How to Scan 110 Negatives and Preserve Your Sanity
Ever since we started scanning the demand to scan 35mm negatives has dominated what we do, but every so often we get what might be called “odd” sizes. Within the oddballs the most difficult are those circular / disc negatives, but a close second are 110 negatives.
If you’re not familiar with the 110 format this is a very narrow strip of plastic sold inside a small cassette. To process the film you had to break open the cassette, when you got your prints back alongside the paper you were given a number of strips (typically four frames long) with each frame being about the size of the nail on your little finger. The main supplier of 110, along with a variety of other “odd” film formats, was Kodak.
To be fair the 110 format was very ease to use and the cameras were small, easy to slip into a pocket or bag, simple to use.
How can you scan 110 negatives?
First we tried to scan them in our Nikon scanners. I’m not going to say its impossible to get a scan of a 110 from a Nikon scanner but it’s very fiddly, has to be done on a frame-by-frame basis. So the next stop is to use one of our Epson scanners.
Looking at Epson’s advice for scanning 110 they suggest simply placing the film on the scanner bed and scanning like that. Not a great idea, sure you can get many, many originals on the scanner at one time, but there are so many problems.
The film has to be placed “curve up” so you have limited contact with the glass, meaning the originals can slip. That’s both when you do the pre-scan and during the scanning cycle as the machine does vibrate when in action. It’s also difficult to accurately draw a box around each frame to mark where you want the scan to be made. We use Silverfast which has a feature allowing boxes to be rotated to suit a 110 strip which isn’t quite square to the side of the scanner. This is a fiddly, time consuming process but it can be done. It teaches you patience.
Next step was to look at the various film holders that are supplied with the scanner, 35mm film strip, 35mm slides, medium and large format. There are ways of using these. The mount for the two large format negatives / slides is a possibility. You can straddle 110 across these but it isn’t as easy as I’d like. We’ve needed to trim each strip to get a decent grip, again the strips don’t always hold at right angles, and closing the holder with a few 110 strips inside is annoying of they move or drop out. Possible but not ideal.
Then I noticed a couple of recesses at the bottom of the 35mm negative film holder. With a bit of practice you can use these to grip a 110 strip, and indeed we’ve been able to get reasonable scans in this way. The biggest drawback is that you have to move each strip to get a full set of scans from a strip of four images. However the originals are held firm and at right angles to the mount, so creating the scan masks you need in you preferred scan software is much easier than either laying the images on the glass or using the large format holder.
This is how you scan 110 negatives painlessly.
Obviously you need a dedicated 110 film holder. Yes, it’s that obvious and simple. Thanks to Negative Solutions of America and eBay we now have a holder for 110 negatives. After a weeks solid 110 scanning we’re happy to sing its praises.
It’s made of two pieces of plastic which join together. There’s a slot that holds two strips of 110 material. You have the option of glueing the two parts together (leaving a slit at each end to slide the film in and out) or just to leave the two as they arrive from Uncle Sam. We’ve left them unjoined and find the device works fine this way.
This holder works in conjunction with the holder for medium format strips, you place this unit in one of the otherwise empty “bays” on the Epson film holder, which ensures the target appears in virtually the same place with each scanning session. In this way you cut down the amount of fiddling in your scan software as with a bit of practice you can place two 110 strips in much the same place each time.
Using Silverfast it’s much easier to manage multiple scan masks, adjust exposure, cropping etc. As you scan each film strip in a predictable location and in a single pass our workflow is far better. Below you’ll see a screen capture of what we see in Silverfast when we set up each batch of scans.
So, that’s how we’ve been scanning 110 negatives this week. If you want to scan these pesky little strips yourself, Negative Solutions could be positive for you.
We’ve been asked about scanning 110 slides. Well, yes they do exist and although we come across them only rarely they can be scanned. Actually it’s easier than scanning 110 negatives as the source material was touted within the same sized mounts as 35mm slides. We scan them as we would normal 35mm material except the scanners have to be set up to crop down to the much smaller opening inside which the 110 film is mounted.