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converting your film negatives or slides to digital (film scanning with a camera)


  • 35mm film negatives or slides often only hold about 8-10mp of data (6×6 MF slides probably give 24-36mp) so any current digital camera has enough resolution to maximise this as long as your technique and the lens is good, and accurately focused and exposed.
  • slides and negatives are shot with emulsion side to lens to get the best sharpness
    • you are looking at emulsion side when letters at edges are back to front, and also the emulsion side is darker with a slight structure visible in light
  • ensure light source does not hit the camera side of the film nor the camera lens
  • for medium format, you can consider taking panorama style individual sections and stitching them for higher resolution images

exposure settings

  • manual exposure
    • use the base ISO for the camera for best dynamic range capture (most are now ISO 200)
    • if using flash:
      • set shutter to x-sync speed and aperture to optimum for the lens and system (f/5 for Micro Four Thirds and f/8-11 for full frame)
      • set flash to manual and adjust to give good exposures
      • keep flash at constant distance to avoid variances in exposure
    • if using available light:
      • adjust exposure manually with histogram to expose to the right
      • set self-timer on to avoid camera shake
  • white balance for color negatives
    • this can be difficult given their orange cast, options include:
      • just take a custom WB of the blank leader negative, but this results in tonality issues because the white balance adjustments are too extreme for optimum blue channel tonality
      • alternatively, use a blue light source (preferably matched to compensate for the orange mask although a 80B filter may suffice), then do a custom WB

Using a Micro Four Thirds camera to copy 35mm film negatives or slides

  • a downside of using Micro Four Thirds system is that the sensor is 4:3 and thus you don't use the whole sensor for a 3:2 slide or negative, plus traditional 35mm film copiers are designed for full frame cameras not a 2x cropped sensor camera, nevertheless, many people use these cameras without issue.
  • use manual focus with magnified image view for accurate focus
    • uses a iPad as light box style light source and a plastic refrigerator food container as a translucent spacer on which to mount the film holder
    • even using a Olympus m.ZD 75mm f/1.8 lens instead of a macro lens, this setup gave 12x faster, and sharper, more detailed images with less dust and scratches than when using a film scanner with its glass near the film
photo/filmscan.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/23 07:33 by gary1

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