How do I get images made from a roll of 35 mm positive film?

I've had a professional try to create individual prints, but they said they couldn't as the film was positive not a negative roll.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My guess is if a professional said they weren't able that you won't be able to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthew
    Feb 12, 2018 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most film is scanned and printed these days, as opposed to printed in the darkroom. Unless you're an enthusiast and even then, you're likely doing black and white and/or c-41. Slides? get 'em scanned. Any photo printer worth their salt should be able to accomplish this. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Feb 12, 2018 at 21:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This whole question doesn't make any sense. Positive film is a collection of still images. These are often cut up and mounted, called "slides". But in any case, the still images are already there. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2018 at 12:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Try a real "proffessional" next time. \$\endgroup\$
    – user39557
    Feb 15, 2018 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


i need to make images from a roll of 35 mm positive film?

The path of least resistance here is surely to just have the film scanned, or do it yourself, and print the images digitally.


I think your 'professional' is just saying he isn't set up to do this job. It's certainly possible to make prints from colour slides. Here's one company that offers this service in the UK.


Years ago, this was done using either the Ilfochrome or 'Type R' processes. Now, I imagine everyone scans the film and does the job digitally.


The easiest way to get prints of your positive film is to do the following:

  1. Digitize the film or have this done for you. (this is sometimes called duplicating, see note on historical nomenclature below)
  2. Retouch / remaster the image as desired
  3. Have the image printed or print it yourself. Note that if you want a photographic print, doing so is still possible from a digital image using a wet process. See Photo Printers versus Fine Art Printers

I'm going to assume that you know how to do items 2 and 3. Elsewise you can probably find answers here or ask a separate question. Below is a quick run-down of your options for duplicating this film in descending order of quality but not necessarily in descending order of price.

  • A professional film digitizing service. I have utmost respect for anyone still running their own photo service but duplicating and digitizing film requires special training. If your Pro did not know that he could just skip inverting the scanned images... he's not trained. Price is per frame, usually in the range of 20 to 75 US cents. sometimes there is a setup fee. Talk to the service you select first and ask them for a sample file, preferably from a scanned positive slide. Make sure they understand that you are asking them to scan positive film that is not slide mounted. This is uncommon but, again, a professional should have no problem with it.
  • A dedicated film scanner. This will produce the highest quality images possible, especially if you invest some time studying an experimenting with it. The professional scanning service is likely using a unit that costs between $1.5k and $15k USD but you can get great results from a scanner in the $300 USD range
  • A flatbed scanner. These used to be much more common a decade ago when scanners were a bit more expensive. Basically you need a flatbed scanner with a light in the top half. You could try to make your own by sandwiching the negative between an ordinary flatbed scanner and an LCD screen displaying white but since reasonably good scanners designed for the purpose can be had for under $200 USD, Occum's razor should prevail. Again, if possible, do your research and find a review where someone has included an image they scanned before you select your scanner.
  • A Slide Duplicator Camera Adapter. Assuming you own an SLR you could try one of these units. Note that you will need to also purchase a film strip carrier which is compatible with the slide adapter. Since the "slide duplicators" generally include a dioptric lens, there is a definite "get what you pay for" relationship. Shop around on ebay and amazon but expect to pay around $100 for something that actually works. Note that there are special variants of this device available if you happen to own a lens capable of 1:1 (or near 1:1) magnification. I recommend capturing images in raw then exporting the at half the raw dimensions with a bit of sharpening. This will help to limit aliasing. Capturing as JPEG and downres-ing is OK too.
  • There's an app for that. Sorry, I couldn't resist. This technique also makes use of an LCD monitor as the light source. Your smartphone then acts as the scanner. I wouldn't use this to reproduce imagery in any professional capacity but if you goal is to get a positive onto the internet or to make a couple of 4x6's of family memories to share with relatives you could get away with it. Regardless it's free so you could always try it out before you climb the cost ladder.

Finally, if you are really set on making a photographic print from film that is possible. Aside from nearly extinct processes that offer "positive printing" you can print your positive using something called an internegative. To expose the internegative you will perform emulsion contact printing. This means you bring the emulsion of the positive into direct contact with the emulsion of an unexposed negative (generally by taping them together or trapping them between glass) and then provide a controlled exposure. Commercial examples of film contact duplicators, the original namesake of this process are now used exclusively in medical imaging and are therefore quite expensive. However, you could perform this task with careful use of two panes of glass, some masking tape, a black bag, and a photographic enlarger. I've done it in the past but honestly wouldn't recommend it to anyone who values their time.

Note: any items or retailers I've linked to are as examples. I've used a few of the items listed but am not explicitly endorsing any of them.


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