Interesting History of Photo Negatives

Interesting History of Photo Negatives

Did you know that there have been several different types of negatives used for photos throughout the the years? 

Here's what you should know on why it makes a difference what type of negatives you have. 


Glass Negatives

Developed in the early 1850s glass negatives gave still photos a nice sharp image.

Pros: detailed images, generally well preserved images, 

Cons: potential of glass scratching or breaking if it becomes brittle, took longer to create, light sensitive emulsion, emulsion can flake off over time

Storage: store on their side in a box, cool and dry place, minimal changes in temp and humidity


Nitrate Negatives

Beginning in the 1980s nitrate negatives were used to allow photographers to achieve better still photos in a variety of environmental conditions. 

Pros: Slightly thicker film, lighter weight and less fragile than the already-in-use glass negative, allowed better photo in non-ideal enviroments

Cons: Highly flammable and autocatalytic, during deterioration phases these can fuse to other photos or material permanently ruining the film, hazardous fumes let off during deterioration 

Storage: freezer or a cold, dry, dark box in well-ventilated storage area, avoid rapid change in temperature

Acetate Negatives

Around the 1930s acetate negatives came to replace nitrate film.

Pros: less flammable and autocatalytic, did not let off the same hazardous gases during deterioration as the nitrate negative

Con: heat and moisture cause deterioration and the release of Acetic acid causing a vinegar smell

Storage: sealed container in a cool and dry area

Polyester Negatives

First used in photography in the 1950s and what we currently use for most modern photo negatives.

Pros: very strong and flexible film resistant to breakage

Cons: not used regularly in movie cameras as the strength can break the camera during a jam

Storage: cool, dry, and dark area

Back to blog