Best Resolution When Scanning Different Negative Format Types

Find out what DPI to use if you have 35mm, 70mm, 120, 240, medium and large format negative film...

In this article you’re going to learn...

  • Where you can pick your resolution and DPI when scanning negatives
  • What DPI you need to turn your negatives into 4×6 digital images — or bigger
  • What DPI is best for so you can watch your negatives at excellent quality on your HDTV

If you pick the wrong resolution, you’re going to waste time scanning low resolution digital images. The scans might look good on your monitor, but if you put them on your HDTV or print them at 4x6, they might look pretty bad.

So here’s how to setup your scanner for negative film...

1. Where To Change The DPI Setting On Your Scanner

When you fire up your scanner software, look for “Resolution” or “DPI”. Here’s what mine looks like...

negative scanner dpi setup

For now don't worry about the other stuff. We'll get to that later. For now, pick 300 DPI, and let's see what happens.

2. What You Get With A 300 DPI Negative Scan

35 mm negative scan at 300 dpi resolution

At 300 DPI, you only get a 1.30" x 0.85" digital image. This means if you try to re-print this scans at 4x6, your print is going to look stretched.

So, let's bump it up to 1500 DPI, and see what happens.

3. What You Get With A 1500 DPI Negative Scan

35mm negative scan at 1500 dpi

Nice. That's better. At 1500 DPI you get a 4x6 digital image. You'll have no problem re-printing this scan at 4x6. And in fact, at this resolution you can view your scans at HDTV quality.

But maybe 4x6 is a bit too small. Since most scanners can go up to 4000 DPI, let's see what happens...

4. What You Get With A 4000 DPI Slide Scan

35mm negative scan at 4000 dpi

Perfect! At 4000 DPI you can go as big as 24x36. Not bad.

5. But Wait, What If You Have Negatives That Are NOT 35mm?

Good question. Here's a quick cheat sheet:

135 Negative Film (35mm Negative)

35mm negative film

Approx. size in inches: 1.3" x 0.85"
Max resolution you can scan: 4000 DPI
Mega pixels when scanned at 4000 DPI: 18
Pixel dimension when scanned at 4000 DPI: 5200 x 3400

126 Negative Film

126 negative film

Approx. size in inches: 1.1" x 1.1"
Max resolution you can scan: 4000 DPI
Mega pixels when scanned at 4000 DPI: 18
Pixel dimension when scanned at 4000 DPI: 4400 x 4400

110 Negative Film

110 negative film

Approx. size in inches: 0.5" x 0.7"
Max resolution you can scan: 4000 DPI
Mega pixels when scanned at 4000 DPI: 5
Pixel dimension when scanned at 4000 DPI: 2000 x 2800

Disc Film

disc film

Approx. size in inches: 0.43" x 0.31"
Max resolution you can scan: 4000 DPI
Mega pixels when scanned at 4000 DPI: 2
Pixel dimension when scanned at 4000 DPI: 1720 x 1240

Medium Format Negative Film

medium format negative film

Size and DPI vary.

But a 900 DPI will give you a 24x36 digital image.

Large Format Negative Film

large format negative film

Size and DPI vary.

But a 900 DPI will give you a 24x36 digital image.

Your Next Step...

  1. Decide if you need scans bigger than 4x6. If so, you'll be safe using 1500 DPI.
  2. If you want scans as big as poster size (24x36) use 4000 DPI. They'll take longer, but you'll get better quality.
  3. Get help with your negative scanning project by telling me your challenges...

Free Ebook: Tells You Secrets To Getting High Quality Slide, Negative, Photos Scans In Half The Time

Which of these saning troubles do you want to overcome?

  • What's the best resolution / DPI to scan your slides, negatives, and photos -- so you don't lose details
  • Best method to digitize slides, negatives, photos using your regular flatbed or film scanner
  • How to clean your negatives, slides, and photos before you scan them -- so you don't scratch them
  • What side should you scan a slide or negative -- so they're not backwards or facing the wrong way
  • How to setup your scanner to get higher quality digital images -- 24bit JPEG? 48bit TIFF?
  • How to fix your digital images using Digital ICE, GIMP, or Photoshop and make them look new
  • How to improve your scan workflow so you can double your productivity and finish your project twice as fast
  • Understand the technical stuff of a digital image so you can make sideshow videos, reprints, and more!

Hey, my name is Konrad. I've been scanning professionally since 2005. I've helped multi-billion dollar companies, pro sports teams, pro photographers, artists, museums, book publishers, etc. I've scanned over 930,000 slides, negatives, photos.

The reason I'm telling you this is because no matter what challenge or frustration you're having, I know exactly what you're going through. So, to help you RIGHT NOW, I've put together a super simple scanning guide to get you started.

It's free (for now). So, fill out the form you see on the right:

How to scan slides negatives photos into digital, free ebook download

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