Film holder options and setups

hi, i’m new to using a digital camera to scan, but not new to scanning film on scanners.

i’m figuring out my setup, for:

  • scanning full rolls
  • uncut preferred
  • without cropping
  • efficiently on a regular basis
  • 2-4 rolls a week
  • compact space, small apt

in short:
is there a good 35mm film holder that doesn’t crop?
is there an affordable solid copy stand? or just use tripod and bubble levels

further details:

nikon es-2

  • it crops
  • i’m getting a weird halo glow on the edge, which would prob go away w/ different holder.
  • only good for 60mm lens, i prefer to use 105mm lens

anyone know good adapters or method to extend distance from lens to holder?

film holders i haven’t tried
has anyone tried these?
any other to consider?
enlarger negative carriers?

negative solutions

lomography film holder

imacon film holder
i already own a filed out one, but only fits 4 frames, not super fun to mount

film holder skier

negative supply
expensive but conveniently feeds the film w/o moving the holder.


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I’m not guaranteeing this would work for you, but it works really well for me. Alignment is automatic, there’s no stray light leakage, and it works fine with uncut film as long as you have enough counter space:

If you’d rather have a negative-carrier option, I sometimes use a Beseler Negatrans made for Beseler enlargers. It transports the film by turning a knob. I paid about $40 for a used one on eBay.

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thanks, i’m not sure i was getting light leakage, cause the entire frame in my viewfinder was dark, since i was using the nikon es-2 film holder. also if light was leaking in, it would show up as darker, not brighter, after inversion.

i’m leaning towards the skier film holder, to use on my existing lightbox.
i’d like the negative supply one, but the price is pretty high.

by the time i buy NLP, lens, skier film holder, and copy stand, i’m at almost $600.

re: the video, i was thinking about something similar in place of a copy stand, like a long lens hood, or some other kind of tube to hold the camera up. it would be top heavy but be much more compact.

ah, i figured out the halo glow, it’s shining through from the other side of the holder,
this is the nikon es-2 film holder w/o film mounted. see black strip on inside of frame, coming from far side of holder:

another reason why 105mm would be better than 60mm lens.

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Film holders… I like the Skier holders; they will sell the holder w/o the copy box, but the copy box is nice.

I also like the expensive Negative Supply gadget. I think both will be pretty safe vs. scratching.

I don’t like the Negatrans. Yes, awfully convenient, but in my test did not hold the film as flat as the two above. A plain vanilla Beseler negative carrier is excellent, but not set up for sliding film easily to next frame.


yeah i’m leaning towards skier holder and box, but what about using flash as light source vs light box…

I have had good results with the Lomo products - both 35mm and 120. They are good enough to mean that the quality of lighting, camera settings and macro lens quality become far more important. The certainly don’t crop, in fact you get half of the sprocket holes in 35mm film. They also get the film pretty well 100% flat which is critical, especially on 120 film. Well worth it if you can find them for reasonable money - I got mine in Hong Kong a couple of years back.

I wonder, how do you get good results with Skier holders? In my case, they don’t keep film flat, and the grain on whole image isn’t equally sharp. Especially when it comes to first or last frame. Right now, I’m leaning towards ANR glass and sandwiching the negative. Only worried, it will be pain in the ass and slow the whole operation down.

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What is your shooting aperture? I have the Skier copy box and have not noticed any issues with grain sharpness in the corners or film flatness with my setup (Canon 70D + Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 auto macro at f/8)

As for DOF, the following page has a calculator and the drawings to go with it:

DOF should be less of a problem at apertures around f/8. At 1:1, you’ll get almost 3mm each in front of and behind the object plane, which should be enough for 8x10 prints viewed at normal distances. Pixel-peeping quality will give you 1/2 mm each.

It’s f8, using Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with converter and Panasonic S1R. Problem is, I scan old, sometimes weirdly cut (one frame, three frames) negatives. They are not curly, but also not perfectly flat as roll straight from darkroom is.

I see. I’ve scanned strips of 3 without issues, but not single negatives (can you mount them as slides?). My strips have some mild curling but nothing drastic, and I’ve scanned plenty that are not “freshly dried” after developing. Perhaps you might have better luck trying to flatten the negatives prior to scanning by placing them in some sleeves and then placing a heavy book or something on top and keeping them in a (slightly) warmer and drier environment for a bit of time to expedite the flattening.

I’m aiming for a solution that will make it easy to digitalize larger archives (right now, I have 3800 frames), so unfortunately those solutions would be to much time consuming. That’s why I want to try glass — it will slow down things a little, but keep everything flat.

While I was making a book, I found medium format negatives that were stored in rolls — they were impossible to flatten out, even after washing them again and storing for month under pile of books.

i ended up with the negative supply 35mm carrier, on top of the skier box v2. i had to sand a mm or so of the skier to get the NS carrier to fit on it.

i didn’t mean to end up spending so much on my setup, but it happened gradually, and it feels good to have a really setup that doesn’t move around easily when bumped, especially if you’re doing a full roll. minimizing frustrations and getting as efficient as possible.

i haven’t done any 120, i would imagine skier would be good for it and 35, to get pretty good quality digital copies of a large archive, but i still prefer imacon for final scans.

i’m also in the camp of preferring scanner light for digitizing color neg, so i’m only doing b&w.

this is my setup:

i’ve since added a geared tripod head



Just curious. I was about to purchase the Skier Copy Box II until I saw you post.

Did you add the negative supply carrier because the Skier would not hold things flat enough or because it was more efficient, or both.

I want to do 35 mm and 120. I really don’t want to invest that kind of money if the Skier does not hold things flat and work pretty well on it’s own.

Your thoughts about the Skier Copy Box II if you have time?

Thank you.


i got the NS to more efficiently feed a roll of 35mm so that every frame is in closer to the same place, i was hoping to batch crop but i still have to manually adjust crop on each frame . but at least it holds the film in a way that it won’t move as much with a little bump. it’s more stable and controlled.

to me the skier is fine except that: getting it in the position i wanted was too delicate. you could get used to it though.

i didn’t want to spend money on both, but compared to buying a separate good light box, it wasnt as big a price difference to the have skier with holders for 120, and single cut slides, etc

Thanks for your advice.

Smorton 1

If anyone who comes across this thread is looking for a low cost flexible film holder, here’s one I made earlier :blush:

This is pixl-latr, it includes a diffuser and can hold 35mm, 120 and 4x5 film.



Oops - here’s a link too

I wonder how the following solution compares with the

as far as flatness is concerned.