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Thread: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

  1. #1
    Ranie Dib Rain Dance's Avatar
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    How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    What's your method of scanning using a digital camera and a macro lens? Will be going back to 4x5 and sadly I have sold my v700. Not really looking to buy one due to space issues (already have a v600 and nikon ls-40). Also I don't have a darkroom anymore to print. Scans will only be used for posting on the internet. If I do need prints I can find a drum scanner or even a local darkroom. Is photoshop required? I only have light room. Thank you.
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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    For occasional need, you might try scanning in two passes and stitching the images together with Lightroom Panorama mode. I have a Canon 8800, which nominally supports 120 but scans 2.75" wide without the film holder. I've scanned the few 4x5 and 5x7 negatives I inherited with this method and it works reasonably well. Here's an example of a stitched image from 5x7.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    If scans will only be used for posting on the internet, then just do it in one shot. That should give you more resolution than you need.

    I’ve stitched together many negatives, and my advice is to keep it as few as you can get away with. Two usually works fine. Four can be done. Nine almost always gives me issues with PS not lining up the images properly, and doing it by hand is a real nightmare. But in any case, if you don’t need to stitch, don’t. Plus, it allows you to make better use of the raw images because PS will convert the images to a PS compatible files before it stitches them. I don’t think Lightroom will allow you to stitch files, but I’m not certain. I rarely use Lightroom.

    As for procedure, I recommend a light table, a good macro lens made for copy work or an adapted enlarging lens, and a negative carrier or scanner film holder. That will serve the purpose of masking out the extra light and holding the negative flat. The copy lens or enlarger lens has the advantage of a flat field of focus. That helps to keep the corners in focus. You can usually find them pretty cheap because they tend to be manual focus lenses from the film era, back when people had a need to copy slides and stuff. Also, do it in a dark room. You don’t want glare from overhead lights on your negative.

    It’ll take some time to get your workflow down. Be sure to use the histogram on your DSLR, especially for color film. It’s easy to clip the blue if you're not careful. Try zooming in too close to the negative to meter the shot so your histogram isn’t picking up the mask/negative carrier or any spare parts from the light table. Then zoom back out for your shot.

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    I agree with the suggestion of one photo for internet use. If you eventually need more quality, there are some long threads about this in the DIY section.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    Make a conventional silver contact print and scan it with any all in one printer scanner.

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    Ranie Dib Rain Dance's Avatar
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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    I like the one photo Idea. I have a macro lens already, so I can use that. I just need a light table, a 4x5 holder (or maybe even just black cardboard mask). I see those tripod attachments that hold the camera perpendicular to the negative but I always forget what its called.
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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Dance View Post
    I like the one photo Idea. I have a macro lens already, so I can use that. I just need a light table, a 4x5 holder (or maybe even just black cardboard mask). I see those tripod attachments that hold the camera perpendicular to the negative but I always forget what its called.
    You're thinking of a side arm. They're not inexpensive but invaluable if you need to shoot flat copy on a regular basis. See https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-131.../dp/B001FRO1VQ for reference

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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    You can DIY a light table. I built mine out of a plastic project box, some flat, diffused, translucent material (I cut mine out the side of an old chemical jug), some LED strips, and a small DC power supply. I even lined the box with aluminum foil, adhered with spray glue. I mixed daylight and warm light LED’s for a more even colored light, though a combination of red, green, and blue LED’s would have been even better. Though, you can always adjust the colors in the computer later. You could probably do something like sand plexiglass or use tracing paper to diffuse the light. There are about a million ways to make one. Or you can just buy a small light table. But I wouldn’t use an iPad. The pixels tend to show up in the scan if you don’t have a diffuser, and they’re not imcreadibly bright.

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    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: How do you scan 4x5 with a DSLR?

    Before I got a dedicated film scanner, I taped frosted mylar to the front room window and shot my LF negatives with a 12mp DSLR with 55mm lens. Six overlapping shots and stitched together. The results were pretty decent...but glad I got a scanner.

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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