Author Options:

Help With Film to Digital Conversion Answered

Could someone tell me how to photograph negatives, and then process them into positive images? This is the best I can do, and when I invert the colors, it does not look right. (Ctrl-Alt-Cmd-8 on a mac) Any help would be appreciated, preferably with camera settings rather than computer adjustments. Second image is original print, I would prefer not to have to get expensive prints.


It's a challenging problem. You won't be able to do a good job with just in-camera controls. You can't just invert, as you have to deal with the orange mask, which varies with density. You can try downloading Vuescan. There's a trial to see if you like it. Otherwise, something like Lightroom 4 might be in order.

I've build a dslr scanner, but my focus right now is bw negatives.

I'm going to agree with CameronSS, A negative scanner is the way to go, you can usually find a decent one on E-bay, or B&H photo.

I'm just guessing that you need to backlight the negative with a pure white light to take a digital photo and then play around with it a lot to get the color right. You probably don't have a scanner that does the negative conversion which is the more common method.

I was using a lightbox, and I have been playing with the white balance, but I can't seem to get it right...

Given the low focus tolerance, you're almost certainly going to get a better image from a negative scanner. You can get a decent one for $50-$100 that will scan at 7200dpi, leaving you enough resolution to print poster-sized without seeing pixels. Better yet, find a friendly photographer or school photo teacher and mooch. A negative scanner's software generally has presets to both invert the colors, and remove the color of the film itself.

If you have to use the camera method, you'll need to go into Levels (or Curves if you're feeling brave) and adjust each color channel individually until you get the color you want. Pour yourself a cup of Earl Grey, it'll be tedious.

Option three, you might be able to find the software for one of those scanners for free online, and just run your photograph of the negative through that.

Good luck.