Coolscan 8000/9000 panorama scanning hack

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by toni_nikkanen, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. I have a Coolscan 8000 scanner and I use it to mostly scan 135 and 120 format film. Nowadays I also shoot some panoramic 135 film using my Mamiya 6; 24x65mm. I don't want to invest into the ridiculously expensive FH-869GR rotating glass holder though that would probably do the job just fine - one frame at a time!
    I've been using the FH-869G glass holder instead. I've made some masks out of black cardboard that I use for masking the perforations on 135 film, otherwise there is too much light leak coming from the perforations which ruins the scan. I've been quite successful and I'm thinking of ways to improve my masking technique. For example getting some rigid, black plastic sheets and taping them into each side of the film strip, or even cutting some kind of 2-layer black plastic mask thing that allows me to slide in the strip and have the perforations covered...
    I've used Vuescan for scanning and I've told it I'm using 6x7 film, which works OK from software point of view. Auto exposure might not be correct, but it's not that much of a problem for color negatives.
    Anyway here's the question, I don't always write as clearly as I should but please try to read it anyway :)
    However those cardboard masks are very fiddly and not something I would like to mess with frequently. A thought occurred to me: if I buy another FH-835 35mm strip film holder, and break/file/chisel away the between-frame tabs, and then modify the holes (using a drill etc.) in the beginning of the holder that make the scanner recognize the holder as a 120 film holder - would this work? Probably auto exposure is going to be even more messed up, but maybe that can be managed using the analog gain settings. Has anyone else ever considered doing this? One problem that comes to mind is that if software assumes it's the 120 holder, will I be able to use the full scanning width? The FH-835 strip film holder is wider in the scanning area than the 120 holder.
    I'm not scared of spending some money trying this out, but I wouldn't want to break my scanner. I guess there's not too much risk of that, is there?
  2. Well I've already ordered 2 spare holders and will try this when they arrive.
    Seems I was wrong about the different scanning area widths between FH-869 and FH-835 holders; they're the same upon closer inspection.
  3. Well, I've made the hack and initial result is: SUCCESS!
    What I did:
    1) Bored one additional "recognition hole" into the front of a FH-835 (35mm) strip film holder and covered another away with black cardboard and tape - The holder is now recognized as the FH-869 roll film holder by both Nikon Scan and Vuescan.
    2) Broke away some of the inter-frame tabs. Not completely though, as I didn't have a good file at hand so I was not able to shave away the remainings. I'll a find a file and finish the job soon enough.
    3) Scan away! I told vuescan I have a "6x7" frame and just cropped it correctly after pre-scan. Auto exposure doesn't appear to be set off.
    Beats the hideously expensive FH-869GR rotating glass holder: Much cheaper, no extra glass surfaces to bother with, and I can scan at least 2 frames at once, maybe even more, investigation ongoing :)
    Here's an example, you can see the remainings of the inter-frame tabs. I didn't have to adjust ANYTHING in this image.
  4. Here's a picture of the modified holder:
    And another panorama picture from the same strip:
  5. Sorry no one has answered your post until now, but I have found it very informative. Thank you for your work and contribution to this site! I'm interested in the LS-8000 and your work has made it even more meaningful. Thanks again!
    Bravin Neff
  6. This evening I get to try this. These are brilliant efforts, I have a good feeling about it.
  7. Hi Toni,
    Well I tried this myself and the focus is way off on Vuescan and Nikon Scan. The framing and exposure is good but the focus is not good at all.
    Toni or anyone, have any ideas??
  8. Hi! Have you used the manual focus function to set the focus point somewhere on the film? It could be that if you're relying on the autofocus, it might focus on parts of the film holder instead of in the film.
    I only saw these late responses now since for some reason does not notify me of responses even though I have requested it, strange..
  9. Anyway now that I have confirmed for myself that this hack works and secured myself some of those 35mm film holders I can let out the secret I've been keeping: Someone on eBay has been selling those holders for less than 10 euros each! Usually they go for 50-100 euros (or us dollars). I don't see them available there right now, but maybe some more will reappear.
  10. Aha! Much thanks, will try again tonight.
  11. I got myself a Horizon 202 that does 58x24mm size images and began thinking about my scanning hack again. If I cut also the rightmost tab away from the upper row (as compared to how it is in the pictures in my above posts) - it allows me to scan 3 Horizon frames in one row. In fact, even 3 Mamiya 7 frames in one row might work! I haven't done this final modification yet, but I did some dry-run experimentation with Vuescan. An added benefit is added sharpness, since now I will be able to put the one remaining tab in between 2 frames, thus keeping the film slightly flatter. I will have to shoot some more Horizon and Mamiya panoramas to be able to really test this, I will update this posting when I'm done.
    I spotted some FH-869S film strip holders on eBay a while ago. No longer 10 euros a piece, more like 30 euros, but still not THAT bad compared to the usual suggested retail price.
    One more note is that Kodak colour negative film seems to be flatter than Fuji film, which is a small but nice bonus when scanning panorama strips in this manner. Edge sharpness does tend to disappear with curly Fuji negatives - unless one takes the time to flatten them under a pile of books for 2 days.
    Can someone other than me confirm they got this working? I'd like to know.
  12. Hi I was reading your posting about converting a 35mm Nikon film scanner holder to use with XPan negatives, I was wonder if you were still happy with it and if you cut way more than one complete opening on the carrier (Can you load several negs at once)
  13. Hi,
    I actually sold the Horizon soon after I wrote the above, so I never got around to trying to cut the holder further. I might eventually get around to shooting more panoramas with the Mamiya and when I do, I might be tempted to try it.
    However spare 35mm holders are getting a bit rare on eBay, or at least spare decently priced ones, so I might not want to risk my currently working setup by experimenting further... if more cheap holders materialize, I'll buy them and start hacking again :)
  14. Toni, thank you so much for the information! Amazing content, your technique totally worked for me.
  15. Now that the spare 35mm holders are SUPER EXPENSIVE I would like to take this opportunity to encourage 3D Printing experts to replicate those - and while at it, why not also make a model for a panorama 35mm holder that works similarly to the hacky one I made from an original?
  16. Thanks very much, I'm archiving this one. :D Don't know how I missed it the first time around.

    for sure!
    toni_nikkanen likes this.

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