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I have been given a box of vintage negatives from my late Fathers estate. I believe they were taken in the '50s and the size is about 6 x 9.5 cm. Is there a piece of kit I could view these old negatives on and even go on to print them on my HP printer?

  • Thank you very much guys for taking the time to reply to my question. What a response....fantastic. regards Terry – Terry Alger Apr 27 '15 at 17:26
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In case you just want to view them, have a look at http://petapixel.com/2015/03/22/how-to-turn-an-ipad-and-iphone-into-a-negative-film-viewing-station/ for a quick solution (of course, you can use other light sources, etc., but the general idea is the same). For positives, there used to be dedicated slide viewers and slide projectors, but mostly for smaller medium format slides like 6x4.5cm or 6x6cm. I have never seen viewers or projectors for 6x9cm slides, but they do seem to exist (see, e.g., http://photo.net/medium-format-photography-forum/00SbW4 ) and you can probably find them second-hand from the usual sources.

In case you want to make (digital) prints with your printer, you need to scan the negatives first. There are three basic options:

  • dedicated film scanner: I don't think (affordable) dedicated medium format film scanners are readily available any more (and once they were more readily available, they usually only have covered formats up to 6x6cm or 6x7cm). However, you might be lucky getting some second-hand option (beware of compatibility problems with modern operating systems, though) or, if money is no problem, some professional grade equipment.
  • flatbed scanner with support for film scanning (i.e., with backlight and film carriers): There are various options available, you just need to make sure that the scanner actually supports your film format (some just provide enough backlighting for 35mm film). If you happen to already own a scanner, but without support for film scanning and you don't mind some simple crafting, here's a nice trick on how you can use it to scan film http://makezine.com/craft/how-to_turn_slides_and_negativ/
  • a camera: You can use a setup like http://petapixel.com/2013/03/25/digitizing-your-film-using-your-dslr/ or http://petapixel.com/2012/12/24/how-to-scan-your-film-using-a-digital-camera-and-macro-lens/ If you already own a suitable camera, this probably is the cheapest option, but will also require the most amount of manual work.

Regarding scanners, see also Medium Format Scanner. Scanners also typically come with some software for automatically converting the negatives to positives and might also have some support for image enhancing (e.g., dust removal) depending on the film type.

Of course, you can also try to get a good old enlarger (again, make sure it supports medium format film of your size) and make some actual prints, which is a lot of fun. Alternatively, as Blrfl points out in the comments, there should also be some labs around that still do prints from

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    There are still some labs around that print medium-format film. – Blrfl Apr 27 '15 at 13:26
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I use the below scanner for my publishing business. These can be had used on eBay for about $10000.00 While it is a great scanner, larger negatives including 6cm x 7cm, negatives present a problem of not remaining flat during scanning. I bought a 6 x 7 Nikon Glass Negative Carrier and that introduced a new set of problems with Newton Rings. The only way to get around this is to do "Wet Scans" which eliminates warping and Newton Rings, it's a complicated process if you have a lot of negatives to process. However, it will yield excellent results if you want to reproduce them for printing @ 4000 dpi.

If you are just wanting to see the images and not reproduce them at their best resolution, perhaps the Flatbed Scanner would be a good option. Also the Contact Sheet is a great idea wherein you can at least see if you want to bother with scanning for printing.

Nikon Coolscan 8000 ED

Spec's for Coolscan 8000 ED

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You do not necessarily need an enlarger. Back in the day photos were made as contact sheets.

That means the image (the positive) has the same size as the negative.

To make one, put the negative on the photographic paper and apply light.

You have to fix the exposure on the paper somehow. Please refer to the manual of the paper. In the most simple case, all you need for that is water.

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    well, then you need to develop and fix the image on the paper, so a few steps beyond just exposing the paper. But to your point, you only need paper, developer (liquid) and fixative (liquid), and a dark space to control the light. – cmason Apr 27 '15 at 16:26
  • @cmason good point, I was referring to simple photographic paper that can be fixed with water and added that to my answer. – null Apr 27 '15 at 16:37

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