To Scan or Not To Scan...

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had some people asking me what scanner I use to scan my negatives.  My answer?  I don't use a scanner.  I send my film to a lab in Carlsbad, CA called North Coast Photographic.  Now, to some people this doesn't make any sense because it seems like such a waste of money.  To me, it makes all the sense in the's why.

I'm a noob. 

I strongly believe that if you are new to the world of film photography, like me, you should think long and hard about sending your film to a lab.  When I first picked up my Hasselblad and a roll of 120 film, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I knew that certain films were more forgiving than others, and with a good light meter I had a shot at getting the right exposure.  That's pretty much it.  Sending film to a lab means that I know if something's messed up, it's probably something i did wrong on my end.  A good lab will show me what my film should look like when developed and scanned well.  I don't want to have to think of anything other than learning how to use my cameras and film better at this point.

I want this to last. 

My biggest fear when I started shooting was that I would get so caught up in all the time consuming technical stuff like developing film or scanning, that eventually I'd just switch to digital or even worse...give photography up all together.  I think as time goes on I'll introduce a little developing and maybe some scanning, but I want to make sure that comes out of growth and an interest to do more.

It's not easy. 

Scanning your own film is not super easy or fast.  Some people make scanning look really easy, and then I find others saying it takes a lot of trial and error to get exactly what you want.  From what I've seen out there, scanning film can consume a lot of your time.  I don't have a ton of extra time to devote to scanning...right now, I'd rather spend that time shooting film and making more Analog stories.

That said...

What it all comes down to is a few questions.  Do you want to scan your film?  Do you have the money to send your film to a lab?  Do you have the time to scan your film?  That's really all that matters.  If scanning is something you want to get in to, then just go for it.  Maybe start small and just scan black and white film so that you don't have to worry about color reproduction.  Then go from there.  I don't want to discourage anyone, just make sure you don't get into this amazing art form of film photography only to have it take to much of your time and effort and ultimately push you away from such a good thing.  Take it slow!

Below are some videos from Matt Day and Ted Forbes I've found interesting and helpful if you're looking to start scanning.  Another place to go for more info would be this scanner group on Flickr: