I've recently dug out my old SLR camera again. I've just got the prints and scans back from a reputable high-street company and I'm not very impressed with the results.

For example:

scratched and blotchy scan

There's a big vertical scratch in the negative on the right side of this crop and also some small blotches in the top left corner. The scratch on the right of the image is a scratch on the negative itself and corresponds exactly with a dip in the edge of the negative. I can't make out the blobs on the negative though, although they may be too small for my eyes! There are other similar examples on both this film and other films from the same batch.

My suspicion is that somebody or something in the lab did a hatchet job on the negatives whilst cutting them and the negatives were still wet whilst scanning and printing. I don't see how it could be my camera body, or dirt causing it given the direction of the marks in relation to the film. The example image is from the middle of the roll too, so not something I could have done whilst loading the film.

I'd appreciate some input though to check I'm not being an idiot before complaining; is my view a fair assessment? Is it likely to be just a shoddy processing service?

Another example: second example

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wish I had an answer, but I'm a digital fellow. Makes me appreciate digital that much more! \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ pretty shoody processing. Does look like the lab did it (also notice the bad waterspot on the first picture, definitely a lab failure). Good to see someone still clinging to film. I took the plunge to digital a few years ago because film was getting simply too expensive... \$\endgroup\$
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


Dirt scratches would go lengthwise on a horizontal or top-to-bottom on a vertical. It's not likely your camera. The two really bad scratches appear at about the same place -- I'd guess it's to do with something in the lab. Ask them.

Out of curiosity, why film at this point in time?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe for the thrill of not knowing what will come out? At least that would be my answer :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thought film was something different to take on honeymoon with us to Morocco. I inherited the camera from my Grandfather, and used it a lot before I bought a D50 so it has sentimental value too. It also has the advantage of not looking "flashy" in bad neighbourhoods... \$\endgroup\$
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Oh and I have far more lenses for the old camera than the D50 since they were practically free on ebay) \$\endgroup\$
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @awoodland A bad neighbourhood is not educated about camera types. My Canon A1 got stolen only two years ago in Berlin (!) (with only my Praktika BX20 left it prompted me at last to buy a DSLR). \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I don't know if this is much solace, but a good scanning lab can liquid mount your film on a drum. This liquid may (emphasis on may) mitigate some of the scratching. Congratulations on your honeymoon. The images will still retain all their sentimental value :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve Ross
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 19:03

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