Scan a Postive from a Negative

Often times, when you are dealing with either film or photos, you will come to a point where you need to take a negative and make it a positive scan. There are several different ways that this can be accomplished, though which method is the best will ultimately depend on the type of film that you are dealing with at the time. 

Materials and Tools:

  • Computer program Silverfast ($50.00 - $150.00)
  • Scanner from Silverfast Scanner ($400.00)
  • Scanner paper
  • Your film
Types of Film

  • 35mm - The most popular and standard format for cameras
  • 110mm - A small cartridge format
  • 120mm - A roll of film for medium formats
  • 220mm - Essentially just an expanded version of 120mm film
  • Sheet - This type of film is used with technical and field cameras.
*Note - You cannot scan in video film because the image is transparent and the light from the scanner will not copy anything. You will end up with just a black image. There is a special type of scanner that you will need in order to get these scanned properly.

Step 1: Determine Your Film Type

It is important to know what type of film you are using so that you can set your computer program to the proper settings before you begin scanning your images. If your settings are not correct, your images will be scanned and then distorted. This means it will either be stretched and pixilated or squished and too small to see anything properly. 

Step 2: Using Silverfast

The program Silverfast is probably the best software to use when it comes to dealing with your negative scans to make them positives.  Silverfast has a software included with it (Epson Scan) that has the capabilities to take your scans and make them positives. Be sure to install the Silverfast program into your computer fully. Follow the on screen prompts for full installation and you will be finished and ready to scan in no time.

Step 3: Change the Settings

Within your computer, you need to go under the preferences setting and make a few changes. Under the software panel, you need to change the system so that it reads all images as negatives. This is going to create a reversal when you scan in your negative image.  Much as in math, a negative and a negative will always equal a positive.

Step 4: Activate the Scanner

Be sure that your scanner is properly connected to the computer. Follow the manual that is included with the scanner for proper installation. When the scanner is connected, take your image and place it face down on the scanner window. Be sure to use the markers on the scanner to align it properly. Close the lid on the scanner and from the computer program, go under the "File" menu and then click on the "scan" option.  This will begin the scanning process.

Step 5: Correcting Your Images

Now, there are various programs that you can use in order to finish your work here.  Even though you have your images scanned, there is still work that you will need to do to finish them up.  By using programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, you can tweek and work with your image to ensure that the colors are exactly what you want them to be.  

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: