Today almost all of the photos we take are digital. Rarely do we think back to when cameras were taken to the local drug store to be converted into photo prints with an accompanying bag of photo negatives. With old photos though, those photo negatives are surprisingly important. You may be surprised to discover several benefits to scanning, or otherwise preserving those old negatives.

Higher Quality

Negatives are the original photo document, while prints are a translation of the photo negative. Consequently, the photo negatives have a better image quality than prints – particularly prints made several decades ago. If you have both the original photo and the negative, try scanning in the negative, and inverting the colors. You’ll find that the details and colors are crisper and clearer in the negative’s version.

More to See

Not only do negatives have a better image quality than old prints, but you may discover that there’s more to see in the negative. In the older days, when the photos were printed out, information on the edges was often cropped out to fit with the size of the paper. This may not seem like a problem if the subject is in the center of the page, but consider what might have happened to some family group shots. Is anyone missing along those edges?

Single Edition

Have a damaged old photo? Have you tried looking for its negative? Negatives usually haven’t been handled as often or as roughly as prints. If you have a damaged, yet cherished old photo, look for the negative to replace or restore the image.

Also keep in mind that some photographs may have been destroyed completely. Is there an image captured in those negatives that has never before been seen? By converting negatives to digital using a scanner, camera converter, or professional company, you may discover photos that you, and other family members have never seen before. Share them. They may help someone grow their family tree.


How do you convert your old negatives?