Using E-520 as a film scanner.

Started Oct 31, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Klarno Veteran Member • Posts: 4,145
Using E-520 as a film scanner.

So far, I've been disappointed with the results I get from scanning film with flatbed scanners. It takes too long for not good enough a result (for the money I'm willing to invest). I'm not willing to spend $500+ on a scanner just for the purpose of scanning film. One of the main things that's been keeping me from shooting with my 35mm film cameras is the fact that it's been such a pain to digitize the images I get.

So I decided to explore the slide copier method. Basically, you take a picture of the film with another camera. There are companies that sell a slide copier attachment for cameras, basically a diopter lens to be used with the kit lens. I'm not too keen on this route, depending on an unknown company's optics interfacing with my optics, so I thought I'd build my own with optics that I trust.

Here are the parts I'm using:
40+ year old copy stand found in my garage
PortaTrace 11x17 daylight-balanced fluorescent light table ($50 shipped)
Besseler negative carrier (used, $15 shipped)
A cardboard tube (for flagging outside light)
OM 50mm f/3.5 Macro

The 50mm f/3.5 macro provides just enough magnification for the 3:2 35mm image to fill the 4/3 frame horizontally. When I crop, I get an 8.9 megapixel image.

Here are some of my test shots:

OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8, Tri-X 400 rated to 200.
and 100% crop from that image:

I'm happy with this one. This was shot on Tri-X, which we love for its flexibility and ease of handling, and for its punchy contrast, not so much for its fine resolution.

It's a little more questionable using this method to duplicate color negative film. Because denser areas on the film come out lighter in the print, to get a darker negative you need to boost the exposure. Because digital cameras have less dynamic range in the highlights, I can't overexpose or else I might lose shadow detail. Here are my attempts with Kodak Ektar 100, a color negative film more or less intended to compete with Fuji Velvia slide film.

OM-1, 50mm f/3.5 macro @ f/5.6, Ektar 100 rated to 64.

We get quite a lot of grain with this one, unfortunately--considering it's supposed to be the world's finest grained film. It says so on the box. But I think I can get a decently sized print at any rate.

To achieve the colors, I took a picture of a piece of film with both solid black and solid white on the negative. I created a curves layer to call those the white and black points, and used the wire as the approximate gray point. Then I used another curves layer to invert the image, and another for automatic RGB balance. A fourth curves layer was used to darken the image, which introduced more noise. Later I'll try taking pictures of expodiscs and X-Rite cards and see if that improves my situation a little more.

One more, created by copying all of those other layers into a new document:

Olympus XA2 (35mm f/3.5 lens), Ektar 100 rated to 64. Not going to show the 100% crop from this one.

So far, I'd say the slide copier method easily matches or exceeds the image quality I get from my Canon 4400f, gives me more post-processability without having to buy expensive software that I don't already have, and I get a usable file far more quickly.

And finally, a use for that hotshoe bubble level I got on eBay for like $5 a year ago.

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 Klarno's gear list:Klarno's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PM2 A3000 Olympus E-M1 Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm 1:2.8-3.5 II Olympus Zuiko Digital 11-22mm 1:2.8-3.5 +3 more
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