If you have old color movie film (other than Kodachrome or Kodachrome-type film), you can choose to have us process it the safest way possible i.e. into a B&W negative – or into color. About 15 to 20 percent of long-expired films processed into color will actually have decent color quality. Most of the others (processed into color) will turn out as recognizable, though will likely have little color fidelity remaining. Some will be turn out blank in color, when we could have salvaged an image if we’d processed into B&W. If salvaging an image from your old color movie films is the most important factor and you want to play it safe, then choose the B&W negative option. If color is important to you and you’re ok with taking some risks, choose the color option.
Film stored in a cool place is much more likely to come out well in color than film stored in a hot or warm place. If you know your film was stored in a hot attic, garage or storage facility, then definitely opt for B&W. If the film was stored in a cool basement then you’re fairly safe to opt for color, though the color may still be poor. Based on our experience, we cannot recommend color processing for these films: Agfachrome CK17, Agfachrome-Agfagevaert CK17, Agfacolor CK17, Ektachrome ME4, Ektachrome ES8. If you’re unsure of what type of film you have, email us a photo and we can advise you.
Q: What can I expect from the images I can download directly from my gallery within the “step 1” price?
Within the gallery, the images are quite large but these large images have a watermark on them. If you hit the download button in the gallery, a small version of the image will be downloaded onto your computer without the watermark. These are about the size of the images in our “Quality Samples” here. If you have important images, we do recommend you add them to the cart to get the much higher resolution version of the picture. Our idea is that this works as a sort of insurance policy for people that either don’t know what is on their film or the condition of the film. Clients with pictures that are not interesting for whatever reason will pay less than clients with pictures that are important enough to them to place orders within the gallery.
These Kodacolor negatives were processed in the 1970s by the Kodak Company. We believe because Kodak was using a proper stabilizer, the negatives have stood up quite well over time. They are a nice warm orange color in the highlights and a deep tawny brown color in the dark areas of the film.
Negatives in this condition will scan much better and are less likely to need comprehensive Photoshop editing than the pictures on the right.
This is the exact same brand of film from the same client and of the same time period as the film pictured above. We believe that the less reputable photo finishers were simply skipping the stabilizer step at the end of the process, leaving the negatives to fade much more quickly over time.
Negatives that have faded to this purple color will benefit greatly from color correction in Photoshop.
In this case it is a Kodacolor-X roll film from the late 1960s. What you see in the left image is the film processed into a B&W negative – the safest way to process most outdated color film (one exception is Kodachrome which is only available to be processed into B&W). We determined that the B&W version of the negative was in pretty good condition. A “security” scan was made of all of the pictures on the roll. Then we ran the film through a further process known as film acceleration, to bring the negative into color, as you see in the right image. Not only did we get color, but by doing this additional process, we end up with a higher contrast version than if we had gone straight to color (without the initial B&W processing step).
In the above case, the B&W version of the picture is clearer, more like a new B&W film. The color version has appealing aspects to it for some people. We let you decide whether trying to get color results is important to you.
On our order form you have the following options for most of your color photogrpahic film:
- Process as B&W negative, the safest and most economical option.
- Process as B&W negative, then accelerate into color when the quality of the B&W version warrants it (at our technician’s discretion). Add 10.00 per film to usual processing charge.
- Process as B&W negative, then accelerate into color regardless of the quality of the B&W negative. Add 10.00 per film even if the color version comes out blank.
If you are on a budget then option one is a good choice. If color is important to you then option two is a good choice and we will only “accelerate” into color if we think there’s a decent chance of getting fair color image. Option three is for those that aren’t concerned about the price and want to make sure they have seen all possible options, no holds barred.
Please Note: Kodachrome or Kodachrome-type films and black & white films can’t be accelerated.
A master image sequence is essentially each and every frame of your movie film, saved as a high resolution jpeg or tiff image file – one folder per film. In the movie industry it is also called a “numbered image sequence” and it’s a common editing format in that industry. If you have a powerful enough computer and some professional video editing software, you can edit from these.
Ultimately, for most people it’s a sort insurance policy against obsolescence because both Tiff and Jpegs are comparatively speaking, very old formats and still remain the most common image files for (respectively) professional and consumer use. Many different video codecs, file types and/or containers may come and go but these will likely be around into the future.
The image sequences is also your scan exactly as it comes off the scanner with no edits or adjustment at all. This can be valuable for a future editor.
Last, it’s kind of cool having a folder with every single picture on a film as an image file. It’s easy to go into that folder and find some interesting still images of your family or event. Not that they’ll be perfect, because the frame is so tiny, but they can really be worthwhile.
Please Note: We will require a hard drive to put your master image sequence on because the files are very large. We will advise you on what size of drive you will need to provide. Please make sure you send us a large enough drive! Alternately, we can supply an appropriate new drive for you. You do have the option of not taking the master image sequence version of your film but in good conscience, we can’t advise it.
Unlike most other scanning services, we don’t offer a myriad of confusing scan resolutions at different prices. We simply give you a large enough scan from whatever format of film you give us to make a high quality large blow up print of your images. This providing the original integrity of your image lends itself to this. We provide large enough scans for virtually all practical purposes. For those that would like to know what resolution we scan at please see the chart below.
These are the approximate scan resolutions for the most common film sizes (not budget 35 mm and APS scans):
|110 film||7200 dpi|
|Advanced Photo System (APS)||3600 dpi|
|126 film||3600 dpi|
|35 mm film||4000 dpi|
|127 film||2600 dpi|
|2 1/4 film||1800 dpi|
|4×5 film||1500 dpi|
Scan resolution for all film formats listed in our prices will allow for at very least a 20 inch blow up (3600 pixels) on the short dimension of the frame. A square frame can be enlarged to 20 x 20 print with no digital artifacting and a rectangular 3:2 aspect ratio picture (35mm) to a 20 by 30 print. This is enough resolution for virtually all practical purposes. Print scans are done at 600 dpi allowing for more than 2 times the enlargement size of the original print, although – scans from prints are not optimal for blow ups. When possible provide the negative the print was made from as a higher quality scan is possible from the negative.
Postal Prices for European Customers, excluding 21% VAT
Netherlands €15,00 (registered letter)
Europe* €24,80 (Fedex)
*all European countries except Norway, Switzerland, UK
Norway, Switzerland, UK €35,00
All credit card transactions originate from our lab, which is located in Saskatchewan, Canada. Some financial institutions in the USA will charge an “international transaction” service fee, even though we bill in US funds and foreign exchange rates are not involved. These service fees are not something we charge or have any control over; they are completely at the discretion of your financial institution. If you are unsure of your card issuer’s policy on transactions originating in Canada, or whether transactions outside of the USA are even allowed on your card, please confirm with your financial institution.
As a rule of thumb…
- Color film that is less than 6 or 7 years past its best before date (longer with Kodak branded color print film) and has been stored in excessive heat: you should be able to drop off any local photo finishers with a good reputation and get at least some OK prints.
- Color film 5 to 10 years beyond the “process before” date that has not been stored in excessive heat: if it is important to you, then send it to us. If you are simply curious what is on the film, normal processing will likely give you fully recognizable though possibly poor quality images.
- B&W film in cassettes (126/35mm) approximately 20 years beyond its “process before” date would best be sent to us or someone with an understanding of how to process a film to its highest possible contrast.
- B&W roll film (120/620) approximately 30 years beyond its “process before” date would best be sent to us or someone with an understanding of how to process a film to its highest possible contrast.
- Color film that has been in excessive heat over an extended period (i.e. a film left in a car parked outside for an entire summer season): if it is important to you, then send it to us. If you are simply curious what is on the film, normal processing will likely give you recognizable though poor quality images.
At Film Rescue we process any and all old, expired, deleted and antiquated films. It’s what we do.
If you approach us with a film that is a current process, we’ll first determine whether you need us or not. Most films that are only expired by 5 or 6 years or so will come out okay if processed by a reputable local provider. If your film is older than this, we’ll want to have a conversation on exactly what you have, how important it is to you and how you think it was stored. With this information, we can normally give some useful guidance on how you might want to proceed. We honestly don’t want to be selling our premium service to people that don’t need us.
Our lab notes, which give us guidance on the best way to process a given film, has a database with an excess of 500 unique film types. The following is a list of the most common films that we develop on a regular basis. All processing is done in-house.
Following the film type is a percentage for this type of film that comes out as recognizable and the quality trend for that film. This assumes the film was exposed properly and not stored in adverse conditions. Keep in mind, the quality trend is only a trend – some will be better and some worse.
- Very Poor — You can for the most part make out what is on the film but identifying people can be a challenge.
- Poor — You can easily identify people and places but the images are very harsh and grainy.
- Fair — Pictures are clear and easy to look at but not perfect. They may be lower contrast and have problems with blemishes and edge fogging.
- Good — The pictures aren’t perfect but they are completely acceptable. They may appear grainier than a normal new film.
- Very Good — Little difference between it and the quality of the pictures from a brand new film.
|Film Type||Percentage Recognizable||Quality Trend|
|Kodachrome (Motion and Still)||55%||Very Poor|
|Kodachrome II (Motion and Still)||80%||Poor|
|Kodachrome 40 (Motion and Still)||99%||Fair|
|Verichrome Pan||98%||Very Good|
|Moviechrome – all brands including Anso, Agfa, GAF, Boot’s||90%||Poor|
|Triple Print (Black and White Label)||95%||Poor|
|Triple Print (Blue and White Label)||58%||Fair|
|Triple Print (Red and White Label)||92%||Poor|
|Triple Print (Green and White Label)||80%||Poor|
|Triple Print (Pink/Magenta and White Label)||95%||Fair|
|Triple Print (Roman Numeral “VI” or “V”)||99%||Good|
|Triple Print (Swiss Cross in Circle or Flower Shapes)||90%||Poor|
|GAF Color Negative and Color Slide in cassettes 126 & 35mm||38%||Very Poor|
|Fotomat Color Print||95%||Fair|
|Fujichrome R100||60%||Very Poor|
|Fujichrome RT25, RT50 & RT200||70%||Poor|
|Famous Brand (Green Label)||90%||Poor|
|All Disc Film (Highly variable between brands and generations — check with us for more exact details)||90%||Fair|
|Any and all out dated film that may require special handling||N / A||N / A|
We keep very careful records on how a specific film is responding in a specific process. None of our processes are the same as what was originally intended for the film. All have been modified and tailored to our past experience with each film type, brand and format. The original process is not at all appropriate for salvaging images from long expired film.
In order to salvage the best possible image from a film, many of these processes result in a black & white negative image, even though it may be a color film. In our opinion, it’s better to get a higher quality image in black & white than a lower one in color, or to get something recognizable in black & white versus nothing at all in color.
Cycle turnaround time may be as short as 8 weeks and as long 12 weeks during a particularly busy cycle.
Unlike a conventional processing lab that may have one or two large-volume processes under their roof, we have 12 small-volume processes. This creates the need to complete one process before we move onto another, mixing chemical and preparing for each before we move to the next. It is not until all the film is developed that scanning and transferring begins. Once that step is complete, the digital work is done and then the uploading begins. Please do not wait until near the beginning of a cycle to send us your film. This not only slows down the lengthy administration process that at the beginning of each cycle (thus, ultimately slowing down our turn-around time) but you also risk missing the cycle cutoff altogether.
Doing this well and properly and at a reasonable price takes time. We encourage you to have a look at and consider others offering a similar service.
Rushes and unique set ups are not encouraged but are available. Unlike a conventional photo lab that deals with larger volumes of a single film format of only one process type, Film Rescue is processing smaller volumes of film, multiple formats and has 12 unique processes. This creates the need to process in batches — first completing the processing of all film before moving onto scanning and transferring. To break from this cycle is not always possible. Please contact us if you wish to arrange for rush processing.
- Still film processing – 200.00 plus all other charges
- Motion picture film processing – 600.00 plus all other charges
- All other services – We do our best to accommodate when possible with no extra charges – please enquire.
There are a small handful of other labs out there that do many of the same services as we do. We encourage our customers to shop around and choose who they feel best provides for their needs. Please refer to the Related Links page.
We are happy to return film spools and cassettes that are identical in their function. For instance…if you send us a 127 spool we will send you a 127 spool back. We will try to get your original film spools and/or cassettes back to you but this is not guaranteed. We have found it exceedingly difficult to have a working system of keeping track of peoples film packaging while dealing with hundreds of rolls of film in the dark. A very effective system is in place for keeping track of who’s film belongs to who but within the system there is no practical way to also include the film packaging. Most often we will get you your precise packaging back but this is not guaranteed. The film spools, cassettes and boxes are of little or no monitory value.
HD Resolution: If you order the high resolution download from your gallery, the image will be approximately 1920 pixels on the long dimension of the frame. Therefor a square picture such as from a 126 camera or many medium format cameras that take square pictures would be 1920 x 1920 pixels, whereas a common 35mm film will have a resolution of 1280 x 1920 pixels. This is enough resolution to fill a standard HD monitor and also enough resolution for most practical purposes. They will have more compression applied to them than our full resolution option but not to the point any quality difference would be obvious other than on very close inspection. Having this size of film offered through our gallery system allows us to also offer instant downloads of these because they are more manageable within our software. Being smaller an more compressed, they will also be easier for clients to share online.
Full Resolution: If you order the highest resolution download from your gallery, the image will be approximately 3400 pixels on the short dimension of the frame. Therefor a square picture such as from a 126 camera or many medium format cameras that take square pictures would be 3400 x 3400 pixels whereas a common 35mm film will have a resolution of 3400 x 5100 pixels. Given how grainy these very old films being processed now are, that’s plenty of resolution to capture all of the nuance in the film emulsion.
These emulate the look of the past with wide borders and glossy paper. If your images are B&W, the prints have a beautiful, even grayscale uncommon with most modern printing services.
Our B&W prints are done on special printers (Epson K3) designed to give high quality B&W images. Most photo finishers are printing onto light sensitive color paper. When a B&W white image is printed onto light sensitive color paper, there is a color difference between the dark parts of your picture and the light. Normally the shadows being green and the highlight magenta. Our printers eliminate this problem with consistent tone across the gray scale.
After scanning, images are carefully adjusted for brightness and contrast. There is also a good degree of spotting done to take out the worst of the dust and scuffing that is extremely common on these old films. This due not only to the fact a lot of dust will have sunk into the gelatin emulsion and is impossible to remove but also these are almost always very low contrast negatives. When you bring a low contrast negative back up to normal contrast, it make every imperfection in the film far more obvious. These are the images that you will see in your gallery and that are available for free downloading as a small sized image or to purchase as a large sized image.
Some images will benefit a good deal from our “conservation grade re-scan” but not most. If your picture is much lighter or darker on the edges of the frame than in the center or if the picture has a lot of pitting or dust settled into the emulsion, order the image with hands on retouching may be worth while. You can contact us specifically regarding your order if you have questions.
No. We don’t offer this because too often in the past we had films returned to us that the client was unable to scan due to the condition of the film, whereas we were able to scan the film because we are experienced in dealing with scanning very dense and/or faded negatives. This isn’t to say that your negatives won’t be home-scannable but we don’t know people’s capabilities or hardware. Because we have a “no image no charge” guarantee we need to be able be fully in control of the outcome to honor that. We have even had labs that have returned negatives for us to scan because they couldn’t. We have never had the reverse…a negative we thought was blank yet someone else was able to pull images from it.
Here are some reasons why the scanning is best left to us….
- Color films that are accelerated into color after first processing them safely to B&W: the B&W version must be scanned for security before doing that step. Once we accelerate to color the B&W version is gone forever from the film. We absolutely need to scan these.
- Some negatives turn out as dense as welding glass and conventional scanners can’t see through them.
- Some negatives have such an extremely faint image on them that they can’t be seen with the preview scan on a conventional scanner, making them very difficult to locate your marquee correctly during preview. Auto frame selection will not work on these negatives. Do not assume if you don’t see images upon a quick inspection that there is nothing there.
- Some films such as GAF cassettes and Triple Print blue label films are processed into an unstable reflective negative that begins fading after processing. Not only do they need to be scanned right away, they are scanned wet because the contrast on the film is much higher when wet and they can’t be scanned on a normal scanner because light will not pass through them.
When Kodachrome was first introduced it had a patent. When the patent ran out, 3M copied the film quite successfully and it was released under their own name as well as several department store brands such as Sears, K-Mart (Focal) and others. Kodachrome, unlike most other films, didn’t have the color (dye coupler) built into it but was instead it was added during the process. These dye couplers are no longer available making this film impossible to properly process into color. If your film has a process designation with a “K” as it’s prefix, such as K-12 or K-14 then your film is a Kodachrome type film. Kodachrome is of course also a Kodachrome type film even if the processing designation isn’t listed.
When we are deciding whether to scan or not scan a client’s film, we are doing a visual inspection of the processed negative. It’s often difficult to tell what the final quality will be without scanning and enhancing the negative. Therefore, we’ll continue with scanning and enhancing any film that we see think we can see something on. We don’t want to be in the position of trying to make a subjective determination as to what may or may not be important to a client. One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
A recognizable image is any one of the following…
- If there is a person in the picture, you can tell it’s a person…not necessarily who that person is
- If you can identify the subject or setting/location of a picture
- If you can identify objects in a picture
An image that is out of focus, double-exposed or low quality can still be recognizable.
Once we scanned and Photoshopped all of your pictures we create a gallery on our website for your images. We then send you a link via email to your gallery where you can see your pictures large with a watermark and download small images without a water mark. From there, you can pick and choose the images that you want high resolution versions of which once paid for are available to you immediately. You may also order various sized prints from the gallery. There is no obligation to place an order and your online gallery will remain active for one full year. It is a fairly standard on-line shopping cart which will prompt you for your shipping and payment details upon check out. Payment is made via the secure platforms “Stripe” or “Paypal”.
After scanning, images are adjusted by human eye for brightness, color (when applicable), sharpness and contrast. This work is done using the world’s standard professional photo editor Photoshop CC. The difference between this approach and the approach used by a conventional photo finisher is night and day. Most commercial high volume scanners allow only for a very simple brightness and a color adjustments. Using Photoshop CC is integral to doing this work properly.
These films were manufactured pre-1983 and are a minimum of 35 years beyond the process before date on the original packaging. The availability of one of the chemical components required to process these films properly into color is dwindling (worldwide).
If you are confident that your film has been stored consistently in cool temperatures and/or color is extremely important to you, specify that you would like color processing on our order form. If you know that your film was not stored properly or if you are unsure of the storage conditions, the black & white negative process we offer is the safer approach to salvaging something from your film (especially for non-Kodak brand films requiring EM-25 process). Transfer from a negative to positive (black and white) will allow you to view it from video.
You can tell if you have EM-25 process Kodak Ektachrome film by looking at where Ektachrome is written on the film cassette label. If there’s a blue rectangle background behind the word Ektachrome, you have EM-25 process. (EM-26 process Kodak Ektachrome has EM-26 written on the label and the word Ektachrome will be on either a white or yellow background).
Please keep in mind that your film may be decades beyond its process before date and what we are doing here is a salvage job. We do our best to get good quality images from these very old films but the results are highly variable. The quality we get range from good to just barely discernable.
- Kodachrome ~1936 to 1992~ — Can only be processed into a B&W negative which is then transferred to a B&W positive to digital video. There is no color processing option for this film anywhere on earth.
- Ektachrome 160 process EM-26 ~1983 to 1997~ – On the order for you can choose B&W negative or color positive processing. The price is the same either way but B&W is the safer approach.
- Ektachrome 160 process EM-25 ~1972 to 1983~ – On the order for you can choose B&W negative or color positive processing. The price is the same either way but B&W is the safer approach.
- All other movie film – By default these are processed into a B&W negative which is then transferred to B&W positive on digital video. Some film, such as Agfachrome Super 8, can be developed into color, but there may be different versions of the film, with different typical outcomes; please email us a picture of the film label and we can advise you.
Typical chance of recognizable image on properly exposed and stored film:
|30% trend: very poor||50% trend: very poor to poor||60% trend: poor to fair||70% trend: poor to fair||near 100% trend: fair to good|
- Our 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm transfers are 1536p resolution. 42 percent more resolution than standard HD which is 1080p. That calculates to a 5200 dpi scan on 16mm film and almost 12,000 dpi on an 8mm frame. In each case more than enough resolution to capture all of the useful detail in your film.
- When clients supply small reels, they are not spliced onto larger reels (which is common with most transfer providers). Each reel becomes its own chapter title or digital file. The client is encouraged to number the reels in the order they wish their film to be transferred. Chapter titles or file names up to 18 characters can be supplied with each reel as well.
- With all options, film is cleaned before transfer. Cleaning will remove the worst of the dirt but usually some will still remain.
- Minor damage to film is repaired without additional charge. If damage is more severe the client will be contacted and quoted as to the cost of the repair before the transfer proceeds.
- Scene by scene color correction, grain reduction, wet gate and extra cleaning are all available as options at an additional fee.
Below are two sample frame grabs from our transfer. Keep in mind these are coming from tiny pieces of film.
It can be argued that even at 480 lines of vertical lines of resolution is plenty on a tiny 8mm frame but ultimately, there are clarity differences. On the other hand some say that the lower resolution film transfer hides some of the grain of the film. What we find is that up to a point, having more resolution and watching on a higher resolution screen gets you closer to the experience of how the film looks projected on a vintage film projector and is truer to the original. In the end though…more resolution doesn’t hurt and you can always down convert to lower resolution if desired. That doesn’t work properly the other way around.
Because we only transfer to DVD when requested, and only as a secondary format along with an editable computer file, the issue of organizing your films before you send them to us is sort of moot. Once you have your film scan back, you can organize your film in what ever order you like on your computer. Each film reel you send us will be it’s own computer file which you can name and edit how you like. Your film will be returned on the original reels, with any original containers.
With MOVIE FILM, when we capture it on our scanners, a very large high quality computer video file is created. To create a DVD that will play in a home DVD player, we must compress them to a fraction of their size because the amount of data a DVD can store is very limited.
With VIDEO TAPE, the bit rate we capture at is much higher than what we are able to do to a DVD with a two hour play time. While this isn’t quite a critical as it is with movie film, it’s still a real quality issue.
To add to the issues of lower quality when converting movie films and video tapes to DVD, DVD was designed by the movie industry to be hard to copy. While not impossible, doing the DVD “rip” that is required to make the copy, further degrades the image.
The way people approach home video has evolved and more and more of our clientele now request editable computer files. They are much better than a DVD for:
- Being a high quality master
- Home computer editing
- Copying and creating multiple DVDs
- File conversions for iPod, home entertainment networks and various devices
- Remaining current with whatever the latest media is
- For simply looking better
Even if you don’t understand the technology, it is definitely worthwhile keeping a high quality digital master for family members that do or that will. DVD is slowly becoming what VHS was in the 90s – robust computer files will remain relevant and are expandable into the future.
Regardless of the size of your order, if you select MOV, MP4, DNX or master image sequence, a flash drive or portable hard drive is required. We can supply a brand new drive for you (price varies) but you will likely find better pricing for the drive at a local source.
As a rule of thumb, allow 6 gigs of drive space per 50 feet of film. In most cases this will be overkill but it also means we won’t need to be calling to make other arrangements — and causing delays with your order — should a too-small of drive be provided for the requested file type and compression.
Please note: Any used drive provided to us must be reformatted and all previous data on the drive will be eliminated.
Q: I like to shoot expired and/or new esoteric films…will you do my processing?
If you keep in mind that our focus is almost exclusively on doing the safest possible process for lost and found films that might have important images on them and you’re willing to work entirely within our system then yes, but….There’s a good chance there are better options for you out there – We might be able to recommend one. Don’t mistake “safest possible processes” for “best possible processes”. Sometimes an expired film may turn out better or have a more interesting artistic look when processed straight to color but that isn’t a safe process to do with expired film so we won’t do it. We also create client image galleries with the option to order high resolution versions and/or prints on a pick and choose basis. Many people shooting expired film now just want to get the negatives back for home scanning. We don’t offer that.
Q: I have new film…will you process it for me?
Our focus is processing lost and found film properly and none of the processes we use are the same as the processes that are appropriate for new film. If you’re willing to deal with our turnaround times, approach to this work and our prices, then we will process your new film. Some of our processes might create an interesting effect with new film.