How to Transfer Photo Negatives to Digital

Written by sean farmer
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How to Transfer Photo Negatives to Digital
Photo negatives are the finalised film from a film camera, and are used to recreate the captured image. (negative image by Marek Kosmal from

Scanning a picture onto a computer is a good way to preserve the image. Printed photographs that are scanned tend to lose picture quality, though. Scanning negatives into a computer is a good way to increase the final quality of the digital file while preserving the picture. It is possible to scan a negative into a computer with a standard scanner, but a negative scanner will make the process easier.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Scanner
  • Photographic negatives

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  1. 1

    Use a soft cloth to clean the scanner's glass surface. To reproduce the negative's image with the highest quality, the scanner's glass must be free of any dirt and debris.

  2. 2

    Remove the Transparent Material Adapter (TMA) from the scanner. The TMA is the white board, usually located on the bottom of the scanner lid. The TMA is held in place by small clips that should pop out.

  3. 3

    Place the negatives onto the scanner's glass. Cover any open glass so that no excess light is captured. You can use dark coloured paper or cloth to cover the glass, anything that will prevent light from getting through will work.

  4. 4

    Follow your scanner's instructions on scanning and saving an image. Once the TMA is removed and the glass covered, scanning a negative is virtually the same as scanning any other image.

Tips and warnings

  • Some scanners and scanning software have a preset setting used for scanning negatives.
  • The images may look small initially; this can be corrected by enlarging or zooming in on the images.

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