From an Old Negative to a Digital Photo

A few weeks ago I found an old negative, 2¼ x 3¼ inches, among some old papers. I could tell there were three people and a tractor in the photo. In the past I have sent negatives away to have them digitized but I wondered if I could do this one myself. I decided to give it a try.

I scanned the negative with my Flip Pal portable scanner and then transferred that digital image to my laptop.

Scanning negative with Flip Pal scanner.

I opened the image of the negative with my photo program and in the editing section I selected Negative—Invert Image (all channels).

Old 3 1/4 x 2 1/4 negative after scanning with Flip Pal.

It worked! I got a fairly good digital image from the negative I scanned. It is a little scratched up but the negative was dull and scratched to begin with.

Negative after converting to digital photo. Carl, LaVerne, and Kenny Miller, c1944.

This experiment worked with this size negative but a smaller negative may not work. I use a free photo program called IrfanView, which I downloaded from the Internet. It suits my needs and is user-friendly.

The photo was taken in the barnyard just east of the old Miller farmhouse. My grandpa Carl Miller is sitting on the John Deere tractor. Two of his sons, my uncle Vernie and my uncle Kenny are standing nearby with Spot the family dog. My dad was probably in the Army at the time the photo was taken, likely around 1944-45.

My uncle Kenny mentioned that they had a tractor with metal wheels, similar to a McCormick Deering 10-20, before they had this John Deere tractor. Before that they used horses to pull wagons and other farm machinery.

I tried the same procedure with a 35mm slide but the results were not good. It ended up looking like a very poor quality photo.



    • Pat Ancil on August 11, 2017 at 10:31 am
    • Reply

    Hi Karen,

    I enjoyed your experience with the old negative. Where did you send negatives to have them digitized? I have boxes of old negatives and not sure who to trust with them.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Patricia (Pat) Ancil

    1. I have used Legacybox ( for old home movies, 35mm slides, and negatives and have been very satisfied. They make the process very easy. Recently I saw a sign at a local town business that offered the service, so there may be someone locally for you and you would not have to send them away. Good luck! It is worth getting them digitized.

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