Nikon DX DSLR to copy 35mm negs

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_minehart|2, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. I have an Epson V600 flatbed scanner that does a good, but very slow, job copying 35mm negs. There's a film holder that holds 2 strips of 6 negs each, and the Epson Mac software allows automatically generating separate files for each of the images, with sequential numbering based on your specified starting point. I have a lot (hundreds) of old negs I'd like to digitize, but in many cases its only a few per roll. Seems tedious to bulk scan the entire roll 2 strips at a time, at about 5 minutes per strip including setup, only to delete the majority of the files.

    So, I'm looking into using my D90 with Nikon bellows and slide/neg holding units to quickly digitize. Found that it's not so easy to get exactly the right focal length lens to get the entire film image in the frame and have it well focused. A 43-86 used at about 80mm did a good job of framing, but the focus was mediocre compared to the V600. Grain was crisp and perhaps even a bit overly evident on the V600, while it was noticeably softened on the D90.

    Well, the 43-86 was one of Nikon's poorer lenses. I figured I should use a Micro lens. Turns out that the 55mm f/3.5 attached to Nikon's 1.4x telextender attached to the bellows would frame nicely enough that I can get a 2400x3600 full frame shot. But, to my dismay, no better than the 43-86. See below for a comparison of the 55mm with the V600. D90 on left, V600 on right.

    One possible cause: film holder unit has to be so far from the lens that the bellows on it won't connect to the front of the lens. Ambient light interfering with sharpness? I'll try putting a black paper tube there to see if it helps.

    Any suggestions from anyone? Camera_v_flatbed.jpg
  2. 1st - the teleconverter should be attached to the body. If you have attached it between the bellows and the lens, you are going to lose sharpness. 2nd - I don't understand why you need the converter or the bellows. The 55mm micro should go to 1:2 on it's own. That's approximately full frame to DX Hope this helps.
  3. At the moment i'm scanning slides with a Canon setup: 50 mm macro lens and EOS-M + EF-m to EF converter. I need a 12 mm extension tube to get the proper magnification but then it works great. Pictures come out the same quality as with a Nikon Coolscan V but with better color and 6 times faster.
    So first I don't think you need the 1.4 x, the bellows should suffice.
    For the moment no suggestions about the noise. Do you notice the same amount of noise when looking through a loupe?
  4. Tried with teleconverter attached to body, then bellows, then lens. Could not focus on the neg at all using the bellows and PS-4 film holder attached at end of bellows rails. Similarly with 55mm on bellows without the teleconverter, perhaps because of the thickness of the lens mount portion of the teleconverter, about 25mm. At least with the telextender on the lens, I could focus pretty well at appropriate framing. To use 55mm without bellows and just extension tube means having to devise (purchase) both a holder (enlarger stand?) for the camera, plus a light box or flash mount arrangement to go behind an improvised film holder. Have you actually set up and used one of these copy stands, or is it purely academic, professor_k? Suggestions appreciated, in any case!
  5. Jos, I don't have an extension tube that narrow, only a 20mm or so. How do you put this whole operation together? Camera mounted on downward facing tripod, enlarger stand, or what? Film holder from 35mm enlarger, improvised from scratch, or what? Diffuser from plastic milk bottle, special frosted glass, or what? Light from a light box, flash, or what? The devil is in the details, as my weeks of trying to put something together has shown me. I'm running out of patience and ready cash trying to cobble something together!

    Oh, and I'm not sure what you mean by noise. The graininess in the V600 flatbed's image is actually visible, in blurry form, on the DSLR images, so I'm assuming it is actually present in the film as grain and not just noise. I'd be happy to see it in the DSLR images! And I only have an 11.5X magnifier. The onscreen blowups are taking about 0.2" on the neg and blowing it up to about 7", or 35X.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
  6. In order to copy 35mm film with a DSLR and 55mm macro lens you need an extension tube between the lens and body to increase the magnification. The 55mm lens only gets 1:2 magnification. You need a 27 mm extension tube, a Nikon PK-13, to hit the range between 1:1 and 1:2. Since you are using a crop sensor, you also need an extension tube between the slide copying attachment (e.g., Nikon ES-1) to hold the film further from the lens, so that the entire frame fits on the sensor. Look for Nikon K tubes with 52mm filter ring threads, which come in a set. That will lock everything together for consistency, and exclude light which would reduce contrast.

    A tele-extender would make a poor choice for slide copying, if it could work at all. They're intended for long lenses with a lot of space between the last element and the mounting flange. A bellows has too much extension even when collapsed, and is intended for use with lenses longer than 55 mm, or greater magnification.

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