Scanning film is one of the biggest issues with shooting film today. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult, it’s just a pain because most of us tend to do it so little. Maybe a roll or two every few weeks. Pulling out the scanner and hooking it up can be a chore, so we put it off and just never get around to it. I’ve got plenty of rolls here that have been developed but not scanned yet.
Photographer, Matt Day, however, has a simple solution to this problem. A solution that’s compact, quicker to set up than a scanner on your computer, as well as being faster and easier to actually “scan” in your images. Using a simple copy stand and an LED panel, he can get through a lot of film through very quickly and easily.
If you’ve heard of Matt before, you know that he shoots a lot of film. It’s pretty much what 99% of his YouTube channel’s about. But he also shoots a Fujifilm X-T3, and uses this to “scan” his film into the computer. Matt uses a fairly standard copy stand, typically designed for photographing documents, but has could an LED panel that fits perfectly on top of its base onto which he can lay his negatives.
With the Fuji X-T3 mounted above, he can happily and quickly snap away at all his film while using a remote trigger to prevent vibrations. If your light panel is significantly larger than the film, you’ll want to probably cover some of it up with black gaffer tape as Matt has in his setup.
The video above is for black & white film, but Matt’s also posted about “scanning” colour film with this method, and the differences it can entail.
Matt uses Negative Lab Pro for his process. This is a Lightroom 6 & Lightroom Classic CC plugin that allows you to quickly and easily (at least from what I can see on Matt’s videos) work with your negative raw files.
I’ve used this technique myself before with the Nikon D800 mounted to an enlarger stand. I was frustrated with the hassles of setting up the Epson Perfection V700 scanner (it is very good, though) every time I developed more rolls. But inverting the image and tweaking things is pretty simple to do in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop already, so I’d be hard pressed to spend $99 on a Lightroom plugin just for working with negatives.
So, use whichever software you feel most comfortable with. But if you’ve got a lot of film you want to scan, perhaps you’ve inherited some from relatives, this is a great method to get them all onto the computer quickly.