Film scanning with a digital camera

So here’s my latest little project. I sold my very fine and fancy film scanner years ago. I figured I’d scanned all the slides and negatives I wanted to scan. But I was wrong. I’m taking a new interest in some of that old stuff. So what to do? The solution I’m working on involves a light table and close-up lenses. Results are very promising. A major problem, which even the best film scanners had trouble with, is film curl. Especially with frames at the end of cut strip, like the one pictured below.

That’s my old friend Bob Bailey, on one of our countless hikes in the White Mountains. He doesn’t look happy, for some reason.

There are lots of things I want to try to improve the “scan” quality.

  • Stronger diopter close-up lens
  • A way to hold the film flat
  • Electronic tethering of the camera

This is just a first attempt, using a Sony RX-100 point-and-shoot camera.  The film here is color negative film, inverted in Lightroom. I’m using the Lensmate widget to attach the close-up lenses. The light table is from Artograph.  The overall approach was inspired by this article (.pdf) by Peter Krogh.


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