Everyone who has ever tried to scan analog images for at least testing purposes knows how tedious and time consuming this might be. Therefore I was very excited when I have recently came upon the following articles: Why You Should Digitize Your Film Using a Camera Instead of a Scanner and How to scan films using a digital camera.
Gianluca Bevacqua draws a conclusion that we can “forget scanners“. He also presents some scan samples taken with Canon 5D Mark II and with a macro lens. The outcome only proves his theory. With his DSLR he not only outclasses an Epson V700 flatbed scanner but also a Dainippon Screen DT-S 1045Ai drum scanner. Here are some examples:
Canon 5D Mark II
Dainippon Screen DT-S 1045Ai
Canon 5D Mark II
Very impressive! However such quality has its price. Of course with a DSLR you can take only one exposure per negative; in which case you would need a high res sensor. However, if you decide to try the Bevacqua method, you can take up to 30(!) pictures of one negative and merge them by using panorama software. Nevertheless this solution costs much more effort than if you were using a film scanner. According to Beyacqua, panorama software needs at least 10 minutes to handle such a gigantic image. If you decide to do it the slow and tedious way, you will be reworded with several hundred megapixel large scans from a 4×5″ negative. That really is something to think about. 😉
To me the key advantage is that you can use the above mentioned equipment (DSLR and macro lens), which you probably already have. A real film scanner must be purchased for this task and has only one function. Additionally, you can decide whether you want to shoot only once and settle for 12-24 MP or if you want to invest a lot of time to try to “squeeze out” every last pixel out of the negative.
I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated. At the moment I am planning on creating a setup in order to work on some negatives. 😉