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Author Topic: Digitizing old medium format negatives  (Read 1225 times)

Paul Roark

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Digitizing old medium format negatives
« on: January 07, 2019, 12:22:00 pm »

My old, but very good, Nikon 8000 scanner will not connect to my new computers.  Even the adapter I bought for Firewire to Thunderbolt failed.  (Bummer!)  So, I decided to see if my Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens and Sony a7rii body could do an acceptable job.  (I was skeptical, to say the least.)  I have an old enlarger stand that makes a good copy stand.  After using a mirror under  the camera/lens setup to be sure the lens was close to perfectly aligned, I'm happy to say the Nikon scanner is not needed.  I take 3 shots of the negative (at f/5.6), with the system adjusted such that the width of the MF negative almost fills the long dimension of the 35mm frame.  PS easily merges the shots.  I use the old head for the enlarger, upside-down on the baseboard, for a light source.   The final black and white display prints made from this method of accessing my old negatives are definitely up to professional display and gallery quality fine art sales.  You don't need a drum or Flextight scan of those 120 roll film negatives.  The quality of those old MF negatives, particularly those on Tech Pan film, are simply amazing.  So, I'm happily "mining" 40 years of negatives, and really appreciating what that old Rollei GX and SL66 on a tripod could (and can) do.  (BTW, I was sufficiently fanatical that I used only every other frame on the film to be sure the bend of the film around the rollers of the cameras did not cause the film to come off the film plane.)  My first effort is now the main image on my webpage.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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Doug Peterson

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 12:27:33 pm »

You're in good company. The top museums, libraries, and archives are all switching to instant-capture for film. They are going at it with a bit more dedicated equipment (e.g. our DT Film Scanning Kit). But as you've seen yourself even a commodity camera can do a darn good job compared to the 1990s technology of a Nikon film scanner.

Peter McLennan

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2019, 04:40:43 pm »

Okay, then.  If "Swan Lake, Montana" is any indication of the tonality available by this process, I'm in.  Superb!  Feels just like standing there.

I have a D800, two really sharp macro lenses, an Omega C67 120 enlarger and tons of 120 FP4 and various chromes. Let the mining commence! 
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donbga

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2019, 04:59:07 pm »

You're in good company. The top museums, libraries, and archives are all switching to instant-capture for film. They are going at it with a bit more dedicated equipment (e.g. our DT Film Scanning Kit). But as you've seen yourself even a commodity camera can do a darn good job compared to the 1990s technology of a Nikon film scanner.

A bit over the top budget wise for most of us.
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elliot_n

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2019, 08:24:52 pm »

I have a D800, two really sharp macro lenses, an Omega C67 120 enlarger and tons of 120 FP4 and various chromes. Let the mining commence! 

I'm interested too. I have a D800 and an old Meopta Magnifax 6x9 medium format enlarger (I'd need to buy a macro lens).

Paul, I don't really understand how I would set it up. Is it simply a matter of removing the enlarger lens, and somehow attaching the front of the macro lens to the enlarger's lens mount?
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Two23

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2019, 09:59:47 pm »

You're in good company. The top museums, libraries, and archives are all switching to instant-capture for film. They are going at it with a bit more dedicated equipment (e.g. our DT Film Scanning Kit).


What I want is a set up like the DT kit, but it allows me to add my own camera and lens.  I have a D800E (will buy a D850 when they start hitting $2,000) plus Nikon 105mm Micro.  (I could buy another lens if needed.)  I've been looking into using my current camera/lens on a copy stand but haven't found anything that looks really solid yet.  I have many 35mm slides, many 120 slides & C41, and also shoot 4x5 & 5x7 (b&w film and glass plates.)  I would make multi-shot stitches of the large format negs.  I currently have a Nikon Coolscan V and Epson v750.  The nikon D850 does have an attachment for scanning 35mm and software to convert C41 orange mask. 

Lately I've been thinking of adding 8x10 or even 11x14 cameras.  Those aren't easily scanned by what I have now.  So, are there any kits for just using my own camera & lens?


Kent in SD
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Ken Doo

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2019, 11:29:35 pm »

No doubt that the DT Film scanning kit is at the tops in terms of quality.  I got a great deal on a Hasselblad Flextight X5 and went that route for ease of use, especially with smaller 35mm pieces of film.  I saw this advertised recently and this may offer you a possible solution while using your own DSLR.  See, http://www.filmtoaster.photography/

Ken

Two23

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2019, 11:42:54 pm »

No doubt that the DT Film scanning kit is at the tops in terms of quality.  I got a great deal on a Hasselblad Flextight X5 and went that route for ease of use, especially with smaller 35mm pieces of film.  I saw this advertised recently and this may offer you a possible solution while using your own DSLR.  See, http://www.filmtoaster.photography/



Looked this over and it looks a bit expensive.  Also doesn't scan an entire 4x5 sheet, which is what I take the majority of my images on lately.  It does appear to have very high quality and is well thought out, but not a good choice for large format perhaps.


Kent in SD
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JaapD

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 08:08:55 am »

Hi Paul,

you mentioned that the connection to the new computer failed. Is it really hardware related, are you absolutely sure here?

Reason for asking this is that it’s a known fact that the Nikon scan software will not work on your new computer. Hamrick’s Vuescan will work fine though. Maybe Vuescan will actually ‘see’ your connected Nikon 8000 scanner……

Regards,
Jaap.
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Paul Roark

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 11:43:27 am »

I'm interested too. I have a D800 and an old Meopta Magnifax 6x9 medium format enlarger (I'd need to buy a macro lens).

Paul, I don't really understand how I would set it up. Is it simply a matter of removing the enlarger lens, and somehow attaching the front of the macro lens to the enlarger's lens mount?

I posted an image of my copy setup here: http://www.paulroark.com/BW-Info/Copy-setup.jpg

The mirror, when put on top of the light source, where the negative holder would be, is used to align the camera and negative.  With the mirror there and camera on, you center the reflected image of the lens in the camera finder.

Hope this helps.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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elliot_n

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2019, 11:47:00 am »

Yes, that helps - thank you!

Edit to add:

But it's got me wondering whether it might be possible to attach a camera (with a shorter macro lens - e.g. 60mm) to the lens board of an enlarger? Then everything might line up, without the need for a mirror.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 11:57:58 am by elliot_n »
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Paul Roark

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 11:56:59 am »

Hi Paul,

you mentioned that the connection to the new computer failed. Is it really hardware related, are you absolutely sure here?

Reason for asking this is that it’s a known fact that the Nikon scan software will not work on your new computer. Hamrick’s Vuescan will work fine though. Maybe Vuescan will actually ‘see’ your connected Nikon 8000 scanner……

Regards,
Jaap.

I have Vuescan and it didn't help.  I'm pretty sure it's an adapter issue.  The Nikon Firewire connection isn't very well supported today.  I have a laptop with Thunderbolt, which supposedly can connect via an adapter.  I bought an adapter for that purpose, but still, the computer cannot "see"/detect/connect to the scanner.  The adapter or some of the several adapters I have to make the connection apparently don't play well together.  I may talk to a nearby Geek Squad about whether they think they have a shot at getting the connections to work.

In the meantime, the optical copying is working rather well.  So, I'm basically now in a position to "mine" my large collection of MF negatives going back to 1981, when the Brooks Institute staff saw a show of mine and advised me to switch to medium format film -- a very wise piece of advice.  The other major feedback from that 1981 show that toured southern California was the theft of all of my B&W prints, but none of the color prints.  If they think the B&W is worth the risk and the color isn't ...   (Thank you thieves; good feedback!)

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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alan_b

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 12:21:10 pm »

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JayWPage

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 12:30:05 pm »

I have a Nikon Cool Scan 9000 and I've kept my old 2010 Mac Pro for scanning, and for occasionally running legacy 32-bit programs, PS CS6, etc. 

For those people caught in a hardware bind with not being able to connect to their scanner, buying an older, second-hand computer with that capability might be an option.

Also, there are variations in the ability of different brands of adapters to perform the same conversion, some work better than others. I have an Apple HDMI to DVI-D adapter that doesn't allow Spectraview to sense my monitor, which I think is because the adapter doesn't allow 2-way communication.
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nemophoto

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2019, 04:41:14 pm »

You might take a look at the FilmToaster. It utilizes your hi-res digital camera and macro lens with a well-made lightbox. It works with everything from 35mm through 4x5. I've contemplated buying one -- much quicker to use than your traditional scanner and makes good use of my 5Ds. I saw it at Photo Expo and was duly impressed. It's not cheap, about $1500, but I like the thought of supporting a small business/cottage industry kind of thing than a large corporation. Also, as your cameras improve, so does your "scanning". I currently use a Plustek OptiFilm 7600i, which does a decent job for 35mm, but my only current option is my Canoscan 9000F Mark II flatbed which does an acceptable, but not stellar job for medium format.

http://www.filmtoaster.photography/
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rickk

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Jonathan Cross

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2019, 02:32:14 pm »

I am digitising old 35mm slides.  I am using a Kaiser Slimline Plano lightbox.  This has LED lights at 5000K.  I mount my Canon 5d3 and 105 macro on my tripod, level it above the box and off I go.  For me, I am happy processing them in LR.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

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Jonathan in UK

langier

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Re: Digitizing old medium format negatives
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2019, 03:42:39 pm »

I'm in a similar boat...

I restarted using my 1980s Botrans to digitize film, either with my m43 for when I need smaller files or the D800 when larger files are needed. I use a Testrite copy stand and use one of my MicroNikkor lenses and sometimes used HDR but that's pretty rare even with the m43.

With transparencies, color and b&w negatives and a little work in Photoshop, the results are more than adequate for most printing.
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Larry Angier
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