Inspired by the upcoming Lomography 35mm scanner and based on the previous test I did for digitizing 120 film, I put together a simple wooden stand to hold my camera over a 120 film negative that has been placed on a light table. I made masks for the negatives to hold the film flat and to shield the camera from flare from the light table. I made the stand to shoot my 6-12 negatives from my Belair, but a shorter stand for 6x6 and 6x9 negatives will maximize the scan for the smaller negatives. It would be more elegant to make an adjustable stand, but for now, the fixed height stands are very easy to make.
After shooting several negatives, I found I needed to cover up the sides and the lens opening in order to prevent reflections from the overhead light from showing on the scan. I just used the same black card stock I used to make the negative masks.
I plan on making another stand specifically for 6x6 negatives in order to maximize the scan size and resolution.
While I was shooting the negatives to illustrate my last post on the purple tint in my Tri-X negatives, I decided to see if I could get usable digital images of my negatives using my iPhone. These were handheld, but they worked better than I imagined. I got the idea from the Lomography Smartphone Scanner for 35mm film that will be shipping a little later this year.
I had my negatives on a light table and framed the negatives to maximize the size and took a few photos. I wasn't sure which IOS app could invert them, so I just emailed the photos to myself and then downloaded them on my desktop. I later discovered that Photoshop Express has an invert function. I am not sure if any of the other camera or special effect apps have that function. I know that Lomography will have an app for their 35mm smartphone scanner.
I opened the negative images in Adobe Photoshop CS6 (although any version can handle the conversion to grayscale and inversion to positive) and converted the images to grayscale. After that, I inverted them. I added a slight curve for contrast and to deepen the blacks and open the highlights.
I am mostly interested in previewing my images before enlarging them in the darkroom. Using my iPhone to make quick proof scans of a roll of film will also enable me to quickly put thumbnails of new photos into my image database, instead of waiting until I can make a proofsheet and scanning that. I am not planning to use this method for digital prints, but I think if I made a stand for the phone, and got a frosted piece of glass or plastic to place the negatives on, I could make decent digital scans for use here on the blog or perhaps for the 6x12 format Belair negatives which I can't print using my current enlarger. The maximum size I can print on my Beseler 23c are 6x9cm negatives.
Below are a few examples. I am showing the negative image as they came off the phone, then the converted image. All are clickable to view a 800pixel wide image.
As I recently have been processing my film, I've noticed that the negatives have a distinct purple cast. I wasn't sure what the problem was, and searching for the problem and solution on the internet, I've seen lots of different theories about it.
What it reminded me of, is the cast that TMAX has. TMAX negatives have a similar cast, and the solution to the problem is vigorous agitation during the fixing process, and an extended fixing time (4-5 minutes).
In the image above, the "new" 400 Tri X is the top negative, and the older (now discontinued) Tri X 320 is below. You can easily see the pinkish-purplish cast.
The image is clickable to a higher res version, if you would like to take a closer look.
I have modified my fixing process to continuously invert my processing tank for 5 minutes, and that seems to have reduced the problem. The negatives still have a slight purple tint, but it isn't as pronounced or uneven as before.
I think that Kodak has tweaked Tri X to include some of the same physical characteristics as TMAX. The purple pink tint might be the anti-halation coating they use on the film backing.
By the way, the wide negative above is the 6x12 negative from my Lomography Belair. It looks good and I look forward to getting the scan done, which I will do by using my iPhone, but more on that later!
I participated in the Lomography Kickstarter project for the Lomography Smartphone 35mm Film Scanner. I am not exactly sure when they will ship, but I am looking forward to this little bit of high tech for digitizing my low tech photos.
The scanner should become available later this year. You can sign up for notification about the scanner on the Lomography microsite.