I'm not sure if this is possible or not, but I have found an old 35mm film which was developed about 15 years ago and I'd like to know if it's possible to re-print the photos on it.

I was thinking of trying to scan the film with a standard scanner and then post-process the photos in Photoshop and invert the colors (as from what I know the film holds the negative of the photo), but I'm worried that this process might damage the film.

Is there any risk for the film getting damaged in the process and/or has anyone tried this before?

Please excuse if this question is too basic, but I haven't had much contact with classic photography now that we are in the digital age.

Thank you in advance!

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    \$\begingroup\$ fwiw, i recently scanned film from my parents, about 50 years old colour negatives, and they came out very nicely. 15 years is nothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – ths
    Jan 6, 2015 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ths Thanks for letting me know! Will definitely try with a lot more courage now. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2015 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


You can certainly make multiple prints from developed negatives — in fact, that's why the photo lab gave you those negatives in the first place. It's also worth nothing that especially with black and white, decisions made as part of the printing process can have a major effect on the result — in today's digital parallel universe, the negative is sort of like a RAW file, and can be very flexibly made into many different expressions as a JPEG file print. (Ha! I've never had an excuse to use that analogy in reverse before!)

In the pre-digital age, making multiple prints from the same negative was the standard way to duplicate things. (You can make a duplicate by photographing a print, but that's a very lossy process.) It's remotely possible that a print lab might damage your film in the process, but it's highly unlikely.

Scanning your film will also not hurt it. (The scanner's light is not nearly bright or long-lasting enough to cause meaningful degradation.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, well the film is quite old and I was a child back then, so I didn't personally take the film, but thank you for your answer! It makes sense now. Funny enough I've never been to a photo lab to develop film and I'm not sure they exist anymore (in this tiny town I live in). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2015 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Probably worth mentioning that scanning a negative/transparency/slide with a "standard" scanner is not likely to produce satisfactory results - as the illumination will be from the same side that the image is captured (and the small sizes involved require very high resolutions). There are scanners specifically designed for this purpose like the old coolscan, but they were never cheap. I had an relatively cheap CanoScan years ago for this purpose, but it stopped being compatible with Windows several versions ago. \$\endgroup\$
    – db9dreamer
    Jan 6, 2015 at 18:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for what @dav1dsm1th said re: standard scanner. If there is a professional photo lab in your area (not Walgreens), I would have them do it instead, and ask if they offer different resolution options. Also, there are online services that do it where you send them the film. For example: scancafe.com \$\endgroup\$ Jan 7, 2015 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ And if you want to try and DIY, get a film/transparency scanner the lights the negative from behind so the light passes through the film before falling onto the scanner's sensor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 8, 2015 at 0:35

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