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I've been scanning a number of negatives using an Epson v350 scanner, which has an automated feeder built in.

The feeder is pretty basic, but on the whole works reasonably well with most brands of film, however I'm struggling with Fujicolor 200.

With all other brands I've shot, the negatives are returned from the lab reasonably flat, and when fed into the scanner, it pulls them through correctly and the frame is aligned exactly as it is in the preview.

With the Fujicolor, there is a very significant curl to the negative, which prevents the roller and drive band in the feeder from pulling it through correctly. As a result, the scanned image does not line up to the frame, and it's becoming really frustrating.

The scanner is capable of decent quality images, and when used with Ilford (HP5 and Pan-F) and Kodak film (colorplus and ultramax usually), it is able to detect the frames and scan with no intervention from me at all.

It takes some 15 minutes to scan a 6 frame strip at 3400 dpi, but as I can leave it running, this doesn't bother me at all, and can clear several films in a day just leaving it to run on the desk next to me while I'm working.

With Fujicolor, it can take upwards of an hour to scan a 6 frame strip, as I have to keep re-scanning an individual frame. In addition, the act of running the strip through the scanner increases the curling, which makes the subsequent scans even more misaligned.

I intend to replace this scanner at some point with something more reliable, but I suspect that if I can prevent the strip from curling, it will be less problematic when using the automated feed.

Is there a reliable way to straighten out a negative without doing it damage?

In future, I will not be using Fujicolor again (I've never been particularly fond of the colour cast), but I still have a few rolls to scan.

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The curl is due to the fact that photographic film is comprised of multiple coats both emulsion side and base side. Each coat is slightly different as to its content so each has a slightly different rate of expansion and contraction.

The chief ingredient in most coats is gelatin. This is the flexible, transparent binder that glues the goodies onto the film base. When film is processed, the chemicals used are mostly water. Water wets the gelatin and it swells. This action allows the fluids of the process to enter and peculate about.

As the film dries, after processing, the gelatin shrinks back but not quite exactly back to its original size. This causes the curl you are experiencing. Films likely have a “balance coat” of the reverse. The balance coat ought to mitigate the curl. Not much you can do except press the film between the pages of a book. The curl is worsened under conditions of high humidity.

One remedy that might work if the curl is too wicked; at the drugstore procure some glycerin. Make a 25% of this diluting with distilled water. Soak the film for about 5 minutes. Follow with a solution made using Dawn disk washing detergent, two or three drops per cup. Hang wet film up and allow to air dry. No guarantee the curl will not come back!

  • To add to this, use a couple of clothes-hangers to weight the bottom of the film while hanging (this will indent the film, make sure you don't clamp a picture) so that the film can get pulled tight while drying. I've also had good luck with putting the negs in a negative sleeve and stacking between an encyclopedia or the Dark Tower series. – Hueco Jun 13 '18 at 17:05
  • That's a pretty comprehensive answer (as your answers do tend to be - Thank you Alan). I'll try using some heavy books on the rest of my Fuji rolls overnight, and scan them first thing tomorrow. In the future, I'm going to stick with Kodak for the bulk of my colour shots partly to mitigate this issue, and also because I rather like the colours. – Alex Jun 13 '18 at 17:45
  • @ Alex -- Some will denounce the glycerin bath because it might dilute the residual stabilizer. Glycerin draws moisture from the air, this added wetness can lessen curl. The stabilizer, last step of the E-6 and C-41 once contained formaldehyde. Its purpose, tacks the gelatin spaghetti noodle structure at points where they overlap. This locks the oily dye globules and prevents pooling. No need, modern films now pre-hardened. Current stabilizer is wetting agent with mild biocide to keep beasties from dining on the gelatin. You can substitute antibiotic hand soap for Dawn. – Alan Marcus Jun 13 '18 at 19:23
  • @AlanMarcus My stop gap solution (well, enough of a solution for what I'm doing) was to apply a large stack of books on top of the film overnight, then take each strip one by one for scanning. The curl was straightened out sufficiently to be picked up by the scanner feed, although it did come back pretty much immediately after scanning. It's enough for now though, and has meant I could digitise the roll. In future, I shan't be using the fuji film again - I prefer the colour of Kodak Ultramax, and it goes through the scanner properly. – Alex Jul 4 '18 at 9:37
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I place my curly film in a protective sleeve and then between glass sheets (I have a couple of rather thick 40 × 50 cm glass sheets that I normally use for drying prints).

The glass is heavier and more uniformly flat than the usual solution of heavy books; it does wonders to unruly film.

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Straight Method

  1. Blow the any dust from the negatives.
  2. Slightly wet them with an the proper water solution of negative wetting & cleaning concentrate (proportions are specified in the concentrate).
  3. place them within two sheet of thick (high gramage) sheets of acid free drying -capable of absorbing and diffusing the wetness- paper.
  4. Place the sheets within two sheet of thick (heavy) glass and let it stay within a climatized (household) place
  5. In most climates with with a day or so you will recover your negatives clean and straighten.

The More Practical Method

  1. Ask your lab to return the negatives as they come from the roll of fill, in a single strip, that’s without cutting them into parts.
  2. Blow the any dust from the negatives.
  3. Slightly wet them with an the proper water solution of negative wetting & cleaning concentrate (proportions are specified in concentrate).
  4. Hang each negative strip in a line at the proper heigh with an adequate hanger and attach a heavier one at their bottom. Keep them in the shadow, avoiding direct sunlight to over your negatives.
  5. In a few hours you will have your negatives straight, dry, clean, ready to be cut up and scanned.
  • This answer has problems. Placing wet film in contact with sheets of paper between sheets of glass under pressure to dry will surely bond the softened gelatine to the paper fibres guaranteeing the destruction of the film. Wet film is soft and extremely susceptible to contact damage. No detail is provided regarding the "proper water solution of negative wetting & cleaning concentrate (proportions are specified in concentrate). – Stan Jun 26 '18 at 4:33
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    Stan: I mean slightly humid from the wetting agent, but not soaking in it. The carboard is 10 mm thick, entirely bleached of long fibers. It won’t bond neither the film or barite paper photos as long they are they are just humid. Never had a problem, I have perfect high quality baryta A3 photos as flat as A4 office paper. The dilution is indicated by the manufacturer, it is usually shown on the bottle usually like 9+1, meaning each nine parts of water add one part of concentrate, i.e. making 100 ml, you need 90 ml of pure water and 10 ml of concentrate, put them together, stir gently and pour. – abetancort Jun 27 '18 at 14:49

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