Why You Should Always Keep Your Negatives

When you send your films off to be developed, there is that little box that asks you whether you want your negatives to be returned to you or not. Here is our guide on why you should tick that box and always keep your negatives.

Roll of film and negatives on the table
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash ​​

What are negatives?

We thought we'd start at the very beginning for those who are new to film! I remember being new to film and being so confused by all the different terms.

Negatives are the physical piece of film that your photographs appear on when you have had them developed. They are called negatives because the colours are inverted, and they need to be scanned and converted to a positive to see them.

Why should I keep my negatives?

There are several reasons for keeping your negatives. 

1. You can re-scan your images.

Your negatives are scanned by the lab when you get them developed to create images you can view on your devices, but you may want to rescan them yourself. This allows you to alter your negatives slightly by using different profiles.

Not only can you play around with the colours and style of your negatives when scanning them yourself, you also can scan them as many times as you like.

This comes in handy if you ever lost the original files from the lab, or your hard-drive corrupted, you would be able to scan the physical negatives again. 

View of negatives

2. You can diagnose issues with your camera.

You may have noticed some slight issues with your negatives when you receive the scans. Perhaps the roll was blank, there was light leaks, or some other issue. (Get in touch if you need any repair help.)

Having the physical negatives makes diagnosing the issue with the camera a lot easier. 

You can read our guide on why your film may be blank here:

3. You can keep a record of your adventures!

If you've got a memory like me, then you forget the dates of trips and events. Having your negatives organised and dated means you have a record of things you photographed.

How do I make sure I get my negatives?

If you have sent your negatives off to a lab, make sure you have selected the option to get them posted back to you, even if they are blank. 

If you have taken your negatives to a local lab, then make sure they know you want them back. 

How do I store my negatives?

Organising and storing your negatives is super important, and we recommend doing it as soon as you get them from the lab. Storing them properly means they are protected from dust and scratches. 

We recommend storing them in a ringbinder or folder in paper negative sleeves. Paper negative sleeves are acid-free, so are ideal for archival projects, such as keeping your negatives for a long time. 

A ringbinder or folder is also helpful for making sure your negatives stay flat and straight. Some people store them spooled in the original canisters, but when you take them out, they will be almost impossible to lie flat if you were trying to scan them or even view them.

Some people use plastic ones, so that you can see your negatives through them, however these are not as reliable in the long-term as paper ones. 

Keep your negatives folder away from sunlight, damp, and dust. Basically the same way you would store your vinyl records! 

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Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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