TIME MACHINES

TIME MACHINES



I may give more details here about my process of film scanning.


To be honest, I was not convinced at all of the efficiency of using a digital camera to scan films and negatives. As a former employee as drum scanner in a photo laboratory, I could not imagine that any other solution out of a proper scanner existed or would give qualitative results enough. If you ever used a Heidelberg Tango scanner, you might know what I’m talking about. The details, the sharpness and the dynamic range are truly amazing.


But, of course that kind of tool is over expensive and demanding, in terms of time, place and consumables.


So I was thinking to purchase a film dedicated scanner. But I was not convinced by the reviews I could read. Moreover, most of them were dedicated for 135 films. And I have a lot of 6x6 films, as it’s my favourite format.


So, I thought that I might give a try to the use of on of my digital cameras. It required only a small place and few investment. 


I started with my 135 films. I then purchased the Nikon ES-2, and an old 60mm AF-D macro. I mounted all this on and my old reliable D700. For a stable source of light, I have purchased a LED light tablet usually used for drawing.

It quite handy and easy to use, although the light seems a bit weak sometimes, depending on how my negatives/films are exposed.


For my medium format images, I have cut an opening in a thick black paper, in both 6x6 and 4,5x6 sizes, to avoid light leaks, and taped one side on the light table. I covered the whole with a small piece of glass, to prevent any film curve.


Equipped with a dust blower, I was ready to start my journey towards the past.


With a sense of order that would give Marie Kondo a heart attack, and after a recent moving, my films were a bit scattered in different cupboards, with or without contact sheets, in sleeves or in slides, positives, negatives, color, black and white… An archival nightmare. I was a bit too impatient to start and use my images, that I postponed any real sorting, classification or tidy-up.


To be totally honest, I was a bit disappointed with the first results. Mostly with the slides. But I could easily charge my crappy lenses of the time for the poor results (and I won’t give names !). But I regain some hope with my black and white 135 films.


As I had tethered my Nikon to Capture One Pro, I could control the outcome quite easily. I found it important not to use too much sharpness.


Things changed when I started to “scan” my medium format films. A slide of this size (I use 4,5x6 or 6x6) always gives me a sense of depth, of three dimensions, a very different feeling than with a 135 film. 

And shooting them did them justice. I rediscovered my images again. Sometimes I got disappointed to unveil some of their defects (a bad focusing most of the time). But, thanks to the Carl Zeiss lenses I used on my Rollei SL66, the grain was visible, even when using some 100 isos films (mostly the Fuji Provia 100), and it gives some organic matter that only analog photography can provide.


So, to conclude, I had a great pleasure to use this method, and it gave me the hope I needed to continue to use my analog cameras again.


So, my next move will be to buy more films, and get out to use them, when times are better !

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