I had an old camera with film in it from at least 1995 or earlier and had it developed. there are some treasured pictures there, but they are extremely faint. is there any way to get these developed so they would be enhanced and look like normal photos?


2 Answers 2


No. Film can only be developed once.

What you should do instead is scan the negatives using the highest bit-depth film scanner you can find. Many photo stores can do this if you do not have access to one. Scanners can do 48 bits-per-pixel or even 96 bits-per-pixel now. Some high-resolution scanners can use a special transparency adapter add-on but a specialized model is best.

You will then use an application, lets say Photoshop or Lightroom, to bring out the details and increase the contrast. Given you will be doing this digitally, you will have plenty of chances for trial-and-error until you get the look which satisfies you the most. If you use Lightroom there is any easy way to apply the same transformation to all your images in one go.

EDIT: As noted by @PatFarrell, you can also scan the prints. I recommend scanning the negatives because you already have lost information going from negatives to prints, particularly when it comes to dynamic-range which is your primary concern to recover faded images.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The trick to scanning negatives (or slides) is that you need a scanner capable of much higher DPI scanning that a typical desktop scanner. You want 4000 DPI or higher to scan film or slides. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2013 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have any experience with Photoshop, etc. I have Kodak Easyshare for my digital photos. Is there a store that could scan the negatives for me and also enhance/adjust the results? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jan
    Jan 13, 2013 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, here at least and probably where you are but you'd have to check. Call some higher-end places and ask if they scan to TIFF. If yes, then ask what bit-depth. The higher the better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 13, 2013 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't need Photoshop. Lightroom, Aperture, even Picasso are all more than capable enough. For a novice, Photoshop is expensive and a lot like trying to do brain surgery with a running chainsaw. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2013 at 20:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jan - I wouldn't use a high street store to get your negs scanned. I would personally find a reputable photo restorer on-line who will be able to get as much information from your faded negs as possible. In my experience most high street stores have some quite standard equipment that often isn't utilised to its fullest capabilities, but will charge you the proverbial arm and a leg. \$\endgroup\$
    – AvieRose
    Feb 9, 2013 at 21:39

Once film is developed, there is no more to re-develop. You can, however, scan the photos in and use the standard photo post processing packages (lightroom, photoshop, etc.) to adjust the images, and the results can be huge improvements.


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