Scanning Analog Film For The Last Time

Film cameras are capable of great resolution, and for a long time were superior in this regard to their digital successors. However, it’s now possible to store digital copies of analog images in superior detail, so [Jan] built a rig to scan their photos for the last time.

The general idea is to take a high enough resolution scan of film negatives or slides, such that there is no need to rescan the images when technology moves forward. To achieve this, [Jan] decided to employ a DSLR to photograph the materials in question. To do this quickly and accurately, with minimal fuss, special lens hoods were 3D printed to hold slides in perfect register in front of the lens. With a flash to provide even light, the results are excellent. Film negatives proved harder, requiring a carefully designed transport mechanism to avoid damaging the fragile materials. With some perseverance, the final tool worked well.

It’s a tidy way of digitally archiving analog photos, and with the resolution of modern cameras, one needn’t worry about lost resolution. We’ve seen mechanised builds for handling other formats too, such as this 8mm scanner. Video after the break.

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8mm Film Scanner Grows Into A Masterpiece

Digitizing film is a tedious process that becomes a lot more fun if you spend more of your time building a digitizer and less time actually working working with old film. [Heikki Hietala] has been at it for years and his Kotokino Mark IV film scanner is a masterpiece of simple machine building.

Since we first saw the film scanner four years ago it’s undergone a number of excellent improvements. Most notably, the point-and-shoot camera has been swapped out for a DSLR. With the use of a macro reversing ring a normal lens is flipped around to blow up the 8-millimeter-wide film to take advantage of all the megapixels available on the camera sensor.

The key to the setup is the film advancer mechanism which takes care of both advancing the film and triggering the camera. As you can see, a servo motor rotating an axle provides the locomotion. The mechanism keys into the perforations in the film to pull it along on the down stroke and closes a switch to trigger the camera on the upstroke. Directly under the lens, the alignment jig uses lens cleaning fabric to avoid scratching the film, while perfectly positioning it over the light source.

Previous versions have placed the camera on the horizontal plane but it seems some vibrations in the system caused alignment problems between captured frames. This latest version places the camera pointed straight down to solve that issue, and brings the entire thing together into one beautiful finished project. Having gathered numerous fans of the build along the way, [Heikki] has made the design files available so that you may build your own version.

Scan Your Film The 3D Printed Way

Everyone has a box or two at home somewhere full of family photographs and slides from decades past. That holiday with Uncle Joe in Florida perhaps, or an unwelcome reminder of 1987’s Christmas jumper. It’s fair to say that some memories deserve to be left to gather dust, but what about the others in a world of digital images?

You could of course buy a film scanner to digitize Uncle Joe on the beach, but aside from the dubious quality of so many of them where’s the fun in that? Instead, how about 3D printing one? That’s what [Alexander Gee] did, in the form of an adapter to fit the lens mount of his Sony camera that contains both a 50mm enlarger lens and a mount for the slide. It’s a simple enough print, but he’s made enough parts parametric for users to be able to adjust it to their own camera’s mount.

Sometimes builds do not have to be complex, push boundaries, or contain more computing power than took us to the Moon. This one is simple and well-executed, and for anyone prepared to experiment could deliver results with a variety of cameras and lenses. Of course, you have to have some film to scan before you can use it, so perhaps you’d like to try a bit of home developing.