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Thread: 35mm conversions

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    Member DacrimL's Avatar
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    Question 35mm conversions

    Having done some research, I know it is possible to convert an old 35mm film (negatives) to digital. But at this stage the cost of the equipment far outweighs the benefits.

    So what I am asking is "-

    Are some of the better photographic stores able to handle this type of request?

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    yes, but it will cost you. If you have quite a collection of 35mm film, it will prove to be cheaper to buy a scanner and do it yourself. If you only have a few negatives, then pay someone else to do it by all means.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Your general photo store will probably only provide fairly low quality jpgs of your films too.
    OK for just looking at them on your computer screen, but if you want high quality large prints, they may not be ideal conversions.

    If you have a macro lens and some decent photo gear(ie. not just a smartphone or P&S that shoots jpg only) you could easily photograph each slide yourself and hence digitize it.

    You can buy relatively cheap camera accessories to achieve this end, or even make up something yourself out of some cheap materials(wooden or cardboard dark box).

    You could photograph each film slide directly, but if the lens to film distance is not in an darkened environment you do lose a good amount of contrast.

    I thought of going down the scanner route too myself, but then I thought it best to achieve a raw file workflow too to try to maximise the possibility of the final file output.
    So in the end I got a bellows + slide attachment contraption which worked beautifully ..... total cost less than $200 in the end.

    At it's most basic, some basic macro capable equipment and a shoe box with appropriate access holes would be the kind of dark box that could work for 'ya.
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    Account Closed tduell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I thought of going down the scanner route too myself, but then I thought it best to achieve a raw file workflow too to try to maximise the possibility of the final file output.
    So in the end I got a bellows + slide attachment contraption which worked beautifully ..... total cost less than $200 in the end.
    I think you can get an Epson photo scanner for about $150, which will scan at 4800 x 9600 dpi. At 4800 dpi I think a scanned 35mm slide would produce an image about 4500 x 6800, which isn't too bad, and you have the ability to scan other stuff as well...so if my reasoning is correct it would seem that a good flatbed scanner may be a better option.

    Cheers,
    Terry

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DacrimL View Post
    Having done some research, I know it is possible to convert an old 35mm film (negatives) to digital. But at this stage the cost of the equipment far outweighs the benefits.

    So what I am asking is "-

    Are some of the better photographic stores able to handle this type of request?
    And at this stage you'll be thinking the photographic stores cost will even farther outweigh the benefits.

    - Given that the answer will have been "No. Not really. In fact, probably not at all."

    Ask yourself: Will they do what I want them to do, or will they just give me their "service" and I just pay for
    whatever that is?

    The Q of scanning 35 millery has been asked often here. The answer tends to be: it depends on how much you've got to do (little is OK for
    a store to do), and how important are the results to you?

    Anyway, think about it a bit...
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Thanx for the responses. Have been thinking very hard on this and after some more phone calls and such to some reputable dealers it seems that they can only transfer a negative to a jpeg.......not what I am after.

    Correct me if I am wrong with my thinking but wouldn't a 35mm negative be the equivalent of today's digital RAW file? If this is correct and at all possible, this would be what sort of convert from film I would like, but it doesn't sound like I'm going to get that

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    That's right. To reproduce a neg to only 256 tones may be losing important info. It would (possibly) be OK
    for scanning prints, but then...

    Also, though Terry rightly advised about how high a scanner can resolve - about to 9600DPI - bear in mind that
    a 48-bit file that size would 1) be massive, and 2) take ages to scan anyway.

    Two other things to consider if you do go that way and get a scanner: 1) make sure it has a USB3 interface (and your computer has USB3 as well),
    and 2) get a few USB3 external HDDs to store you results on.

    Oh, finally a point that should have fitted above...
    Your highest quality output from a (reasonable) scanner will likely be in 48-bit TIFF. Scanners do not produce any "raw" images as final results AFAIK.
    (And just as well, when you think about it.)

    Am.

    A 2ple of other things I remembered...
    1. If it's only 35mm slides/negs, you can go for a 35mm scanner only, rather than a flatbed. The latter are a nuisance to set up the film in, whereas the former
    are limited to just that media.
    2. DON'T get a cheap scanner of any sort. You'll be regretting it and kicking yourself for the waste of time. I paid $700 for the Epson V700 and DO NOT regret it.
    I'm sure you don't have to spend that much now, but a few hundred...
    Last edited by ameerat42; 16-11-2014 at 1:00pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tduell View Post
    I think you can get an Epson photo scanner for about $150 .....
    I paid just a tad over that for my bellows, took well over a year of waiting and bidding to do so too tho, but only because I wanted a specific model, and any old bellows wasn't what I wanted.

    You can get them for close to $50 if you want .. but I don't think they come with the necessary attachment(s) needed for film copying.

    Funnily though, up until I got the bellows, I hadn't needed to scan documents of any type for years, and me being me .. I like to kid myself into thinking that the money I spend in this doodad or that widget is money well spent if I get dual use out of it in some way.

    The bellows followed this principle in that I now have an easy way to copy film into a digital format .. and now have a high magnification capable macro setup.
    At the moment, with the current lens and extension options I have, I can do about 10-20x magnification. It's hard yakka, but possible.

    One of the reasons I dismissed the scanner, was that i thought I'd never use it other than this project of digitizing some films.
    But about 6 months ago I found myself needing to copy several hundred documents, mainly tax return stuff, send some in hard copy as well as pdf format .. etc, etc.
    Overall cost of this document copying/scanning/pdfing was just a touch over $50 at officeworks ... so in the end the scanner would have justified it's cost and existence.
    After all this copy and convert to pdf malarky, I had to submit a few more documents, but couldn't face the prospect of waiting at officworks again for just 16 pages to scan.
    So I photographed them via my smartphone and converted them to pdf that way.

    Although another consideration to factor into the equation is the fact that one day the scanner will be a redundant paperweight .. like lots of old computer hardware eventually becomes.
    Operating system compatibility plus quality/features/performance/etc.

    I have an old Canon scanner, not quite of the highest quality, but for document scanning more than enough.
    Problem is that it simply won't run on Windows 7(or Vista) and hence requires an older OS(or the purchase of some thirdparty software that could get it up and running).
    I wouldn't ever even think of scanning 35mm film with a low quality scanner, but the future prospect that any device I purchase now may one day be unusable due to the manufacturer being too lazy to write a driver for future operating systems doesn't really appeal to me very much.

    The other thing to note, which may or may not be important, is file sizes.
    While tiff is generally a good quality file type(but I still believe raw gives you just that little bit better final quality, or processing ability) they are huge file sizes.
    you can of course use compression, or slightly lower quality, but they are on average about 2-3x larger than a raw file will be.

    I recently had another go at using my D800 to copy a few slides.
    (I originally used the D300 with my first shot at digitising) Where the D800 raw file is 70Mb, an equivalent sized tiff will be 200Mb or more.
    A 4800dpi tiff file(which is about equal to a D800 sized exposure) will be about 150-250Mb in size.
    If you have hundreds of film slides you want to copy .. well ..... take into account that 4 of these tiffs could take up to 1Gb of space on a hard drive .. and then multiply by the amount of films you want to archive.
    100 scanned tiff files could use up to 25Gb, whereas 100 raw files would only take up 7Gb by comparison.

    anyhow .. there have been a few threads on the topic of digitising film on this forum, I think I have two(made with my bellows+slide copy attachment ) and a few other members have made theor own dark box contraptions(for little or no expense ... other than some elbow grease).
    I reckon if you did a search for 'film' via the search function here on AP .. you will find a couple of relevant threads.

  9. #9
    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DacrimL View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong with my thinking but wouldn't a 35mm negative be the equivalent of today's digital RAW file?
    In one word, no. A 35mm negative is the direct equivalent of a JPG or a TIFF. In particular, the white balance is already set (when the original shot was taken and the film developed). The colours that are there are colours that are there: end of story. You might get some benefit from converting to TIFF rather than JPG insofar as you can have a greater range of output colours, but the vast majority of 35mm slides and negatives, even when perfectly converted, look pretty second-rate by today's standards. The resolution is lower than we are used to with modern digital SLRs, and the colour balance is very often a long way out, and that's before even considering the degredation of the pigments over the years, which can be severe in some cases. (Probably mostly depending on the brand of film - some were much worse than others.)

    If you want to adjust the captured image in computer to improve it as best you can, raw and TIFF will give exactly the same results, with JPG also the same apart from having a smaller range of source colours to work with.

    There is no harm in going to raw, but TIFF will be just as good, and JPG very nearly as good. Put it this way: I'd rather have a higher-res JPG conversion than a not-so-high res raw or TIFF. Don't stress out about the format, it's not important. Stress out about the quality of the conversion.
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    All right, then. In a few more words, yes, no, maybe.
    What does "equivalent" mean? Why "no" in one word? Does the "set" WB make any analogy invalid, - or the colours?
    Can't the WB of a jpeg be changed?

    In that it is the closest thing to the scene that the negative recorded, then it has some similarities to the raw image that a sensor records.

    Single words are often inaccurate in expressing ideas.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Cheers Ameerat. In this context, we could mean either of two different things by "equivalent".

    (a) "Equivalent" in the sense of both being the original source of the image containing all the possible information; the base from which we do any further work.

    (b) Equivalent insofar as they act in similar ways and have similar capabilities.

    If we mean sense (a), then yes, the negative and the raw file are indeed fairly exact equivalents.

    If we mean (b), then they are not. A raw file has capabilities that no negative (or slide) has. In particular, you can change the white balance very effectively and easily. To change the white balance of a negative, you have to go back and re-shoot using different film or different filters or even different lighting. (You can probably do stuff in the developing stage too, but I'm no dark room wizard and I'm only guessing that bit.) Once it's developed though, white balance (and some other things) are set in stone, and while you can still make adjustments to a print (using light, exposure, filters, type of paper and doubtless a few other things) you will always have to work from that set base. In this sense, the negative (or slide) is much more like a JPG or TIFF: you can adjust it, but within the limitation that you can only take away things that are already there, you can no longer add back in anything that the original negative or TIFF or slide or JPG does not contain.

    I'll stand by my single word as a good, short summary, but readily agree that a longer and more subtle answer is better.

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    Some great info here but I just wanted to throw in that you can get a pretty cheap scanner from kaiser baas BUT the scan quality isn't that great. They're pretty cheap on ebay and really fun and great if you want to quickly go through old family negatives and take a trip down memory lane BUT not so great for digitising any 35mm pics that you want to post to flickr or edit greatly etc. before resizing they're less than 500KB.
    here's an example of one scanned by this scanner kaiserbaas.com/converters-category/photo-and-negative-scanner -

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Is that sample a negative or a print scan?

    If it's a negative, you could recover the blown highlights(most likely, but not definitively).
    If it's a print, it's highly unlikely that the highlights could be brought back down to reasonable levels.

    Also on my screen the baby's face and most highlights areas look a bit too green.

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