Digital archiving – camera scanning film

In a previous post, I wrote about scanning artworks and prints using a digital camera. I’m going to go a little deeper into the details of scanning 35mm film here. Scanning film has been around since the inception of digital photography with big expensive film scanners. The main issue with that method is how slow and cumbersome the process is. I’ve been interested in the idea of using a high resolution camera instead. The efficiency of a camera instantly capturing the scan rather than hours of sitting in front of a scanner makes a lot of sense.

For a more detailed background, a great outline of the process is available on the dpBestflow.org website. I ended up creating a bellows style system as seen below. I purchased a Nikon slide copy adaptor, and mounted a series of extension rings on and used a macro lens to get to 1:1 reproduction level. The camera is a Nikon D800, a 36MP camera giving plenty of resolution for reproduction!

An example of my setup mid way through a scanning job - the camera mounted on a tripod looking down on a light table for illumination.

An example of my setup mid way through a scanning job – the camera mounted on a tripod looking down on a light table for illumination. The exposures are calibrated long enough to work with the fluorescent tube cycles.

As the dpBestflow article mentions, the raw camera files are converted and inverted in Adobe Lightroom. Photoshop can then be used to remove dust and scratches as needed. Here are some examples of a recent scanning job I did for artist Sally Griffin of a series of portraits she made of other artists:

BW Camera Scans of Sally Griffin photo of artist Rachel Power.

Artist Rachel Power. Photo: Sally Griffin.

Sally Griffin photo of jeweler Alan Preston.

Jewelers Alan Preston and Daniel Clasby who became the early Fingers group . Photo: Sally Griffin.

Portrait of Tony Fomison. Photo: Sally Griffin

Here’s a note from Sally about the scanning project:

“When Mark said he could scan my 1970’s black and white negatives into positives, I was not expecting any miracles. They had been moved from one place to another over the years and were in not great shape.
Mark has reinvigorated the past and done a superb job. An exhibition of these photos of artists and politicians from these times will now go ahead early next year.
His approach to this task was both methodical and creative and he is very easy to work with too.” http://www.sallygriffin.co.nz/

 

 

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