Film Scanning Drum Scanning San Francisco

Drum Scanning

Scale Up Art offers top-tier drum scanning services to cater to all your film-to-digital conversion and fine art printing needs. With our seasoned scan technician, John-Paul Jespersen, leading the way with over two decades of expertise in Film Drum Scanning, we employ state-of-the-art technology, including the prestigious Heidelberg s3900 and Heidelberg Tango drum scanners. Recognized as the benchmark in film scanning, Heidelberg drum scanners guarantee unparalleled precision and quality. Our Heidelberg ChromaGraph S3900 excels in capturing intricate details of black & white negatives, while the 16-bit Heidelberg Tango drum scanner ensures impeccable color accuracy for color negative scans. Rest assured, Scale Up Art is your trusted partner in preserving your images with unmatched clarity and fidelity.

drum scanning

Why is Drum Scanning the best?

  • Film Size – Any size film up to 16×20 inches can be scanned full frame our drum scanners
  • Shadows and Highlights – The ability to recover highlights and shadow detail like no other scanner
  • Pure, high resolution – No interpolation ultra high resolution scans
  • Grain detail The grain detail and sharpness produced by the Heidelberg S3900 is unsurpassed. Because of the manner in which it is mounted it is will be sharp from edge to edge no matter the size of the film
  • Dust and Scratches – The optically clear scan fluid fills scratches and washes away dust ensuring the light path is not disturbed during the scanning process




Heidelberg Tango

The Heidelberg Tango is a 16bit scanner excellent for color negative film. The Tango is also good for color transparencies in need of extensive color post processing.

Scan Size (16 bit)1 scan2-56-1515+
Over 2gbcallcallcallcall

Heidelberg s3900

The Heidelberg S3900 is the sharpest scanner ever made. Its an 8 bit scanner best for black and white negatives and color transparencies.

Scan Size (8 bit)1 scan2-56-1515+
Over 2gbcallcallcallcall
Drum Scanning in San Francisco
Drum Scanning in San Francisco
Drum Scanning in San Francisco

Drum Scanning vs Flatbed Scanning

Why drum scanning film produces a better output image for print and archiving.

Resolution and Detail:

Drum scanning typically offers higher resolution and finer detail compared to flatbed scanning. Drum scanners can achieve resolutions of over 10,000 dots per inch (dpi). This allows for the capture of fine details and textures in film images, resulting in sharper scans.

Flatbed scanners, while capable of producing decent results, often have lower optical resolutions and may struggle to capture fine details accurately, especially in smaller film formats. 

Dynamic Range and Color Accuracy:

Drum scanners are renowned for their exceptional dynamic range and color accuracy. They can accurately reproduce a wide range of tones and colors, preserving the nuances and subtleties of the original film.

Flatbed scanners may struggle with dynamic range and color accuracy, particularly in challenging lighting conditions or with films that have high-contrast scenes. This can result in loss of detail in shadows and highlights, as well as color shifts.

Output image resolution for print:

A high-quality drum scan of a 35mm film negative or slide can yield a digital file with a resolution of 3000 pixels per inch (ppi) or higher. With such a resolution, the resulting print can be quite large while maintaining excellent detail and sharpness.Assuming a standard 35mm frame size of approximately 36mm x 24mm, a scan resolution of 3000 ppi would result in a digital file size of around 10,800 pixels x 7,200 pixels. This file size would allow for printing an image of roughly 36 inches x 24 inches at 300 dots per inch (dpi), which is considered the standard resolution for high-quality prints viewed at a typical distance.

Optical Path Length:

In a drum scanner, the film is mounted on a rotating drum, allowing the scanning head to maintain a consistent distance from the film throughout the scanning process. This ensures uniform focus and sharpness across the entire image. In contrast, flatbed scanners use a stationary scanning head that moves across the film, which can result in variations in focus and sharpness, particularly towards the edges of the scan.

Handling of Film:

Drum scanners use a vacuum system to hold the film flat against the drum during scanning, ensuring optimal contact and focus. In contrast, flatbed scanners rely on a glass platen to flatten the film, which may not always maintain perfect contact, leading to potential loss of sharpness, especially with curled or warped film.


Drum scanning excels in capturing fine details, dynamic range, and color accuracy, making it the preferred choice for professionals, artists, and archival projects. Flatbed scanning, while more accessible and cost-effective, may not always deliver the same level of quality and precision, particularly for high-end imaging needs such as long term digital archiving and fine art print reproduction.

Drum Scanning in San Francisco

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can you drum scan slide film?

Yes, you can drum scan slide film. However, in order to do so, we will need to remove the film from the cardboard slide holder for the scanning process. Rest assured, we will put it back in the slide with tape as securely as we can to ensure its safety.

What is the turn around time for drum scanning?

The standard turnaround time for drum scanning at Scale Up Art is typically 10-14 business days. A rush fee is available depending on the needs of your specific project.

Do you offer a rush or expedited drum scan service?

Yes, at Scale Up Art, we offer expedited rush drum scanning services to accommodate urgent projects. For same-day turnaround, we provide a 200% rush charge, ensuring your scans are completed promptly. Additionally, we offer a 3-day rush option for a 100% surcharge. We understand the importance of meeting tight deadlines without compromising on quality, and our rush services are designed to deliver exceptional results within your required timeframe.

You can visit our studio in the Dog Patch neighborhood in San Francisco to drop off your film for scanning Mon – Fri: 9:00am-4:30pm
Sat: 12pm – 4pm. We also accept scans via mail to Scale Up Art 1041 25th st. San Francisco, CA 94107.

Have questions? We are here to help.
Phone: (415) 796-2338

Film Scanning in San Francisco
Heidleberg Drum Scanning

We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your next project or creative idea at our studio.

Feel free to come by any time we’re open.

Mon – Fri: 9:00am-4:30pm