opening can scar the film and therefore the scan.

The condition of the film in the cannister can be see by the icons on the top of it.

The no. 1 circle shape means the film has not been exposed.
The no. 2 half circle shape means it is partly used.
The no. 3 cross shape means all the photos are taken and the film needs to be processed.
The no. 4 rectangle means the film is processed and ready for printing or scanning.

We can only scan APS negatives if they are showing the number 4 indicator as in the photograph on the right.

APS cannister

APS in cannister

An exposed and processed APS cannister

Specialised equipment

To scan APS film you need specialised equipment.

The scanner has to load the cannister, extract the film and scan, then rewind the film back into the tin.

It cannot been done manually.

APS scanner

APS scanner

Our APS scanning equipment.

APS Film Quality and Print Sizes

With traditional film imaging bigger negatives were used for better quality where portability was not an issue. Weddng and studio photograpers did not use Box Brownies, Kodak 110 Instamatics or half-frame 35mm. They went for more expensive equipment like Hassleblad, Bronica, Mamiya and Rollei to gain the advantages of quality lenses and bigger negatives amongst other things. As APS is a small film it was known for high grain and not being as sharp as 35mm, particularly when most APS cameras were of the "point and shoot variety" with lesser quality lenses. Images inevitably will look softer than 35mm.

Add into this the lack of pre scan cleansing we have to use Digital ICE during the scans to compensate. With ICE on "strong" settings we find you can get some softening of the image. So we try to use the minimum level of ICE and do more correction by hand to preserve sharpness.

APS cameras featured the ability to do panoramic prints and looking through the camera viewfinder you would see a longer and wider image area marked on the screen. The reality is that the negatives were all the same size with the "panoramic" just cropping the area and blowing it up more. In the digital age it is like having a 16 million pixel sensor to produce a 7x 5 print but only using the central 10 million pixels to pdouce a 12 x 5 print. It pulls more from less and often it showed. The negative was electronically marked to tell the print equipment which images were standard or wide.

Our scanners do not read this information. We scan the whole negative and you can crop later if you wish. Scanning is done at 4000 DPI.

Real APS scan

The image below is an APS negative, taken in strong light on a Nikon Pronea S, one of the better APS cameras of the time.

Madrid APS

Close up

Ths zoom shows the lesser detail, grain and contrast.

Zoom APS

Before and after "cleaning"

The two images show a scan without ICE and hand touching, and one with, showing the value we add to APS processing.

  • Scanned image with faults showing in red
  • After our processing.

We highly recommend ....

We highly recommend scanning APS negatives. The technology was not a leader and is has not been sold for a long time. Most modern scanners do not have the ability to scan APS. We can see the time coming when scanning will be even more limited than today.

APS was used mainly for family photography, there are a lot of memories sitting in cannisters around the country. Scanning them is the best long term way to store them, save them and view them.



Our slide, negative and print scanning price list can be downloaded here.


The young magician above is a scan of a black and white negative taken in the 1980s in Covent Garden, London


Stephen Lloyd