Several months ago I wrote a review of ScanCafe’s scanning services entitled “ScanCafe – Great Photo, Negative and Slide Scans.” I was impressed with their service, quality and prices. One drawback I found with the service was the absence of an option for medium format black and white negatives. It took ScanCafe a little time but they finally expanded their service offering and added black and white medium format scanning to their mix.
Initial ScanCafe Experience
My first experience with ScanCafe was with a batch of 35mm color negatives that I sent to them for scanning. The results were quite good – great quality at an excellent price. The processing took several weeks but I wasn’t in a rush and for the price I was willing to wait a bit longer. In my post at the time I noted my desire for a scanning service for medium format black and white negatives. A few months ago ScanCafe addressed that hole in their service roster.
So it was with great pleasure that I made my first order for medium format black and white negative scanning services. My initial order consisted of 180 black and white negatives from photos that my father had shot on his Voigtlander medium format camera in the 1950’s. After several weeks I received the results back from ScanCafe on four DVDs and I am quite pleased to say the least. It was a real treat to view a number of old family images which I had never seen before.
Scan Testing Process – Or Not!
For the sake of clarity I must admit that I am not anywhere close to being an expert photographer. So I won’t present any detailed test results from the scanned negatives or any comparison between scanned images and actual photo prints. However I can say the images I received looked outstanding on a 22” monitor and even with cropping and zooming, the images retained their sharpness. They contained an enormous amount of detail and dynamic range.
Medium Format Black and White Scanning Service Details
The base cost for a standard high resolution JPG scan is $.99 which is very competitive. ScanCafe offers a standard scan resolution of 3,000 dpi plus they also offer their Pro Resolution option of 4,000 dpi for about $.10 per scan. I opted for the 3,000 dpi resolution and for their Pro Library option which delivers a TIFF raw scan with no processing as well as a JPEG processed image of each negative. The Pro Library option added $.24 per scan.
The high scanning resolution and the large size of the actual negatives generated some sizable image files. The JPG files ranged in size from 6MB to 11MB. The TIFF format files were much larger ranging from 60MB to over 165MB. The final scans of my 180 medium format negatives came back on 4 DVDs due to the amount of data from the large file sizes. Given the size of the image files it’s good to have a computer with at least moderate horsepower, a good graphics adapter and a fair amount of RAM for viewing and editing. The large files can make your photo editing software work a lot more than it’s used to.
Ready for the Next Batch Of Negatives
Total cost for my 180 medium format black and white negatives came to $375 including shipping, the Pro Library option and an extra set of DVDs. I’m quite please with the scan results, the service and the cost. There is always a little apprehension in sending my irreplaceable negatives off into the unknown but ScanCafe has done a good job of helping me overcome those fears. Their status update emails provide good communication at each step of the process. I’ll be sending in my next batch of negatives in the very near future.