Camera scanning lens advice and direction

Hi All,
I have been previously using a Fuji Lanovia Quattro for most of my film scanning work. I am looking to use camera scanning to index scan my archive at a reasonable resolution. Currently I have a z9 and z6ii for digital cameras, for lenses I have a couple different options that I was hoping to get some advice on.

I am thinking of pursuing three different options,

  1. Rodenstock 75mm f4 that I can steal from an old leafscan 45
  2. Minolta Dimage 5400 lens I can steal from a spare scanner
  3. Buy a dedicated macro lens

Trying to decide what will fit my needs the best, I am hoping to be able to scan both 35 and 120 with no stitching. My concerns with the rodenstock and the minolta lens is that they would require stitching with 120 as they work best at 1x. If there exists some dream lens that can work well at both magnification levels I would love to hear.

There is a fair amount of information on here about both the Minolta 5400 scanner lens and the 1x & 2x Apo-Rodagon D copying lenses. You will also find more on the Facebook group “Digitizing Film with a Digital Camera”, and then of course there is Robert O’Toole’s site though he does tend to concentrate on magnifications of 1x and higher, and some of his older tests were on APS-C.

My impression is that the 5400 lens was optimised for th 24mm wide width of 35mm film and does not work well for medium format. The 1x & 2x Apo-Rodagon D lenses seem to be very good for both formats (for film copying the’2x’ is actually optimised for 0.5x in its normal orientation) so your Leafscan lens could be a contender. If it is a simple matter to try it then that would be the first call I would think. It is a bit of an unknown quantity of course but it was chosen to scan different film formats in your Leafscan. Otherwise the Sigma 70mm & 105mm ART Macro lenses seem to perform very well.

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Do you happen to know how long the sensor is in the Leafscan, and is there any more information on the Rodenstock lens itself. Presumably it’s fixed aperture but is that at f4 or stopped down a little?

For ease of use and very good quality, I’d go for macro lenses that fit your camera(s). Everything else would require some fiddling with mount adapters and such.

If you don’t mind manual operations, laowa / venuslens seem to deliver too. Check the ones with published MTF curves. Manufacturers usually take pride in presenting nice MTF curves :wink:

Various pictures of the Leafscan 45 on the internet show the lens as a standard 75mm f4 Apo-Rodagon D with the normal aperture ring, so this would be the 1x version. An extremely good duplicating lens for 35mm copying on to a full frame sensor. A Nikon PB-4 or PB-6 bellows should do the job nicely, or a Canon FL or FD bellows with their Canon A or P Mount Adapter and an FD lens to Nikon body adapter.

Yes it looks like the 1x version, i figured that would be my best choice for doing 35mm. When using it for 120 film, would it perform ok at 0.5x or is this something I would need to stitch together multiple frames. Will mainly be scanning 6x6 negatives.

Unfortunately I don’t have one and I don’t recall seeing it tested at that magnification (0.4:1 with the 24mm side of your sensor to 60mm across your 120 film, allowing for a border). The ‘2x’ would be much closer to its specification at that magnification. On the other hand from what I’ve read the Leaf 45 produced very good medium format scans so it must be worth trying before you look for something else. If you were going to stitch then it would be more comfortable. It could be that something like a 6-element enlarger lens (80mm Componon-S or Rodagon) would be good for medium format as well, or a 55mm/60mm f2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor, in fact the latter might be the best bet, I’ve certainly seen people posting excellent results with the 60mm from medium format over on that Facebook forum.

If you join the FB Group have a look at this post and other posts by him, he’s using a Z7II and the 60mm f2.8G Micro-Nikkor:

Normally he doesn’t stitch but someone requested a 42" x 48" print.

Using a Z7II with the Macro nikkor 50mm ( a pretty good lens). Mostly for 35 but I have tested 120 already and it looked fine. I compared it with the Sigma 2.8 Macro 105, and found the Nikkor’s resolution so much better, never used the Sigma again.

Would you be willing to share sample scans of 35 and 120 from your 50mm macro?

Just wondering whether that was the older Sigma 105mm EX OS f2.8 Macro or the curremt Sigma 105mm DG GN f2.8 ART Macro version? The older lens tested pretty well in 2017 on Robert O’Toole’s site but didn’t make the cut in his latest 2022 1:1 tests where he found the ART very good indeed.

It’s the DG GN. I don’t mean to say the lens is bad in general use but as a macro it’s really not as sharp.

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I completely agree with Harry, Apo-rodagon - 1 or 2 will work perfectly fine for you stated purposes -index scan of your archive. Keep in mind that after all it will be your camera not the lens limiting the quality of the final output so don’t overcomplicate the matters. Thou for index scan I would recommend lens if you can find which works fine and fast in AF mode at 1:1 and 1:2. After all I gather , you are looking mostly for speed, not for the ultimate quality scans. Hth

Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN 1:1 macro.
Excellent results on A7r3, @f8.

My advice given these options is just buy a compatible macro lens. I would recommend a 40mm for APS-C/DX, and a 60mm for full frame. I’m using a 30mm on Micro 4/3 bodies. All three combinations will work well.

I once used a Bogen 60mm wide angle enlarging lens for copying 35mm and 2.25^2 transparencies. It worked fine, on a bellows attached to a Nikon F3 with pin registration back, and a Bowens Illumitran IIIc.

Would the 1x & 2x Apo-Rodagon D lens work to copy a 35mm frame to the FUJIFILM GFX100 series medium format camera. Would copying it to medium format size give me more resolution than copying it to a full frame sensor size?

If your negatives were from a 645 camera, the GFX 100 would be ideal because it has the same 3:4 image ratio.

If your camera and negative have diverse image ratios, you either loose a few megapixels or need stitching.

Enlarger lenses usually come with different image circles, as a rule of thumb, you’d want about 50mm for FF and 80mm for MF…and bellows or adapters to fit the width of the optical path. Novoflex builds such devices, but they aren’t cheap.

One thing though: How wide do you want to print? A capture of 4000x6000 provides for 20 in width. Larger prints can be made with less resolution, unless you want to scan that print mechanically with your nosetip. Find some guidance here:

If you are a member of the Facebook ‘Digitizing Film with a Digital Camera’ there is a very pertinent thread there regarding lens and bellows options, and also large diameter extension rings instead of bellows:

In fact the lady concerned went with a 120mm Apo-Rodagon but we don’t know how she got on unfortunately.

Bear in mind that If you simply only use a cropped 36mm x 24mm central portion of your 44mm x 33mm sensor you will still get 60.5MP, the same as the highest resolution Sony currently, so that’s very good quality indeed, and there’s plenty of evidence on here and elsewhere that either of those Apo-Rodagons perform well at what would then be 1:1 magnification. the ‘2x’ actually means ‘0.5x’ when it comes to camera scanning but it does perform well at 1:1, up there with the best.

If you only used the cropped part of your sensor then you would be able to use a standard bellows designed for a 35mm system like a Nikon PB-4 or Canon FL, both excellent quality and relatively inexpensive compared to any medium format options. I believe that the ‘2x’ is more forgiving when you use it at other magnifications, at less than 1:1 for medium format for example, but you would be looking at 1.2x if wanted to fill the width of your sensor with a 35mm frame.