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    Lomography Film Scanner or DIY Film Scanner - How to Convert a Negative Image to Positive

    The Lomography Film Scanner is out, but they haven't released their LomoScanner Apps for Android or iPhone yet. If you are trying out some version of a DIY Film Scanner, you also need a to process your negative images to positive. So how do you change and convert the digital images of the negatives to positives?

    One solution is to use the IOS iPhone app Photoshop Express. I have been using this app to convert the images from the DIY 120 film scanner I built. Adobe also makes an Android app with the same name, but I haven't been able to verify if it has the same feature set as the iPhone app. If you know, please drop me a line.

    If you have Photoforge2 on your iPhone, I understand that this will also invert negatives.

    Here's how to do the negative conversion to positive on an iPhone.

    1. Download the Adobe Photoshop Express app. (Free!)

    2. Launch the Photoshop Express app

    3. You can either take a photo of your negative with the Lomography Smartphone Film scanner, or select an image of a negative.

    4. When the image is open, select the crop tool and rotate or straighten the image before cropping. Next crop the image down to the edges.

    5. After the image is cropped, go to the effects menu and select "Effects".

    6. Select "Invert" from the special effects menus. (Top left corner of the effects grid)

    7. After the image is inverted, it will be off in color and saturation.

    8. To color correct the image, select Hue/Saturation from the correction menu.

    9. Adjust the Hue/Saturation. For my negative, I needed to adjust the Hue to the mid -60s  and the Saturation to about 10. Your mileage will vary, depending on the negative and film used. You may also need to adjust the exposure in the same menu list as Hue/Saturation to lighten or darken the image.

    10. Done!


    New Video: The Lomography Smartphone 35mm Film Scanner

    I have posted a new video: "Out of the Box - Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner" on my YouTube channel.

    This is the new film scanner from Lomography that uses a smartphone to digitize 35mm film negatives. Lomography hasn't yet released their software app that goes with the scanner, but they promise it will be soon.

    In the meantime, Adobe's Photoshop Express on the iPhone works fine to invert the negative images. I know there is Photoshop Express on Android, but I don't know if it has the same feature set including Invert. 




    The iPhone 120 Film Scanner, Difficult Negatives and Digital Retouching

    I am a traditional photographic printer, meaning that I like to make prints in the darkroom. Unfortunately, it isn't always practical or quick to produce work this way.

    Testing the iPhone scanner setup, I see that many negatives that would normally be deemed difficult to print in the darkroom because they are too thin (underexposed) or too dense from overexposure, can be easily and quickly retouched in Photoshop. (At least on the desktop. See my notes below about the iPad experience)


    An underexposed 120 film negative shot during an overcast day in Beijing, China


    The original negative scan inverted. 


    Retouched image.

    All the image are clickable to larger sizes.


    The digital retouching was done on a 3rd Gen iPad using various programs, but somewhere along the way, the image lost some resolution. Probably in Sketchbook as the app resized the image to it's maximum or default. Sketchbook was used to spot the image, a process remarkably similar to spotting a silver gelatin photographic print. In the future, for work which will be output to digital prints, they will be retouched on a desktop computer and a full version of Photoshop CS6, in order to more easily spot, retouch, and refine the images while holding onto the maximum resolution. I hope the experience will become better on the iPad as new apps and tools are added that make retouching easier. For now, it is an exercise in patience.

     (iPad apps used: Photoshop Express, Sketchbook Pro (for spotting), Photoshop Touch) 



    iPhone (Smartphone) 120 Film Scanner, Version 2

    iPhone Scannner, Ver 2 in action.

     With Beseler negative carrier in place.

    White plastic diffuser in position.

    The 160 LED video light source  placed in the base.

    The iPhone Scanner , Ver 2.

    Each image is clickable to show a larger version.

    The second version of the iPhone 120 film scanner was completed today. It is the same basic design as the first, but I wanted two more things from this new design. Since most of my negatives are in 120 format, I wanted a dedicated platform that maximized the scan for that size. I also wanted an independent light source for the scanner because using a light table isn't very convenient, and sometimes there may be horizontal line patterning from fluorescent light tube flicker. 

     The scanner is built with a closed base. The closed base is the platform for an inexpensive 160 LED video light. Two levels of supports were added to the inside walls. The first one supports a piece of white translucent plastic that acts as a diffuser for the light. The second support is higher and is for the Beseler 23IIC negative carrier. The negative carrier is ideal to hold the negative flat, easily reposition the negative under the camera, and to be able to quickly switch to a new negative. In order to accomodate the negative carrier, a notch was cut into the side of one of the supports. The negative carrier handle that sticks out the side serves to reposition the negative without having to move the camera.

    Plans for iPhone Film Scanner, Version 3 are already in the works. As this version took shape. I noted places where slight changes could be made so that the scanner could be used for multiple formats. The goal is to be able to scan everything from 110 film to the 6x12 format of the Lomography Belair.

    The light panel is available on Amazon (about $30USD) and is the:

    Chromo Inc. 160 LED CI-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light



    Photos: Scanned with an iPhone


    I've been scanning lots of images in the past few days and I am very happy with the ease of scanning and converting. I will be posting some of these images as I continue to digitize my new and old negatives.

    The above images:

    Seattle, WA 2008

    Holga 120N, Plus-X