copy stand options for SLR "scanning"

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by kaiyen, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. I'm trying to put together a "scanning" set up for use with a DSLR (Nikon D600). I'm thinking a copy stand right now onto an LED panel/light box. I already have a Nikkor 105 2.8 macro lens. I know it has a longer minimum focusing distance for 1:1 but I'm hopeful I can get a stand that will be tall enough.
    Does this look like it might work:
    Should I be looking at other options? My goal is to make purchases as minimal as possible to get started. I can look into other options to enhance the setup later, but I'd like to start off simple.
  2. I made my copy stand from an old enlarger which was given to me, by removing the light box. Cost - zero.
  3. An old enlarger with a color head would be a good setup. Remove the head and mount your camera there. Put the color head up side down and use it for your light source. Use the negative/slide carrier for the enlarger to hold the film. The color head allows you to adjust the color temperature of the light source. You do need to do it in the dark as stray light can ruin your quality.
    Well it's copying and not scanning as the sensor doesn't move right?
  4. An enlarger really isn't ideal for me, to be honest. I'd need something I can setup and tear down quickly and at will. Seems to me that an enlarger would take up more space than a simple copy stand.
  5. I have used a tripod with the center column reversed. Probably not as stable as an enlarger but it does the job.
  6. Check eBay and your local craigslist for copystands. Ideally you'll find a a Polaroid MP-4 with camera mount for a very
    reasonable price (less than $300)

    Also on the light box, make sure you mask off the areas outsid of the film holder.

    As to set up, being able to set it up and take it down at will is nice but make sure you can set it up to the same settings each time.

    Finally: use live view for focusing, shoot raw, bracket your exposures and combine them using a very mild HDR technique to open up the shadows and retain highlight detail. Try to physically touch the camera as little as possible.
  7. Here are some alternative set ups for copying. IMHO, however, there is really no substitute for an actual film scanner.
  8. ..... no substitute for an actual film scanner​
    I thought so too until I compared the results from a Coolscan V with these of an EOS M + EF 50/2.5. Camera setup is faster with somewhat similar results. I know, Coolscan V is not the latest scanner but there are better cameras than the EOS M as well.
  9. That unit is too small, and has a simple friction height adjustment, and is likely not to be useable, especially with a 100mm lens. I'd look for something much taller.
    Best option is to acquire an old and white is OK... that uses a rack and pinion column, discard the head, and mount the camera to where the enlarger head once attached. Old Durst enlargers used a 3/8 screw mounting between head and carriage, this can be used to mount a pan head and the camera goes onto the pan head.
    Best of luck with the LED light's fine for monochrome but has a discontinuous spectrum which may make precise color reproduction difficult. Best illumination is electronic flash, but LEDs may work out.
  10. Thanks Keith. That's the kind of help I was hoping for...I'll look into other options. I don't think an enlarger is in the cards for me, but I'll see what my options are.
    Perhaps I'll try reversing my tripod with the ball mount at a right angle. See if that is stable enough with cable release and mirror lock up. I do intend to scan almost entirely B&W with this setup.
    Or I'll just go back to my flatbed...
  11. All I can do is that my experience with 10s of thousands of slide scans, quickly showed up the limitations of direct to camera "scanning" -- both in quality of image and efficiency of workflow. (a start into my twisted and long-term efforts here at ).
    For the occasional scan, the copystand approach is serviceable, but not for thousands.
    But whatever floats your raft, I guess.
  12. david_henderson


    I have to say that I'm sort of intrigued by the "copy stand" idea if it can give the same or better quality of results as a film scanner ( resolution and Dmax ) from my colour slides. But this is what puzzles me.
    If this is such a great idea why hasn't it been picked up commercially instead of all the belt & braces kind of homespun solutions I see people on here talking about? I mean pretty much all you need is a device to hold a camera solidly and pointing vertically down in an indoor environment, together with a light source and a holder suitable for each film size, right? Given that there's quite a lot of interest in film scanners but few being made, why isn't this opportunity being seized commercially? And the supply of competent film scanning from photographers and labs at good prices seems to be drying up. A few years ago I sold my film scanner because I could buy cleaned Imacon scans better than my Coolscan 9000 could do for little over £5 each and I don't like scanning and the post processing much at all. Harder to find now. So less competition. Why isn't someone marketing a $200 kit that works all the time and which you can erect with certainty in 5 mins?
    Whilst this is a cottage industry people like me won't touch it. I don't want to search out and select copy stands (never knowingly been near one and couldn't make the right choice) or an enlarger ( they're things my lab used). A kit that comes in a box I can keep in a corner of my office would suit me so much better!
  13. The answer to "why not?" is in the work flow, the details, etc.
    just to mention a few "catches" in the copystand process:
    curvature of focus field, copy lens imperfections, aberrations, consistency of illumination, vingnetting, the time and trouble to set the thing up when it's used, alignment, and on and on....
    Usually when an obvious answer is not widely used, it's because it's not so good as it is obvious.
  14. Okay. So I've seen results from users of DSLR scanning that have beaten some of the best flatbeds out there. It is a lot of work with stitching, etc, and it is done with multiple exposures across the frame (even 35mm). Some use the copying tubes, sure, but I was looking more of the multiple exposure, stitch-together approach.
    I formerly wet mounted my negatives to AN glass on my Epson 750. Very good results. With 2 young kids running around and no dedicated office this is not an option anymore. I may go to dry mounting because DSLR scanning using a copy stand (and I wasn't wedded to only a copy stand, but an enlarger just doesn't fit in with my goals and I wouldn't have anywhere to permanently set it up) is proving unfeasible.
    But I've seen some amazing results with DSLRs and scanning. I think it's more that people don't make all-in-one DSLR scanners than because the technique is flawed compared to a scanner.

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