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Best Way To Clean Negatives?

Jack Burgess , Nov 04, 2009; 11:23 a.m.

Hello!

Whats the best way to clean negatives that may have dust or lent on them, if just blowing on them don't work??

I came across some old 35mm I had forgot about and wanted to scan them, even though I did blow on them, they still had what appeared some dust/lent. I do clean my scanner glass before each scan, however this still could be the source. Just trying to cover all bases.

TIA,
~Jack

Responses


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Jeremy Richter , Nov 04, 2009; 11:46 a.m.

I don't know that it's the best way, but I have used alcohol and a microfiber cloth before. It did the job, but I have been told there are element mixed with the alcohol that could be corrosive or leave marks. I've not experienced that as being the case. JR

John A , Nov 04, 2009; 11:54 a.m.

Blowing on them will generally put saliva on the neg. Most don't realize this, but there are micro particles coming out of you even when you breath, blowing just increases the issue.

The best way is to use a negative brush, one never used for any other purpose or touched by fingers--oils. Then, some compressed air from a blower bulb or the like. Beyond that, if there are embedded particles, the best solution is to rewash the negs, use a final rinse with distilled water and the proper amount of a drying agent, like photoflo, and hang them in a dust free area.

Oh, and there will always be dust on your scans of negatives!

Ben Ballard , Nov 04, 2009; 11:59 a.m.

I usually just use compressed air, but I occasionally wipe them with KimWipes (disposable lens paper made by Kimberly-Clark). I'm a little scared I could scratch the emulsion with the wipes as they aren't super soft, so I try to be gentle. Recently I've started wearing special gloves I ordered from Freestyle for handling film, just so I'm not introducing oily streaks or anything from my hands.

Even with all of this, my B&W scans are generally full of spots and require some touch up for the more egregious instances. Some of the spots are clearly from dust on the film during exposure or perhaps during development. I'm not sure what I could do differently to avoid that. I've noticed the spots are much less of a problem if I scan at 2000dpi rather than 4000dpi (Nikon Coolscan V), so I've started doing that for B&W, but it's still not perfect. From what I hear, wet scanning is the best solution to the problem, but that would be too big an investment in money and time for me. I've also heard there are negative cleaning solutions which might be worthwhile for old dirty negatives, but I've never tried them.

Tom Harvey , Nov 04, 2009; 12:14 p.m.

Pec pads and pec-12 emulsion cleaner.

Brad Cloven , Nov 04, 2009; 01:07 p.m.

All I know is: A lot of work with a bulb blower, Digital ICE while scanning, and a little copy / paste action over remaining appearance of dust on the file when done. If that doesn't work, then I'm lost too.

Marc Bergman , Nov 04, 2009; 01:32 p.m.

I examine them closely to see the problem. If it is dust I use a blower brush.

If they are dirty I use Pec pads and Pec-12 cleaner, just like Tom. I have had good luck even with 70 year old negatives.

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 04, 2009; 02:50 p.m.

1) Bulb blower and a very soft brush that has never been touched by fingers, which are innately greasy.
2) for more serious cleaning get a bottle of Edwal Anti-Stat film cleaner and read the instructions.
I wouldn't recommend alcohol or any other regular solvent.

Success with digital "cleaners" in post-processing depends on what you will put up with. My personal experience with the automatic ones is not too positive, and I find it best to clean the slide/negative carefully before scanning and then manually "spot" the remaining specks, etc. just like we had to do back in the days of actual enlarging and printing except using the "healing brush" and other tools in Photoshop. I think the manual procedure will yield a cleaner and better image than the automatic routines, and unlike the old film days, once the image is clean you don't have to do it all over again every time you print!

Mendel Leisk , Nov 04, 2009; 03:26 p.m.

My flip response to "best way to clean negatives" would be: don't.

That is apart from blower method. Rely on the scanner, ICE, Photoshop, etc, much safer. If you do venture into it, start with your least valuable film, scan beforehand, scan after: see if you've actually improved things.

Jack Burgess , Nov 04, 2009; 08:36 p.m.

Thanks everyone!

~Jack


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