“Well, shake me down with a wobbly tripod.”

Old abandoned house, Boliqueime

Here’s one I made earlier (last week, not last decade) with a DSLR, macro and duplicator.

35mm scanning before:
Great quality, no speed

It’s been nearly a decade since I sold my Nikon Coolscan LS-40 35mm scanner. An excellent scanner with hardware dust and scratch removal [remember Digital ICE?]; great resolution; excellent colour fidelity and very decent density range. But it was a slow beast and would take a couple of minutes to scan a single frame. Slow that to nearly 20 minutes for its best quality, multi-pass scans.

35mm scanning now:
Speed, with ‘other’ qualities

Now I rig up my DSLR to a slide duplicator and things are a lot quicker. Granted – I’m not getting the same quality results. This new process is prone to colour shifts – dust and scratches but these low-fi results are, akchewally, rather pleasing. After all – when I want clean, clear, grain-free images I shoot digital. [Those Lomography folks have a lot to answer for.] Once set up it only takes a couple of minutes per film.

35mm film to DSLR scanning set-up

Until recently I’d been using an Opteka slide duplicator threaded onto a 50mm prime. It has a close-up lens built in but no way to handle filmstrips. If you faff about you can thread film strips through it but it’s fiddly.

My new, improved rig is based around a Polaroid-branded slide duplicator and a proper macro lens. The duplicator has the same default 52mm thread fitting but it has a removable close-up lens and it can take a film strip holder as well as mounted slides. This is connected to an old Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s lens. This macro lens still needs an extra boost – a small macro ring adaptor.

Finally – add light and – if you’ve got neg film on a dense orange stock – a light blue/green gel…

On Tripod #1

  • Camera (Nikon D810)
  • Macro extension tube (Meike macro extension tube set, bought 2016 @50€)
  • Macro lens (Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s, 52ø) (You can use a standard lens and keep the close-up element on the Polaroid duplicator)
  • Slide duplicator (Polaroid HD Slide Duplicator, 52ø, May 2017 @30€)
  • Filmstrip holder (Kaiser Fototechnik 6507, Aug 2018 @20€)(Without this you’re hand-holding the film in place.)
  • Coloured gels (helps with post for colour negs: light blue-green from Selens Universal 20x Gel set, Aug 2018 @10€ )

On tripod #2

  • Light source (Viltrox L116T continuous LED light, Nov 2017 @30€)

Bob’s your uncle!
(Not sure who to feel sorrier for.)

35mm film colour negative full height DSLR scan

Without a filmstrip holder, you get the full 35mm sprockets-plus experience

A simpler, and cheaper, one tripod setup

  • Camera
  • Standard 50mm lens
  • Slide duplicator (keep the close-up element on)
  • Natural light source

Last updated on 17th June 2019