I realize that you are not going to do this, but I'm hoping you'll pass
on the information to the overseer so that they can become knowledgeable
as they acquire these services.
For original preservation techniques, please consult the work of Henry
Wilhelm. Cold storage (below freezing with proper packaging) seems to be
the best option (though not recommended for audio tapes).
A paper by someone I know and respect about a smaller archive's cold
Wilhelm's landmark 1980s book which I bought when it first came out is
now available as a free PDF:
My published scanning statistics include born digital to show the size
of the whole archive (currently just shy of 100,000 images), but we
scanned about 57,000 images and learned something doing it. We scanned
many film formats from 16 mm film strips and 110 camera negatives to 5x7
original transparencies. We scanned negatives, transparencies, and
prints. The negatives were both silver- and dye-based and the
transparencies were multiple variations of both the "Ektachrome" and
"Kodachrome" processes, with the former including a large batch of
Fujichrome from the 1990s. There were prints up to 8x10 inches scanned
There were over 400 images from the 1950s and a few shy of 4000 from the
1960s in the collection--4416 total in Lightroom. There were no original
film elements prior to about 1950, but prints went back to the 1910s.
Our storage is not spectacular, but we are less concerned since these
have no commercial value, the digital surrogate are what will be used
going forward. I've yet to want to go back and re-digitize an image.
Perhaps our most archival storage is of the 35 mm transparencies as I
care about them the most. All are now stored in hanging archival sheets
in seven jam-packed file drawers. Probably only 2 drawers are really
worthy of that (if that).
My point is that one needs to find someone experienced to do this and do
it carefully. There are many decisions to be made and the Tim Vitale
papers contain wonderful fundamental quality information that helped me
understand how-good-is-good-enough and whether I was likely to be
missing something. Here is a link to the specific Vitale papers that are
There are also other articles there about the conservation and storage
of film and paper:
The wonderful Nikon film scanners are gone but apparently not missed in
the world of professional image duplication. We have had several long
discussions on the Nikon digital imaging mailing list about camera
scanning and several people who do this for a living--and their
reputation depends on it--are using DSLRs to digitize images. One friend
is using a Hasselbald Imacon scanner because his Nikon LS-9000 did not
hold the larger 120 film images as flat. I have a Nikon LS-5000 and edge
sharpness is probably not as good as an Imacon or what one can achieve
with proper camera scanning.
When you consider that the LS-5000 which was optimized for 35 mm film
scanning could record 4000 dpi, that means that the 24 x 36 image area
was about 24 MP (rounding up to 1 x 1.5 inches). Now that 24 MP sensors
are common and sharp macro lenses are available (I'm thinking especially
the Zeiss line that my friend who has the Imacon also uses) there are
amazing options. The key to good scanning is proper lighting (both for
reflective and transparent imaging). The camera approach has everything
else beat with throughput, though apparently the latest Imacons are
faster in part due to a higher-output light source.
Cameras with the lovely Sony 24 MP APS-C sensors such as the Sony NEX7
that my friend pairs with the Zeiss lenses and my Nikon D7100 which I
pair with Nikon glass at the moment, we have lots of pixels and lots of
So, while I realize that camera scanning can be second rate, there is no
reason that it cannot be as good as dedicated scanners. I have also been
pleasantly surprised at some document scans that I've made with
CamScanner on my Samsung Galaxy 4.
Of course, the benchmark for high-quality scanning is drum scanning done
by a real artist. My friend-with-the-Imacon knows someone who fits that
description if you are interested.
I'm only clogging this list with these comments because I wish to help
avoid a project done wrong. The information to do it right is out there.
I don't know how many service bureaus will do it right. I've been
unpleasantly surprised at many media conversions.
On 2015-03-22 10:33 AM, Lou Judson wrote:
> Thanks Richard, but we are talking about photos from the 1950s and 60s, not born digital, not thousands of them, and preservation of the original negatives.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.