Camera 'scanning' of negatives

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

Smaug01 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.

What is CRI and why does it matter?

I'm using a cheap ebay LED tracing pad and it seems to work fine. Maybe because the Nikon ES-2 Digitizing Set has a diffuser built-in?

Basically it means that the light source is outputting accurate and even light across the full spectrum. Here’s a good article describing it specifically for film scanning purposes (also a great place for anything related to scanning film with a camera)

you may never notice unless you’re trying to get very accurate colors from film. The way some people shoot it wouldn’t matter I.e expired films, cross processed, and/or possibly going for a less true to life look anyways. However, they aren’t that expensive. I picked up a video light from amazon with a CRI of 96 for less than the cheap tracing pad I was using.  
The diffuser doesn’t make a difference and the other comment saying it doesn't apply to LED’s is also not true. They can be as bad just like fluorescents

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