Which metadata fields for scanned slides/negatives

I am capturing old slides and negatives with a scanner. I want to record a minimal set of metadata to trace back the original of the scan:

  • type (scanned slide, scanned negative, scanned photo, etc.)
  • reference to container/box number of original
  • sequence number within the container/box

Googling around did not produce any clear guidance for me, but maybe somebody has solved this in a practical way already using exiftool and/or digikam.

Which EXIF/IPTC/XMP fields should I use to document the trace to the original of the scan?

For your usecase I would simply put this metadata in the filename. For a 36 exposure 35 mm film you could use something like:


Which would translate to:


_M would be the master scan.

I worked at an archive with a few million photographic originals in all kinds and forms and we did something that resembled this (besides storing it in our collections management system). Actually, the filename was prefixed with exactly what you’re proposing: letters representing the type of media, i.e. 24x30 cm glass plate negative.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that this is impossible to accomplish natively in dK. Instead, try looking at software called AnalogExif, which will allow you to enter all of the Exif data you need to into a scanned file. Not just scanner info, but also your originating film camera, lens and associated exposure values. It works great for my purposes.

I have a similar situation with thousands of slides and negatives that I’m cataloguing with digiKam. The solution that works for me is just to use tags. In this example I’ve set up tags for the film type and size. You could also set up tags for the box or slide page, year etc. For instance, if you selected a a certain slide page in the left panel, digiKam will display all the scanned images on that slide page.

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If this is all you want to document, you might want to look at EXIFtoolGUI. The EXIFtool documentation also lists the relevant tags, you might want to use for this pupose.

But I think it is more relevant to document also the “who, where, when and why” with the scans. I use geosetter to tag the geographic position (“where”) and I use EXIFtoolGUI with my tailored workspace tags to document the images for “who, when and why”, like this:



I’ve also found it useful to make digital contact sheets of slide pages (35mm and 120). These can also be catalogued and make a fast way of browsing images.

Just put the pages on a light table, add an overhead light and shoot. To get rid of the reflections, which are there in the top row of slides, use cross polarization, i.e. a sheet of polarizing film on the overhead light, and a circular polarizer on the lens.

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A few million, yikes! I’d be curious to know your workflow on that archive.

It won’t be easily summed up. :slight_smile:

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