DSLR scanning of small negatives?

Discussion in 'Scanning and Scanners' started by Adam Demuth, May 23, 2018.

  1. Adam Demuth

    Adam Demuth Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    Palau
    Shooter:
    Micro43
    I've been shooting digital for about 3 years after a 20 year hiatus. I like it, but it's missing something - not so much visually, but I miss the mystery and processes and experimentation and permanence of film, so I'm considering getting back into shooting black and white film.

    I'm too nomadic to even consider setting up a full darkroom, I doubt scanners appreciate getting thrown around in cargo on multi-thousand mile trips, and I'd like to get into trying out a hybrid approach to photography for minimal cost, so I'm considering using my existing m4/3 camera as a negative "scanner" with a self-made lens/negative carrier/strobe rig.

    I'm certain I can tinker my way into acceptable results from 35mm negs, but what about smaller formats? I'd like to shoot Minox (9mm film) again. I really don't know much about macro photography, but the way I see it, I'd need a magnification of about 1.4x to fill the 17x13mm sensor frame with a 8x11mm film area. Can I just pop extension rings on to get the magnification that I need? I know at that magnification DoF is razor thin, so having the film be flat and parallel to the sensor is essential. Are there any pitfalls or complications beyond regular DSLR scanning that I need to consider?
     
  2. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,620
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Sonoma County, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    Welcome to Photrio
     
  3. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,493
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I did a "feasibility study" along those lines about a year or so back and I think it can work. I set up a sort of optical bench on my kitchen table to shoot paper targets with rectangular frames of appropriate size just to get an idea of what was required to fill the frame. I planned to make a dedicated stand that would mount the camera with the lens axis vertical and use my iPad or iPhone as a light table. So far I've not gone further, as in all honesty, after trying it following a thirty year hiatus I'm not that enchanted with my Minox B -- especially with a roll of Delta 100 going for $20! :unsure:
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Adam Demuth

    Adam Demuth Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    Palau
    Shooter:
    Micro43
    Good to hear. I don't mind a struggle, but if someone smarter than myself has tried and failed, I know I need to find another tree to bark up. I know higher magnifications are possible, but I assume the gear involved with that is far beyond anything I have, and certainly not hacked together like I am likely to do.

    Digital, especially smartphones have really changed "small photography". I'm curious how into Minox I'll be these days. The film cost isn't too much of a concern - slightly out of date microfilm can be found dirt cheap and I'll just slit it down and load my own cassettes. Finding an affordable and dependable low contrast developer and technique will take a while, but that's some of what I miss about film.
     
  5. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,493
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Actually it appears I put a few related items up in my PBase galleries. The crude tests are at the bottom of this gallery. I was using a circa 1963 Konica Hexanon 52mm f/1.4 (from a Konica FP, my 1st SLR!) in a reverse adapter for a lens. Depth of field is very thin so a solid stand and a way to focus gently would be desirable -- maybe even tethered shooting via laptop and live view sorts of functions.

    Since I do have a darkroom, I acquired an "ENLA" head which replaces an enlarger lens with a whole assembly using the enlarger for support and light. I was able to make a print, though I'm not sure it was near optimum. It seemed rather soft, but then I couldn't see anything using my grain focuser! This specific head was for a Mamiya 16, meaning it's a bit oversize. There were some made for Minox but all such heads are rare as hen's teeth and tend to go for way more money than I'm willing to invest.

    So it's one of those "background projects" which means it's so far down the priority queue it may never reappear. :whistling:
     
  6. Lee Rust

    Lee Rust Member

    Messages:
    260
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Rochester NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Digitizing Minox negatives might require a higher resolution camera, but the other ingredients are straightforward... copy stand, macro lens and/or extension tubes, light box, film carrier. A little more mechanically fussy than using a film scanner, but less software issues.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    22,899
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Actually, I don't think the camera's resolution will be the limiting factor, as a 16 MPixel (for example) sensor will yield the same files for a Minox negative as it will for a 6x4.5 negative. The limiting factor will be the magnification and the ability to keep the film flat and illuminate it evenly and sufficiently.
     
  8. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,224
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Location:
    Virginia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Pick up a generic 35mm slide copying attachment. You can mask it off for smaller formats. With some experimentation, you can use a flash to get consistent exposure results.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Adam Demuth

    Adam Demuth Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    Palau
    Shooter:
    Micro43
    I initially had the same thoughtb that I'd need higher resolution, but then realized pixels covered is pixels covered, it doesn't matter what's on the other end as long as it fills the sensor. While the Minox lens was no slouch, I'm not even sure that it's resolving power would benefit much from a higher res (this is purely speculation based on personal anecdotal experiences from long ago).

    While we're on the subject, though: is there a reason, beyond having more information to work with, to scan film at a higher resolution? For instance, if a certain sized print from a 16Mp DSLR keeps me happy, would there be something about the same sized print from a 16Mp scan of a 35mm negative that I would be unhappy with? I'm imagining something like film grain and pixels might not play nicely, kind of like color halftone printing makes moiré patterns when scanned? I'm really just spitballing here...

    I'm essentially planning to make one of these with custom extension tubes and subject distance spacers for 35mm, half frame and Minox film.

    Thanks for this, I'm glad you still have it kicking around. Getting a visual gives some encouragement, and some ideas how to do it myself.

    Fixed that first bit, but for any Minox accessory.

    This project is long term for me. I've got 2 months left on this gorgeous but lonely island (I can get my scheming done here as one has nothing but time on their hands here) 3 months in Europe on vacation, where hopefully I have little time to scheme, then I have to start life all over again when I return to the States. Hopefully my Christmas present to myself will be my first scanned negatives.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    22,899
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Theoretically no, but any sort of scanning is an art and a craft in itself!
     
  11. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,224
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Location:
    Virginia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd suggest you explore using a DSLR Log-based camera profile like the Technicolor Cinestyle for Canon or Cineflat for Nikon to capture the negatives.

    Use your Histogram to pull the most transparent portions of the negative down below clip and let the dmax float well above "0". This will give you a capture you can then manipulate in the curves portion of Photoshop or Lightroom (or whatever you use) to restore contrast but retain detail.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Adam Demuth

    Adam Demuth Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    Palau
    Shooter:
    Micro43
    My camera isn't quite fancy enough to load custom profiles to it. If I went with the next step up I could, but size+cost proved prohibitive.

    Thanks for the tip on exposure. m4/3 doesn't have the dynamic range of full frame (I have 13 stops) would bracketing and the two together be worth the effort?
     
  13. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,224
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Location:
    Virginia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think it would be worth the initial effort to run a series of tests. Might come in handy for problematic negatives, but you might not need it for every circumstance.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.
,