Film scanners are a useful tool for digitizing slides and negatives, and the Plustek 8100 that [Christian Chapman] had was capable, but limited to small format film only. Rather than pay for a much more expensive medium format scanner that could handle 120 film, he modified his 8100 to accomplish the same thing with a combination of good old software and hardware tampering.
On the software side, [Christian] modified a driver for the Plustek 8100 so that it sweeps the scan head further than usual. At the application level, to scan medium format frames, it does a total of four scans: one for each quadrant. The results get stitched together in software with a thoughtfully-designed shell script that provides previews and handles failures and restarts gracefully.
Hardware-wise, the scanning carriage needs modification to ensure nothing interferes with the scan head as it moves further than originally designed. Some CAD and 3D printing made short work of this. Incidentally, this hardware mod is an excellent demonstration of one of the core strengths of 3D printing: the ability to make geometrically-straightforward objects that would nevertheless be troublesome or impractical to construct in any other way.
The hack is for the Plustek 8100, and requires modifying the scanner in two ways. Firstly, the driver has to be scanned to sweep a longer range to take into account the bigger film. Secondly, a part of the film carriage has to be replaced so it doesn’t show up in the scanners field of view.
The former is achieved by using the sane-genesys scanner software backend, which can be easily modified to adjust the scan length values appropriately. The latter is achieved via 3D printing replacement components that fit without blocking the requisite area.
From his comments about the noisy image and limited controls, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume [Andrew Jeddeloh] isn’t a huge fan of using his Epson V550 for scanning film. But is it really irredeemable? That’s what he set out to determine in a recent series of posts on his blog, and from what we can tell, it’s not looking good for the old Epson.
The first post attempts to quantify the optical capabilities of the scanner by determining its modulation transfer function (MTF), point spread function (PSF), and comparing its horizontal and vertical resolution. As you might expect, the nuances of these measurements are a bit beyond the average user. The short version of his analysis is that the scanner’s slide frame does indeed seem to be holding objects at the proper “sweet spot” for this particular image sensor; meaning that contrary to the advice he’d seen online, there’s nothing to be gained by purchasing custom film or slide holders.
While investigating the optical properties of the scanner, [Andrew] became curious about the automatic focus options offered by the VueScan software he was using. The images produced appeared to be identical regardless of what option he selected, and he began to suspect the feature wasn’t actually doing anything. To confirm his theory, he wrote a shim program that would sit between the proprietary VueScan program and the V550 driver and log all of the data passing between them.
After tweaking various options and comparing the captured data streams, [Andrew] determined that enabling automatic focus in VueScan doesn’t do anything. At least, not with his scanner. He did notice a few extra bytes getting sent to the driver depending on which focus options were selected, but the response from the scanner didn’t change. He thinks the program likely has some kind of generic framework for enabling these kind of features on supported hardware, and it’s just mistakenly showing the autofocus options for a scanner that doesn’t support it.
There was a time during the early years of mass digital photography, when a film scanner was a common sight. A small box usually connected to a USB port, it had a slot for slides or negatives. In 2020 they’re a rare breed, but never fear! [Bezineb5] has a solution in the shape of an automated scanner using a Radpberry Pi and a mechanism made of Lego.
The Lego mechanism is a sprocket feeder that moves the film past the field of view from an SLR camera. The software on the Pi runs in a Docker container, and features a machine learning approach to spotting frame boundaries. This is beyond the capabilities of the Pi, so is offloaded to a Google Coral accelerator.
The whole process is automated with the Pi controlling not only the Lego but also the camera, to the extent of retrieving the photos from it to the Pi. There’s a smart web interface to control everything, making the process — if you’ll excuse the pun — a snap. There’s a video of it in action, that you can see below the break.
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.
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.
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.