Digitizing Film

As I wrote before, usually the film is scanned into digital files, so I do not treat analog photography differently from digital.

There are many reasons to digitize film, and one is to unify the post-production workflow, including backup.

So far I discovered the following approaches to scanning:

  1. Let the photo lab to do it.
  2. Use a dedicated film scanning device.
  3. Scan at home using a scanner.
  4. Take a picture of the film using a digital camera.

Before I just asked the lab to provide me the scans, and they asked the question which resolution do I need. Since I was new to film photography and scanning, I asked which resolution is the most popular. The answer was a medium res, $10 for 36 frames. In two days I had an email with the link to download my scans. Each JPG file had 2205 × 1470 pixels and around 1 MB size. The quality was good, and I was happy.

After watching some YouTube videos, I found out that people prefer scanning at home, and use scanners or digital cameras to get high-res files. One point was really interesting – to get a RAW image of the film frame. The RAW image means much more information to play with to get the best results possible.

Since I had my Canon DSLRs already, I tried the lenses I have already. The image of the frame was too small. I used a set of cheap close-up filters to boost macro capability, but distortion was too great to fix it in post. Then I ordered cheap macro tubes, and it did not work either.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

There are two versions of this lens: the new Art version, and the previous, non-Art version. I was looking for something cheap, hence non-Art. Both lenses have a special flat design to take pictures of the prints and film.

Negative Lab Pro forum has a whole showcase of DSLR film scanning setup. People are very creative in ensuring that the light source is bright and even, the focus is sharp, and the rig is stable. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

I use Capture One tethering to take a picture.

There is no good solution for film conversion inside of Capture One yet. People use Negative Lab Pro plugin for Adobe Lightroom Classic, that is expensive and requires Adobe Creative subscription.

My decision is to use Film Lab for Mac.

Film Lab converts negative RAW image into JPG or TIFF. The adjustments are basic, but auto settings work just fine. This is a really good alternative to Negative Lab Pro for Capture One users.

I keep RAW negatives (true Digital NeGatives DNG!) in Capture folder, and converted JPG/TIFF in Selects folder.

The next steps are identical to the normal digital images Post-Production.

One thought on “Digitizing Film

  1. Pingback: Post-Production Workflow – Iconologist Psyche

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