Before abandoning your film negatives in favor of a digital scan, consider what you're losing. The film negative is the first generation version of the image seen by the eye. Film negatives are to photography what HD is to television. Sharper, richer, better. It is also a physical representation of your vision – a true backup of your art or your history – and will last a lifetime if stored correctly. Negatives have great value in this digital age!
The process of digital preservation hasn’t been around that long yet. We are still learning how to save and archive digital files and have them theoretically last forever. CDs and DVDs rot (many computers don’t even have CD/DVD drives), hard drives fail, file formats change or become obsolete, and natural disasters do occur. Your original film negatives also back up your digital files.
Retaining the original film negatives gives you technological opportunities later. Scanning technology is always improving the quality and detail it can extract. But if you don't have the original film negative, you won't be able to take advantage of the improvements. The day you scan a negative is the day you “lock in” that day’s technology.
Preserve your film negatives in specialty archival negative pocket pages in a negative binder or vertically in special negative boxes. Store film negatives in a cool location, less than 68 degrees if possible. Keep out of the light. Avoid excess moisture and fluctuations in humidity. A cool interior closet is a good location.
What questions do you have about storing and preserving your valuable film negatives? Please ask: firstname.lastname@example.org.