View Full Version : Digital documentation of silver gelatin prints

03-09-2009, 09:17 PM
Hello all,
As we all do here, I practice only film photography. However, I'm running into a challenge in terms of transferring my prints to digital format in order to submit to galleries for juried shows or exhibition proposals. I'm finding that it's too expensive to take to a lab to scan each time I want to make a submission.

What kind of equipment do you use to do so?

I'm wondering if I should get a point and shoot digital camera for this purpose, and if so, what kind re: pixels, etc.?

Or, will a printer/scanner do the trick? I know my lab has a small scanner and for my 11 x 14 prints has to make two scans and piece them together?

Also, if I get either the camera or the printer/scanner, will I need to buy any software for my computer?

Any suggestions are helpful,


03-09-2009, 11:21 PM
Just went thru this. I, as it happens, already own some of the Gear Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned and used that. Based on my limited experience, you will, in general, need some sort of image editor to adjust the results to match the print (and possibly adjust pixel dimensions depending on the organizer's requirements). I use Photoshop Elements which is pretty inexpensive; there are others, some perhaps free that might be sufficient. (But your query may get redirected to our sister hybrid photo site.)


03-10-2009, 12:51 AM
I would not recommend taking digital photos of prints over scanning them. If you get a scanner (or a digicam, I believe, though I do not have one myself) it should come with software to process the scans, though not necessarily to manipulate the photos. Be aware that some 'business/office' scanners (i.e. those not specifically designed for photos) may have very little control when it comes to things like adjusting dpi etc. But as Dave mentions above, I suspect that this thread will be closed shortly, as this topic is a bit off-topic :)

03-12-2009, 03:55 PM
well, if you have any midle class flatbed scanner you can probably scan your images pretty well but only in case your positives aren't too dark (I mean - the blacks on your prints don't have big Dmax). almost every flatbed (except those nasty big and damn expensive ones in professional studios) have hard times scanning the black tones without having loaded them with noise.
but there is a simple solution - make another print - soft (one step lower grade filter will be OK), scan it and adjust the overall contast in PC to match the print. in any other way you can be sure that your scans will loose shadow details significantly.
also - always scan in 16 bit/channel mode. and be sure to have good PC screen (Eizo's L's or more expensive Samsung's LCD's are good choice - and bigger doesn't always mean better).

second option is studio re-shooting the prints with digital camera. but surely the nowdays super-mega-pixel_ultra-zoom aren't so good choice. low-end DSLR (nikon D60, canon 1000D, pentax Km) will be better (sharper lens and lower noise, better details). but it is important to equally light your prints and have them parallel to your camera.

it is important to do this kind of nasty job done well because it will be the digital files that people can see all-over-the-world, not the paper prints you can show you neighbour....

03-13-2009, 02:15 PM
For over twenty years I shot slides of my B&W prints for shows, galleries, etc., on a copy stand. Worked fine for prints up to 20X24.

I have now replaced the F3 in the copystand with a D80. Then I reduce the resolution to 300ppi for galleries or shows and 72ppi for the web in Photoshop. I do keep three folders on the computer. One for the original shot, one for 300ppi files and one for 72ppi files. It takes a lot of disk space but it's worth it.

03-13-2009, 04:21 PM
This subject comes up from time to time, and there are several threads on scanners here on APUG. You might also ask this question on our sister site www.hybridphoto.com.

I, for one, use an Epson 4990 flatbead scanner and PhotoShop Elements for scans to submit to shows. I have made a "master" set of scans that are saved as TIFFS that are 300 dpi at 8x10 inches. Most juried shows and competitions require scans to be somewhat smaller, and in JPEG format. I just make duplicates, resize as needed, then upload to a CD or online whichever they prefer.

Technically, this thread is on the edge of being appropriate for APUG, but since the information can be important to film photographers interested in getting their work out there, I'll leave it open for now.

David A. Goldfarb
03-13-2009, 04:45 PM
I've scanned and used a digicam on a copy stand and have come to prefer the latter method. I found the scanner was more likely to have issues with surface artifacts that I could usually control by changing the angle of the light on a copy stand. Like JOSarff above, I've done my own copy work for years and have appropriate lenses and lighting, and it's not much different with a DSLR than it is with a film camera. Print size is not a limitation with a camera, and I can digitize negatives and transparencies using a light box. If I want more resolution than the camera provides, I can shoot multiple tiles and stitch.

Here's a DSLR on a copy stand in use at the Scott Polar Research center--


When my scanner got too streaky to use anymore, I was glad to be rid of it, and I don't even use my 35mm film scanner anymore.