Turn Negatives Into Digital Photos Using Smartphone and Flatbed Scanner

The planets of negative films seemed to be aligning in harmony this past few days, with creative people revisiting the negatives and provide tips and tricks on what can be done to jazz up this relic of photographic past. First, there was a recent tip on how to scan negatives with a flatbed scanner, DIY-style, which involves the use of thick silver card fashioned as reflector to reflect light onto the negative [via PetaPixel].

And then there is this cool tip over at Photojojo on how to make a Film Candle Holder.

Here’s another way of playing with your negatives — by scanning them using a smartphone and a flatbed scanner. You can use any smartphone, preferably with large LCD screens like the Nokia N8 or iPhone. Then you need to install the flashlight or the torchlight app or any app that makes the LCD turns bright.

Here are three simple steps to do this: place the negative on the flatbed scanner, launch the phone’s torchlight app and when the LCD screen illuminates, place the phone face down on top of the negative, and start the scan. You can leave the lid open if you like.

Turn negatives into digital photos using smartphone and flatbed scanner

After you’ve done scanning, the image will appear on your computer in negative, like this one below. You can do some adjustments here, like cropping, rotating or resizing.

Scanned negative

Once you are done with the adjustments, invert the negative; and tada… you’ve developed a negative into a digital photo!

Inverted negative

Picture from the flatbed

Although the resulting image is still far from ideal, this is one of the options which you can try and play around with. On a better scanner — one that has a higher resolution — pictures obtain this way may turn out to be good enough for small print, as well as for web use, especially if this is done with greater care by someone competent with Photoshop to fix the image.

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  • Dasad

    It works, but with color negatives I get B&W images… Is there a way to avoid that?

  • http://twitter.com/_Vi0_ ViO

    I’ve tried with my iPod and my CanoScan 4200F (it only supports 35 mm film while I’m using 120!) and it doesn’t work… :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryosullivan Larry O’Sullivan

    A great use for my Kindle Fire. I have heaps of negatives to use this technique

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=665621365 Tom Andrew Campbell

    I just tried it with my iPad and an old black and white 6 x 9 negative and it worked a treat better at the job than my old Heidelberg negative scanner, using this I now will be able to scan my old 5 x 4 negs

  • AstridVirili

    I wonder if this could work also with transparencies