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Have Old Film Negatives and Slides? Here's What You Can Do

Found an old box of slides and film? Here are some options that can help you figure out what you want to do with these memories.

#1 Figure Out what You're Looking At

Hand holding a slide up to natural light
Having a hard time identifying what's going on in your slide? Try using a slide viewer or light table.

Sifting through negatives can be quite straining on your eyes. We carry a few different accessories that can make the sorting process simple! Knowing what you're trying to preserve will help you when it comes time to digitize or sort your images. This is our favorite part of the process!

Light tables are useful for an assortment of tasks. Unlike slide viewers, they do not magnify your slide or negative, so you may want to also grab a loupe or a magnifying glass when looking through your images. The benefit of using a light table over a slide viewer is that it is not limited to viewing 35mm slides or scans. You can view your 120, 110, and even larger negative sizes that won't fit in a traditional slide viewer.

Slides viewers are by far the best when it comes to combining a light table and a magnifying glass into one. You can use this particular slide viewer for both 35mm slides and film. The best slide viewers are battery operated, as they will be able to give you a back-lit view of your negative. Slide viewers will cut down on the amount of time it takes to really see what you have in each negative or slide.

Once you have sorted through your negatives, now you can decide what you'd like to do with your favorites!

#2 Digitize or Print Your Favorite Memories

Slides scattered
This is an example of how NOT to store your slides.

Now to choose, digitize or print? Digitizing is our recommendation as you can share these images anywhere and send them to anyone, without having to worry about stamps. Digitizing allows you to print the image at any size you want now, or in the future. If you ever lose your negatives/slides, or want to get rid of the original negative or slide, at least you have a high quality scan.

Printing what's on your negative is also a good option if you are interested in just framing a few images. However for large amounts of photos, we always recommend scanning.

At our stores, we offer digitalizing and printing of slides and negatives. No appointment needed! Just drop by with your film, slides and larger negatives, and we will help you get these taken care of in-house!

Turn around time is dependent on how many orders we have currently and how many items are in your order. On average, orders can take between 2-5 business days. Here are our two options:

To Digitize: (The Number of Slides X $0.99) + $5 (to place it on a CD or USB)

Example: To digitize 10 slides, your cost would be $14.90

To Print: The Number of Slides X $1.34

Example: To print 4x6 photos from 10 slides, your cost would be $13.40

** Slides and frames are the same cost per item. A strip is made up of several frames **

If you would rather do this process yourself, we carry digitizing machines that will not only scan 35mm negatives, they can also scan slides as well!

Our most popular film scanners are the Wolverine Saturn and Titan film scanners. Below is an example of the Titan scanner in action. These scanners allow you to make minor adjustments during your scanning, like darkening/lightening. These scanners will scan at 20MP, plenty of resolution for printing anything from a 4x6 to even a 16x20" print! These are stand-alone, so you can scan to a memory card or the scanner's internal memory, or connect it to your computer. You can even use the HDMI cord to connect these to your TV to share with friends and family, or to help you out if you want to view these negatives on an even larger screen.

#3 Store Your Precious Memories Better

Slides scattered
This is an example of how NOT to store your slides.

Let's be honest! Tackling this project of sorting and figuring out what you would like to do head-on feels really time consuming. The #1 recommendation we have, is that you should make an effort to store your negatives/slides better -- this means not keeping them in that cardboard box you found them in.

Not only will this help you find everything for when you decide you want to organize, keeping your negatives and slides in a safer location will reduce the amount of damage these images will need repaired once you want to do something with them. Scratches on film can be expensive to fix, and making up information that is no longer there can rack up quite a bit. We have seen a variety of situations where slides and negatives were damaged and were -- for the most part -- destroyed due to poor storing habits.

Here are our recommendations for how to start to store your negatives better.

Place them in one location, away from heat, moisture or dust. We recommend using the ClearFile Archival Plus Safety Binder ($14.99). Unlike a cardboard box, the safety binder will not retain moisture, or bend over time. It is archival safe, acid free, has no PVCs and is made of polypropylene plastic.

Along with the Safety Binder, you will want to organize your slides and negatives in a method that makes most sense: negative sleeves and slide holders.

Loose film can be bent and scratched, or even covered in finger prints. Oils from your fingers will stick to the surface of negatives and can be close to impossible to clean off without the right solutions.


Thank you for reading this blog post! We hope that it gave you a few ideas on how to proceed with your treasured memories! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via our phone number at any of our stores!

Thank you for supporting local!

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