View Full Version : Converting a 4x5 ccolor negative to digital without a 4x5 scanner

29-Dec-2016, 18:29
Can one easily convert a 4x5 color negative into a digital image without having a 4x5 scanner?

I can't be the only one that has faced this issue. I don't want a 100 step software solution and I am not concerned about maintaining resolution.

The only solution I can find is making a print and then either scanning the print or taking a digital picture of it.

29-Dec-2016, 18:42
With an even&diffuse light table (and mask around the negative), you can use a DSLR with macro lens to shoot it.

Ivan J. Eberle
30-Dec-2016, 15:07
Depends on what you want the end use to be, and how many you're going to convert. If it's just for posting a few images on the web any DSLR that can save a .tif file or .dng ought to work adequately, coupled with a decent close up filter or macro lens. Challenge will be to get the color balance close without a lot of tweaking in Photoshop. The red/orange/magenta mask is a pain in the neck to get rid of, and you're not going to do this simply in-camera with any DSLR, or in a RAW convertor (at least, not so far as I know). Adobe's auto-invert feature only gets you so far. I've found it a lot easier to convert a digital copy of a negative with software specifically designed to remove the mask... e.g. scanner software, starting from a .tif file.

It really helps to have a baseline image for each negative emulsion type, and any shot with a white, middle gray and black value could get you close enough. It was once common to photograph a MacBeth chart or other color bar to really dial it in. If you shoot the digital copies with the same light source every time, you may only need to sort out this mask-removal just one time (that is, for each emulsion type, particularly with newer films with 4th layer color masks that handle mixed lighting well).

Of the non-scanner specific software, you might give Hamrick Viewscan a try, trial download is likely still free. Personally, I found that Silverlight did a better job of stripping out the mask, but it's more expensive and is specific to one scanner device, though it came bundled with a scanner I once used and so I have it. A big problem with almost any other software for scanners is that you'll need a legacy computer with an obsolete OS to use it. For many years I've kept old Mac around with the old legacy software drivers and apps specifically for film/digital hybrid printing.

31-Dec-2016, 05:55
I made a tungsten lamp light box for this purpose, added 160 CC of cyan to make it easier to post process the RAW in Lightroom (in recent versions you can edit the curve and invert without having to go to Photoshop).
I use a glassless negative carrier on top of the box to hold the film in place from one to the next and so on.

31-Dec-2016, 07:54
I was asking for an EASY way. OK??

I already know how to get to Yokahama by way of the South Pole.

Pali K
31-Dec-2016, 08:16
If you have an android device, you can use this app. It works just fine. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dk.codeunited.helmut&hl=en I would image iPhone/iPad have similar apps but I don't have any experience with it to recommend any.

Use a computer screen or tablet with a white background as your lightbox.

31-Dec-2016, 08:25
I've tried using my laptop as a lightbox but i keep having the subpixel pattern of the TFT screen come through even with a couple of mm of distance from the cardboard mask.

This is using a compact camera (Sony RX100) so the DOF is larger but to get a really sharp negative you still need to stop down to f/8 which is enough to get both negative and panel in focus.

I fear i need to save up for that scanner....

31-Dec-2016, 08:48
No, I don't have any Android, Apple, APP or any of this shit.

I was asking for a SIMPLE, EASY WAY. Apparently there isn't.

31-Dec-2016, 10:02
No, I don't have any Android, Apple, APP or any of this shit.

They are tools relevant to photography. It's like a carpenter saying tables saws are shit.

31-Dec-2016, 11:30
Pay someone, couldn`t be easier.

David Lobato
31-Dec-2016, 11:38
Have a friend or acquaintance do it.

Jim Andrada
31-Dec-2016, 16:51
Even easier - forget about it. People have been giving you the easy ways and you seem to be upset at them for trying to help. If you want to drive nails, you need to use a hammer because it gets the job done better and less painfully than pounding it with your left -- well, body part, and if you want to copy a negative, you need something to copy it with.

2-Jan-2017, 09:22
The easy way is the scanner itself.

Soon, i am planning to use my digital MF for digitalizing my film instead of DSLR 35mm, if some used DSLR and happy with results then i should be more than happy with medium format camera scanning, i hope it can give me almost closer results to X1/X5 or flextight scans, i just need to learn a way to place film frames completely flat on any light source or lightbox.

3-Jan-2017, 04:46
No, I don't have any Android, Apple, APP or any of this shit.

I was asking for a SIMPLE, EASY WAY. Apparently there isn't.

You don't have a scanner.
You don't have a smartphone with a camera.
You may have a camera, but find the suggestions given too difficult.
I think it's time to give up. Maybe try the nice people at Hogwarts?

The simplest I could come up with is:
Pick/create any kind of reasonably white and even light source. A piece of baking paper or thin tissue against a window might suffice.
Hold the negative in front of that, but so that the light source itself (e.g. sheet of paper) is well outside the focal plane of the camera.
Photograph the negative with any digital camera.
Import into Photoshop or whatever editor you prefer, invert and adjust curves to get a reasonable image.
It doesn't get any easier than this without using a scanner. If this is not simple enough, see initial remarks above.