ScanDigital's Approach for Delicate Black & White Negative Scanning

Black & White Negative Scanning

Scanning black and white negatives requires a particular level of expertise and these materials (even when well preserved) demand special care.This is due to the nature of the black and white film and our inability to use certain technologies that are available for color negatives.When having your black and white negatives scanned, you will likely see far more imperfections than on your color image.

Why do these blemishes show more clearly on black & white negatives?

Through our experience scanning thousands of black & white negatives, we have found that these materials contain far more scratches than color film and this is primarily due to the presence of silver halide grains in the B&W negative film. These silver halide grains are delicate, brittle and difficult to preserve as they scratch with the smallest of force. These scratches are normally not visible to the naked eye, but become apparent in the high resolution scanned image. Also, in B&W negative scanning, dust particles show up more visibly on a black/grey background than in a color image.

What about Digital ICE? Shouldn't it remove these dust marks and blemishes?

Kodak's advanced Digital ICE technology works wonders on color film to remove dust and scratches; however, the detection and removal software does not work with black and white negatives because the infrared light that detects dust and scratches is not compatible with the silver grains on black and white negatives.

The technology is predicated on two scans: an infrared light scan and a separate white light scan. The removal software interpolates a clean image using the infrared light scan to locate the surface defects (dust and scratches) and then subtracts this from the white light scan. The silver halide grains in black and white negatives result in blemishes in the scan that do not produce a clean image for Digital ICE to process. We do our best to reverse this in our editing and quality assurance process, but full photo restoration using a tool such as Adobe Photoshop and a lengthy process is essential to the creation of any high quality black and white scan.