Scanning B&W negatives - help needed.

A Nikon FM2n found me one day. It wanted to stay with me. I decided to take it in and take good care of it :

But now I need a way to scan B&W negatives. Most of my prints are A4. If possible I would like to be able to print A3. What is the best way to go about it if I want to get the best image quality without spending a fortune?

I have a Nikon D800 + a nikon 105 2.8 macro - I could buy an extention ring and take pictures of my negatives.

Or buy a negative scanner like PrimeFilm XA or XE.

Hasselblad and Nikon scanners are way to expensive for my taste.

Your advice is needed.

Comments

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,839Member
    Yeah don't waste money on the Nikon scanners, no modern software so they are basically useless.

    Just get an adapter for your camera, anything else just ends up wasting space and money. I bought a Canon film/photo scanner years ago and although the resolution is great, it just takes up way to much space and the software is terrible. Cannot comment on Fuji's stuff though.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,633Member
    I usually stick the negs in front of some frosted glass with daylight behind and take there pic.. extension tube yes just experiment .. then reverse etc in photoshop.
  • framerframer Posts: 489Member
    Seriously I've done tons of of old B&W negatives. What I did was use an Epson 1680 photo scanner. It's a old flatbed scanner with a light top for scanning slides. I cut a piece of optically coated glass to fit over the glass on the scanner. You can buy the glass from any picture framing shop, Tru-Vue UltraVue, or DenGlass will work. Now using masking tape wrap several layers around the edges to allow a space for the negatives under the glass. This is to avoid newton rings from forming but still allow the negatives to be flat. Now place the strips of negatives emulsion side down placing the optical glass on top. In Epson's software select B&W, negative, 4000 dpi and scan the whole bunch in one go. This works fast once setup. Epson also made a cheaper model scanner the 1640 with a light top that should also work. I used Epson software for the scans, nothing extra is needed IMHO.

    The one thing that the does not have is ICE like the Nikon scanners had to remove scratches and defects.

    framer

  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    Thanks. Have any of you made prints out of your scans? How large. How did they look?

    How does DSLR+macro compare to a 35mm negative scanner?
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,633Member
    negative quality is poor compare to modern digital so don't expect more than was in the original grainy neg...you cannot get more out than was in the original..
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,839Member
    edited January 29

    Thanks. Have any of you made prints out of your scans? How large. How did they look?

    How does DSLR+macro compare to a 35mm negative scanner?

    The modern DSLR will provide more resolution in terms of image size, the film scanners are okay. The best results I got from scanner were the from the Brownie Bulls-Eye medium format negatives. 35mm film, kind of meh. Unless you shot ISO64-100 film it takes a lot of time in PS to make them look good.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 5,901Moderator
    If you do go the macro lens route, I would get the 60mm D as it has just about zero distortion. It came from an industrial lens design to is way better than lenses designed for normal photography. Even the newer 60mm G isn't as good although it focuses much faster.
    Always learning.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    I know that a full frame digital cameras with 36+ MP will blow old 35mm negatives out of the water when it comes to resolution. But even in the old days 35mm negatives was considered to have enough information to make A4 (letter size) prints.

    I was hoping for an analog to digital workflow that would allow me to make a good looking print at that size.

    If I go the macro lens route I was hoping my AFS 105 2.8 macro would be usable – should I worry?

    Thank you for your input – please keep it coming.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,839Member
    edited January 29
    Scanning or photographing the film/slides is good for archiving. If you are printing larger than 8x10 I suspect it will start to show the film grain, just like it would printing from the negatives at a local print shop. It’s just cheaper to do it yourself if you already have the right stuff.

    If you use the 105 macro, just remember that you will loose some resolution when you correct for the pincushion distortion in post. If you don’t the photos will look a little strange. Ideally you want a normal lens, 45-60mm focal range macro. If you do buy one, don’t worry about tales that some spread about them, the D and G verions of the 60mm both have the exact same 0.3% pincushion distortion in lab tests (ok 0.287% G and 0.271% D, but you’ll never see the difference in person. The D was also tested on DX, while the G on FX, so some of the D’s distortion
    was not noted). The 105 has slightly more, 0.33%. Horrible, isn’t it... ;)
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • framerframer Posts: 489Member
    Yes I've done digital print to 8x10. It looks about as good as I could have done with my old enlarger. 5x7 are very nice. The advantage was speed. FYI the Epson 1680 scanner was not cheap. In the 90's it was $1200.00, still works perfect. Use to use it for restoration projects from the frame shop. A cheaper flatbed scanner with a light box top should work for B&W.

    framer
  • dcanningdcanning Posts: 9Member
    Although I have not used it a lot VueScan Pro software by hamrick software talks to my Nikon film coolscan V scanner
  • prototypeprototype Posts: 11Member
    edited January 30
    I've used both the flatbed scanner with a built in negative holder/light and a dslr w/ macro lens.

    I don't recall the brand or model of the scanner, but it produced decent results and could scan I think up to 4 at a time, so it was reasonably quick.
    I've printed files like this at 5x7 and they looked quite good (my opinion at least) but they might start falling apart on larger sizes on close inspection.

    I've made several different jigs to hold my film negatives that have some light difuser behind them where I place a flash or constant light source, then I use my dslr to take a photo (I have one of the recent iterations of the Tamron 90mm). I got excellent results back in the day with my D7000 (16mpx) and fantastic results with my D750. Both of which easily out resolve the film (I mostly shoot HP5... not exactly a high resolution film, but still..) The real challenge I have found is not in any lens distortion, but in keeping the negative completely flat and the lens pointed exactly straight on to the negative (a shorter focal length would presumably make the lens alignment easier... but if one is careful the 90mm is not much trouble... the 105 I expect would handle about the same)
    I haven't printed larger than 5x7 with this technique either, but I do notice a small quality increase over whatever cheap scanner I used.

    It's a large increase in time for a small increase in quality. I enjoy the slowness of it though... film isn't meant to be fast in my mind haha. YMMV.

    Post edited by prototype on
  • retreadretread Posts: 480Member
    I have a bellows and film holder I used in the film days to copy slides. I have often wondered how it could be used to copy film to digital. I have never tried to put it on a digital camera. It would all be manual guess work I think as no communication between lens and camera. I may be limited to a lens with a 52mm filter thread but not sure of that. It has been a very long time since I have looked at it. It is way in the back of the closet.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    edited March 11
    I was just about to go the DSLR route when I found an old Nikon Coolscan 4000ed sitting on someones shelf waiting to be turned into trash. I saved it.

    I needed a converter to connect it to my laptop - no problem
    I got a copy of vuescan pro - works perfectly.

    I have done some experiments with Tri-X.

    Grain is not a bug - it is a feature :wink: - but maybe too much of a feature in 35mm :-)

    A pro photog told me he would not hesitate to print A3 or lager. He's way of thinking was that you should not compare digital to scanned film - you should compare scanned film to wet printing. Sounds right to me.

    I know a pro printer. I will report back when I have done some more experimenting and done some large prints.

    Thanks for your help - I really like this forum :-)
    Post edited by henrik1963 on
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member
    edited March 11
    I can confirm that you will be disappointed if you think scanned film will look like digital. It honestly really surprised me how much better my DX images are than my old 35mm stuff, especially realizing that at the time 35mm was something of a gold standard.
    Post edited by mhedges on
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    Define "better". Is better = no grain?

    Take a look at pictures taken by the old masters. They seem to get the story across with a lot of grain.

    But pictures taken on a 35mm camera with Tri-x looks different than a picture taken on a D8xx. That is why I find it a lot of fun shooting film again - try it - its fun :-)

    I am sure a lot of you have an old film camera somewhere - find it - load a film - shoot it and report back :-) It will make you smile again :-)
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member
    Better meaning better resolution, better color, etc. And anyway many if not most of those "old masters" pictures were large format.

    I'm not saying film doesn't have artistic merit, but by any quantitative measure digital is better.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 559Member
    I still think you should try film - not because it has more resolution or better colors - but because it is fun.

    I still use my digital cameras for 95 percent of my picture taking - I am not completely crazy - happy shooting.
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