Negative Scanning

I have two family collections of negatives: my father's (1970+) and my grandfather on my mother's side (1930+). These negatives are in a variety of formats and conditions (e.g. very curled up) and so I don't want to send them off to be scanned by a service for fear of damage, and also because that would be very expensive given the number of exposures in these collections. So I've setup a rig to digitize these negatives myself using a DSLR and a small light table.

Negative capture rig
Negative capture rig [high res version]


To capture these negatives I am using a simple rig that I constructed using instructions from an Adafruit guide. My Nikon D7500 is attached to it pointing down. I have a cheap USB light-table that I put the negatives on. I keep them in place and try to flatten them using 4 pieces of aluminum (they are not purpose made, just sample pieces I happened to have). I have the camera set on manual, F8 aperture, and I adjust shutter speed to get the light meter centered. I use a timer so that the camera can get still once I click the shutter, which is especially helpful with the extra wobble the rig can introduce. I'm using RAW format and importing the captures for processing with Darktable.

Father's negatives

My father moved to Rochester NY to teach at the Eastman School of Music. Eastman is the founder of Kodak, and his influence on the town is significant. So as his kid (me) was entering this world, he developed an interest in photography partially to document his new family, but also as an artistic pursuit. His negatives reflect this, and include:

While the negatives were labeled and neatly stored in 3-ring binders. Some of those binders were left in a musty basement and have mold on the outside. Luckily, it appears that the negatives have not been damaged.

Negative book
Negative book [high res version]

Grandfather's negatives

My grandfather (mother's side) was interested in photography starting with a Brownie camera starting when he was fairly young, I think around the time he married. He took several rolls of 35mm film and kept them neatly rolled up in little tins that are labeled. He also took larger and different formats that are stored in wax envelopes, many of these are dated, some with notes. I think most of the shots are casual, capturing friends at a lake for example. I've inherited this collection and will digitize, mostly to share with extended family, but also out of curiosity.

Grandfather's negatives
Grandfather's negatives [high res version]

I don't yet know what the "M" or "D" marks on the top of the film canisters mean. Perhaps I will figure this out as I get to scanning them. I also don't know what happened to canisters 5, 7, 10, and 12. If any scans in here are potentially of interest to more than just family, I'll figure out a way to share them publicly, perhaps just sharing on this site.