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Can I Scan Negatives on My Flatbed Scanner?

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By Mollee Shannon

So you’ve got old photo negatives and some time on your hands, and you want to give it the old DIY try? Flatbed scanners are common among household technology, but will they work to scan photo negatives?

The short answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to know before getting started. 
First, everyday flatbed scanners aren’t ideal for scanning photo negatives because those scanners typically aren’t backlit. Photo negatives project when light is shone behind them, so you’ll need to be creative with helping your photo negatives project their images, which will allow the flatbed scanner to capture them.  When scanning your photo negatives on an everyday flatbed scanner, you’ll see poor resolution and low color quality without this hack! 

 

The hack is to use a piece of silver cardstock to redirect the light of the flatbed scanner.  The internet offers a number of shapes and patterns that will work on different sizes of photo negatives. Working on a miniature science project and engineering a backlight can be an adventure!


Start the scanning process by using a microfiber cloth to wipe away any dust and debris that might have accumulated. You’ll need to experiment just a bit to find the perfect placement for the size of your photo negatives and flatbed scanner. Once you’ve got a good scan of your photo negatives, there are a few additional steps. 


Without a dedicated photo negative scanner, you’re less likely to get the high resolution you’d expect from professional equipment. However, if you’re satisfied with the resolution provided by your flatbed scanner and you’re still enjoying your DIY project, the next step will be to invert the colors of your photo negatives! You can also use the same photo editing software to correct color errors or remove the dust left behind by the microfiber cloth. 


So when it comes to scanning your photo negatives on your flatbed scanner, it can be done with a bit of ingenuity and effort! If this is a type of project you’d enjoy, we encourage you to go for it! If technology isn’t your specialty, or you’d rather get a more professional scan, Kodak has all of the best professional equipment for scanning photo negatives. You’ll send your photo negatives off and receive them back along with high-quality digital images. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

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