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Home /DIY / How Do I Scan Old Negatives?

How Do I Scan Old Negatives?

By Christian Roemer

I miss negatives. I always found them to be so cool! You take a bunch of pictures with your disposable waterproof camera at summer camp, turn the whole plasticy thing in, then a few days later, you get pictures and weird brown strips in a sleeve for viewing enjoyment.

I always touched the negatives (don’t do that). I always threw away the negatives (don’t do that either). I lost basically every picture I’ve ever taken in my life (don’t do that).

What I’m trying to say is, don’t be like me.


If you’re not like me--and by all accounts that’s exactly what you should strive towards--you still have some negatives sitting around in a box somewhere. The tiny, sepia, miniature photos are fingerprint-free and ready to be useful. But what exactly do you do with them? Easy! You digitize them!

That’s right--you can turn those strange little off-colored rectangles into full-fledged digital pictures to share on Facegram or Instabook. 

Really, there are only two viable methods to digitize your negatives, and one option is unequivocally better than the other.

  1. Method 1: Buy a scanner and spend hours and hours hating your life - You can hop on Amazon, search for “Negative Scanner,” and a bunch of options will pop up. I found this nice Kodak version, for example. “What a neat device!” you might be muttering to yourself. Sorry, dear reader, but I’m going to stop you right there.

    Scanning your own negatives is a time-intensive, annoying, and boring process that you won’t enjoy unless you’re a practitioner of some kind of Rinzai Zen I’ve never heard of. Not only do you have to carefully handle the negatives themselves (remember what I said about fingerprints?), but you also have to save each photo individually as a new file, organizing them all into different folders on your computer. Economics has a thing called opportunity cost, and I can think of about 150 different things I’d rather do than spend my weekend(s) scanning old negatives.

  2. Option 2: Let Southtree do it for you - Here’s what you do: place your order on to digitize some negatives, pack up a box, and ship your negatives to Chattanooga, TN. Then you wait patiently. After a couple of weeks, you’ll receive your negatives in the mail along with a thumb drive full of your digitized negatives. That’s it.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s compare options in a nice table:





How many slides do you have?


$150+, hours spent mind-numbingly

scanning your negatives




Pack a box. Easy peasy.


Spend hours mind-numbingly scanning your negatives


Customer service


Amazing. Available and waiting to answer all of your questions.


Can you open a PDF? If not, don’t even

think about it.




How long does it take to label a box? 


Hours and hours and hours




Who doesn’t like getting a package in the mail?

Does spending hours of your time mind-numbingly scanning negatives sound like fun? Maybe it’s fun in the Nietzschean, “stare at the pit” sense, but I don’t really think so.

There you have it! A full explanation of how to digitize your old negatives presented in a beautiful format for both my right and left-brained readers.

I think you know which option I would choose if I had negatives to scan. I know which option you should choose. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and place your order with Southtree!

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