Negative Scanning and Cleaning Up

Site Purity or Not

This is site is about Smartphones ( and tablets) and how to use them creatively and effectively. But now and then I find something that is in common with many smartphone owners but really doesn’t fit into the category of “smartphone”. In this case, many smartphone owners I know have huge collections of old negatives, slides and prints of snapshots from years long past. I started to explore using my iPhone as a “scanner” on some kind of copy stand. This idea has merit and given the high resolution of the average smart phone now, it can rival a flatbed scanner with considerable more ease of use. But, I was stymied with trying to take pictures of negatives which are those brown strips of plastic with reversed images on them. Slides were a possibility given they are “normal” images other then being small and hard to handle and require to shine a light through the image unlike a 3×5 print.

Split Personality

This project has morphed into a two pronged approach and the current blurring of the site purity around it’s content. I still plan on doing an article on scanning prints using my iPhone but the negatives were a more pressing concern of mine. I never really found a good solution for this using my phone but I did find a dedicated piece of gear for about one hundred dollars that fit the bill nicely.

Jumbl Review

Here is my solution to my piles of snapshot negatives.  The Jumbl scanner which can be found at Amazon for about 100 USD. 

This scanner is NOT for fine art or other critical scans. It IS for snapshots that were never the best quality to start with but are important to you, family and so on. This is NOT a replacement high quality flat bed scans or drum scans.

In the spirit of SmartphoneGeek, I did take all the product shots with my iPhone in the back of my SR5 Forerunner at the kids soccer practice 🙂 I used an old T Shirt I had laying in the back for my “background” and parked in the shade to get some even lighting. I have a built in inverter back there for tailgate parties which allowed me to actually run the scanner for some screen shots. In the 1.5 hour soccer practice, I was able to shoot all the images I needed for this post and to process them on the iPhone.

Product Shots in the back of my truck

Here is the actual package that the scanner comes in. I can truthfully say they are overly optimistic on how good the screen looks as you work with it. What I will say is the screen is usable and thats all.

Jumbl Scanner

Here is the scanner. It is very compact with measurements of 4.5 inches by 3.5 inches by 4 inches tall. It uses a small AC to USB power brick for power. The controls are on the top and on the back is the power input, an SD card slot and a output for the TV.

Jumbl Scanner Unboxed Jumbl Scanner Top Controls

Here is the scanner set up with the 35mm tray and a negative inserted into the unit.
Jumbl Scanner with 35mm negative

Do you remember when I said earlier that the screen picture on the box was way overly optimistic? Here is the actual screen with a live scan on it. The image is why many of us hang on to these negatives. It has good memories since TWA was a favorite airline of mine to travel on.The Lookheed TriStar was not one of my favorites but after deal with the current crop of holding pens called jets, I’d gladly go back to the TriStar. Anyways, I digress down memory lane and that is not why you are reading this post.

You can see that the screen tells me I’ve altered my exposure to + 1/2 stop of light and that I’m scanning 135 film ( 35mm). There are settings for some crude color balancing and it sorta works. I have found that many of my negatives have faded towards yellow/orange and benefit from some cyan being added into the scan before I save the JPEG.

Jumbl Screen in use

Here is a sample of the menu system. You can adjust the exposure and color balance as I mentioned. You can also adjust the resolution with two choices, 14 megapixels or 22megapixels. There are limits on Super8 and 126 negatives of 6megapixels and 16megapixels respectively.

Jumbl Menus

Your scans are kept on a SD flash card which is handy for transferring to your computer. My 35mm scans average about 1.5 to 2 megs for file size and are in the JPEG format. I would love to have them in TIFF format but not with this unit. The scans take just a few seconds since they are really just taking a picture and not a “scan” in the true sense of the word. This means you can really crank through a pile a negatives in a hurry.

Overall I am pleased with the Jumbl Scanner for being able to do exactly what I wanted. It can do a decent “scan” of my old snapshots on negatives and give me a reasonably sized JPEG in just a few seconds. I’ve been able to scan several rolls of film and uncover some images that have not seen the light of day for years. I was able to easily share them with relatives since they are now digital which in turn lead to some interesting conversations. “She now drives TRUCKS??”  who knew ..   And that is the point of digitizing these old memories and getting out back into the world again. Fun times, memories and good stories will see the light of day and be seen by new generations who had no idea.

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