Scanning film with an M43 camera

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Barret, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. Barret

    Barret New to Mu-43

    Jan 13, 2016
    Here's how I scan negatives with a Panasonic M43 camera. It involves (empty) shot glasses and timelapse mode. Neat-o.

    Digital camera, Macro lens
    Light pad (or table)
    Travel tripod and table or flat surface
    Shot glasses (to hold film flat)
    Swiffer duster, dust blower, windex, paper towels (dust is the enemy)

    Scan negatives_5.jpg
    Scan negatives_6.jpg

    Camera and lens set-up:
    RAW, aperture priority mode (or manual), ISO 160 or 200. Auto WB is fine.
    Use the e-shutter, with the sound on.
    Set the aspect ratio to match the film, e.g., 4:3 for 645. This will make it easier to line up the camera square to the negative.
    Set the lens aperture to its sharpest, 5.6 or 8 usually.

    1. Work surface setup
    Dust off the work surface with your swiffer and/or dust blower and clean your light table/tablet.

    2. Initial setup- Get the camera square to the negative at the right distance

    The time consuming part, at first, will be setting up your tripod to point straight down, with your camera at the proper distance. Put your negative strip on the light table and turn it on. Try to get the negative to very nearly fill the frame. Make sure each edge is parallel. You can use the shot glasses to hold the film flat.

    3. Critical focusing:
    Panasonic cameras like the G6 have a great feature when shooting "without lens" (meaning with an adapter). Just push in the rear wheel and you'll enter magnified view. Move the film until you can see the edge numbering in magnified view. It's easy to focus on the edge numbering. Even if your camera doesn't have peaking, focusing on the edge numbering is pretty easy. You can also focus on the grain or details in the picture and double check against the edge numbering.

    4. Test for ambient light and proper exposure:

    Take a test picture and look at the histogram. It should be pretty much centered. The digital camera sensor can easily capture the range of tones in the negative (slides are another story). The bare light table may flash its highlights, which I think is a good thing. Now note the shutter speed and switch to manual mode if you aren't there already. Turn off the light table. Take a picture. There should be no info in the histogram except for the far far left. The room doesn't have to be pitch black, and you don't need to block out light with a tube around the lens and negative.

    5. Scan:
    Now that everything is hunky dory, it's time to scan. Switch back to A-mode, and set up a time lapse with an interval long enough to re-position the film. Take one strip of film at a time out of its 3-ring binder sheet, and clear it of dust. Position the first negative on the light tablet, double check the focus if you like, and start the timelapse. About 5 minutes later, you are all done with the "scanning."

    6. Ingest and invert:
    Open your roll of film in ACR or lightroom and experiment with inverting it and making a profile you can apply in the future. I invert by reversing the curve. It seems like Neopan and FP4 Plus capture and invert really well, and the contrast is pretty good right away. You can adjust the black and white point, or mess with the curve, but that's all to your preference for contrast. Also, you can try NOT making the images grayscale, but leaving a little bit of warmth in the tones. ACR is pretty convenient for removing dust spots, but sometimes you need photoshop.

    Scan negatives_13.jpg
    Scan negatives_12.jpg
    Scan negatives_14.jpg
    Color negatives are kinda tricky, and sometimes I can't get them to fall. But honestly, I rely on photoshop auto tone/contrast/color. Color slides are tough, too, especially Velvia. Sometimes I make multiple exposures and use a program called SNS HDR to combine them. Normally I let the lab scan the color stuff, and just do black and white, but, color is possible. Portra I haven't figured out yet. Ektar with its pink/rose is pretty tricky, too. The lab is almost always better and they do better with dust. Occasionally (more like rarely) the M43 is better as a matter of preference for color. Also, different labs have different ideas of what Ektar/Portra/Etc. should look like. But for black and white film that you develop at home, you may as well save some money if you have a small tripod and a light table(t). It's kinda satisfying to digitize them as soon as they are dry, and if you have an 8x10 light table, you can make digital contact sheets, which is kinda cool.

    So, now that you have archived your negatives in digital form, you can send the files off to the printer to make giclée prints. Nice!

    Attached Files:

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  2. e_kjellgren

    e_kjellgren Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    Thanks for the guide! What lens is that?
  3. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa

    try this (discussion here just a few days ago):
    A method of digitising
  4. Barret

    Barret New to Mu-43

    Jan 13, 2016
    A Konica 55mm f3.5 macro. Really inexpensive and works great for this type of thing.
  5. Barret

    Barret New to Mu-43

    Jan 13, 2016
    Thank you, Pellicle, this is helpful. I'll keep at it!
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  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    you're welcome

    you'll note a red colour cast to the clouds in that post. I think I may have clipped that channel a bit as I just did a quick and dirty. I'll get around to posting my methods.
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