Scan Your Negatives Right Now for Free!

I have a Kodak Duaflex IV that uses 620/120 film. I wanted to scan my negatives and discovered a way to do so with minimal materials for free. I am not a professional photographer or Photoshop/GIMP Jedi master. I started this 2 weeks ago. I am taking an art class for summer school so a lot of this photography stuff is new to me. So please by all means be constructive but cut me some slack.

I don't want to build a dark room

I don't want to buy an apparatus or adapter for my scanner to scan negatives

I kinda don't want to pay someone to develop my photos

I don't want to build something to scan my negatives

I really don't want to spend money

I do want to get better at Photoshop/GIMP/Picasa

If you don't want to do the same things that I don't want to do then keep reading.

Step 1: Materials - Proprietary Scanning Adapter Cost $149.98 Just Kidding!

Really simple:

Scanner - The higher dpi (dots per inch) the better quality the scan. You will probably have to tweak to get maximum dpi. I read somewhere that 1600 dpi or better is what we should aim for. Well I'm using 300 and it turned out pretty good.

Smartphone or tablet - Make sure your screen is big enough to lay at least 1 negative frame. This matters if you are dealing with 120 mm film or anything like that.

Any lightbox app - On android devices there are tons of free apps. I downloaded LightBox by Seanr Software on my Google Nexus from Google Play for free. This app is adjustable. I downloaded a free app for my iPad mini and it had ads. Can you believe that?! If you go that route just crop I guess.

Negatives - They can be cut or still in a strip. I read somewhere that cut negatives are 'easier' to work with digitally. I wasn't able to find anymore information to further explain this. I left my negatives in a strip.

Photo editing software - Ideally Photoshop would be great. I don't have it at home, although we use it at school. I could save my photos on a thumb drive and bring it to school. Anyways I used Picassa, MS Paint to crop and rotate (I realize you can do this is Picassa and GIMP but I am comfortable with Paint. I just started using GIMP and Picassa recently). GIMP the really cool and free Photoshop alternative. Picassa is more like Adobe Bridge with a light weight editing software.

Step 2: Scan Baby. Just Scan.

1.Lay your negative face down on the scanner.

2.With the lightbox app running on your device, lay your device down on the desired frame you wish to scan.

3.The scan the image.

4.Repeat 1-3 as many times as necessary

Note: See how my imaged scanned in? Do not be discouraged. It looks funky but just wait. It doesn't have to be a super perfect negative.

Because of the settings on my scanner, the image came in as a .pdf file. Your scan might not come that way. IF your scans come in as .pdf and you don't know how to change your scanner settings, you can just do a screen shot of your .pdf and save it as a jpeg. That's what I did. See attached .pdf and then cropped jpeg.

Step 3: Rotate, Crop, Invert Colors, Rename, Save, Repeat

1.Open your scan in your preferred editing software. I used Picassa and MS Paint.

2.Crop your negative

3.Rotate if necessary

4. IMPORTANT*** Invert the colors. This is how your turn your negatives to photos.

5. Edit Once you invert the colors, you can correct exposure, contrast, color, fill lights, etc

6. Save I recommend saving a negative version of your picture and a BW or Color version of your picture

7. Repeat and enjoy.

If you are interested take a look at blog documenting my learning process in visual thinking.

Melissa is Visually Thinking




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    8 Discussions


    4 years ago

    my color slides come out black and white for some reason. but it is pure genius.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome. I'm glad you liked my instructable. I found a 35mm water proof camera the other day. Once I get the color negatives I'll try this again and fiddle with the settings some more.


    4 years ago

    This works pretty good! Does it work with color negatives as well?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    mrandle, I never tried color negatives. I don't own a camera that shoots color besides my 10 year old point and shoot and my phone. Give it a shot and let us know. Thanks!


    4 years ago

    If you take a screen shot to "convert it to jpg" doesn't that strip your resolution down to 72dpi?