New Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by iosif_astrukov, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Setting magnification with the ES-1 extension works because you are using a DX camera. The lens is never more than 1:1.5, therefore autofocus is feasible. At this point (e.g., the sample on the right), the frame would fill the image. If you were using an FX camera and wished maximize the magnification, auto-focus would not be an option since the ratio would be close to 1:1. AF might not be the best choice in your situation either if the slide were warped and the main subject off center. I use manual focus, even with an AF macro, and check it from time to time. It doesn't seem to change unless you accidentally disturb the setup

    In the example on the left (cropped), you are throwing away half of your pixels. That's not a good thing to do if you want the best resolution, comparable to a Nikon film scanner.

    I would expect the 40 mm lens to be diffraction limited above f/8. If you aren't seeing it, then diffraction is not the limiting factor in your setup. The root cause is probably film flatness (lack thereof). The film strip holder that comes with the ES-2 has cross bars between each frame. This should hold the film flat unless it is seriously curled or cupped. Storage in archival pages shortly after processing helps in that regard.

    It is gratifying to see that the ES-1 has enough extension to reduce the magnification as much as the image on the left. Hopefully the ES-2 will have similar capabilities.
  2. "actually the ES-2 is a full set -

    In the Box
    Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set

    • 52mm Adapter Ring
    • 62mm Adapter Ring"
    - This is contrary to what's written on Nikon's website. Although some retailers are advertising the entire kit as such (in advance of having actual stock).

    It'll be interesting to see what's really supplied in the box once the ES-2 becomes tangible hardware and not vapourware.
  3. WRT the orange contrast mask: I know of no scanner that deals with this in hardware. It's always "removed" by software. However I believe a change in camera WB to partially counter the orange mask might well be beneficial. There can be an issue with posterisation due to software expansion of the film's low contrast.

    Also, an 8 bit JPEG definitely damages colour depth, and attempts to reverse and correct a JPEG colour negative image are pretty much doomed to failure.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
  4. Your eyes must be better than mine if you can focus manually. I set my camera to wide-area autofocus. Usually it locks onto something near the center of the frame, which is generally what I want. If the subject is off-center, I can shift the focus point there or rely on depth of field at f/16 to keep the whole image in focus. When copying grainy film, sometimes the camera locks focus on the film grain, even if that part of the image is empty, like a cloudless sky. I'm impressed by the autofocus capabilities of the D7200 and 40mm macro lens.

    Of course the left-hand example throws away pixels. That's why I don't copy slides that way. I zoom into the image as shown on the right. The left-hand example is there only to prove that the ES-1 provides a range of magnification and has no trouble capturing the entire 35mm frame. You might recall that some folks were questioning that capability.

    Lack of film flatness doesn't account for the virtually invisible difference in center sharpness at f/16 versus f/5.6 or f/8. When copying grainy film, the grain is clearly just as sharp. CoolScan copies are identical. And the images look just like what I see on a light table with a 10x loupe. You just have to accept that the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 macro lens is highly corrected and shows virtually no loss of sharpness at f/11 and f/16. I get the same results when photographing subjects other than slides. It's simply a very sharp macro lens. At its minimum aperture of f/22, however, sharpness falls off noticeably.

    Note that the slide I used for this example is in uncommonly good condition for being 44 years old. The colors haven't changed much and the film is fairly flat. Yet at f/8, the edges and corners of the copy are out of focus because the slide is slightly warped in its plastic mount. At f/16, everything is in focus. Many of my old slides and negatives aren't as flat as this one. Shooting at f/16 is mandatory to retain sharp focus throughout the image. I'm a photographer, and I'm not afraid to use small apertures when they are necessary to obtain the best results.
  5. My eyes aren't all that great, but the Sony A7ii and A7Rii have 100% live view and digitally magnify the image 5x to 12x, which makes the grain clearly visible. The reference point can be moved anywhere on the screen. I think most cameras with live view have this option.

    I see your point about setting magnification with the holder, then focusing the lens. That doesn't work for an FX camera, however. It's faster to set the lens at 1:1 (it's marked on the barrel) in manual mode, adjust the holder a little long, then touch up focus with the lens.
  6. Tom, thanks for the photos.

    Indeed, the image is off-centered vertically. Is it always like this? Is it possible to center the image by elevating the floor of the adapter with something?
  7. Aren’t you doing exactly the same than Tom? You adjust the ES-1 tube, and then you adjust the camera focus. I don’t see why you make a distinction between an FX camera and a DX one in this regard. The only difference is the angle of view, and that doesn’t change how you focus the image.
  8. It's necessary to use a different sequence with an FX than Greg uses with a DX. Greg can allow the lens to auto-focus while adjusting the slide holder. The maximum magnification is 2:3 when the full frame is projected on the sensor.

    The difference between 1:1 and 2:3 is significant, and it does change how you focus the image. AF doesn't work at 1:1. Furthermore the camera tries to focus each time you press the shutter, and can take a long time to settle in at close range. The angle of view changes significantly with barrel extension at close range.

    I set the lens to 1:1 magnification in manual focus mode the focus the slide as best as possible, which is 1:1 with the PK13 extension tube. I then move it very slightly longer, by about a millimeter. The magnification is close to 1:1, but a little less. It's possible to fine tune the focusing with the lens at that point. I use 5x magnification in the electronic viewfinder, which makes the grain clearly visible.

    I use an AIS 55/2.8, which has the magnification ratio printed on the barrel. Used with a PK13 extension (27 mm), the actual ratio is bout half the engraved value. An AFD micro lens also has the ratio engraved on the barrel, but focuses to 1:1. In manual mode, you would set that to 1:1.5 (2:3) with a DX sensor, then rough focus with the slide holder.

    My method eliminates a lot of trial and error, and standardizes the setup despite variations in frame size. All this assumes you wish to capture as much of the film frame as possible. Most DSLR viewfinders cover about 90% of the image (except for the high end models), so you will always crop more with the viewfinder than by setting the lens. It probably doesn't matter, since slide mounts crop significantly, and you would ordinarily crop the image to remove rough edges and straighten it anyway.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017

      If you go to Nikon USA you can find that exact set:

      ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set from Nikon

      Just click on the link above that is in small letters at the white area bellow the image where it says "What's in the box"
  9. Fiodor asked: "Indeed, the image is off-centered vertically. Is it always like this? Is it possible to center the image by elevating the floor of the adapter with something?"

    Yes, you can center the image with the ES-1. You can move the slide freely in all directions. For the examples I posted here, I pushed the slide all the way down and didn't notice the off-center image. To make centering automatic, you could put a small shim at the bottom of the slide holder to keep it from going all the way down.
    Fiodor likes this.
  10. Here's an example of a b&w negative that I duped with the ES-1 unit that I converted for film instead of slides. It's not an ideal example, but it shows why I needed to make this conversion -- this badly damaged negative is unsuitable for scanning in my CoolScan V. (I'm afraid the broken negative would fall apart and jam the scanner.)

    You can see the film sprocket holes at the top. The dupe is off-center because I couldn't manipulate the negative without damaging it even further. It was literally crumbling, a victim of age (about 60-70 years) and poor storage (not my fault). I don't know the young woman in the photo, only that she was a friend of my mother, who took this photo at a slumber party in the early 1950s. I'm duping this roll as a test before tackling some more-valuable negatives that my father made in Japan in 1946. They are in poor condition also.

    Tech specs: Nikon D7200, Nikkor 40mm f/2.8 macro lens, ES-1 slide copier modified for film. Shot in RAW by daylight at f/16, then converted to 16-bit TIFF, inverted and edited in Adobe Photoshop before converting to 8-bit JPEG.

    In a moment I will post a 100% detail cropped from the center of this image.

    Fiodor likes this.
  11. Now here's a 100% center crop from the full image shown above. Notice that the bottom half is sharp enough to reveal the film grain, but the upper half is unsharp. That's because this negative was cracked through the center, and the top half was in a different plane of focus, even at f/16. (Maybe I should have stopped all the way down to f/22, the smallest aperture of the 40mm f/2.8 macro lens, though I doubt it would have made much difference.) The negative was in a film holder inserted in the ES-1, but it wouldn't stay flat because of the cracks and the film's natural curvature. (It was stored in a tightly wound roll since the 1950s.)

    This example is pathological, but it does show that the 40mm macro lens and modified ES-1 is capable of making good dupes of 35mm negatives, especially if they aren't as badly damaged as this one.

  12. Ed, I don’t agree, because you are doing the same than Tom, you with an FX, he with a DX.

    It is just a matter of focusing, not big deal. And it is not like photographing a bee on a flower, with a handheld camera, where if you want the bee to be as big as possible and in focus, you could probably adjust the focus first, and then get closer until you see the bee in focus. In the case of film digitizing, it is easier because the film lies in a fixed position with respect to the lens. You can use MF or AF if available. In the micro 40mm, you get DX 1:1 when the object is 3,5cm from the lens (well, in fact it is a bit more than 1:1, because it allows to photograph a 23mm long object, instead of a 24mm one). Apparently the ES-1, when the tube is not extended, positions the film further than 3,5cm, and that is why you can’t get 1:1 (DX). Considering that the image at this position is a bit cropped, I supposed the rate at this position is like 1:4 or something similar. With an FX camera and an AF macro lens you could also use AF. Well, only a person who tries this combination would know how well AF works (I suppose it depends also on the particular lens and camera used). If for some reason the AF moves all the time, you can switch to MF when you get the focus, or directly focus manually. But then again, it is a matter of adjusting the magnification with the adapter tube and then focus with the camera, manually or automatically, as Tom explained clearly, and as you are also doing.
  13. Rodeo, the ES-2 actually includes this:

    “The set includes: ES-2 Negative Digitizer, FH-4 Strip Film Holder, FH-5 Slide Mount Holder, and 2 different 62mm adapter rings (62mm adapter ring A and 62mm adapter ring B).”

    I don’t know if there is a difference between adapter rings A and B, but basically they are both 62-52mm adapters. They are used with the two 60mm lenses mentioned as compatible:

    “Adapter rings are supplied with the ES-2 for use when attaching it to the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED Lens or the AF-Micro NIKKOR f/2.8D Lens. When used with the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Lens no adapter ring is needed.”

    If you have already an ES-1 and negative and slide holders, it is not definitely worth buying an ES-2, as you said at the beginning of the thread. I don’t know if there is another brand of adapter that includes a negative holder, or which accepts one from another brand (Do you?). If not, I suppose it would be possible to adapt it as Tom adapted his ES-1.
  14. The difference is that you need 1:1 magnification to copy the entire slide and fill the frame of an FX camera, and AF doesn't work at or near 1:1.

    On many macro lenses, definitely MF lenses, the ratio is engraved on the lens barrel. In any case, you start by setting the lens to its closest focus point, then adjust the ES-1 until the film is focused. You can do this using the barrel of the ES-1, which has a friction fit with its adapter. This process usually leaves the slide holder tilted, and the focus can shift when you straighten it. In order to minimize the time and effort, I pull the ES-1 out a slight amount, about 1 mm, which has very little effect on the magnification, but makes it possible to use the focusing ring on the lens for fine tuning.

    I like to keep setup time to a minimum, and the procedure I describe accomplishes this task. You have to check the focus from time to time, if not necessarily for each slide. To do so, you need to defocus then refocus the setup. This is much easier using the lens barrel than by adjusting the ES-1.

    Of course you can copy a slide at any ratio if you are wiling to give up pixels to cropping. By the law of squares, cropping an FX sensor to DX dimensions reduces the number of pixels by over 50% (1/2.25). If you start with a 24 MP camera, that leaves you with only 10.7 MP. Most DX cameras have much more resolution than that. If you want the easiest setup, a DX camera might be the way to go. You would want a macro lens designed for that format. The resolution of a lens designed for full-frame, like the Nikon 55/2.8, might prove marginal in that environment.
  15. I ind auto focus of little use when copying slides, or photographing any static object. It is better with a mirrorless camera, since AF is active at all times. It is problematic with a DSLR since focus is predictive, that it calculates the lens position based on the magnitude of the phase-difference. That is why DSLRs have (and need) focus tuning procedures for each lens in critical applications. Without this calibration, the focus may be off a bit, and any focus shift with aperture steps on your results. A DSLR focuses wide open, the stops down for the exposure. A mirrorless camera focuses stopped down to avoid this problem. If the camera initiates auto focus when the shutter release if pressed, you never know what's going to happen, especially for closeups.

    Life is much easier if you plan for consistency.
  16. I really don't know why the ES-2 has provoked all this fuss; it certainly doesn't deserve it.

    Here's an old FP4 negative copied using my equally old Sunagor slide/film copy adaptor. Lens was a 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor + PK 13 attached to a D7200. The crude image editor on my smartphone(!) was used to invert and manipulate the tones - so it's not a big deal. At least for monochrome.

    And here's a small central crop.
    Since the grain is fully resolved I don't see any disadvantage to "only" using a 24 megapixel Bayer-filtered sensor.

    The ability to invert images in-camera is welcome; and maybe this could be done to existing cameras with a simple firmware update. But to introduce the feature in their D850 with a great fanfare of trumpets sounds like desperation on Nikon's behalf, making their new camera appear more innovative than it really is, and to grasp at straws for a new market share. If the ES-2 and in-camera negative conversion (to a crappy JPEG) is all the USP that Nikon's D850 has to offer, then heaven help sales of this overly expensive camera.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  17. The ES-2 is nothing more than a slide holder, well-made, metal, intended for use with a macro lens. Whereas its predecessor, the ES-1 worked only with slides, the ES-2 uses holders for either slides or film strips. Most other slide adapters are plastic, and rely on a +10 diopter lens for close focusing.

    The epiphany is that digital cameras routinely match or exceed the resolution of Nikon film scanners, which were discontinued several years ago. You can still find used Nikon scanners, but at a price often more than when new. Many photographers have film collections which they would like to digitize, but need a convenient way to handle the media. That's where the ES-1 and ES-2 fit in.

    The new Nikon D850 has high resolution, and firmware which can convert color negatives to positives. While it might be easier to use in this capacity, it is just one of many cameras suitable for converting film to digital. Personally, I have never found in-camera conversions, including JPEG, of any special value with respect to image quality. I have more control over JPEG and negative inversions using external processing.
  18. Ed, I don’t know what AF macro lens you have, but some people uses AF until 1:1. So, yes, it is possible. Probably when they go beyond 1:1, to photograph a close-up of the eyes of a fly or something, is where they find some problems with autofocus, and so they have to focus manually. Other people prefer to always focus manually.

    Anyway, I think I made my point clear in my last post about this subject. And when I said “With an FX camera and an AF macro lens you could also use AF” it was implied that the rate would be 1:1 or similar. Someone who digitizes films with an AF macro lens and a full frame camera would tell us how well AF works in this particular situation.
  19. At 1:1, the subject to film plane is a minimum. Any attempt to focus the lens with the lens barrel requires the distance from the film plane to the subject increase. This is Optics 101, probably presented in your high school physics class

    The easiest way to to focus near 1:1 is with a focusing rail, either rack-and-pinion or screw thread.

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