Choose Your Scanning Lab Carefully


It might seem that all the scans are the same. Not. Kick inside to see a few differences and tips to understand a bit more about the proper scanning results.

Tried several labs with the same film and here is a part of results I’ve got. Several aspects are compared for simplicity, as in fact there are much more of to see and to learn.

First, for one scanning lab all the Fuji Velvia frames’ colors were magenta and red, while the other lab succeeded to squeeze the blue/red tints, giving much better look to the same frames. It’s a matter of color balance set correctly for a particular type of film.

Second, one of the scans is less contrast than the other. Which is better, since on the more contrast scan the faces are almost white, while on the negative everything can be seen.

Third, compare the sharpness. One scan is much sharper then the other.

Fourth, the crop. Some automatic scanners crop a picture for no sane reason.

As I’ve said, there is much more. You may like those results or another. If a mistake serves your frames well – nothing better can happen, but this might and might not be the case. In the latter option, I personally try to negotiate, to point out the error to come with a decent results. After all, labs’ job is to provide us the true analogue quality pictures from our negatives :)

written by breakphreak on 2009-12-03 in #gear #tipster #scanning #tipster #films #labs


  1. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    That's why I made the decision to invest in my own scanner so I know there won't be any tampering and auto color correction. I never thought about how they could come out differently at any lab though. Everyone should have control over their negatives.

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    i Always scan my negatives myself... it's the best investment to make and have the total control on your negatives. Of course, playing with different settings on your scanner will change the picture... the best to do is to disable all the automatic functions and have the most natural scan.... but in a way, when printing a shot on paper, there are many different possibilities to give the final print a different look, so it's the same when you scan the negatives...

  3. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    well, I have a scanner of my own, actually (Epson v700). But the results (especially on 35mm) are not coming as sharp as in lab scans, so sometimes I scan in labs. Besides, the tip is very useful for those who don't have a home scanner.

    @vicuna: there is no thing like a "natural scan". Neither in digital scanning, nor in oldskul hand printing. All a scanner can do is to perform a "white balance" (for example, treat the brightest point as white and adjust accordingly). As about "color balance" - here is where aesthetics comes into the picture and we are talking about art, not science. For the same reason there are CMYK filters applied in every professional hand-printing lab.

  4. lolfox
    lolfox ·

    Its great that you highlight this because few people realise how variable the results can be. To all the people who sermonise about the evils of photoshop there is really no such thing as an untouched or unmanipulated photo... so whether its the settings on the scanner, photoshop or the different filters in a darkroom, your photos will always be enhanced in some way, and if you give two people the same negative the results will almost certainly be different every time.

  5. nural
    nural ·

    I have a scanner too but I guess I'm not doing everything right when scanning cos in some photos, they tend to look more black&white then grayscale and the contrast is really weird. Also, mine only hasa slot for 35mm so when doing 120mm, ı have to handle the film a lot and stuff

  6. stouf
    stouf ·

    Ahaha ! You're raising a very interesting point here ! And I agree with all of you, the only true image you can get is when you look at a slide film in your hands. Because negatives are numerically inversed by the scanner, there's also an inevitable white balance and light correction that you can't disable, hence the variable results. I am in fact writing a tipster linked to all these matters. And of course, I wont forget to link this tip into mine ! Great tip breakphreak !

  7. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    @stouf: go on, please share your thoughts on that :) actually, just what I've said, even in truly analog world (without white balance and numerical conversions) there is no absolutely right colors. Especially when you are talking about x-pro where the colors are wrong and you simply don't have any referral point (like skin tones, neutral colors or any other kind of colors that should be reproduced just like you've seen them).

  8. stouf
    stouf ·

    Oh man ! The tipster I sent is exactly about what you call 'referral point'! But I'm not gonna give you the punch already ahaha ; )

  9. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    @stouf: no-no, please don't give list it here :) let's wait and continue to talk there :)

  10. dirklancer
    dirklancer ·

    This was a big discovery for me about a year ago when I started scanning myself. No need to feel guilty about making adjustments to tone, brightness, colour, etc. The final image is yours! :)

  11. peteparker
    peteparker ·

    I also made the decision to scan the films with my scanner . it's a Epson perfection 4490 photo and scans in a very good way 35mm films as well as 120 films. have a look at my albums to see the results. ciao

  12. stouf

More Interesting Articles

  • Secure Your Cameras in Style with the Zkin Camera Straps!

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-02-03 in #gear #news
    Secure Your Cameras in Style with the Zkin Camera Straps!

    Cameras might come in neutral colors, more often than not, but don't be afraid to let a bit of your personality shine through even on your photography gear with the Zkin Camera Straps!

  • Agfa Precisa CT 35mm: The Blues!

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-12 in #reviews
    Agfa Precisa CT 35mm: The Blues!

    I don't care if this film has been reviewed a zillion times, that it has already been discontinued, or that there might be a Japanese version of it. The Agfa CT Precisa that I know gives me the blues. Oh, yes - not a Chelsea FC fan, but this film is all about the color blue. Say hello to the blues!

  • Fresh From the Lab: The Lomography Redscale XR 50-200, My First Medium Format Film

    written by sinema on 2014-07-07 in #lifestyle
    Fresh From the Lab: The Lomography Redscale XR 50-200, My First Medium Format Film

    This is my experience with the Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 (120), my first medium format film. It's an adventure that started when I got a Lubitel 2, to finally shoot with it. In this article, you'll find detailed information about color schemes, the advantages of shooting in medium format, and the differences between standard redscale films. Here are the results of a day of shooting outside, which I recently got back from the lab.

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • Fresh from the Lomolab: Yoga for Charity in Cernobbio

    written by sirio174 on 2014-06-25 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from the Lomolab: Yoga for Charity in Cernobbio

    A few days ago, I received from the Lomolab the scans of a roll that I used a couple of weeks ago when I documented a Yoga for Africa public demonstration in Cernobbio, a small town near the city of Como, using my Sprocket Rocket. In this article I'll explain to you the reason that led me to choose this camera. Read more after the jump!

  • My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    written by tomas_bates on 2014-11-12 in #gear #tipster
    My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    I backed the Kickstarter project for the Lomo’Instant earlier this year and was thrilled to receive it last week. I love how the camera naturally encourages you to experiment with its different features, whether it’s through flashing your multiple exposures with different colors or trying different creative techniques after your shots has been ejected. Here are a few tips from what I’ve discovered from playing with the camera so far (and a couple of tips I want to try out in future)!

  • Paddington Bear Trail with the Petzval lens

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-11-21 in #news
    Paddington Bear Trail with the Petzval lens

    If you visit London in the next few weeks,you might bump into a Paddington Bear sculpture more than once. Don't be alarmed, he's not following you around. There are hundreds of Paddington Bear sculptures dotted around the city in celebration of the launch of a new film. We captured a few using the glorious Petzval lens. Take a look here.

  • Shop News

    Give your space a facelift with your own analogue print

    Give your space a facelift with your own analogue print

    Really want to bring your film photos to life? We’re now offering totally analogue fine art prints in a host of large sizes and formats! Carefully enlarged from your negatives onto premium photographic paper by lab professionals, each picture is a unique piece of craftsmanship.

  • Print On Fabric Using The Power of Light: Lumi Products Now Available From Lomography

    written by tomas_bates on 2014-11-06 in #news
    Print On Fabric Using The Power of Light: Lumi Products Now Available From Lomography

    We are proud to announce that the Lomography shop now stocks Lumi products, which allow you to print your favorite analogue photos and all manner of other fantastic things on fabric using the power of light! In this article, we want to tell you a bit more about Lumi and the way this special printing process works.

  • Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-04-09 in #people #news
    Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    A few months ago we lent photographer Chris Pollard a Petzval lens to test out. Since then he has been experimenting with different cameras and in different settings. He tried out some cyanotype prints with this lens and chatted to us about the results. Read on for the full interview.

  • Top Tips For Krab Underwater Case and Fisheye Submarine Users

    written by shhquiet on 2014-07-10 in #lifestyle

    If it's your first time to use the Fisheye Submarine Case (with your Fisheye One/Fisheye No.2 cameras) or the Krab Underwater Housing (with your LC-A+ or LC-Wide cameras), you might still feel a liiiiittle bit anxious about taking your favorite cameras underwater. To help ease your worries I gathered some of the most helpful tips, straight from summer-lovin' Lomographers who braved the waves with their cameras!

  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300 & 10x Fuji Instax Wide Film

    Fuji Instax Wide 300 & 10x Fuji Instax Wide Film

    With this bundle you are ready to shoot with the Fuji Instax Wide 300 and dig in to the instax world – on top you save 20% on Fuji Wide film!

  • LomoAmigo: Larissa Lily at Kew Gardens

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-10-09 in #people #lomoamigos
    LomoAmigo: Larissa Lily at Kew Gardens

    Larissa Lily is a UK based photographer and writer who agreed to share some of her Petzval shots with us and explain a bit about her love for film photography. She took it on a recent trip to Kew Gardens, and here are the results.

  • Creativity means Connecting Things - A Splitzer for the LC-A 120

    written by jennifer_pos on 2015-03-07 in #gear #lifestyle #tipster
    Creativity means Connecting Things - A Splitzer for the LC-A 120

    I don’t like to split. A split means distance, separation, it means categorical divergence. We split hairs, we split incomes, we split up. So the first thing we have to know here is that a Splitzer – different from what you might have thought - is not at all a nasty boy splitting things up.

  • What Tech Websites Are Saying About the Lomo'Instant Camera

    written by chooolss on 2014-05-29 in #news
    What Tech Websites Are Saying About the Lomo'Instant Camera

    It's only been a couple of days since Lomography launched its first dedicated instant camera via Kickstarter, but it seems to have already caused quite a stir not only here in the community but in other websites as well. See what the press is saying about the new Lomo'Instant camera in this first of two parts of our press recaps!