How to Scan a Negative with Epson Scanner?

Your old slides and negatives won’t scan easily using a flatbed scanner if you want to preserve them digitally.

For printing coupons, you require a bright light source coming from behind the negative. The multifunction printer/scanner you currently use lacks the brightness you need.

You can upload your film negatives to your computer by hacking up a piece of silver cardboard and placing it strategically over the film strip.

In this blog post, we will describe how to scan a negative with Epson scanner. These instructions apply to both Macintosh and Windows versions of EPSON Scan.

Some Tips Before Start

The scanner will automatically detect the negatives or slides you are scanning when you use a film holder. In the Duderstadt Center, a box of film holders can be checked out at the circulation desk.

If you are leaving, make sure you have a flash drive, an external hard drive, or some other means of bringing your files with you.


Negatives and slides require different scanning resolutions than normal photographs. Negatives and slides are physically small, so it’s very important to scan them at a high resolution before enlarging them. Particularly if you plan to print your images, this is imperative.

Our recommendation is to scan negatives and slides at 800-1200. To determine what size to print, use the following formula:

“width of negative in inches * scanning resolution in dpi = size in pixels”

“size in pixels / printing resolution (usually 150-300 dpi) = print size in inches”

Take the following example You are scanning a slide that is 1.5 inches wide at 1000 dpi:

“1.5 inches * 1000 dpi = 1500 pixels”

This image can be printed at 150 dpi for the following width:

“1500 pixels / 150 dpi = 10 inches”

You can scan your image at a lower resolution, around 800 dpi, if you’re making a digital file for web use (like social media). Printing your image, or archiving negatives and slides in high-quality, should be scanned at 1000-1200 dpi.

File sizes will be larger if your resolution is higher. You may also need to consider how and where you plan to store your digital images.

Should scan to a JPEG or a TIFF?

Depending on what you plan to do with them!

The JPEG (or JPG) file format is very popular and easily comprehensible. JPEGs are the best format for sharing photos via email or social media.

Their quality is good, but not the best. When a JPG file is compressed, some detail will be lost in order to keep the file size low. This is probably what you want if you are digitizing photos for a slideshow or website.

The use of TIFFs is less common. Some photo sharing sites may not recognize them, though photo editing software will be able to use them.

TIFF files are larger because they are uncompressed file formats, meaning that the entire scanned image is visible in the file. For editing and printing your photos, this may be the right choice.

Preparing Your Negatives

1. By sliding it out of the holders, lift the scanner cover and remove the white reflective backing.

scanner cover

2. Be sure to keep the scanner bed clean to avoid smudges and dust showing up on your scans. Consult a consultant if you need help cleaning the scanner bed.

3. You will need a film holder for your negatives or slides. You can make sure that the negatives and slides are oriented properly on the holders, but you can rotate or flip the images after scanning them if the holder is loaded backwards.

film holders

4. Make sure the white arrows on the film holder are aligned with one another on the scanner. There are two small holes on the scanner bed that will fit into the pegs at the right-hand end of the film holder.


5. Reduce the scanner cover.

Setting up the Scan Software

1. Launch the EPSON Scan application. These instructions will work on either Macintosh or Windows because it’s the same.

Epson scanning settings

2. You can adjust your scanning settings depending on what you intend to scan by selecting “Professional Mode” in the “Mode” section on the right of the window.

3. You can customize settings based on your needs.

Choosing Scan Settings

Choosing scan settings

1. For negatives or slides that fit into one of the standard film holders, select Film (with Film Holder) from the Document Type pulldown menu. The Film Area Guide will help you choose the best film if your film strips or slides are irregularly sized. This guide is included with the containers of film holders. (If your negatives or slides do not fit in any of the standard film holders, then using the Film Area Guide will give less-than-reliable results.)

2. Select the type of film you are scanning from the Film Type pulldown menu. You can scan positive slides and negatives with Positive Film (the ones that do not have backward colors). Scan color negative negatives and slides with Color Negative Film. Negative and slide scanning can be done using B&W Negative Film.

3. To scan in black and white, select 8-bit Grayscale from the Image Type pulldown menu. To scan in color, select 24-bit Color (the Black and White option will only scan in black and white).

4. Select your resolution to determine the quality of your scan. For more information on scanning resolutions, see above. We recommend scanning negatives and slides at 800-1200 dpi.

5. Click the preview.

Scan and Save

1.EPSON scan interprets your negatives and slides and shows you thumbnails of your images after you click Preview.

Scan and Save

2. Clicking on a thumbnail in the Preview window will allow you to rotate or reverse your image. If you do not want to scan an image, you can uncheck the box below the thumbnail. By default, every image will be selected.

3. Click on Scan.

4. Choose the location where you want to save the files (saving them to the Desktop makes them easier to locate) under File Save Settings. Select JPEG or TIFF under Image Format Type (the advantages of each are discussed above).

File Save Settings window

5. By clicking OK, you will scan all images you selected in the Preview window and save them to the location you specified.


Your photos are now in high-quality digital format! Our consultants can help you edit a picture with a program like Photoshop if you need assistance. Feel free to make any edits or rename any of your files. 

Save your files and take them with you by way of a flash drive, external hard drive, self-addressed e-mail, or some other method. 

Negatives and slides must be collected from the scanner. Film holders should be returned to the second floor circulation desk.

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