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I bought 35mm dedicated film scanner (Nikon CoolScan III) and I'm planning to digitize old negatives and slides I found at home.

How should I store and preserve these slides and films after I cut them and scan? How to choose best negative pages/sleeves, binders etc. and what to avoid?

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you mean Nikon coolscan (not canon) –  Aristos Jan 14 '11 at 21:02
    
Thanks, Aristos. Fixed it. –  Domas Jan 16 '11 at 21:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

When I made the 'final' switch from film to digital several years ago, here's the procedure I went through with all my slides and negatives (more than 50,000 frames in total):

  1. Digitized every single slide and negative at the highest level of quality available at the time. My intention from the start was to hopefully never to have to break into the physical packaging ever again.
  2. Put all the slides and negatives in polyester sleeves
  3. Tagged and labeled everything into a spreadsheet on the off-chance I'd need to find a negative (or a session) again I wouldn't have to go through every single negative looking for the one I needed.
  4. Taped the sleeves onto archival quality (acid free) cardboard backing
  5. Put the polyester sleeves + a silica pack into an archival grade vacuum seal bag (polypropylene) and used an industrial vacuum sealer to suck all the air out of each package (the cardboard was essentially in there so that the package wouldn't lose it's shape with the vacuum and crush my negatives).
  6. The sealed packages were then placed in archival grade boxes, more silica packs were added to each box, I sealed each box with tape, and the boxes were put in a safety deposit box at a bank in my town with a reputation for keeping the ambient temperature and humidity at a rock-solid 55 degrees/50% humidity.

Overkill? Probably. Expensive? Definitely. Time consuming? It took nearly 6 months (I probably could have done it faster with some concentrated effort, but it was an 'assemble them while I sit in front of the TV during the down-times' activity)

My kids will probably simply throw them all out after I'm dead... It's not like I've got a bunch of 'undiscovered shots of JFK and Marylin Monroe' floating around in there... But I'm a worry-wart, and I just didn't want to keep myself up nights 'listening to my negatives turn to dust,' so I went for the 'nuclear option' of archival... Or at least as close to a 'nuclear option' as I could imagine at the time. I still occasionally think that it might have been better if I also vacuum sealed the boxes too... But I'm probably just being paranoid. :-)

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You should photograph the process because sounds very interesting, and I hope your kids respect your love and the care about that. –  Aristos Jan 14 '11 at 20:58
    
I probably should have! Now that I'm all digital, the storage and archiving of everything is an entirely different problem. It was such a pain in the butt to do that it makes me glad that I'm not on film any more (at least professionally). :-) –  Jay Lance Photography Jan 14 '11 at 23:21
    
you made a major mistake in keeping only digital records of your slide collection. Should have made a paper record and sealed that with the slides :) –  jwenting Oct 24 '11 at 5:52

You can get a good overview of film sleeve properties from filmguard.com
The key precautions are to store your films in a cool, dark, dry place.
One way of doing this is to store your film in a sealed plastic box containing a layer of desiccant such as silica gel. Rent a safety deposit box at your bank and store the box there. Good banks have climate controlled vaults.

Having said that, I have found significant changes in the dyes of negatives/slides stored for 40 years in a dark place (admittedly at home). Your best bet is to scan them and take strong measures to preserve the digital versions.

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To go for a slightly hobbyist related method:

I've got all my slides in A4 sized archival slide wallets, in archival folders (labelled by year), but then they are just in a normal box along with some silica gel in my office.

I have had all of the important slides scanned commercially (50MB files) and these are in my normal back up routine, I've not had to go back to the slides at all as I just use the digital files.

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First: DUPLICATE the important slides and/or negatives. This will give you a 'second chance' should anything go wrong.

The basic idea to preservation is keeping it in a cool, dark, dry location. Exposure to light will wear the ink and fade the images. This site: http://www.yesteryearmemories.com/store_negatives.asp has a good explanation of film preservation techniques.

Second: Ensure that whichever plastic you use to seal out the air is archival quality (NOT Ziploc). This means the acidity is nil and has a pH of 7.0. Exposure to acidic materials (like paper) can wear the film or photo over time

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1  
a "ph balance of 0" is EXTREMELY acidic... –  rfusca Jan 19 '11 at 18:53
    
@rfusca you are correct where a ph value of 0 us very acidic. I meant a balanced ph above. Updated: to contain an exact ph value of neutral (7.0) –  kacalapy Jan 20 '11 at 20:22

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