Saturday, 29 October 2016

Home Scanning Medium Format Negatives

I have an ongoing battle with my Contax 645, which is currently away being assessed for repair.  A part of me is on the verge of selling the whole caboodle, and sticking with digital. I had some films developed and scanned locally, and the output was so poor it almost tipped me over the edge - but I have persisted.

When last working away I spend a little time watching videos on line setting out how to digitize film.  Now that I am home I needed to give it a go, and the results are good enough for me to want to carry on with the Contax 645 experiment.

The method for digitizing the negatives is fairly straightforward, and I was lucky to have most of the kit needed.  The only new buys were a couple of sheets of perspex, one clear and one opaque, from amazon.  A picture paints a thousand words, and there are some pictures here, but in short;
  • Line a small cardboard box with foil to bounce light (I have no idea if this is necessary)
  • Cut a couple of holes in the base of the box for speedlights - I used two, one at each end
  • Tripod mount a camera over the box.
  • Fit a macro lense - I'm using the Canon 100mm macro and extender tube
  • Link the camera to your laptop for tethered shooting
  • Put opaque perspex over the box, negative on the perspex, clear perspex over that.
  • Use whatever tether software you use to frame focus and shoot
  • If seeking very high resolution, shoot multiple frames per negative exposure and merge in PS later
  • Using LR or PS, convert from negative view to positives
  • Print, post, store... or whatever your favoured outcome is
I did not experiment a great deal with camera settings.  I set flash to 1/4 power, ISO50, Shutter Speed 1/200 to kill ambient light, and f9 - f11 to make sure I got the focus.  These are not the best scans ever.  They are not going to compete with well done professional scanning services.  But they are better than I can get with my flatbed scanner, and better than I get from my local lab.  While they may not stand professional scrutiny if they are good enough for social media and a decent sized print (they are) then I will be happy.

The next step is home development of film, which we will try out next weekend when No 1 Daughter is home from school.

Some more output from the Contax here - this is a mix of my own scans, and scans from the lab which I was not happy with;

The images below were digitized using my camera at home;

It is not that I have a thing for drag acts... although these guys were brilliant...  it is more that I was pleased with the output, shooting hand held, without flash;

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