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Thread: DSLR Film Scanning

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2021
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    DSLR Film Scanning

    Can anyone out there help me? I keep reading that I need a macro lens with a 1:1 magnification ratio if I want to scan negatives with a DSLR. I have a Canon 24-70 2.8L Macro lens with a magnification ratio of 1:3.45. Since the 4x5 negative is so much larger than a 35mm negative, why would I need a 1:1 dedicated macro lens? Since I can fill the frame with a focused 4x5 negative, what else could I hope for? Isn't my 24-70 macro more than enough to get great detail out of a whopping 4x5 negative?

  2. #2

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    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Your lens would be fine, it’s just that you’d get a bigger file if you could get closer and stitch several shots.

    Unless your dslr has very low resolution, 1:1 is overkill for 4x5.
    When “scanning” 4x5 I only get so close that the short side of the negative fills the long side of of my dslr, and then I stitch 4 shots to get the length of the negative. 106mm/36mm that’s roughly a 1:3 ratio, and with a 45mp dslr the resulting image is a little over 8.000x10.000 ; plenty of resolution for any print size.

    1:1 would produce huge files that would be slower to process, and introduce problems with depth of field and film flatness.
    "I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing." Duane Michals

  3. #3

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    Thumbs up Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Quote Originally Posted by lenicolas View Post
    Your lens would be fine, it’s just that you’d get a bigger file if you could get closer and stitch several shots.

    Unless your dslr has very low resolution, 1:1 is overkill for 4x5.
    When “scanning” 4x5 I only get so close that the short side of the negative fills the long side of of my dslr, and then I stitch 4 shots to get the length of the negative. 106mm/36mm that’s roughly a 1:3 ratio, and with a 45mp dslr the resulting image is a little over 8.000x10.000 ; plenty of resolution for any print size.

    1:1 would produce huge files that would be slower to process, and introduce problems with depth of field and film flatness.
    Oh my God! You have no idea how much time I have spent on the internet researching trying to get an answer! Thank you soooo much! I just joined this forum last night. Not sure exactly how everything here works so I hope you get this reply. Wish I thought of it sooner. Happy New Year my new friend!

  4. #4

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    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Oh my God! You have no idea how much time I have spent on the internet researching trying to get an answer! Thank you soooo much! I just joined this forum last night. Not sure exactly how everything here works so I hope you get this reply. Wish I thought of it sooner. Happy New Year my new friend!

  5. #5

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    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Scanning? Use a scanner.

    You are just looking at normal Copy work, same as has been done for decades.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  6. #6

    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo711 View Post
    Isn't my 24-70 macro more than enough to get great detail out of a whopping 4x5 negative?
    As always, a lot will depend on your personal needs and infrastructure. If your short zoom gives you files you're happy with, excellent--however, many people make a distinction between lenses that have a short minimum focusing distance and "true" macro lenses that are designed to be sharp across the frame. (I.e., the reproduction ratio--whether 1:1 or occasionally 1:2--won't be as important as whether the lens provides a sharp image of a flat object from corner to corner.) It will probably come down to your preferred kind of output whether you need an optimized lens: if you're mostly sharing images on the Web, probably not; if you're printing large, you might be introducing slop that negates the potentialities of a well-exposed and focussed 4x5 negative.

    On the upside, in the Pentax ecosystem at least, it's often possible to find legacy "true macro" lenses that work well for the kind of copy work we're talking about for not a lot of money--Canikon might be another story!

  7. #7

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    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Versus a zoom 24-70mm lens, all be it "macro", I would think that a 35mm, fixed focal length, macro lens would be preferable for DSLR scanning. A zoom lens is prone to chromatic aberration and barrel/pincushion distortion that could negatively impact the scan.

    For example, I have a Sigma 100mm macro Canon mount lens that could be used. This lens does not have internal focus. So focusing this lens at 1:1 extends the barrel of the lens a substantial distance.

    As an comment, I would never purchase a lens with internal focus, since depending on the magnification, focusing can alter the actual focal length of the lens.
    Last edited by neil poulsen; 3-Jan-2021 at 01:31.

  8. #8

    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    The advantage of getting the 1:1 macro lens is that it'll be meant for doing this kind of work and thus be well suited to the task. A 24-70 zoom even at a middle aperture will IMHO be not high performance enough.

    A very popular lens for scanning is the 70mm ART macro from Sigma. It's wildly sharp, not terribly expensive, and will all you to fill the frame with a piece of film from 35mm to 8x10 on a copy stand. Stitching is always an option but IMHO that's sort of like ordering a 60" proof. You can always re-scan the film at higher resolution later. It does help that I use a pixel shift camera which creates a very large file in one bite.

  9. #9

    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    Quote Originally Posted by sperdynamite View Post
    Stitching is always an option but IMHO that's sort of like ordering a 60" proof.
    Excellent, I was meaning to ask you: IIRC, you were using an Panasonic S1 (~24 MP with pixel shift) for a while--if you did a one-shot "scan" of a 5x7 negative with it, how big of a print do you think the file would support?

    At any rate, my working theory is that 5x7 is the new sweet spot for a hybrid workflow--hopefully you're finding the same.

  10. #10

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    Re: DSLR Film Scanning

    The 24-70 f/2.8 L is a nice lens, but it does suffer from a small amount of distortion. Compare with the 100mm f/2.8 macro:

    https://www.the-digital-picture.com/...Comp=453&FLI=4

    Since you're using a Canon lens, I'm assuming you'll be using a Canon DSLR, which means you have access to DPP4-- which can do a very nice job of correcting for deficiencies in the lens (distortion, aberration, etc.), which you'll want even if you're just doing a single shot. If you're doing multiple shots and stitching them together, you'll NEED some form of correction.

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