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Evaluating Your Film Scans

Once film negatives are developed and scanned, here are some things to lookout for:

ISSUE: Underexposure or overexposure: If the images appear too dark or too bright overall, it indicates an exposure problem. Underexposure results in loss of detail in shadow areas, while overexposure leads to loss of detail in highlights and can appear very washed out with extreme overexposure.

FIX: Make sure your internal light meter is working and you’ve rated your film properly.

ISSUE: Poor focus or softness: If the images appear out of focus or lacking sharpness, it suggests a focus issue. It could be a result of missed focus during shooting or camera shake. Additionally, low-quality lenses or incorrect lens adjustments can contribute to softness in the images.

FIX: If the softness is consistent frame to frame, you can likely eliminate camera shake unless all the photos were taken in a dark environment. Poor focus could be an issue with your camera’s autofocus system (if it has one) or an issue with the lens. Focus issues or softness can be difficult to test because it usually requires multiple test rolls to diagnose the issue. Shooting in a variety of environments can help pin down what’s causing the problem.

ISSUE: Film scratches or damage: Scratches or physical damage on the film negatives can occur during handling, loading, or processing. These scratches may appear as lines or marks on the images, affecting their overall quality. Proper care should be taken to prevent any damage to the film during the entire process.

FIX: Here at the lab we are diligent and very careful when handling your negatives. Because of our care, when scratched negatives do occur we almost always find the issue to be dust particles in the film chamber or the felt on the film cartridge getting dirty. Take a look at: How To Clean Your 35MM Camera.

ISSUE: Film fogging: Film fogging refers to an overall haze or fog on the images, reducing contrast and affecting the overall quality. It can occur due to light leaks in the camera, improper film handling, or exposure to light during development.

FIX: Ensuring proper light seals on the camera and handling the film in low-light conditions, can help minimize film fogging.

ISSUE: Color shifts or color casts: Color negatives may exhibit color shifts or casts if the film was exposed to incorrect white balance conditions or if there were issues during the development process. Color shifts can result in inaccurate color reproduction or unnatural color casts in the images. Another possible variable is the age of film or how it’s been stored. Old expired film, if not properly kept can exhibit color shifts as well as fading and graininess. Some people find charm in the look of expired film.

FIX: Use fresh film. If your film is daylight balanced avoid areas with warm light and vice versa.

It's important to note that some of these issues can be corrected or minimized during the scanning and post-processing stage. Additionally, shooting with care, proper film handling, and working in a controlled and clean environment can help reduce the chances of encountering these issues with film negatives.

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