Greetings from COVID-19 quarantine in Hollywood California! Hope everyone is holding up well, doing their part by staying at home, washing their hands and staying safe.
With so much extra time on our hands, this would be the perfect time for instant photographers, worldwide, to catch up on digitizing and organizing their instant film collections.
I scan all of my Instax and Polaroid film with an Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner.
(which you can buy from B&H photo online for $199.99! Not bad.)
There are more elaborate set ups, like the Epson Perfection V850 Pro and the Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner; but for reflective surface instant film scans, the best scanner, in my opinion, is the V550 model.
Tips To Scanning
Before we get into scanning, a couple of tips I should mention before we start. These tips will help you get the absolute best results when scanning and save you valuable scanning time.
1. Make sure your scanner bed is clean by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Dust on your images is a sloppy and unprofessional look. Taking the extra time to clean the scanner bed, and your images themselves will lead to much higher-quality digital images.
2. Line up your Instax or polaroids to straight margins and horizon lines.
3. If you are having trouble losing detail in your borders, you can use a piece of contrasting color paper to easily find your edges. I use a white foam board insert that is supplied with the V550.
Make sure the scanner bed is clean. Set the stage for a professional, high-quality scan by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth.
Align your instant film image. Get your Polaroid or Instax as straight as can be on the scanner bed, so you don’t have to rotate it in post process.
Assuming the Epson Software is already pulled up and ready to go, let's switch over to the computer and set up the scanning specifications for a high resolution scan.
Set scanning specifications.
- Set mode to Professional Mode. This allows for more manual control of your scanning.
- Document Type: Reflective for all instant film scanning.
- Image Type: 24-bit Color for color depth.
- Resolution: 2400 dpi. For a high resolution scan, that I can later size to whatever I may need: print, merch, magazine submission, etc, I originally set my dpi to 2400. This allows me to scan as much detail and then size down to 300 dpi in Photoshop without losing detail or pixels.
* I leave everything else alone and scan in without retouching images. It would be up to you, and your particular style, wether you would want to edit your digitized image within this software program. If you edit your digital instant images, I would use Photoshop.
We are ready to Preview our scan!
A new window will come up with a preview of your scan. If you are happy with how your preview looks, you are ready to hit Scan. This is the step where you would notice if your scan was crooked, or if you had lint/hair on your Polaroid. So don't forget to check carefully.
We are ready to scan. Hit the Scan button and prepare to set file save settings.
- Set the location of where you would like to save your digitized file after scanning.
- Image file type. When you are setting your file type, consider what you will be using your digitized image for. Are you using it only to share on social media? Then you would need a jpg file. Are you using it to print or display on merch? Then you would need a Tiff.
The highest quality file type is a tif file. At 2400 that is a HUGE file and would scale down to 300 dpi in photoshop before storing on your hard drive or computer.
- Hit Okay!
The following window will appear:
These scans are very large files at 2400 dpi, so you should expect longer than usual scan times. It will only take a few minutes, but these are highly detailed scans!
- Hit Continue
Your image is scanning and you are digitizing your instant film images in high resolution!
Once your image is done scanning, you can find it in the folder you designated in step five.
I hope this tutorial was helpful and it inspires you to share more of your instant film images with all of us!
Here is a gallery of recent work I've created during the Covid-19 quarantine and scanned exactly how I share above. This work includes: Instax Wide 300, Instax Square, a mixed media Polaroid Collage, mixed media Polaroid, instax mini collage, mixed media painting collage, and a collage I assembled with thread before scanning individually. Proving this technique can be used in any instant film scanning situation.
Film Collage Artist www.erindelsigne.com