Camera 'scanning' of negatives

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
danny2384 Junior Member • Posts: 25
Re: Camera 'scanning' of negatives

Martin JC wrote:

danny2384 wrote:

I do. My method differs from most people's ive seen and the ones generally touted online. This applies to 35mm

Scanning Rig

I use a Nikon bellows unit with a slide copy attachment on the end (Nikon PB-5 and PS-4 to be exact)

The benefits I've found over the copy stand method are as follows:

  • The film is always square and parallel to one another. This was one of the biggest pains I found when doing the copy stand method.
  • Once you have the knobs locked to the correct distance you really don't need to set it up again. The focus is always the same, set your lens to infinity and its always correct. I used to check with every roll but realized its a waste of time
  • You can work with the camera sitting in its usual orientation instead of having to look down on it
  • Because the film and camera are locked together shake isn't really an issue
  • Don't need a macro lens. I use one anyways for the flat field but using a standard 50 worked just as well
  • Cheap. Minolta, Pentax, Canon, and almost all brands made one at some point

Downsides are it doesn't work with formats other than 35mm. Although, I did just but a Hasselblad bellows to rig up for Medium format.

Light Source

Make sure to get a light source with a high CRI. 95+. I started with a cheap amazon tracing pad and didn't know this. Youll never be able to get the colours quite correct and it will be much more frustrating that it should be. If the CRI isnt listed its generally means its quite low.

The new iphones and iPads also tend to work well if youre in a pinch. Although, your shutter speeds will be slow and you need to elevate the film to avoid seing the pixels


Negative Lab Pro. No question. All the benefits of non-destructive workflow in lightroom. The only downside is you need lightroom if you dont already own it.

Very helpful. In the past, I used an old EM5 (first version) with a macro lens, lens tube, and light table. I could get a 35mm in the frame. Regarding software, I'd used LR, invert, and only scan black and white. Over the last few years, things have probably got better/easier to do and I should perhaps think about returning to this project. The new Forum here might spur me!!!! Thanks for the advice on software..

Yes, things have changed quite a bit. More and more people seem to be going the digital camera route. There has been zero innovation in dedicated film scanners in probably at least a decade, likely more and I don't think there's a big enough market to justify anyone coming up with a new one. The cost would be pretty high to both the producer and the consumer. I think most people shooting film likely already own a digital camera so it makes sense. That was less likely back in the days when all these film scanners were in their heyday.

Ive owned a Nikon 5000, an Epson flatbed, and a Pakon F135. The Pakon was by far the best but the prices got so high that I cashed out on mine (for almost 2k Canadian). The digital camera method I explained above beats them all for speed and convenience. The Pakon was probably as fast and got amazing colours but the scans were also only 6mp and didnt have the flexibility of Raw files.

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