[HOW TO] Digitize film negatives with your u4/3 or DSLR camera

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by barbosas, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013

    You can find this tutorial on my blog: http://doismeios.pt/2014/04/03/digitize-film-negatives-u43-dslr-camera/

    First of all let me give you a disclaimer, this is my method and it uses a lot of different stuff because most of the things I already had them at my house, if you're starting from scratch it makes no sense buying gear from two different systems like the ones I used. You can use this as an inspiration to reuse anything you may have at home.

    Secondly let me explain the fundamentals of what you need:

    1. A digital camera
    2. A lens, the greater the magnification the better to take advantage of your camera sensor size (E)
    3. A way to securely hold the film in front of the lens (B/C/D)
    4. A good light source (A)

    The rig​

    A - Flash Fl-36R (wireless triggered by the camera)
    if you don't have a flash you can replace it with a strong light source, i.e. on a bright day, with the camera pointed to the window it's usually ok.

    B - Film Holder (got of cheap from eBay)

    C - A tube originally designed for scanning slides (it's just a tube, no glass inside, bought cheap from eBay)
    In order to fit the film holder onto this tube, I removed the original slide holder and super glued the film holder to the tube.

    D - Step down ring 52mm <-> 42mm (lens filter diameter is 52mm, tube diameter is 42mm)

    E - Lens, preferably a macro lens because they tend to have a flatter focus plane and greater magnification
    I used a Pentax FA50mm f2.8 Macro because that was the best I have available.

    F - Extension tubes to increase the magnification (and take the best advantage of the sensor size)
    in this case I used a 21mm tube to compensate the distance from the lens to the film, this wouldn't be needed if the distance from the lens to the film was shorter, because the lens used had 1:1 magnification.

    G - Adapter m4/3 to Pentax PK

    ON5yXH0l.jpg vMKuwnwl.jpg

    After everything is setup and in place, my usual work-flow is the following:

    1. Set the camera to manual focus and manual exposure
    2. Set the lens to F8
    3. Clean the dust from the film
    4. Put the film on the holder
    5. Adjust focus
    6. Adjust exposure
    7. Shoot
    8. Repeat from step 3 until everything is digitized (at this point I usually skip steps 5 and 6)

    The digitised film will look something like this:

    Feel free to correct any typos and ask any question you may have.

    • Like Like x 5
  2. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    thx, i'm very interested in the outcome. Please post an example of the results...
  3. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    You can see the final result here:

    In a few days I will explain the PP part.

    • Like Like x 2
  4. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    Making a thread for this is a very good idea. Recently I spent two evenings searching the parts for a cheap&working setup.

    I found a similar setup, maybe it is a tad easier:

    1. mFT camera (of course)
    2. Olympus 60mm/2.8 macro
    3. Stepup ring 46mm->52mm
    4. "52mm Tele Metal Lens Hood" (ebay 4$)
    5. Stepdown ring 58mm->52mm
    6. Nikon Nikon ES-1 52mm slide adapter (50$)
    7. flash in RC mode (fl600r)

    Biggest problem was to wait three weeks until the lens hood arrived from HongKong. But quality was good, especially the 52mm and the 58mm windings had good quality.

    The setup looks and works quite good. I use auto focus and f8. I can see sharp film grain in the resulting photo.

    Maybe I post a photo if someone is interested.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. TheRenaissanceMan

    TheRenaissanceMan Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 11, 2013
    I am! Looking for the most efficient way to digitize my negatives, so I'm loving this thread.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Mu-43 mobile app
  6. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards Photo Posting Junkie

    Feb 15, 2014
    Southwest Utah
    I'm also interested in this approach, although most of my images are slides.
  7. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    Hate to quote my own post, but meanwhile I took a photo of my setup and I have to correct the one or other detail.

    Here is my actual setup, I have a 58mm LensHood, not a 52mm one. With the lens hood you get the working distance for 1:2 magnification, otherwise the slider would be cropped:

    1. mFT camera (of course)
    2. Olympus 60mm/2.8 macro
    3. Stepup ring 46mm->58mm
    4. "58mm Tele Metal Lens Hood" (ebay 4$)
    5. Stepdown ring 62mm->52mm
    6. Nikon Nikon ES-1 52mm slide adapter (50$)
    7. flash in RC mode (fl600r)

    • Like Like x 1
  8. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    I have a similar setup for slides, using the Nikon ES-1 adapter, but I haven't tried digitizing negatives because I was afraid the adapter would scratch the film. Have you had trouble with scratches, or do you take any precautions against them?
  9. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013

    Didn't had any trouble with scratches nor I had any special precautions, I just position the film carefully, no big deal.

  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Or you could use a flatbed scanner like an Epson 4870/4990/700 which will allow you to scan upwards of twenty at a time without sitting there and aligning every one. You will get better results with negatives too as you will be working in 16 bits without needing to convert raw files.

    This topic comes up on the internet with regular occurrence. Heck 10 years ago Nikon even sold attachments for digital cameras to do it.

    If your issue is the difficulty of coming to grips with a scanner then I have guides on my blog for that:
    http://cjeastwd.blogspot.com/search/label/scan tips

    • Like Like x 1
  11. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    I also have an Epson V500 flatbed scanner, it's very time consuming scanning film with it, that's why I tried this alternative method.

    The only extra steps I have to do with this method vs flatbed scanner is crop and invert image, which is no big deal.