Film Scanning: Which Side Is Up?

How to Load Film Into a Film Scanner/DSLR Holder Correctly and Get the Best Image Quality

8 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .
Four ways to insert film into a scanner.

There are four ways to insert film into a scanner’s film holder: right side up (A)/upside down (B) and emulsion facing (C)/away (A) from the scanner lens.

The first choice (A or B) is easy to make once you scan your first image. It’s also not particularly consequential to the results as it’s easy to flip images using software like Adobe Photoshop.

It’s harder to spot mirrored images than the upside-down ones, but those, too, can be inverted. But what about the image quality?

Does it matter which side the film is facing in a scanner for image quality?

To find out, I tested samples of colour, black and white, and slide films with my PrimeFilm XAs scanner with manual focusing at 5,000 DPI or 34MP on both sides.

TL;DR: Inserting the film emulsion (matte) side facing the scanner may show a very slight improvement in sharpness but you will need to flip your images as they’ll be mirrored.