I am an amateur photographer. I have a batch of around 3,900 colour negatives, which are very well stored, in strips inside their original plastic protections.

I am a bit confused with the service offer do scan/digitize the negatives. Some offer a scan, at 0.07/negative and to digitize them at 0.15/negative. What is the difference between scan and digitize?

What I am looking for: to either scan or digitize my negatives to preserve them as files and be able to see them with their proper (positive) colours in my computer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would be interested to see a link to the service provider's website \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Oct 11, 2018 at 10:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps "scan" -> "digital negative", but "digitize" -> "digital positive". But, as already mentioned, you should check with the particular vendor. \$\endgroup\$
    – twalberg
    Oct 11, 2018 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can link to the service's website, then we could take a look and provide feedback. Without that, we're all just speculating as to the definition of "scan" and "digitize." I'm voting to close this question for that reason - but I'll happily retract that vote and provide feedback if you link the service provider. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Oct 11, 2018 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


Broadly speaking, digitization is conversion from analog to digital by any means. Scanning is a subset of digitization in which an image is captured in sequence, usually pixel-by-pixel or line-by-line. For home conversion, "digitizers" often capture the entire image simultaneously using a digital-camera sensor. These digitizers are much quicker than scanners, but have many of the same disadvantages that cameras do, such as noise and demosaicing artifacts. Some people use slide copiers or copy stands to digitize their images with bona fide digital cameras.

You need to ask the specific service providers for details about their services. It isn't clear whether scan and digitize are being used as synonyms. It also isn't clear whether the "some" you refer to is an individual provider offering two different levels of service, or whether you are comparing prices from different providers who use different terminology to describe their services.

You can evaluate the work of different providers by sending them small samples from your collection. Send the rest of your collection to whomever you like the best.


There is no way to answer what is the difference between a 7 and 15 cent negative scan. Both sound surprisingly inexpensive. Difference could just be profit, or could reflect a larger scan taking more time, or a small quick scan. It could reflect greater handling care and attention first cleaning dust from the film, etc.

In some cases, the low prices are scanned in India or somewhere. Some local photo printing departments (Costco, maybe some Walmart) also can scan film, but sometimes only slides, and often provide only rather small images (too small).

You might try to get some recommendations (somewhere else). And you definitely should understand what size image (pixel dimensions) you will get back (to print 8x10 requires at least 2400x3000 pixels, before any cropping). And first try with a smaller batch (maybe 50 or 100 images) before sending all 3900.


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