A negative scanner is, in a way, a bridge between the worlds of film and digital photography. Many longtime photographers are hesitant to abandon their wound film canisters and dark rooms for cold, lifeless storage cards and computers, but the benefits of going digital are numerous. Digital cameras have become fairly affordable, and they eliminate the need to purchase roll after roll of film. Images can be stored on a computer or on a CD; they can be printed out at any time; and they can be e-mailed to friends and family with the click of a mouse.
Skilled photographers, though, are still able to produce higher quality images using film cameras. Film cameras offer more control over all the variables that go into taking a photograph, and digital cameras have struggled to match that quality for a comparable price. But regardless of the type of camera, working on a computer has all but replaced working in a dark room. Thanks to the negative scanner, photographs taken on film can be easily imported into a computer, where they can be digitally manipulated and processed.
A negative scanner is piece of computer hardware that can read a film negative and reproduce it on the computer as a developed image. The negative scanner helps conserve the time and energy required to develop photographs in a dark room, and it gives the photographer more control over the way photos are processed than, say, the local supermarket. After placing the negative into the negative scanner, the photographer can use a program such as Adobe® Photoshop® to import the images. One can then use the software to crop the photo, adjust lighting and color or add any number of effects to the image. It can be done within seconds and it can always be undone, meaning fewer headaches over minor mistakes.
Like anything else, the negative scanner has been made available at many different pricing levels. There is the lower-priced, consumer-friendly type of negative scanner, which often can also process slides. These are particularly useful for people with boxes of old, deteriorating negatives that can be preserved better digitally. There is also the higher-end and much more expensive type of negative scanner, which is more commonly used for professional publications like newspapers and magazines.
A negative scanner can be especially beneficial for newspapers, many of which have hundreds and thousands of old photographs archived on negatives. Since just about all major newspapers have made the switch to digital photography and turned their dark rooms into storage rooms, negative scanners are the only way to reprint any of these older photos in future issues.