Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Started 3 months ago | Questions
nextSibling Contributing Member • Posts: 525
Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

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.

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Nikon D750
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ross attix Contributing Member • Posts: 558
Negative Supply

Being upfront about it, this is not a company whose products I have used so you would have to do your own due diligence. From the website and the videos, it seems like their products are very well made, and although not inexpensive they look to me like fairly priced for something made in the US and finished to that level.

I have found myself in the same situation as you described and I have been looking at their setup for 120 film.

https://www.negative.supply

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Ross Attix

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,060
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 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index )

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,060
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Overrank wrote:

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 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index )

Almost forgot - haven’t used this but for large format there is Pixl-Latr ( https://pixl-latr.com ) which was designed fo4 what you want to do.

Bernard Waxman Senior Member • Posts: 1,580
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

I have used a similar setup. And I have used negative carriers from old enlargers. I have seen them on ebay. Most seem overpriced since there is so little demand for enlargers. But still, most are under $50.

The link below shows the setup I have used. You could substitute a tripod or a copy stand for the enlarger column. With a tripod you will have to work at getting the camera sensor parallel to the negative or slide.  The old D2x has enough resolution for 35mm but your D750 would be better for medium and large format, for those I have used my D800.  By the way, not shown on the website are two 4X5 omega carriers., one with glass and one without.  The one with glass holds the negatives flat and works for odd size negatives for which I do not have a carrier.

http://photosbybmw.com/Tutorial_pages/scanner.html

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bmw

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OP nextSibling Contributing Member • Posts: 525
Re: Negative Supply

ross attix wrote:

I have found myself in the same situation as you described and I have been looking at their setup for 120 film.

https://www.negative.supply

Thanks for that lead. Looks like it might be the kind of thing I had in mind.

OP nextSibling Contributing Member • Posts: 525
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Bernard Waxman wrote:

I have used a similar setup. And I have used negative carriers from old enlargers. I have seen them on ebay. Most seem overpriced since there is so little demand for enlargers. But still, most are under $50.

The link below shows the setup I have used. You could substitute a tripod or a copy stand for the enlarger column. With a tripod you will have to work at getting the camera sensor parallel to the negative or slide. The old D2x has enough resolution for 35mm but your D750 would be better for medium and large format, for those I have used my D800. By the way, not shown on the website are two 4X5 omega carriers., one with glass and one without. The one with glass holds the negatives flat and works for odd size negatives for which I do not have a carrier.

http://photosbybmw.com/Tutorial_pages/scanner.html

Of course! A neg carrier from an enlarger. Should of thought of that. And I like the improvisational nature of this approach, given this little project already has a bunch of that. Your setup is interesting, thanks for the link. I can see how a copy stand would definitely make the whole exercise easier. Might have to go hunting for a used one of those as well.

OP nextSibling Contributing Member • Posts: 525
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Overrank wrote:

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 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index )

Hadn't seen the Digitaliza yet. Thanks. Looks like there might be a few of these sorts of solutions out there for DSLR 'scans'. Good to have options.

Hadn't considered CRI before. Good info, thanks. Hoping it's not an issue in my setup because I've already been using the same light source for my 35mm ES-2 scans. But I see lots of experimentation to come. Fun times.

Vegar Beider Regular Member • Posts: 424
Usa a mirror to get alignment
1

Hello NextSibling!

When you say:

" - get all the planes in good enough alignment (takes a little trial and error, but quite doable). "

I found that the easiest way to get alignment will be to place a mirror flat onto the light panel, with the mirror's reflective surface facing the lens. When looking through the camera's viewfinder and adjusting the camera so that I am looking straight into the center of the mirrored lens, the camera's sensor and the film will be aligned. (Keeping the camera steady (on a tripod), is a must.)

To hold the film/negative flat I place it between two abolutely clean and scratch free glass plates. To avoid getting possible scratches and dust on the light panel's surface in focus, I raise the film a little bit above the surface of the light panel. Enough to get "outside" the depth of field area. When I also avoid getting any light at all on the "lens side" of the film, there will be no reflections on the glass plates. The macro lens I am using has no white lettering around the filter thread thay might be reflected.

Regards

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mamallama
mamallama Forum Pro • Posts: 58,681
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

nextSibling wrote:

Bernard Waxman wrote:

I have used a similar setup. And I have used negative carriers from old enlargers. I have seen them on ebay. Most seem overpriced since there is so little demand for enlargers. But still, most are under $50.

The link below shows the setup I have used. You could substitute a tripod or a copy stand for the enlarger column. With a tripod you will have to work at getting the camera sensor parallel to the negative or slide. The old D2x has enough resolution for 35mm but your D750 would be better for medium and large format, for those I have used my D800. By the way, not shown on the website are two 4X5 omega carriers., one with glass and one without. The one with glass holds the negatives flat and works for odd size negatives for which I do not have a carrier.

http://photosbybmw.com/Tutorial_pages/scanner.html

Of course! A neg carrier from an enlarger. Should of thought of that. And I like the improvisational nature of this approach, given this little project already has a bunch of that. Your setup is interesting, thanks for the link. I can see how a copy stand would definitely make the whole exercise easier. Might have to go hunting for a used one of those as well.

Exactly what I was going to suggest. Like the two here from my old Durst 601 enlarger. The 35mm one is open and the 645 one is closed.

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Bernard Waxman Senior Member • Posts: 1,580
Re: Usa a mirror to get alignment

Interesting suggestion on the use of a mirror.  I will have to try that.

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bmw

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Bernard Waxman Senior Member • Posts: 1,580
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

I am not sure if you noticed that one of the negative carriers shown in my post is also from a Durst enlarger, a 6X7 instead of a 6X6.  Mine had a color head which I junked several years ago.  Never used that enlarger very much but instead mainly used a Chromega 4X5 enlargers, which had much better color heads.

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mamallama
mamallama Forum Pro • Posts: 58,681
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Bernard Waxman wrote:

I am not sure if you noticed that one of the negative carriers shown in my post is also from a Durst enlarger, a 6X7 instead of a 6X6. Mine had a color head which I junked several years ago. Never used that enlarger very much but instead mainly used a Chromega 4X5 enlargers, which had much better color heads.

I did notice that after I went back to actually read your piece. I posted my images to show the details of how the negatives carriers can easily load and secure the negatives.

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mamallama
mamallama Forum Pro • Posts: 58,681
Re: Usa a mirror to get alignment

Vegar Beider wrote:

Hello NextSibling!

When you say:

" - get all the planes in good enough alignment (takes a little trial and error, but quite doable). "

I found that the easiest way to get alignment will be to place a mirror flat onto the light panel, with the mirror's reflective surface facing the lens. When looking through the camera's viewfinder and adjusting the camera so that I am looking straight into the center of the mirrored lens, the camera's sensor and the film will be aligned. (Keeping the camera steady (on a tripod), is a must.)

The mirror technique sounds interesting. I have set up and used many makeshift vertical copy stands for photographing flat works - some for large paintings using a stepladder as the vertical column. The alignment technique I found easy and quick was to use a simple bubble level (picture below) to ensure that both the camera sensor and the target base were two-way horizontal. Them means they are parallel to each other. It is then a simple matter to center the object in the camera frame.

To hold the film/negative flat I place it between two abolutely clean and scratch free glass plates. To avoid getting possible scratches and dust on the light panel's surface in focus, I raise the film a little bit above the surface of the light panel. Enough to get "outside" the depth of field area. When I also avoid getting any light at all on the "lens side" of the film, there will be no reflections on the glass plates. The macro lens I am using has no white lettering around the filter thread thay might be reflected.

Regards

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 +1 more
Fatih Ayoglu Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: Usa a mirror to get alignment

I use level tool in iPhone to check the level of the camera and the table.

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Fatih Ayoglu Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

On that note, I am looking for options to scan MF film with full borders, ie film brand/stock name etc.

All the solution I can find will mask those areas to keep the film flat.

So I am thinking to sandwich the strip in between 2 glass surfaces but of course that will create Newton Rings which requires specific glass to avoid the problem.

Does anybody have any experience with similar methods? Do you think I need 1 (a standard glass and an anti Newton one) or 2 anti Newton glass.

 Fatih Ayoglu's gear list:Fatih Ayoglu's gear list
Nikon D750 Leica M10 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +8 more
mamallama
mamallama Forum Pro • Posts: 58,681
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Fatih Ayoglu wrote:

On that note, I am looking for options to scan MF film with full borders, ie film brand/stock name etc.

All the solution I can find will mask those areas to keep the film flat.

So I am thinking to sandwich the strip in between 2 glass surfaces but of course that will create Newton Rings which requires specific glass to avoid the problem.

Does anybody have any experience with similar methods? Do you think I need 1 (a standard glass and an anti Newton one) or 2 anti Newton glass.

If I understand your situation, why not use a common mat cutter and cut out whatever rectangular opening you want in a dark colored mat board?

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Jack Calypso Regular Member • Posts: 269
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?
2

Back in my photo lab days, I printed on a  Durst enlarger with the 4x5 version of the pictured carriers. I would almost always use a glass carrier with anti-Newton-ring glass. You had to be super careful with the glass not to chip or scratch it, because it was so expensive.

I had a collection of various masks I cut from fogged Kodalith and some very thin opaque black paper that sheet film was packaged with.

Bernard Waxman Senior Member • Posts: 1,580
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?
2

I have used a 4X5 inch Omega negative carrier with glass.  Never had any problem with newton rings but did have problems with so many surfaces for dust to collect.  The Omega glass carrier used anti-newton ring glass.

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bmw

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Fatih Ayoglu Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: Scanning medium and large format negatives - film holder?

Bernard Waxman wrote:

I have used a 4X5 inch Omega negative carrier with glass. Never had any problem with newton rings but did have problems with so many surfaces for dust to collect. The Omega glass carrier used anti-newton ring glass.

So you sandwich the film between a regular glass and ANR glass, right? If so that’s perfect. I suppose you put emulsion to the regular glass and shinny side up to the ANR glass.

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