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Old rolled negatives

Bojan Steinb├╝cher , Sep 09, 2003; 05:46 a.m.

After a hiatus of few decades I'm back into photography, doing mostly digital. Anyway, there're a lot of old B&W negatives, both 35 mm and 120 I would like to bring into life. The problem is they are all neatly rolled up. :-( What would be the best way to flatten them without damage? Some seem quite brittle to me.




Lex Jenkins , Sep 09, 2003; 06:17 a.m.

Are these entire rolls of uncut negatives? That seems to have been fairly common years ago. Some enlargers, like my Durst 606, were even equipped with rounded troughs on either side of the negative carrier to better accomodate these curled up negatives. After use the rolled up negatives were returned to the film cannister or other container.

Flattening old negatives is tricky business. You might try soaking them in a solution of distilled water, enough to cover the film, with 1-4 drops of Photo-Flo or other wetting agent. Soak for up to an hour to soften the emulsion and relax the film.

Then hang the strips to dry, using either weight or tension. For my 35mm negatives I use paper clips in the sprocket holes at either end. For 120 negatives I use hemostat clips. Either way allows using a bit of weight at the bottom end to put some tension on the film strips.

Let hang to dry for at least a day. Cut into strips of appropriate length for your negative sleeves.

Even this effort may not guarantee flat negatives. I recently processed some Efke R100. Despite my best efforts to flatten the negatives they're curled up tighter than a rattlesnake. Some films resist drying flat.

Bojan Steinb├╝cher , Sep 10, 2003; 06:09 p.m.

Thank you very much!


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