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Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by dav1dz, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    The Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner by Lomography — Kickstarter

    Check this out!

    The name is sort of confusing. Lomography turns out is the name of the company. The product appears to be a lighting bed with a pool for film and you just roll it frame by frame and then use a smartphone camera to take a picture of the negative. The free software will do the processing required thereafter.

    Looks like a fairly easy to scan film. My iPhone 5's camera should be plenty resolution.

  2. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    I know, its a year old post, but did you go for the smartphone scanner? In case yes: What are your thoughts on it?
  3. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    Well, I jumped right in and got myself one of those along with a Lomokino.

    Similar to all Lomography products, the Smartphone Film Scanner is made out of (cheap) plastic. It certainly feels cheap, however, not fragile. I wouldn't drop the scanner, but with regular care it should last quite long. Upon unpacking, I dug a bit in my drawers and found an old photo pouch with some negatives in it. The negatives must be from around the mid 90th's, snapped with a (Olympus?) point-and-shot 35mm camera. Back then I wasn't into photography at all...

    But back to the Smartphone Scanner. I used my iPhone 5 for the first try. After fiddling a bit with the scanner and checking out the settings of Lomography's LomoScanner 2 app, I got the first result. My setup: two plastic frames, iPhone 5, contrast +1, exposure +1, white balance slightly muted, film type: color negative.

    This is the result straight out of the iPhone:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The picture is quite grainy and the white-balance is a bit off for my taste. I suspected the iPhone to have caused the graininess, even though I didn't knew about the color-film negative's quality after almost twenty years. The result, however, matches the Lomography style. therefore, the result isn't that bad. Next is the iPhone's image tweaked a bit in Photoshop:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Next, I grabbed my camera (E-M5), removed the foam "eye-piece" of the Scanner and adapted the Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro lens with its lens-hood to the scanner. In this case, three plastic frames proofed to be best. The 60mm focused instantly on the negative. The field of view, however, is a tad to small in case one also wants to digitalize the sprocket holes of the film. Here is the picture (inverted and processed in Photoshop) from the 60mm lens:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Due to the no-optimal view angle of the 60mm, I tried the Oly 12-40mm f2.8 at 40mm. It has a very good close focusing capability as well and had no problems either to focus on the film. For my taste, this resulted in the best "scan" of the negative (again, inverted, cropped and white-balance adjusted in photoshop):

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The Smartphone Scanner works as advertised. The LomoScanner 2 iPhone app (at least for me) was stable and didn't suffer from the frequent crashes reported by users. The main limitation, however, is the iPhone 5's camera. Because the backlight in the scanner isn't to bright, the iPhone bumps up its ISO, which results in a huge loss of detail in the "scan". Maybe, another camera app, which lets the user set the exposure and aperture values, might lead to better results. Using the E-M5 with quality lenses resulted in quite good and acceptable digital images.

    I yet have to scan images, which were taken with a Lomography camera. Maybe, the iPhone's "limitations" add to the overall look of those images and are more suitable then the "clean" output of the E-M5. For regular negatives from a quality analog camera, however, the smartphone camera doesn't produce good enough scans (this is under the assumption, that other smartphone cameras are of similar quality).
    • Like Like x 1
  4. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    If you are a fan of the Lomo look, it looks like the EM5 is a good option. You even get off-colors and light leaks!
  5. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I'd be interested to see results with a smartphone camera that let you set the exposure. My Nokia does the above, but I wonder if there's a WP8 version of the app...

    •••GX1+LVF-2+Olympus 17mm f/2.8, GF3; Konica FS-1, C35v; various lenses•••
  6. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    Since my last post, I gained some experience with the Smartphone Scanner and wrote a more compressive review over at Lomography.com (with the same verdict, though). Link to the review.

    Here it goes:

    Smartphone Film Scanner - It's the camera that matters

    The Smartphone Film Scanner comes in handy for digitalizing negatives. The resulting picture quality, however, is heavily dependent on the camera used. As somehow expected, the photos drastically benefit from using a good digital camera instead of a smartphone's build in one.

    When starting out fresh (or returning to) analogue photography, one eventually is facing the problem of how to digitalize all of those negatives/slides. Even though capturing pictures on film is fun, most of the pictures should enter the digital world after all (neglecting photographic prints here.) The easiest (but in the long run, probably most expensive) way would be to have them scanned professionally. This works out well with a regular 135 cam. As soon as we are talking about a LomoKino or a camera which also exposes the sprocket holes, it becomes kind of obvious that an own scanning solution might come in handy.

    Probably the best amateur solution is a solid flat bed scanner. There are multiple websites and reviews, dealing with this topic out there. Personally, however, I am not snapping away a huge amount of film rolls and didn’t want to have another rather large gadget standing around on my computer desk.

    Thats why I looked into Lomography’s Smartphone Film Scanner. It is relatively small and doesn’t cost a fortune. I ordered one and tested it with a Kodak Professional BW400C film (exposed by a Rollei 35) which I had recently developed in a professional lab including scans. In that way I could compare the results from the Smartphone Film Scanner with the professional scans.

    Before getting right into the comparison, here’s a word of advice – it has been written before, but one cannot stress it enough: use regular batteries for the Smartphone Film Scanner’s light source. Do not use rechargeable batteries which usually have a voltage around 1.2-1.3V instead of the 1.5V of non rechargeable ones. These 0.3V do make a huge difference in terms of brightness of the Film Scanner’s backlight!

    Well then, let’s see what the Smartphone Film Scanner was able to produce when paired with my iPhone 5. I used two frames/spacer as well as the new (as of April 2014) Lomo Scanner 2 app. Here is the result. Any editing (inversion, contrast, etc.) straight from within the app.


    In my opinion, the picture taken with the iPhone 5’s camera shows quite an amount of digital noise. Of course, Lomography isn’t about the most technical perfect picture. But the noise doesn’t add to the image – in the end, it’s just digital grind instead of a nice analog grain.

    The reason for this is that the iPhone camera can’t be influenced in terms of aperture or exposure priority. Its all automatic and iOS quite heavily increases ISO in order to get a short exposure time. As for the sprocket holes: with the two spacer setup of the film scanner, the iPhone’s camera doesn’t fully capture the complete frame plus holes. That’s why I cut them out completely in this picture.

    Disillusioned about the picture quality, I took out my proper digital camera (an Olympus E-M5 with Oly M.12-40 f2.8 lens in this case) and “adapted” it to the film scanner. The adaption process mainly consisted of removing the black foam thingy on the smart phone scanner.


    In addition to the mind blowing setup ;-) I added a black cloth which I put over the gap between lens and film scanner in order to exclude any scattered light hitting the lens (not shown in the picture).

    Next is a picture captured with the E-M5 and inverted as well as processed in Photoshop:


    The same image as above but without the grayscale conversion:


    The only drawback is, that it takes quite some time to process each single picture. That’s why I was looking for a more “automated” approach. A friend of mine has the VueScan software. I used it to “rescan” the negative. That means, VueScan takes a JPEG as input and applies its settings to it. Attached is the result, which, in my eyes, is too flat and lacks some contrast.


    Finally the version which came on the lab’s CD. They probably use a fancy (and expensive) drum scanner.



    The handling of the Smartphone Film Scanner is superb. I especially like the handle to forward the film through the scanner. In that way it is quite easy to advance a complete (non cut) film compared to having to change film strips on a flat bed scanner.

    The resulting picture quality is heavily dependent on the used camera. My iPhone 5’s camera didn’t do it for me. Using a “proper” camera, however, resulted in quite acceptable photos. Even though, post processing takes some time. This might improve with experience, though. For some pictures, the results of my own “scan” were even better than the lab’s scans. This is probably because the lab is using default values instead of the individual settings used for each picture in my process. VueScan might also suffer from the “default setting” problem.

    For all of those pixel peepers out there. Here are 100% ceps of all images:

    • Like Like x 3
  7. bwc1976

    bwc1976 Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 30, 2012
    Spring Valley, CA
    Nice! I had read before about scanning negatives with a camera, but the setup sounded too complicated until I read about this device which looks much more self-contained.
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