Well, I finally did it.  I’ve been thinking about it since I first read about the service in 2006, but I finally did it.  I gathered up all our film negatives, 35mm, 110, 127, 135, even a roll of APS and sent them all to  They will then scan our negatives, color correct, descratch, despeckle and remove red eye before placing them all online for us to view.  We get to choose which we want (we have to pick and pay for at least 50%). Then they’ll send back our originals and our selected digital scans back to us on DVD(s).  At that point it will be up to us to get them all tagged, descriptions added and uploaded to Flickr.

We’d purchased a slide scanner a few years ago, but after a couple of rolls of film it became clear that the time it would take to scan all our negatives, plus correct them all was more than I was willing to give. Frankly I was going to die before I got them all done.  Luckily we got it at Costco so they took it back without a problem.

There are a couple of reasons we hadn’t sent our negatives before.  The first is cost.  Even though ScanCafe has great prices it is still pricey when you are scanning 3881 negatives.  That is how many we sent over.  It seems like a lot until you realize it is more or less everything Amber and I have shot until the end of 2005.  Especially when compared to the 36,000+ photos we’ve taken on digital since then.

ScanCafe recently raised their prices.  But before they did they had a sale bringing the price per 35mm negative to 19.2 cents.  With prices rising to 29 cents per scan I wanted to get in on this sale.  In all it saved us a couple of hundred dollars.  They scan other formats too, they’ll even take your photos in the album for an extra $10, but we have so many negatives they were the focus.

The second major reason I’d been holding off sending our negatives is that I’m afraid of losing them.  I was afraid they’d be lost in transit (the scanning takes place in India) or that they’d be lost at the facility or the company would go under or whatever nightmare scenario I could imagine.  But now that the company has been around for several years and reviewing their process (see image below) I feel comfortable (though still not totally relaxed) that we’ll get our negatives back.


Once the negatives arrive in their facility they will be counted, weighed and processed under video surveillance. They do all this to ensure that not even a single negative is lost.  Hopefully it works as promised.

Given our tendency toward organization (at least with photos) most of our negatives were in boxes labeled with the date and activity and accompanied by prints with descriptions on the back of each.  I didn’t want to just throw all my negatives in a big pile in the box and send them off. How would we ever get them back together with their prints in the right box?  Or know what the date is or what is going on in the photo?  They’ve thought of that too.  You can send your negatives or photos in marked bags. They’ll scan them in groups, naming them according to what you’ve marked and put them back in the bags when they are finished.  We sent them 147 little marked baggies.  All numbered and many with the photo date as well.  It took me hours to count, label and pack these things.  Hopefully it will be worth it when we get them back.

With any luck in a few months you’ll begin seeing some really old photos (maybe of you) in our Flickr stream.  They expect us to have our photos back in September.  My goal is all online by 2010.

If you’d like to send your photos, negatives or slides to ScanCafe I’d recommend first signing up for an account. It is free and they’ll send out periodic coupon codes that can save you some money.  You can also let me know and I can send you a referral email. They’ll give us each a bit off our next scan.  Not much, $10 or something, but it is better than nothing.



1 Comment on Travel Safe Little Negatives

  1. Janette says:

    So I told my mom about this great service and she thought the price was well…pricey. But then we did the math and we were shocked to realize HOW cheap it was. So knowing that we also purchased a slide scanner, it was taking my mom about 6 minutes per side to just scan (doesn’t include all the correction that your company does) so assuming that your company will take about the same amount of time OR more – you are paying them just about $2 per hour. What a GREAT deal!

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