Why I scan my negatives at home (aka Snappy snaps rant)

One of the reasons I recently got into film photography was that romantic notion of handing in my film and being surprised when seeing those images in my hand. Unfortunately some romances turn sour and I didn’t have the best first experience on my first date with film.

Here where I live there is only a few limited options for walk in development and printing services…The “Snappy snaps” chain. Its a company that I find  very inconsistent in service,quality and price. The only other option is posting my film off to a higher quality lab…which can be a bit more costly.

After receiving my first ever batch of prints from Snappy snaps I could of been forgiven if I gave up on film by the quality i saw.

It was done with their “1hour dev and print” service but as I was informed by the manager that its all done through their machine at their recommended set defaults irregardless of being 1 hour or 24 so I went with 1 hour.

Receiving the images I found them to be dark and fuzzy. At first I thought it may be an issue with the Olympus OM-10 I had been using…maybe I was out of focus? My exposure all wrong?

But then I thought maybe..just maybe.. Snappy snaps handed crappy printouts.

Considering that it can be as much as £7 difference for 24 6×4 prints I decided (as I have a photo printer anyway) to buy a negative scanner and in future just have my negatives developed only. I still get that “surprise” feeling only its now from previewing the scans.

When scanning the negatives it became clear that Snappy’s snaps settings were bad.

Doing a bit of research I found that Epson scanners get fairly decent reviews but some are quite costly..recent models varying between £95 to £700 .

Looking on evil bay I found a battered 2008 model (epson perfection v200) for £20. Apparently the v200 is slow at scanning negatives than modern ones. It takes around 20 mins to scan 4 pic strip negs into *tiff files which I then edit in Adobe lightroom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although I cant confirm of the recent models scan any better quality Im pretty happy with the results. You don’t need anything higher than 3200 dpi (its overkill for 35mm film) Plus I intend on keeping the budget low. Saying that however I am keen on trying a newer model out to see if it makes any difference.

You take your negative and clip it into the holder provided (this model came with 35mm & Slide film holder)..scan and you’re good to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So here’s an unmodified example of one of my photos direct from Snappy snaps.

snappy

And here is my scan..only adjustments were highlight and shadow pulls.

om008

Note how you can actually see the tree bark on the right? See how the image is punchier?

Occasionally the scan can get dust specks but its easy enough to clean up in post.

I like to have some control in my image. The benefit I find with good film is that you don’t have to make any colour adjustments…just making those basic tweaks with exposure.

I’m way more happy with the results.

Some professional film photographers and bloggers swear by getting your prints done by hand at a specialist lab and decry digital scanning..good for them I say..but like many things its not accessible for everyone or in their budget.

This works for me and saves a few quid while enjoying shooting with film.

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