I have roughly 1200 photos on film varying in age from modern to type 110 and 126 and some of it 50 years old.

I got a Nikon 5000 ED second, bought good software (Silverfast Archival), used color correction slides, and got started.

So the scans are set to 4000dpi, but at the default zoom I can see the image normally, but when I zoom in the image just looks pixelated or blurry. Think reading signs and writing within the photo itself, and it's just not legible.

I am wondering if I am just scanning the negatives at such a high resolution that no further details exist.

What is the maximum usefully dpi for scanning different types of negatives?

Here's an example:

enter image description here

This photo was literally taken across the street and the license plate is not even kind of readable.

Look here at the zoom in:

enter image description here

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ When you examine the negatives with a loupe is the clarity actually there? Camera's that used 110 and 126 film weren't known for their lens quality. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    May 4, 2023 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't start those yet still working on the more modern negative with dual tractor feeds. I don't have a loupe I guess I will have google that to see where I can obtain one. I assume it must provide magnification as film by themselves are too small to fine details. \$\endgroup\$
    – cybernard
    May 4, 2023 at 3:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ A quick quote from filmscanner.info: "The Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED possesses a powerful autofocus tool. With tidyly mounted slides and plain film strips the autofocus does a very good job. It's getting more delicate when scanning curled film strips, curved slides or - to some extent - glass mounted slides, because the depth of field of the Coolscan 5000 is less than 1mm. With this kind of originals the possibility of manual focusing helps. In my opinion a very reasonable feature - but scanning then takes a lot of time." \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    May 4, 2023 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @osullic Lucky all of my film so far is perfectly flat and not curled. It does take a long time but I can usually process 100-150 in an evening even with all the fancy scanning features turned on,. \$\endgroup\$
    – cybernard
    May 4, 2023 at 11:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think a lot of this is going to come down to personal preference. If it were I, I would scan at the maximum optical resolution of the film scanner. Scanning 1200 photos is not something you want to have to do over. How much time is scanning at 3000dpi going to save you? Storage is cheap. Get a good negative/slide, as recent as possible, that came from a good camera/lens, and just see if you can get a perfectly acceptable scan with it. Then just stick with those settings and, basically, get on with it without putting too much further thought into it. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    May 4, 2023 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


That's not blurry due to the scanning, it's like the film is: you can see the image if made of quite sharp grains, meaning the scanning is sharp.

What is not sharp is the lens/focus used for SHOOTING the film.

Scan at the maximum resolution of the scanner, then later judge how much to reduce the scans based on the sharpness of the original image.


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