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Medium format slides to digital

danlindberg

Active member
I used, back in the day, a Minolta Dimage Pro 'Something' to scan my Fuji GX 680 III slides. At the time it was supposed to be a very good scanner (remember it was expensive for me) but I never really liked the files it produced. Still have it! But it hasn't seen light for decades now.

I have thought about trying a setup shooting the slides with my cam, but haven't done it for a million reasons - until tonight. Just now I am experimenting a bit but I want to say that I can imediately see that it betters the old Minolta by miles.

I have enough 'stuff' to be able to put the camera on a sturdy platform with macrorail 90 degrees. I have a small light table and the glass cassette from the Minolta to hold the slides flat. My main concern has always been, how do I make sure the sensor is parallell to the razorthin slide? Well, the truth is, I still don't know, but the simplest of methods came to me this afternoon (that's why I finally had to try it)! I mounted the (excellent) Alpa big round bubble on a little platform (actually a Manfrotto quickplate) and put it on the light table and tweaked it to perfection. Then I put the same device on the back of the camera, on the display and dialed that in to the exact same position. Now, even if the bubble would be slightly off, it would not matter since the two surfaces are dialed in with the same 'instrument' and should therefore be identical.

This apple was shot in the very early eighties!!! Most probably with Hasselblad 500CM and a 135mm Macro with its bellows. The not so nice focus falloff is a different story, but I am impressed with the digital file of this old piece of film!



For landscapes I have mostly 6x8 from the mighty Fuji! I am going to try more seriously to make a setup/process to spark life into my old film treasure! This next one was just on top of a pile....

 

dave.gt

Well-known member
Very nice scans!!!!:):):)

I am going to follow along with your new project! Thanks in advance for more results.:thumbs:
 

Speedgraphic

New member
I've found 35mm full frame to be the sweet spot for scanning. Medium format digital has more DoF issues and the quality gain is not that much. I scan with a Panasonic S1R, which can create a true RGB capture at 187mp. Even when you have to crop to 1:1 that's still a file somewhere in the range of 100-125mp. I use a Sigma 70mm 2.8 ART macro, and it's perfect corner to corner.

There is a lot of doubting surrounding camera scanning but you really need to try it to realize how well it works. Frankly cameras like the S1R or Sony A7RIV obsolete the Hasselblad scanners. And yes I'm speaking from experience with both.
 

rdeloe

Member
There is a lot of doubting surrounding camera scanning but you really need to try it to realize how well it works. Frankly cameras like the S1R or Sony A7RIV obsolete the Hasselblad scanners. And yes I'm speaking from experience with both.
Camera scanning is a very good option. I think the results I got from camera scanning my 4x5 negs are much better than what I could get with an Epson V750. Even using an APS-C camera to do the "scanning", I could make 2,666 ppi scans out of 12 stitched frames faster than I ever could on my Epson.
 

dougpeterson

Workshop Member
You're in great company. As measured by volume the vast majority of high-end scanning is now done via "camera scanning" which is more properly referred to as "instant capture digitization".

We (DT) have spent a ton of time refining this to the point where our results are significantly better than a drum scan, while being faster and safer on the film as well. We offer both hardware for purchase or scanning services (for high-volume jobs) using said hardware. Our systems are used by the Library of Congress for the FSA collection, the museum (CCP) that houses the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, the National Geographic Society, Disney, the Irving Penn Foundation, Getty, and countless other institutions that take quality very seriously.

Some links to explore this further...
https://dtculturalheritage.com/film-scanning-kit/
https://dtculturalheritage.com/film/
https://dtculturalheritage.com/product/digitization-workflows-transmissive-pdf-download/

While our system represents the peak refinement of this approach, I will echo the above that even a MacGyver'd approach is often quite good.
 

itsdoable

New member
... My main concern has always been, how do I make sure the sensor is parallell to the razorthin slide? ...
The classic technique for copy work was to use a mirror, place it on the plane you want to focus, adjust your camera so the reflection is in the center, and you are done. Works on any inclined plane. Hasselblad use to sell a device called a Linear Mirror for this.

Since you have a glass holder, turn off the back light, illuminate your rig, and center you reflection from the glass.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
The classic technique for copy work was to use a mirror, place it on the plane you want to focus, adjust your camera so the reflection is in the center, and you are done. Works on any inclined plane. Hasselblad use to sell a device called a Linear Mirror for this.

Since you have a glass holder, turn off the back light, illuminate your rig, and center you reflection from the glass.
I can second that. At Minolta, a mirror would be taped off to only show a small window, which helped with positioning.
 

dj may

Active member
Thought maybe this could be of interest.

This is very similar to how I do it with Leica S and APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120 lens. Most of my work is 4x5, but I have also done 6x6.

I cannot tell if that is a polarizing filter on your lens, but that is what I use to eliminate reflections. Also, I mask the light panel so that only light is transmitted through the negative, and not around it. I use a negative carrier without glass.

I have since obtained a copy stand for future work.

The byproduct of this method is that I am probably done with darkroom printing. It is a little sad, however, the quality of digitized prints, either ink/paper or photographic, leaves no quality deficiencies. The only difference is that fiber-based paper has a different look and feel. Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl is similar, but it contains brighteners. I prefer Hahnemühle Photo Rage, which has no brighteners.
 

JohnBrew

New member
I had a Minolta 5400 which was terrific for 35mm, until one day it fell over (!) and numerous trips to Minolta only resulted in shipping damage so I had to toss it. I’m very interested in the techniques explored here as I would like to do something similar with my old 6x12, 6x7 & 6x6 negatives. Can someone recommend a good copy stand?
 

dougpeterson

Workshop Member
Can someone recommend a good copy stand
DT Atom: https://dtculturalheritage.com/dt-atom-entry-level-digitizer/

Built in the USA
Rock solid base, column, and arm
Arm does not sag or require locking
Integrates with DT Film Scanning Stage and Carriers
DT AutoColumn controlled from within Capture One
Column movement down to 1/3rd of a millimeter
3-axis micrometer leveling head (DT AutoColumn Advanced Leveling Head)
Built in dovetail receiver
Unique design with area under work deck for illumination
By default, ships with DT Photon, the highest CRI/CQS illuminant on the market
 

Thorkil

Active member
I had a Minolta 5400 which was terrific for 35mm, until one day it fell over (!) and numerous trips to Minolta only resulted in shipping damage so I had to toss it. I’m very interested in the techniques explored here as I would like to do something similar with my old 6x12, 6x7 & 6x6 negatives. Can someone recommend a good copy stand?
I'm going to buy this, John, a Kaiser one
As a poor architect I can't afford Dan's exquisite equipment (though I would love a X1d II !!!) :rolleyes:
https://www.hother.dk/webshop/affotograferings-og-reproudstyr/kaiser-affotograferings-stand.html
Sorry for the danish.
I'm going to cut some black cartboard, while I registered false light from the lightbox. And winter-evening work to keep unwelcome light away.
At the latest I used microskopic-glass to flatten the film, but with a lot of dust as result, so a proper 120 film-holder without glass would be welcome. Any recommandations are most welcome !!
But perhaps I'm ending up with placing it direct on the lightbox, the cartboard-mask upon it, and some 10mm plywood with a cut 65x65mm hole to keep it down, and the hole painted black.
(PS. after seeing Dougs proposal, I'm sure that would be the best, but then I would need to sell my car, I guess...)
 

rdeloe

Member
I'm going to buy this, John, a Kaiser one
As a poor architect I can't afford Dan's exquisite equipment (though I would love a X1d II !!!) :rolleyes:
https://www.hother.dk/webshop/affotograferings-og-reproudstyr/kaiser-affotograferings-stand.html
Sorry for the danish.
I'm going to cut some black cartboard, while I registered false light from the lightbox. And winter-evening work to keep unwelcome light away.
At the latest I used microskopic-glass to flatten the film, but with a lot of dust as result, so a proper 120 film-holder without glass would be welcome. Any recommandations are most welcome !!
But perhaps I'm ending up with placing it direct on the lightbox, the cartboard-mask upon it, and some 10mm plywood with a cut 65x65mm hole to keep it down, and the hole painted black.
(PS. after seeing Dougs proposal, I'm sure that would be the best, but then I would need to sell my car, I guess...)
You're on the right track. It's important to mask the extra light from the light panel. You can spend a lot of money on special glass, but before you do that I'd suggest trying a piece of plain picture framing glass.

I also highly recommend wet mounting. It's not difficult, and I find it gives better results, especially if your negatives have scratches in the emulsion. You can spend a lot of money on special films and solutions for fluid mounting, but you can also get the same results with very inexpensive materials:
* Gamsol Odourless Mineral Spirits (and similar products) are ideal fluids for wet mounting; they do not damage the negative
* Grafix Clear .003 Dura-Lar Film is a nice thin film that comes in sheets you can cut to size
* Any decent art store will have a semi-hard rubber "brayer" (a rubber roller) that you use to squeeze out extra fluid

Once you've done it a few times, wet mounting is quick and easy. The fluid doesn't harm the negative. When you've made your scans, you simply lift off the film, take the negative off the glass, and hang it to dry; I just leaded my 4x5 negatives against something on my desk.

https://www.largeformatphotography....era-scanning-on-the-cheap-an-example-approach
 

Thorkil

Active member
You're on the right track. It's important to mask the extra light from the light panel. You can spend a lot of money on special glass, but before you do that I'd suggest trying a piece of plain picture framing glass.

I also highly recommend wet mounting. It's not difficult, and I find it gives better results, especially if your negatives have scratches in the emulsion. You can spend a lot of money on special films and solutions for fluid mounting, but you can also get the same results with very inexpensive materials:
* Gamsol Odourless Mineral Spirits (and similar products) are ideal fluids for wet mounting; they do not damage the negative
* Grafix Clear .003 Dura-Lar Film is a nice thin film that comes in sheets you can cut to size
* Any decent art store will have a semi-hard rubber "brayer" (a rubber roller) that you use to squeeze out extra fluid

Once you've done it a few times, wet mounting is quick and easy. The fluid doesn't harm the negative. When you've made your scans, you simply lift off the film, take the negative off the glass, and hang it to dry; I just leaded my 4x5 negatives against something on my desk.

https://www.largeformatphotography....era-scanning-on-the-cheap-an-example-approach
Thank you Rdeloe for the advices!
But I would seriously be afraid for a wet solution, and fear I'm not mentally geared to have sufficient patience.
At first I will try to place the film direct on my lightbox after cleaning with microfiber cloth and alcohol, then the cartboard and plywood
I will try to take a carefull look at your largeformat link and your write-up there!
I'm going to buy a Kaiser flat lightbox with 5.000 Kelvin adjusted light, guess its more easy to tune-in then i C1
And you do also the wet solution with Fuji Velvia?
Kr thorkil
 

rdeloe

Member
Thank you Rdeloe for the advices!
But I would seriously be afraid for a wet solution, and fear I'm not mentally geared to have sufficient patience.
At first I will try to place the film direct on my lightbox after cleaning with microfiber cloth and alcohol, then the cartboard and plywood
I will try to take a carefull look at your largeformat link and your write-up there!
I'm going to buy a Kaiser flat lightbox with 5.000 Kelvin adjusted light, guess its more easy to tune-in then i C1
And you do also the wet solution with Fuji Velvia?
Kr thorkil
I was fluid mounting and scanning different brands of black and white film (Ilford, Kodak) -- so no Velvia.

If you don't want to wet scan, you can use low tack tape to stretch the negative flat on a piece of glass, and then put that over your light pad. For roll film there also are handy templates you can buy that do a decent job of holding the negative flat. I have not used one of these myself, but from videos I watched it looks like it would be worth a try: https://shop.lomography.com/en/accessories/film-scanners/digitaliza-120-scanning-mask

I was only scanning black and white so I didn't have to worry about colour temperature -- just evenness of light. If you're scanning chromes, then it's definitely worth investing in a good light box or light pad.
 

danlindberg

Active member
Today I built a frame without glass but with weight as to pin down the slide by the sides. I glued a black 'skirt' around it so no more stray light.

This is fun!

 

Godfrey

Well-known member
I use a Novoflex copy stand, use a good level to true it to my work table, true the table surface to the camera as well with the level, etc. I was using the Leica SL as my capture camera, but since I sold that and now use the Leica CL, I've found it has some advantages ... Less distance is needed, and particularly for small negatives (I use Minox format cameras too... :)), which makes the whole scanning assembly less subject to camera motion. Same 24 Mpixel captures and at the ISO 200 setting I usually use, the differences in dynamic range, etc, are simply not visible at all.

I intend to play with the same setup using the Hasselblad 907x and my Leica R macro lenses/bellows/etc when that camera arrives, but I suspect the advantages of its higher resolution sensor will be out-weighed by the disadvantages in setup height and focus criticality. I never know for sure until I try it out...

G
 
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