How I Scan and Edit My Polaroid Pictures

Digitizing an instant photo collection

I am shooting Polaroids since 2010 and I was always scanning my pictures. Therefore almost all my Polaroids exist as a digital copy on my computer as well.

That pays off in many ways for me. One of them is that early Impossible film was, let’s call it unstable. Hence some of my oldest Impossible Project pictures changed a lot or disappeared completely.

Impossible Project Instant Photo

Impossible Project Instant Photo

The Scanning

I am using EPSON scanners with their V series. My first scanner was their  low budget V300 which is totally fine for most casual users. You can find the scanner used for about 50 Euros and under.

I now use their V700 scanner which I also use for scanning my film negatives. The film holders work for 35mm and 120mm film and their 35mm holder can fit four stripes of negatives.

Epson V700

Epson V700

I have to scan quite a lot of Polaroids and the instant film adapter that Impossible Project produced back in the day is a huge help in getting the task done.

Impossible Project Scan Adapter

Scan Adapter by “The Impossible Project”

An additional advantage by using this is, that the adapter prevents the scans from showing Newton’s Rings. Sadly, Polaroid Originals no longer make this useful tool.

I start by positioning my pictures in the lower right corner. This prevents unwanted shadows cast by the adapter.

I put the scanning device in the scanner and start the Epson scan software. I use the one that came with the scanner. There are other software that people frequently use, like Silver Fast, but in my opinion the one from Epson works just fine.

These are the settings I use:

Scanner Settings

I uncheck all the things like spot removal. I’d rather do these things later in post processing if necessary. This way I have a much better control on the output.

600dpi is enough for what I do with the pictures. I mainly share them on my social media and view them on my computer. I rarely make large prints. If I’d going to do a larger print I’d just rescan the original at a better resolution. I just find that scanning at a higher resolution needs too much space on my hard drive. Same goes for the file format.

I don’t edit a lot so I am good with the.jpgs. If you want to edit more than you might want to save them as .tiff files.

The Editing

After the scanner has done its job I import the .jpegs to Lightroom. My first move is to crop them. Scans of film often look flat so I edit them a little bit to make them look more like the original.

I have a preset where I have the following set: Blacks, Whites, Temperature

Preset Lightroom

I want blacker blacks and whiter whites and cool the temperature just a little bit. These are my default settings:

Lightroom Preset

Then I add some tags to the pictures to better find what I need in the future. I usually add the year (i.e. 2019), the film type, the camera and some other tags that seem useful to me like location.

You can and should watch this video the get a better idea of the scanning and editing process I am using:

Thanks for reading! If you have questions about scanning and editing Polaroid pictures leave them in the comments. I’d also like to read about your scan routine. Do you do things differently?