How to convert 35mm negatives to digital

Written by gwen wark
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With advances in digital photography and the limited life of 35 mm negatives, converting your archived film into a digital format is a great way to preserve and organise your images. There are several ways to convert a 35 mm to a digital format.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Scanner

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  1. 1

    If your scanner has a film-carrier tray, set the film up. Open the tray and align the film's sprocket holes with the carrier's teeth, then snap the tray closed. Place the film-carrier tray in the designated area of the scanner.

  2. 2

    If your scanner does not have a film-negative tray, carefully lay the negatives flat on your scanner. Do not close the scanner's lid fully on old negatives, as they may be damaged.

  3. 3

    Select the "Film Scan" setting in your scanner's editing software. Scanning a negative without this setting will result in a negative image that needs to be inverted; if your scanning software does not have a film setting, you will need to convert the images later in a photo-editing program.

  4. 4

    Scan your negatives. Save the digital files on your computer. If necessary, use the "Invert" function on your photo-editing software to convert a negative image to a positive image.

Tips and warnings

  • Home scanners with negative carriers are relatively inexpensive and widely available. A dedicated film scanner costs more, but works faster and may produce better results.
  • Take care when handling old negatives, as the film can become brittle with time. If in doubt, ask your local photo lab if they offer film-scanning services.

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