Digital Camera as low Resolution LF Scanner? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I recently have returned to the 8"x10" format, and have been trying to work out the easiest way to get the images onto my website. I've been looking at various scanners with 8x10 transparency scanning capability (Agfa DuoScans and others) but the thought occured to me to try a digital camera. I did so (using a 2.1 MP Canon) and thought the results (just using a light-table) were decent. Has anyone this experiance with doing this? It will be especially perenent once my friend gets his 12"X20" up and running, and we need to get a neg that size into a computer for reference.



-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (, May 28, 2001


A digital camera is just a scanner in a different shape.

-- Dan Smith (, May 28, 2001.

Eric -

I saw someone doing this at a local camera store and he used a plastic flowerpot inverted over the lightbox (with a hole cut in the bottom - now the top - for the camera lens to poke through). This cut out the room light and apparently really helped the quality of the image. Then he imported the image into Photoshop, reversed the negative to a positive, and tweaked the contrast a bit. The whole thing took him maybe 5 minutes and he had a decent image - certainly good enough for filing purposes or e-mailing to someone (but it wasn't what most of us would consider a "fine print"). I'm planning to do something similar with my 12x20 negs - probably use a cardboard box over a big lightbox, and mask the edges so there's no non-image light reaching the camera. Let us know how it goes with your friend's big negatives.

There was an article about this sort of thing in Photo Techniques a few issues ago - the author was using an inexpensive digicam to get his 8x10 negs into his computer for proofing and filing purposes. This way he could tell which ones might be worth printing without having to go in the darkroom and make contacts first, plus he filed all his negs (now positives) as thumbnails for quick reference. If you can find that back issue it might be useful to you.


-- Mark Parsons (, May 28, 2001.

You can use a digicam to get halfway decent 'scans' from colour negs too. I've got reasonable results from MF and 5x4, and proof quality from 35mm using this technique.
You need a camera with a custom white balance facility, and a piece of unexposed, developed colour neg film, preferably of the same type you want to scan.
Use the blank piece of film to set the white balance of the camera, and this automatically gets rid of the orange mask. Then the procedure is much the same as for B&W negative. Import into Photoshop; Invert; Try autolevels first; If that fails to give a good result, then adjust by hand.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 30, 2001.

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