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How can I turn old negatives into a contact sheet at low cost without my own darkroom? Answered



8 years ago

Five years ago, I would have recommended you use Kodak AZO paper. It was specially designed for contact printing.

The paper had a very long exposure time; you could use a 40 watt bulb--no enlarger needed. Of course, you'd still have had to buy / mix the photo chemistry (developer and fix), but that's not too bad.

Unfortunately, Kodak stopped making it (and every other silver halide B&W product)...

The next best choice is to use a film scanner (like this uber cheap one), but if your negatives are larger than 35mm, they are very expensive.

Some flatbed scanners might work, but they don't have a very good reputation for negatives. Probably Epson or Agfa scanners that are targeted to graphic designers are the best bet (some even have a drawer for negs/transparencies)

Depending on how many, lowest cost may be to run them through a scanner that has a transparency adapter and negative-to-positive software. Photo paper is expensive these days, and working with a scanner you won't have to pay for mistakes. Otherwise... You need a darkroom of some sort, even if it's just a light-tight box, in order to be able to control exposure of the photo paper and then keep it from being further exposed until it has been developed and fixed. Simplest is to find a darkroom that's already set up -- find a friend, or ask whether any of the schools in your area offer a class that includes darkroom access. Or you need a very non-photo-sensitive paper, such as blueprint paper... but that's almost gone these days, since xerography works so much better. Or you need to send your negs to a service which will make the contact/index prints for you.

Squaring the seconding, that would be fourthing.