Pentax’s new film duplicator lets you digitise film from 35mm to 5×4 with your DSLR

Jun 20, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Pentax’s new film duplicator lets you digitise film from 35mm to 5×4 with your DSLR

Jun 20, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The resurgence in film’s popularity in the last few years has been a wonderful thing.  Large format photography is only just starting to see the the kind of reawakening that 35mm experienced, but it is definitely making a comeback.

For those that are already shooting 4×5, your life might be about to get a little easier (although it may not once you realise the cost).  The newly announced Pentax Film Duplicator 4×5 lets you digitise your film from 35mm up to 4×5 negatives using a simple DSLR.

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Obviously, one is limited to the resolution of their camera.  If you’re shooting a 50MP Canon 5Ds, you’re going to be able to get bigger prints and more detail than a nine year old 12MP Nikon D300.

I still don’t think it would produce the kind of images you might expect from a dedicated film scanner, like the Epson Perfection V850, and certainly not a drum scanner, but it’s probably going to be good enough for most purposes.

If you’re only ever going to be scanning your film to post online and not make big detailed digital prints, this could be the perfect solution. It’s why 35mm slide duplicators have also become popular again.

It’s certainly much quicker than scanning in film, dealing with ridiculously huge files, only to scale them down to a couple of thousand pixels across for the web.

I wouldn’t get too, excited, though.  No price has yet been announced, but the previous version of the Film Duplicator, which accepts 35mm and medium format film up to 6×9 format costs a whopping £799 through Ricoh’s UK online store.

If you’re only shooting 35mm, there are many other options out there better suited to most wallets, such as Polaroid’s 35mm slide duplicator.  If you’re shooting 4×5, you might be better just using a copy stand and lightbox.

Still, after film’s brief demise, seeing the two working together side by side today shows that neither medium is “better” than the other.  Just different.

I know no price has been announced, but given the cost of the medium format version of this film duplicator, I can’t imagine it’ll be inexpensive.

Do you own the medium format Pentax film duplicator?  Was it worth it?  Or did you think “screw that” and came up with your own DIY option?  Let us know and tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Pentax’s new film duplicator lets you digitise film from 35mm to 5×4 with your DSLR”

  1. Richard Joseph Avatar
    Richard Joseph

    Been waiting for one of these!! Finally!!

  2. Scott Ackerman Avatar
    Scott Ackerman

    I use a Nikon PB-6 with the PS-6 slide copying adapter, got it off eBay a couple of years ago for $225. Works great on my D800e. Being the former owner of a prepress house and having owned a Screen 737 Drum Scanner I can say ‘no’ it does not give you the quality of a drum scanner. But probably not for the same reasons that you think. As far as pulling shadow detail I essentially shoot HDR on slides that have a lot of subtle shadow detail and it works quite well.

  3. Τάσος Καπάτος Avatar
    Τάσος Καπάτος

    Very interesting.

  4. Alexandre Grondin Avatar
    Alexandre Grondin

    Want this!

  5. Mike Avatar
    Mike

    1. A V850 is not a dedicated film scanner. At all.

    2. Having scanned nearly 500 rolls of film and many, many sheets of 4×5 with a Nikon D800 (and done comparisons to actual film scanners – the Nikon 9000ED and Imacon X1), I can tell you that this method produces EXCELLENT quality scans; easily the equal of the highly-regarded 9000ED, and nearly the equal of the $11,000 X1 (and it actually outresolves the X1 for medium and large format film).

    Please, stop talking about things you clearly have no idea about.

  6. EVener Avatar
    EVener

    also check out the Film Toaster http://www.filmtoaster.photography for digital duping of 4×5 and small film originals using an APS-C , small (24x36mm sensor), or medium format digital camera