Category Archives: Scanning Negatives

How To Scan Polaroid Negatives

Lately I’ve really enjoyed scanning the Fujifilm FP-3000B instant film negatives from my various Polaroid Land Cameras. Depending on the subject, the gritty and dated look really adds a nice look and feel to my images. One of my favorite images is of the abandoned farmhouse in Bancroft, Idaho. You can read one of the earlier posts on the Polaroid Big Swinger used to create the photo.

Scanning the film (positive) image is really simple. With a good quality flatbed scanner, and some minor contrast adjustments in Adobe Photoshop, the image looks good. Peeling away the film from the negative moments after the shot is taken is really where the creative experience begins. After removing the film from the negative, what remains is the emulsion and paper. A unique look can be achieved by wiping away the emulsion with a finger, fingernail, paper towel or a tissue. Applying more pressure to the emulsion on the edges of the negative will remove portions of the photo. Leaving blobs of emulsion in some spots will dry and create hard crusty edges. After it’s decided how much or little of the emulsion and paper to leave on the negative, it’s important to let the negative sit and dry in a dust-free environment. Or if the super gritty look is desired, let the negative collect some dust and debris. For the farmhouse image, I let the negative sit in the trunk of the car until I arrived home. Most of the image had dried, some of the paper portions remained stuck to the negative, and it likely collected some dust from the ride home. I let the negative sit for 24 hours, ensuring it was dry, and then scanned it. In Adobe Photoshop, I rotated the image horizontally, inverted the image, and then adjusted levels and contrast. After the photo looked the way I wanted, I cropped and sharpened. Back in 2011, Michael Raso, from the Film Photography Project created this YouTube video about scanning negatives. There really is no wrong or right way to do this. No two negatives will ever look the same.

Click on the images below. First, look at the scanned film. Then compare it to the scanned negative. It’s almost an entirely different photo. No Photoshop crazy-gimmicky-plug-in required to create the intense analog look.  


Gallery of Scanned Fujifilm FP-3000B Negatives

Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 Land Camera

After buying a box of old cameras at an auction for $13, I found that I had two original Polaroid Swinger Model 20 cameras. Doing some research and learning about them, it peaked my interest in these boxy-rigid-plastic-sixties-throwback cameras. I found someone local selling a Big Swinger Model 3000 and took the bait. Why? The original Swinger takes Type 20 roll film that hasn’t been produced since 1970. However, the Big Swinger Model 3000 takes 100-type pack film. The same Fujifilm as the other Land Cameras in my collection. The Big Swinger has a plastic lens, plastic body, creates black and white prints, so I was already hooked on this camera before the first shot.

Made by Polaroid from 1968 to 1970, the Big Swinger Model 3000 is the younger and slightly bigger sibling to the original Swinger Model 20. The Big Swinger Model 3000 has a 114mm single –element fixed-focus plastic lens. It takes 2 AA batteries, uses AG-1 flash bulbs, and only accepts 300 ASA (100-Serial Type) black and white film. The original price was $24.95, and you can still find many of them on eBay or in thrift stores for $5 to $30 depending on condition. The Big Swinger has some unique features like many of the similar models produced at the time like the Zip and Square Shooter. Many of the features seem to be Polaroid’s attempt to cut costs and make a more affordable instant camera. For example, instead of using metal rollers to apply the reagent (developing elements) to the film, the Big Swinger uses metal spreading bars to evenly spread the reagent. To take a photo, point the camera at the subject and then squeeze the red knob (that surrounds the white shutter release) and twist to set the exposure lighter or darker. In the bottom of the viewfinder is a small red window. In that window is a red checkerboard pattern. While slowly twisting, eventually the word “YES” appears clearly. This means that the correct exposure has been achieved. While twisting the knob to adjust the exposure, the camera opens or closes the aperture blades behind the lens, letting in more or less light to the film. The aperture on this model works like a pair of scissors opening and closing. It’s that simple, and it works. This must have been another way for Polaroid to cut costs. If a flash bulb is used in the camera, the exposure is set the same, however the twist dial is set for the distance from the camera to the subject. Polaroid has attempted to simplify this. For the most part, the output from the flash bulb is generally consistent, but the light reflecting back into the camera is going to change based on a number of things. The distance being the greatest challenge. For example, a close subject with flash might reflect much more light back, so a bigger aperture (smaller opening) is used. If the subject is further away, much more reflected light is needed to come back to the camera, so a smaller aperture (larger opening) is used.

My wife thinks this camera is really dumb looking, and she has a point, it’s kind of goofy. After a few test shots, it’s easy to get the hang of the exposure control. I even popped a few flash bulbs in it to test. Seeing the wisp of smoke and the smell of the flash brought back a few childhood memories. Along with testing out a vintage camera, I decided to scan both the negatives and the photos. Scanning the negative black and white Fujifilm FP-3000b gives a very dramatic and aged look to the photos. I’m really happy with the results.

Lost Art Tattoo on 25th Street, Ogden, UT
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b

Old Ovid Meetinghouse in Ovid, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b

Abandoned Farmhouse in Bancroft, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b