Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

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NoblesvilleIN
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Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by NoblesvilleIN » Thu May 23, 2019 6:03 pm

Are there reasons for holding on to old 35 mm negatives?

We have probably 30 years worth of old 35 mm pictures and negatives that we occasionally go thru (DW is looking for baby and middle school pictures of our daughter for her upcoming wedding). We have never had a photo printed from an old negative and are thinking we can just toss them.

I know there is archival processes for scanning photos, but are there better processes that use the negatives?

For probably the last 10 or 15 years, we have been strictly digital with our photo taking.

radiowave
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by radiowave » Thu May 23, 2019 6:14 pm

Same here (along with some medium and large format negatives). I've been meaning to do some high resolution scans and then get rid of the negatives, maybe this thread will give me the incentive to do that :).

Don't know of any other use.
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quantAndHold
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by quantAndHold » Thu May 23, 2019 6:18 pm

The negatives will scan better than the prints that are made from them. Once You either have a high resolution scan or have decided you don't care about the negative, no reason to save.

We went through my mom-in-law's negatives and threw away all the pictures that didn't have any people in them, and scanned the rest. After 30 or 40 years, the only pictures that had any meaning were the ones with people in them.

Advaita
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Advaita » Thu May 23, 2019 6:23 pm

I am using a Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II to digitize approximately 9,000 negatives and am about 1/3 through the process. Only a portion of them are my personal ones, while most are family photos from my childhood that I have been sharing with family. The result is an approximately 4 MB image. For now I am keeping the negative, but do not have any intention of scanning or printing from it again. The scanner is capable of producing even higher fidelity images, but at this resolution they are fine to view on a big screen, fine to print at 3x5 and are not unwieldy with regard to space.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by retire2022 » Thu May 23, 2019 6:26 pm

Noble

35 mm Negatives have pixels approx 40000x40000, if your images are rare and to be re scanned for publication then there is a reason to keep them. I agree it would be good archive for the next generation. Computer screens have a lower quality and cannot be reproduced on paper.

Silver or black and white negatived have 100 year shelf life, Kodachrome has a 50 year shelf life as processed slides color negatives have 10 year shelf life before color dyes begin to shift.
Last edited by retire2022 on Thu May 23, 2019 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bobby206
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Bobby206 » Thu May 23, 2019 6:27 pm

I'd throw them out! You'll feel great taking the burden off your shoulders.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by 123 » Thu May 23, 2019 9:31 pm

35 mm negative film is the same size (and general quality) as that used for the majority of commercial film production of that era. There are enough pixels to fill a theatrical screen in front of an audience of thousands (or a drive-in screen as an alternative). I am of the school that every one of those negative frames is as close to "life" as you will ever be able to get. Toss them? I don't think so.
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Watty
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Watty » Thu May 23, 2019 10:42 pm

It doesn't really matter but the quality of the old 35mm film images is not as good as some of the posts mentioned. They are probably around 20 to 24 megapixels at best, but there are also some other factors than just the equivalent megapixels.

Image

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/fil ... index.html
NoblesvilleIN wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 6:03 pm
Are there reasons for holding on to old 35 mm negatives?

We have probably 30 years worth of old 35 mm pictures....
One thing that was not clear was if you have prints of the most important pictures or not. If not then I would be really hesitant to get rid of the negatives. If you have a prints though you can always make a copy of it even if the quality is not as good.

How much space are they taking up?

If it is just the equivalent up a couple of shoe boxes and you are not short of space then you might not gain much by dumping them. Packing them into a smaller box would be an option to consider.

There might not be a lot of need to keep them but you might not gain much by not keeping them either.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by lthenderson » Fri May 24, 2019 7:52 am

I have around 50,000 slides or so that I scanned onto my computer backed up onto the cloud. They are all stored in a medium size plastic tub on a shelf in the basement. The reasons I keep them is that technology may change someday to where I might want to rescan then. The kids might want them. They may become historically significant to someone someday. I may lose all my digital data in an electromagnetic pulse attack and decide I still want those pictures.

At the end of the day, the one plastic tote holding slides is nowhere near the low hanging fruit when it comes to lightening the load of stuff we hang onto. I can think of more things I would rather invest time and energy ridding myself of before the slides.

Nowizard
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Nowizard » Fri May 24, 2019 8:28 am

A huge issue when you have inherited over16,000 negatives that are over 75 years old, in great condition and with historical value. Scanning is quite expensive. If of emotional but no monetary value, consider scanning selected ones to a dedicated hard-drive and destroy the rest or give them to a local, historical society if they reflect changes in the locality. If of potential, intrinsic value, you can scan and post on a for-sale web site, though this is not likely to produce income. An appraisal and donation to an archive is a potential possibility.

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Will do good
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Will do good » Fri May 24, 2019 9:18 am

Old photos (specially color photos) will fade from non-archive paper and chemicals, think of color photos from the 60's & 70's and see how they are already changing, they won't last much longer.

My family negatives from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's are like gold to me, those memories and histories worth as much as anything else I own. I had pay outside service* as well as scanned some of them myself to archive for my family future generations. This scanning/archive is a on going process in my retirement, I have multi-hard drive for protection, 3 copies in my house 1 in MIL house and the most treasured ones have already been shared with family members.

Sometime we Americans don't have a sense of history beyond our own time, perhaps because our history is so young. KlangFool knows of his family history for past 10-20 generations, I would like my future generations to know about our own family.

*I have used scanCafe for most of my scans, during their sales I have pay as little as .15 per high-res scans (in bulk).

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri May 24, 2019 9:35 am

Will do good wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 9:18 am
My family negatives from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's are like gold to me, those memories and histories worth as much as anything else I own. I had pay outside service* as well as scanned some of them myself to archive for my family future generations. This scanning/archive is a on going process in my retirement, I have multi-hard drive for protection, 3 copies in my house 1 in MIL house and the most treasured ones have already been shared with family members.

Sometime we Americans don't have a sense of history beyond our own time, perhaps because our history is so young. KlangFool knows of his family history for past 10-20 generations, I would like my future generations to know about our own family.

*I have used scanCafe for most of my scans, during their sales I have pay as little as .15 per high-res scans (in bulk).
Let me offer a different perspective just to put it out there. My FIL had movies before video existed, then got a VHS video camera, then a Sony Hi-8 video camera. We have boxes of movies, in all formats, literally hundreds of movie reels or tapes. They also had boxes of stills, photo albums, etc.

In addition to filming things, he recorded things off TV. Every Meet the Press for a very long time for example.

He was a hoarder of everything, including this kind of stuff. The reality - no one cared but him. My wife has spent numerous hours watching videos looking for things worth keeping, and coming up with very little.

While one generation may truly value the "memories" they photographed/videoed, the next generation may have very little interest.

My FIL also kept diaries in little tiny books, writing down nearly everything he did every day, like someone might care some day. 95% have been tossed.
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri May 24, 2019 9:43 am

Boy, this reminds me that I should go through our box of pictures and throw out the negatives. For some reason, we always got double prints, so now we've got thousands of pictures of someone's thumb, the sky, the ground, some random plate of food all in duplicate.
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InMyDreams
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by InMyDreams » Fri May 24, 2019 10:18 am

Will do good wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 9:18 am
... I would like my future generations to know about our own family.
It's also important to think about what future generations are going to do with your work. I have family photos spanning many generations (some back to the 1860s).
* wish I knew the names of all the peeps in the photos
* wish subsequent generations had not written their best guesses on the photos, or had written that it was a guess (worse is when they erased info)
* wish I thought there's a next generation that will care about them
* how best to store digital photos in a format that will remain accessible (both which type of format (jpg, tif, etc) and what media (do you still have a CD drive?)

Of course, there are public genealogy websites that will take the photos, if you would like (wikitree, familysearch, geni).
Last edited by InMyDreams on Fri May 24, 2019 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Will do good
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Will do good » Fri May 24, 2019 10:18 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 9:35 am
Will do good wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 9:18 am
My family negatives from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's are like gold to me, those memories and histories worth as much as anything else I own. I had pay outside service* as well as scanned some of them myself to archive for my family future generations. This scanning/archive is a on going process in my retirement, I have multi-hard drive for protection, 3 copies in my house 1 in MIL house and the most treasured ones have already been shared with family members.

Sometime we Americans don't have a sense of history beyond our own time, perhaps because our history is so young. KlangFool knows of his family history for past 10-20 generations, I would like my future generations to know about our own family.

*I have used scanCafe for most of my scans, during their sales I have pay as little as .15 per high-res scans (in bulk).
Let me offer a different perspective just to put it out there. My FIL had movies before video existed, then got a VHS video camera, then a Sony Hi-8 video camera. We have boxes of movies, in all formats, literally hundreds of movie reels or tapes. They also had boxes of stills, photo albums, etc.

In addition to filming things, he recorded things off TV. Every Meet the Press for a very long time for example.

He was a hoarder of everything, including this kind of stuff. The reality - no one cared but him. My wife has spent numerous hours watching videos looking for things worth keeping, and coming up with very little.

While one generation may truly value the "memories" they photographed/videoed, the next generation may have very little interest.

My FIL also kept diaries in little tiny books, writing down nearly everything he did every day, like someone might care some day. 95% have been tossed.
Yes, sounds like your FIL's TV taping and daily notes are useless and you even called him a hoarder. However I feel my grand parents wedding, our parents while they were young, our family home in the old country pics or my kids growth up are little more valuable to our family, being selective matters, they are not all gems, but more than enough of therm are.

My kids are beginning their careers now and they don't share the same value to those images as me at the moment, but either was I when I was their age. As I become older my value changes and hope that in future generations some will thank us for passing these images to them.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by gtd98765 » Fri May 24, 2019 11:50 am

I spent an hour a week for a year scanning 40 years of my own and my wife's photo negatives to Picasa. I put them on a hard drive and backed them up to a portable hard drive which is in a bank safe deposit box. I selected a representative portion (around 2,500) of them to put on a couple of Nix digital picture frames that we have going in the house.

It was a tremendous amount of work, and not always interesting. I generally limited myself to three rolls of film per weekend, although sometimes on rainy days I got more ambitious. I was selective about what to scan: if only unknown people, bad photo, uninteresting scenery, or whatever, I did not scan.

Any way, I think it was all worth it, since it is a real pleasure to see old pix on the digital frame. And, while I have not thrown the negs away yet, it's only because I don't need the space; once I do, I will not hesitate.
Last edited by gtd98765 on Fri May 24, 2019 12:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by lthenderson » Fri May 24, 2019 11:53 am

InMyDreams wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:18 am
* how best to store digital photos in a format that will remain accessible (both which type of format (jpg, tif, etc) and what media (do you still have a CD drive?)
After much thought, I have opted to "store" my digital photos by using online websites to print out photo albums of various lines of my family tree. I also include written descriptions, digitized documents and other historical items I have found. It seems like whenever I have gone through someone's estate after they have died, everyone spends time looking over the photo albums and finding a home for them. I'm not so sure that will happen to all my digital files stored on my computer hard drive and backed up to the cloud.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Luke Duke » Fri May 24, 2019 1:34 pm

I bought my 80yr old father a decent scanner for Christmas and he's spent a bunch of time since then scanning old slides and negatives. I think that it's a process that he's really enjoyed. There are a lot of good memories on those slides that he has been reminded of. I've also never seen him post so many pictures to Facebook, which get a lot of responses from older relatives.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by retire2022 » Fri May 24, 2019 4:06 pm

For those who think everyday occurrences have no meaning only see as far as their length of hands should check this out.

They have film of San Francisco before fire

https://archive.org/details/prelinger

Edit: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/filmm ... ome-movies

Here is PBS Newshour on this very subject, the mundane has a value
Last edited by retire2022 on Fri May 24, 2019 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Trader Joe
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Trader Joe » Fri May 24, 2019 4:22 pm

NoblesvilleIN wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 6:03 pm
Are there reasons for holding on to old 35 mm negatives?

We have probably 30 years worth of old 35 mm pictures and negatives that we occasionally go thru (DW is looking for baby and middle school pictures of our daughter for her upcoming wedding). We have never had a photo printed from an old negative and are thinking we can just toss them.

I know there is archival processes for scanning photos, but are there better processes that use the negatives?

For probably the last 10 or 15 years, we have been strictly digital with our photo taking.
No, I would (and have) tossed them all.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Caduceus » Fri May 24, 2019 5:02 pm

Yes, you should keep them if you would like better scans. Film negatives are the original source of the photograph, and you can scan them at very high dpi in order to produce a good image, even when you are printing large sizes. You can scan a negative at 1200 dpi and it will capture lots of detail, but there would be little point at scanning a photo at this resolution (except to enlarge it).

Unfortunately, negatives are not an archival medium and will deteriorate, unless you are storing them in a freezer in a sealed bag. I'd scan the ones that are important to you as soon as possible.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by Will do good » Fri May 24, 2019 6:07 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:53 am
InMyDreams wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:18 am
* how best to store digital photos in a format that will remain accessible (both which type of format (jpg, tif, etc) and what media (do you still have a CD drive?)
After much thought, I have opted to "store" my digital photos by using online websites to print out photo albums of various lines of my family tree. I also include written descriptions, digitized documents and other historical items I have found. It seems like whenever I have gone through someone's estate after they have died, everyone spends time looking over the photo albums and finding a home for them. I'm not so sure that will happen to all my digital files stored on my computer hard drive and backed up to the cloud.
Like most people I have ten's of thousand digital images and maybe more, to make it easy for others in the future to view and search, I have selected only few images per each event (the best and most interesting, does anyone really want to see 20 images of the dad BBQ on the same setting?) and store it multi-hard dive that is clearly mark as current family photos. The rest are stored in long term hard drives that I think will never be seem by anyone else, maybe not even me.

Less is more :sharebeer

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by climber2020 » Fri May 24, 2019 6:21 pm

NoblesvilleIN wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 6:03 pm
Are there reasons for holding on to old 35 mm negatives?

We have probably 30 years worth of old 35 mm pictures and negatives that we occasionally go thru (DW is looking for baby and middle school pictures of our daughter for her upcoming wedding). We have never had a photo printed from an old negative and are thinking we can just toss them.

I know there is archival processes for scanning photos, but are there better processes that use the negatives?

For probably the last 10 or 15 years, we have been strictly digital with our photo taking.
Though I didn't have nearly as many negatives as you, I scanned them all using an Epson V500 and discarded many of them. I did hold on to the ones I may want to re-scan at some point as technology improves and if I feel the desire to do so. All the negatives I kept fit inside one small 3 ring binder. Having everything on my computer is nice, as is not having the burden of keeping up with and transporting multiple boxes of photos every time I move.

For a 35 mm color negative, the most practical resolution you're going to get out of a good consumer level scanner is probably around 6 to 8 megapixels. You can certainly get more, but you'll need access to a drum scanner which is cost prohibitive.

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NoblesvilleIN
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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by NoblesvilleIN » Fri May 24, 2019 8:59 pm

Thank you all for your posts and thoughts. I think I'll check into a negative scanner and see what's involved.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by michaelingp » Fri May 24, 2019 9:10 pm

My mother had a few thousand slides, fairly well organized. I sent them all to India to be digitized. I think the cost was $700 or so and they did a great job. I put the images on a digital frame, and I believe she really enjoyed them.

By the way, quite a few of the slides had been damaged by mold, so I would assume 35 mm negatives have the same enemy. On the other hand, my mother's house was not air conditioned and quite humid for many of the years they were stored.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by retire2022 » Sat May 25, 2019 9:40 am

NoblesvilleIN wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:59 pm
Thank you all for your posts and thoughts. I think I'll check into a negative scanner and see what's involved.
Prelinger Archive and Archive.org will do the scanning and archiving for free, I have uploaded audio recordings to their archive.org website, see the PBS newshour link.

Hard drives could fail and from a photographer's point of view edited images down to final images worth keeping should be retained and their negatives scanned on CD/DVD/ media three copies in case they fail. In the future, the digital media may change, which could render them unreadable or worthless.

Best to to save them on cloud in raid server, which most people cannot afford or worth the trouble doing.

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Re: Keeping old negatives from photos (why keep them?)

Post by sawdust60 » Sun May 26, 2019 11:46 am

I was able to digitize slides and negatives using my digital camera and a backlight source.

If you want to try this method, you can use a blank screen on your smartphone for the backlight. Place the slide on the phone. Take a picture with digital camera.

It also works for negatives and then use Photoshop to invert, crop, and adjust colors, contrast, etc.

I use a 6 inch square LED for a backlight source and a frame to raise the cardboard mask/negative holder about an inch above the light. Also avoids noise from backlight when backlight is not in focal plane.

I have a mixture of negative sizes, which resulted in needing several holders to mask out the light around the edges. I also used a tripod. For tiny 110 negatives, I used some cheap macro extension tubes.

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