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Digitizing Black and White Negatives

B&W photographsCollection of old B&W photographs

Black and white photos and negatives are treasure troves of memories, histories, relationships, and portals into the past.

Whether stored as valuable family keepsakes to chart your lineage and their lives or collected as an avid connoisseur of history, it is not out of the ordinary to find people having them. They possess a certain class and simplicity to them despite lacking in many respects to their modern HD colored peers. And perhaps it is that same class and simplicity, nostalgia and wistfulness for the past that stills hold their allure over people.

All that being said, B&W photographs and their sources, the negatives are most at risk of natural degradation and being lost to the forces of time. They are already very old so keeping them requires maintenance else they start to fade, lose color, get harder to make out or suffer scratches and other damage to negatives.

Fortunately there exist many professional photos digitizing services and negative scanning services today which will take your old negatives and photos and flawlessly digitize them for online copies.

Getting this process done offers a lot of advantages:


1. Preservation

Mainly, your collection and memories are now preserved in a format which is basically immortal or at least can be much more easily saved or passed on than physical versions.

With newer and newer technologies in data storage being made, even if by chance your computer gets wiped, you can still access the online digital versions of your negatives. This preserves them for future generations.

2. Accessibility

Getting old B&W negatives digitized allows for much easier access and use than before. You can bring them up at any time for whatever purpose and view them or use them or make prints.

That is not the case with original negatives where they have to be handled much more delicately and used in a proper process so their integrity is preserved and they are not damaged. This makes handling them a considerable more of a hassle.

3. Cost

Many shops which made photographs and developed pictures from old reels and negatives have largely closed down. It is a more specialized process now done by only a few.

This has driven up the costs of getting pictures developed, with digitizing negatives you do away with all this. Now you can print out pictures whenever you desire for passing on from the comfort of your home with your scanner.

4. Restoration

One of the main advantages of digitizing negatives is that it gives us a manipulable online version of the negative. A plethora of restoration techniques can then be applied to it to reverse effects like aging, fading or scratches which will have the developed pictures looking as a brand as new. This makes it possible to potentially have those old B&W pictures in pristine HD or similar quality.

As can be seen, there are a lot of advantages to be availed from digitizing old B7W negatives.

You know the best part though? You don’t even need a professional photo digitizing service or negative scanning service to do it. It can be done from the comfort of home without any cost. Here is how.

4 Digitization Tips

1. The Equipment

The reason why digitization has been made so easy is that and convenient is that you can do from the comfort of your home.

There are two main ways by which to do so: Scanners and Digital Cameras.

Normal flatbed scanners will work for B&W photos but for scanning negatives, you will have to buy specialty scanners with built-in LED backlights and negative scanning functions. They are relatively cheap to acquire and not that expensive. Scanning will get you quick and easy results.

Digital camera digitization is better however if you want more accurate and crisper digital versions. Modern camera technology allows for pictures to be captured at greater resolution and detail which provides better clarity and picture quality. Digital camera digitization is also a much faster process than with scanners and can reduce a digitization time of hours to mere minutes. They are also the superior option for capturing negatives since with their superior resolution and megapixels, you can capture negatives, in particular, zoomed in detail.

2. Lighting

The key to perfect digitization is the perfect lighting conditions. Try to have your setup in a dark room with artificial lighting which you can manipulate and no natural lighting or sunlight coming through.

Uncontrolled lighting can produce reflections and glare among many other unwanted effects and will reduce the clarity of the final image.

Ideally, the lighting sources should be placed all around the picture or negative so the entirety is properly lit and there is no contrasting of brightly lit and lowly lit areas.

3. Tripod

If you digitizing with the help of a digital camera then ensure you have a downwards facing tripod which can hold the camera steadily over the picture or negative.

A tripod is the most ideal tool to be used but really anything can work, any makeshift setting you can create as long as the camera has a solid foundation to rest on and take pictures.

4. Air Can

Keep a can of pressurized air spray hand on you since it will be your best friend in cleaning dust and another residue from pictures and negatives without wiping them.

Small dust particulate may be invisible to the naked eye but appear on the digital image so a pressurized burst of air will clear the negative of it.


As can be seen, the process of the photo or negative digitization is a very straightforward and easy process to do. All you really need are one or two supporting tools and it can even be done with your smartphone.

Digitizing your photographs is the most effective way of preserving your memories and gaining access to them anytime anywhere you want. Backing them up on digital storage even eliminates the risks of losing the photographs to natural degradation or getting misplaced.

Technology has made things a lot easier for us. Make use of it and preserve your beautiful memories today.

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