Step 2: Setting Up the Hardware

The basic idea is pretty simple, you need a diffused, homogeneous light source, a way to hold your film, and a digital camera focused on the film. Because you’ll be focusing at a very close distance, the depth of field will be very narrow, so focusing precisely and keeping the distance between the film and the camera exactly the same throughout the scanning. In order to achieve this, several people developed different techniques, such as using a shoe box, simply a tripod and a glass table, or even a tube made from toilet paper rolls. I have tried variations of these in the past and ended up developing my own film holder using laser cutted mdf (schematics for hand or laser cutting can be found on thingiverse). I’ve designed this because it allows me to setup and scan a whole roll very very quickly, with very high precision! The instructions below are broadly independently of which type of film holder you are using, but if you do decide to use my holder, here's how to build it:

First download (here) and cut the holder in your favourite 3mm board material. I've chosen MDF.
Cut the pieces in mdf or other material of your choice.
The top right rectangle is meant to be cut on white acrylic to serve as a light diffuser. The white acrylic is helpful but not mandatory, any other type of difusion can be used, such as using the sky or a white wall as background!
Black lines are for cutting and Red for engraving (In case they don't appear as red for some reason, these are the 8 horizontal lines inside the film holder rectangles). I engrave lines with the "cut" option of the laser cutter at low-power and high-speed.

This Thing includes two film holders: one for 135 (35mm) and another for 120 type film. I taped the surfaces where the film comes in contact with the mdf to avoid scratches. The film holders should be put together in the following layers:
1. mdf film holder piece
2. double sided tape
3. a strip of thick paper or very thin cardboard (this is meant to create a gap between the boards and allow the film to slip through them)
4. double sided tape
5. mdf film holder piece

Use the engraved lines on the mdf film holder boards to align the double sided tape and the cardboards. the distance between these is the height of the different types of film.

The camera holder is built by gluing the long horizontal board to the small vertical strip using the small triangles. It's important to ensure that the two boards are glued at a 90º angle.

The camera is tighten to the board using a 1/4 screw that you can find on any hardware store or looking for "tripod 1/4 screw" on ebay. The camera holder, the film holder and the white acrylic are hold together with small plastic spring clamps.

<p>This is actually a great idea. I'm just wondering now if there would be a decent way to do backlighting without a wireless flash unit. Maybe using a dimmable light bulb and dimmer switch, with semi-transparent acrylic as a backing. </p>
Definitely! In fact, you wouldn't need a dimmer as you would probably want as much light as you can ;)
<p>Thanks for your tutorial, had a similar idea in the past but the purpose was different. I had a bunch of 35mm Negatives and want to know as fast as possible if they are worth for keeping. So i set up a light source, a holder for the negatives and a webcam. Then i used a free software to invert the actual webcam signal, so i could watch at me negatives in natural color.</p><p>Also i have a tip for you, if needed in post processing there are some good tools you might like. search on google pls:</p><p>polaroid dust remover tool (freeware)</p><p>neat image noise reduction (freeware, and better paid versions)</p><p>Also the cropping part can be done in batch with some freeware tools, so you can save time on that.</p>
I don't have time to read this over in entirety, but by other comments and length of the instructable, this looks like it will be good. I have a box of negatives (condensed down from about 200 boxes) from a photographer that has been taking portrait, commercial, event and misc. photos of my city from about 1950 - 2005. I bought a cheap negative scanner which might only be good for the 35mm stuff and was worried about what to do with the larger format stuff. well looks like I found the solution. Thanks and favorited
Hey, thanks for the nice comments :) Please feel free to share any positive or negative results, or any issues that you may find.
<p>LOL I see what you did there; you said <strong><em>negative </em></strong>results.</p><p>Seriously though, I had wanted to build something similar to digitise a lot of my late parents' film &amp; slides before they degraded, but my ideas were quite complicated and so didn't get built. I can see myself making this in an afternoon with some matt black foamcore instead of laser-cut MDF.</p><p>Also, thanks for sharing the post processing part. :D</p>
Thanks for posted it, i will try.
Thank you for the instructable, nice work. I have some valuable slides or at least they have personal value and I do not trust to send them out to a lab or some cheaper solution such as a Costco service. <br> <br>Your information is far more worthy of reading than the childish comments that were posted and you graciously ignored. <br> <br>Thank you <br> <br>
You're very welcome! :) yeah.... apparently trolls are everywhere :P
Thanks so much for this idea. I have been trying to figure out how to &quot;scan&quot; some images from some VERY old ViewMaster reels. I know...you're thinking copyright issues, but I just want them for myself. <br> <br>I spent HOURS looking at these images from the 1940's - 1960's reels my Dad gave me. Many of them are so damaged now that I'm afraid to put them in the viewer. (I even have some from the Apollo 11 mission images.) Many of these images were taken around the world. I used to sit outside and imagine I was touring all those exotic places. I just don't want to lose those memories and this might be the best way for me to do it. Thanks a bunch! <br>
Thank you! :) That's exactly why I wanted to share this ;)
thank you Captain Obvious, you invented new crazy bicycle
dont even think to use space between frames as &quot;white point&quot;! <br>because it is too easy!
lol Are you saying that I could have set the white balance to the blank parts of the negative? You do realize that photos taken under different lighting have different white balance points, don't you? ;) It's much more productive to set the auto white balance to a white object inside the frame. <br>But thanks for the input, anyway! I do appreciate it :)
&gt;the left end of the curves represents the highlights and the left, the shadows. <br>Can't both be 'left' !
Right! :) thanks. corrected
Very useful instructable. <br>I am in the process of setting up to copy some of my negatives. <br>I will use the neg carrier from an old enlarger to hold the negatives and probably use an LED lamp with a diffuser as the light source. <br> <br> <br>If you have a lot of negatives to scan it would probably be worth grouping them by film type and then finding an approximate correction for each type. <br>You could then set up macros for batch processing each set. <br>That should give you a reasonably good correction that will just need a bit of tweaking of the individual images. <br> <br>
Thanks!<br>Yeah I use to do that exactly. Every time I get a roll developed, before cutting the film, I run it through the scanner and then process it in batch ;)
Great instructable ! <br>Not only did I get a new way of scanning older films (it work with B&amp;W too of course), but the photoshop part on balancing colors is very clear and I always need inputs on this matter as I have a very feeble mind regarding color techniques !!!!&acirc;€&brvbar; <br>I truly thank you !&acirc;€&brvbar;
You're very welcome! :D thanks
Best Instructable I've seen in a long time!&nbsp; Thank you for sharing your film holder construction, camera settings, and software methods.&nbsp; It is obvious you have solved a lot of problems.&nbsp;<br> <br> I have about 100 boxes of Kodachrome slides taken by my father and myself over the years.&nbsp; He started shooting slides at the end of WWII.&nbsp; With a few mods, your setup should work for slides just as well.&nbsp; I am a big fan of making things out of reinforced/laminated cardboard when structural strength is not that important.&nbsp; You have taken a lot of trial and error out of building a great slide copier.&nbsp; For example back lighting through the hole in the box seems obvious (now), but has plagued my thought processes.&nbsp;<br> <br> I am curious why you did not paint everything flat black to stop bouncing reflections and colors all over your camera's sensors?&nbsp;<br> <br> I think you left out some images in Step 9.&nbsp; You mentioned them but they are not there.&nbsp;<br> <br> Also a nit-pick - loose means 'not tight.'&nbsp; You use loose instead of 'lose.'&nbsp;
Thanks a lot for your input, I'm really glad you liked it! I have corrected what you've pointed out. In step 9 I only have those pictures but I wasn't referring to them in the right way. <br> <br>Alos, for slides this guy http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerdivinia/5414312332/ has a very neat way of holding them. The L holder seems sturdy enough and quick to use, have a look. <br> <br>I haven't painted it black, I see your point, but it doesn't seem to be an issue for some reason. I think, at least behind the diffuser, it even helps to have some light bouncing around, to help it diffuse better. <br> <br>Thanks again!

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