Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Started 3 months ago | Questions thread
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,061
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

nextSibling wrote:

Hello film photographers.

So the pandemic stay-at-home situation has finally given me an excuse to get around to scanning a bunch of my old negatives and transparencies. For 35mm, I've been very pleased with the quality I've been getting from my Nikon D750 and the Nikon ES-2 "film digitizing adapter", which isn't an option for larger format negatives. But it did get me thinking.

I'd rather avoid spending $hundreds on a dedicated scanner as I already have a very good macro lens and a color temperature controllable LED light panel. So I started experimenting with positioning the camera on a tripod above the light panel held horizontally, and just laying the large negs in the panel and copying them that way. It turned out it's possible to get very nice results this way, to my eye, anyhow, once you get all the planes in good enough alignment (takes a little trial and error, but quite doable).

First problem with this setup: Negatives tend to curl and getting enough depth of field to accommodate that, and avoid diffraction, is difficult, and taping down their edges is fussy.

Second problem: Obviously this setup isn't exactly production-line-efficient and takes a bit of setup per frame 'scanned'.

So I got to thinking I need some form of holder to keep everything straight and to help with handling negatives. It occurs to me I could experiment with buying a negative holder from the likes of Epsom or any scanner maker, minus scanner, and use that.

Before I do, does anyone have experience with this sort of setup and any general advice to help with it, and more specifically, any suggestions for a film holder I can buy or easily fabricate.

Thanks for all suggestions.

For medium format I use a Lomography 120 Digitaliza on a V550 scanner - I expect you’d get good results with a camera scan - it successfully holds the negatives flat. I bought mine for around £15 second hand, new they’re about £40.
For large format negs I don’t know as I’ve not used anything bigger than 6 x 9

One other thing to watch for (If they’re colour negatives) is that the light source has a high CRI so you don’t get too many holes in the white light spectrum ( )

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