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Thread: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

  1. #1
    fredfoto's Avatar
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    Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Hi all,

    New to the forum, but an established fine art photographer who has lurked and learned for years.

    I have a background in managing a rostrum camera department in a design agency as well.

    I’m going to shift from Imacon scanning my 5x4 inch and 6x6 cm colour negatives, which I currently outsource, to doing it in house via a digital camera, lightbox and macro lens, shooting multiple captures per 5x4 and later assembling them in Photoshop.

    Imacon output for my 5x4 images is 125cm x 100cm (file sizes usually +/- 200 Megs, 200dpi for Lightjet prints, medium format capture smaller prints). I usually have them scanned at 16 bit for manipulation, then downsized for print.

    Questions…

    1/ Nikon D810 (D850) or Canon D5, or other? I have an EOSM and some lenses (which I rarely use), but am not brand loyal, and want the right tool for the job, irrespective of brand (background- I used to use Leica M when I was a working pro- suited the work I did, and I loved the output with Kodachrome).

    2/ 60 mm macro or 105 mm macro equivalents in Nikon/ Canon or other brand- any recommendations?

    I’m obviously doing mega searches and reading before I take the plunge, but any tips would be useful to lead me in the right direction.

    Much appreciated.
    JFA
    www.fredfoto.net

  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    There are some long threads in the DIY section on this topic. You might check them out.

    The main question is how much resolution and dynamic range do you need? For instance, would a 4x5 captured with, say, 4 separate pictures be enough? If so, making a system with manual movement of the negative, for example by sliding a film holder on a plate of flat glass, would be by far the easiest. In any case that's a great way to start.

    The next question is what are you going to scan, BW, color negative, or slides? If BW or Color Negative, most quality cameras should have enough range. If slides, well, that can be more challenging. Check out DxO for ratings of cameras dynamic range. For a long time, Nikon had more DR and Canon, but I seem to remember that not being true anymore.
    Canon, on the other hand, has an electronic first curtain shutter which can minimize loss of sharpness due to vibration from a manual shutter mechanism when shooting macro pictures.

    So...do you have a camera beside the EosM? I don't know much about that camera.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    fredfoto's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    There are some long threads in the DIY section on this topic. You might check them out.

    The main question is how much resolution and dynamic range do you need? For instance, would a 4x5 captured with, say, 4 separate pictures be enough? If so, making a system with manual movement of the negative, for example by sliding a film holder on a plate of flat glass, would be by far the easiest. In any case that's a great way to start.

    The next question is what are you going to scan, BW, color negative, or slides? If BW or Color Negative, most quality cameras should have enough range. If slides, well, that can be more challenging. Check out DxO for ratings of cameras dynamic range. For a long time, Nikon had more DR and Canon, but I seem to remember that not being true anymore.
    Canon, on the other hand, has an electronic first curtain shutter which can minimize loss of sharpness due to vibration from a manual shutter mechanism when shooting macro pictures.

    So...do you have a camera beside the EosM? I don't know much about that camera.
    Thanks for replying Peter.
    The best dynamic range possible is always preferable. Usually the files I get back from the lab are 400-600M so resolution would have to match an Imacon scan of a 4x5 colour negative at 300 dpi to match this file size. Stitching with several digital camera captures would do this.
    I shoot Portra 160 all of the time now, both for 4x5 and 6x6. If I shoot B&W, I hand develop in pyro and print the old way.
    I have a Leica Focomat 2c enlarger which has a copy head on the shaft, and I'll make up some wood guides to slide the negative on the light box along and up/down. I am also considering doing it vertically- we'll see.
    My reading so far guides me to a Nikon D810 (or D850) and the 105 macro. I don't know if I'll need tubes to get close enough to shoot three captures across a 4x5 negative- but I'm figuring it out.
    I use the EOSM for teaching photography/ photojournalism- my students love it. I don't use it for critical work- it it fine for landscapes/ portraits, but anything moving is a challenge.
    For critical exhibition work I use a Gandolfi 4x5 with a 210 G Claron lens. I have a 90 too, but use that rarely. I also use a Rolleicord.
    Saying that, I've had work exhibited that now lives in national collections with a 5 megapixel point and shoot (now long dead)- horses for courses.
    Cheers,
    JFA
    www.fredfoto.net

  4. #4
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Here's an early version of my scanning rig:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRHTausFls

    And some more info: http://peterdesmidt.com/blog/?p=657

    Here's Daniel Moore's: \
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXy7RJwIBAo

    Some more on Daniel's machine:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/35334802@N04/

    The Nikon macros are all very good, whether the old 55, or the 60 & 105s. If you get to 1x magnfication, though, there are better options, namely a Rodagon 75mm Duplicating lens, or similar.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Peter, your system went right over my head. How about a solution of us dummies? No kidding.

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Jac, a manual slide sysrem, taking 3 ir 4 images is easy and works well for many uses.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Jac, a manual slide sysrem, taking 3 ir 4 images is easy and works well for many uses.
    But the automation machinery is like foreign to this former programmer when everything was code and mechanics and moving parts were ....

    You know.

    BTW - we still have a Saltzman to dispose of.

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    No need for automation with only a couple of pictures per negative.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    Thanks for the links Peter, very interesting stuff. It reminds me of the Marron Carrel rostrum cameras we used to use.
    I think I will be fine using sliders without motors for the few negs I'll be doing.
    I'll look into the Rodagon too.
    Cheers,
    JFA
    www.fredfoto.net

  10. #10
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Hi & digitising 5x4 negs- opinions on set- up, please.

    That's exactly what I'd recommend, i.e. built a simple manual system. The law of diminishing returns sets in pretty quickly. The Nikon lenses will be fine for that. And I know this isn't as fun, but you might consider the D3300, which has Nikon's highest pixel density. (Make sure that it would work with whatever lens you want to use, that it has live view, and, preferably, it works tethered.) First of all, it's cheap, and so you can leave it setup, and you wouldn't be out much if you decide that this is all too much work. Alignment is important, and mounting the camera can affect that. It's dynamic range will be good for color negatives. When I first started, I had a D200, and all of the newer Nikons have better dynamic range, and it was good enough. If you want to scan underexposed Velvia, then that's a different matter. There are more suggestions in the DIY scanner pages. (If you're simply looking for an excuse to buy a D850, don't let me stop you!)
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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