Scanning film negatives

Digital photography is cool, but so is analogue. With a few lenses I inherited and a brand-second hand 35 mm camera, I’ve been taking pictures now and then. While some of these turned out quite well (imo), they remained analogue and never made it into a digital format. As it turns out, scanning is either very expensive (upwards of € 1 per image) or it delivers results of low quality.

Luckily, the internet provides plenty of guides for some DIY scanning using one’s own digital camera. Yes, taking pictures of pictures is kind of silly (and meta), but how else should I show them here?

Anyhoo, here are some guides that helped me out:

I opted for a very low-cost solution:

  1. Cut two pieces of cardboard into a 30 x 40 mm frame, fix the negatives in place between using clothespins.
  2. Use a tablet as a light table to shine light through the negatives from below: Lightbox Free works for me.
  3. Put a few extension tubes on my camera to achieve closer focus: 31 mm extension gave my 50/1.8 lens a bit more than 100% coverage of a 35 mm negative.
  4. Use a tripod, align the camera with the negative surface, close that diaphragm for optimal sharpness.
  5. Trial-and-error.
  6. Success.

So far, I’ve scanned 20+ negatives, all from one roll of Tri-X Pro 400. It’s a rather laborious process, including dust removal, but practice makes perfect.

I’m quite happy with how these photos turned out, though the first one shows some signs of faulty development, alas.

Next attempt, soon: scanning colour film.

Stadshaard, Enschede


Amidst the leaves