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Seeking Scanner Advice (black x white negatives)

by Jmarks / July 29, 2005 3:24 AM PDT


I want to buy a scanner so I can scan in a number of black and white negatives that are from 1945. The negative sizes are aproximately 3x2 and 4x3.

I am not sure what characteristics I should desire in a scanner and or what DPI level to use with these negative sizes. Any advice on buying a scanner or working with negatives would be appreciated!

My computer is Dell Desktop, Pentium III, 100mhz, HD 20GB, Millennium OS (yes, I know Millenium is bad, but is working fine for me).

Thank you.

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Target medium?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 29, 2005 3:42 AM PDT

Such as TV screen, PC/Mac screens, printer (what DPI?) or 'archival'?

I can't guess without a target, but archival scans of a 3 inch by 2 inch item is out there at 4800 DPI and decreases as we select other targets or use.


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Scanning Before
by taboma. / July 29, 2005 2:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Target medium?

Bob, I saved a post from before and just want you to review it. Black and White or Color? No difference.
Bob, here is one of your posts from before. I cannot remember if it was your post or from others. Tons of info here. All good suggestions

Here is the file:

The .jpg format is the most used format in digital photography.
It compresses the photo and therefore reduces the size of the file.
The TIFF format and all the rest you listed do not (normally) compress the file size.

You should not see any difference in picture quality, between any of the formats.
So why do we have so many formats?
.....mostly it has to do with legal issues and copywrites.

However: the .jpg format uses a lossy compression, meaning that if you overcompress the photo, you will lose some quality. The compression setting is usually called a quality setting.
And set on a scale of
1 to 10 or
1 to 100.

The lower the number, the higher the compression and less quality.
The higher the number the less compression and better quality.
A setting of halfway (5 or 50) will usually have no effect on quality.

If you want to reduce the size of the file for posting a photo on the internet or email, you should think about using a low setting (3 or 30). You also want to reduce the size of the photo itself. Usually it is best not to exceed 800x600 when posting on the internet. People with dial-up ISPs do not want to get huge photo files.


When you are scanning 35mm slides or film strips you should set your scanner software to scan them at 2400 dpi (dots per inch), for best quality.
Never scan 35mm slides or film strips below 1200 dpi.

I don't know how you are scanning them at 1.36 x .85 inches.
The specifications for that scanner says it will scan 35mm at 2400 dpi.
You need to review the manual about setting the scan density.

A 35mm slide scanned at 2400 dpi will produce a very large photo.
Approx 3600x2400 dpi.
This will print a high quality 12x8 inch photo.

Scanned at 1200 dpi it will be 1800x1200 dpi.
This will print a high quality 6x4 photo.

For printing, you need a large dpi number.
For viewing on the monitor, you need less dpi.

For viewing on a computer you can use software to resize/resample the photo to something that will fit on a screen.
Something like:


If you send CD copies of the scanned slides to friends or relatives, it is nice if you send them in two sizes.

One size for printing and one size for viewing on a monitor.


I ran into a reason for having large scans for monitors.

I use a slide show program (ProShow Gold) that lets you burn your slide show to a DVD.

The program has the ''Ken Burn Effect'' feature where you can scan across the slide (left to right or right to left). You can also zoom into certain parts of a photo.
This is where the extra dpi helps.
You can zoom in quite far without getting blocky results.

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Scanning black and white negatives
by Jmarks / August 3, 2005 2:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Target medium?

Thank you for your input. My goal with the negatives was to scan them, see what I have with photoshop, put them on a DVD and then have them printed from the DVD.

If I can get them stored on a DVD correctly I thought I could then send the DVD to a lab and have them printed which is much cheaper than printing from the negatives. I would eventually print the best ones from the negatives.

So I was not sure what are the rules when scanning in negatives and what DPI should be used in relation to negative size.

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Work backwards.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 3, 2005 3:21 AM PDT

The exact print size and DPI of the printer can be used to work back to what DPI minimum you'll want from the scanner.

Since I don't have your numbers, just think it over and you'll get it.


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Bob's Post?
by taboma. / August 3, 2005 2:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Work backwards.

Bob, was this your post or someone elses??

I don't know how you are scanning them at 1.36 x .85 inches.
The specifications for that scanner says it will scan 35mm at 2400 dpi.
You need to review the manual about setting the scan density.

A 35mm slide scanned at 2400 dpi will produce a very large photo.
Approx 3600x2400 dpi.
This will print a high quality 12x8 inch photo.

Scanned at 1200 dpi it will be 1800x1200 dpi.
This will print a high quality 6x4 photo.

For printing, you need a large dpi number.
For viewing on the monitor, you need less dpi.

For viewing on a computer you can use software to resize/resample the photo to something that will fit on a screen.
Something like:

Bob Proffitt, Your post? If not, I wonder who's it was?
i kept it because I thought it was correct info.



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Yes, that's how its done.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 3, 2005 9:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Bob's Post?

I would have offered similar examples, but the member was not forthcoming with dimensions or 'needed information' for a good example to be made.


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How its done
by taboma. / August 4, 2005 2:32 PM PDT

Good info that I kept. I keep good info in a folder: CNET Stuff. Have other info from you and Peter also.
Thank God I have an external hard drive to hold the Stuff. Always great knowledge to keep.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a post from Mod. Grif. Over 256 strings with Tips and answers back to the Newbie Forum. Copied that one and sent a thank you to Grif.

Bob, What would it cost a person to ask an IT person all those questions and receive the answers over time?
A few thousand $$, I would think?


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Scanner to Scan Negatives
by colindarby / July 29, 2005 9:12 AM PDT

I use a CS5000F Cannon Scanner to scan coloured 35mm slides and Film negatives and yes it performs excellently! = This scanner enables you to scan 3 film negatives or 2 slides at a time. Canon includes a photo imaging program with the scanner yet I use this scanner with photoImpact Ver.10
As at up to this time I have only used to scan coloured units!
Had a look at the instruction manual and shows Quote = In the advanced Mode = Select the following , Colour Negative film, Colour positive film, B&W Negative film, B&W Positive film.
I purchased the above scanner about 18 months ago so they may have a new model out by now]

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Scanning Negs
by taboma. / July 29, 2005 2:17 PM PDT

Colin, Canon has excellent scanners. Do no worry that your scanner is a 18 month old. That unit is still new! We use Canon scanners that are much older than that where I work commercially.
What settings do you use with the canon for negs?
Any help will just help the post. Any tips from Canon?
By the way, Canon technoligy is some of the best in the world. Try it out
Check out my reply to Bob Proffitt. Lots of info collected by me on past posts.


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Scanning 4" x 5" negatives
by rsmith5050 / March 9, 2008 11:52 AM PDT

I have recently been given a collection of 100's of negatives to scan and reproduce/sell, some very old and some newer. I am trying to source a scanner that would be affordable, but provide excellent quality for producing prints up to 24 x 30 in size. Any suggestions on the pros and cons for such scanners? Any help would be greatly apprecaited. Thank you.

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(NT) (NT) Pentium III, 100mhz? or do you mean 1000MHz (1GHz)
by ChuckT / July 29, 2005 10:04 AM PDT
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Yes 1000mhz typo
by Jmarks / August 3, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

Yes 1000mhz typo, sorry about that.

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by taboma. / August 3, 2005 1:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes 1000mhz typo

Don't worry about the typo's. Everyone makes them! Keep posting.


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Scanning black and white large format neatives
by garyzenker / September 9, 2005 11:27 AM PDT

OK I read the answers and I think that they all missed answering the questions. Since I was on the same mission (to scan medium and large format black and white negatives), and found a solution, see if these thoughts help you at all. I hope this doesn;t come across as though I know all the answers...I don;t. But I do have some experience in doing this....

I use a UMAX POWERLOOK 2100 XL. It has a maximum optical resolution of 800 dpi but I bought it very cheaply for having a 13'' x 19'' scan bed and a full sized transparency adaptor. They now make the scanner with higher resolution but read below about that before you get super excited.
I had trouble scanning black and white negatives or transparencies on a number of different scanners. Assorted problems....perhaps the silver content (reflective metal particles) in the Black and White film and prints were a problem (as compared to the dyes used in color film). The Powerlook comes with software that automatically adjusts exposures for the black and white (I think it is called Binuscan) and it really works. The same scanner without it won't do the transparencies properly. I successfully scan all sizes of black and white negatives including large format.
Part of your challenge is finding a scanner that has a setup that allows you to scan a variety of larger format negatives. This isn't common in the lower priced fact rare in even the moderate priced ones. At least non-existant in all the ones at Office Max, Staples, Circuit City etc. And I have no idea if any of them really handle black and white well.....get a recommendation before you buy one for that purpose or you may be sorry. There should be presets for scanning these types of negatives or you may end up out of luck, no matter what they tell you.

Depends on how you will use the file. Depends also on how much larger you want to make the print.

For offset printing:
Generally, it is accepted that 300 DPI makes a very good 150 line screen offset printing photo. So if you want an offset print photo two times bigger that the negative in each direction, scan it at 600 DPI to end up at 300 dpi in the enlarged size for a 150 line screen print.

For computer printing:
The more true resolution you can get, the better. Of course there is a limit, but with printers printing at such high resolutions, more dots making up the image are generally good. But you should go to for information on scanning. They show you that photo paper has a resolution of less than 600 DPI. Scanning at resolutions higher than that gets you more dots but not more detail. Which means that scanning at higher resolutuions increases your file size but does not impact sharpness. Since there is always that careful balance of file size vs effective resolution, this is critical to understand. Old black and white prints and all negatives have higher resolution (and lower grain) than print paper, so you can scan at higher resolution, but even they have limits. I don't know what it is for black and white negatives, so I just scan at the optical maximum for my scanner.

OK have I bored everyone enough? If you want to talk more about this, drop me an email to with Photo Questions in the message line with your phone number and I will call you (hey free weekends!)


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Have a Read of the Reply to Gary
by colindarby / September 10, 2005 9:02 AM PDT

Noted your reply re "Scanning Black and White Negatives and "Slides"

About six months ago I reproduced about 20 Black and white Negatives [sizes 3" X 2"] which related to Black and White photos taken with a camera about approximately 40 years ago of our five children. [The original photos from these negatives had deteriated]

I accessed the Canon CS5000F from through within Photoimpact Ver.10
After accessing the Canon Scanner [from within PhotoImpact] I used the Canon mode = "Advanced" = and in the dropdown menus changrd to = "B&W Nega Film" = and in the next box down changed from "Grey Scale to Colour" = Yes also with the "Slides in Black & White" I changed the "Greyscale" to "Colour" = [The "Greyscale" presented dreadfull pixelled dotted photo Images from both the negatives and slides??]
I did not use any of the Canon enhancement features
To enhanse them I used the PhotoImpact program in the colour setup to enhance the images [The Black & White enhancement was No No!]
To have them printed out I had to copy and pasted them to a white background and then crop them back to of a ratio of a 3X2
Burnt the images to a CD and travelled down town to the Photo Lab and had them printed out.

Yes all the photos came out beautifully and the kids now as a keep sake have their early family photos on a number of CDs

Hope may the above may help.
Regards Colin [Australia

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Scanner for black & white negatives
by old lucky pierre / October 9, 2005 6:03 AM PDT

Suggest you check for info on their scanners and software.

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High Speed Scanner
by johnscott2008 / June 25, 2008 11:03 PM PDT

Also can check in

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