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Tips & Tricks

DIY Light Table for Quick Negative Scanning

By Justin Heyes on October 4th 2014

If you shoot film, you know how time-expensive and time-consuming it can be to digitize each frame, one at a time. Even if you send the images to a lab, it is costly and it it is rare to find anywhere that provides scans over six megapixels. Photographer Marius Hanzak has a low cost DIY project that can help you digitize that box of negatives that you have been putting off.


[REWIND:Watch The Total Film Processing Sequence Condensed Into 4 Minutes – Bring Back Memories?]

The setup involves an empty picture frame braced above a Lastolite softbox to create a DIY “light table.” His flash was triggered remotely, using its lowest power setting, as any higher would have blown out any detail in the negatives. Each scan was captured at a low ISO using a Canon SL1 to obtain the cleanest images. A macro filter was added to the front of the lens to get as close to the negative as possible. The negatives were then inverted and cropped in Photoshop.



Flash Power – 1/128
Shutter Speed – 1/125
Aperture – f/8
ISO – 100

Using this set-up, a roll of film can be “scanned” in under five minutes, however the quality would only be good for online publication. Scanning one image at a time can produce higher results. The project is a simple quick method, but it will still not sway me from digital. To see more of Hanzak’s work, check out his blog.

What do you think of the set-up? Do you have a different method of scanning negatives? Share your thoughts below!

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Ian Moss

    I find my Ohnar slide copier works fine for me – £10 from ebay.

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  3. John Cavan

    This is something I think I would rather do with a scanner…

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