Orange spots/blotches/fog/casts?

I’m getting some weird orange spots/blotches/fog/casts on some pictures after scanning my negatives with a DSLR and a light pad. I’m scanning in a room with all other lights turned off, I’ve tried it with and without the pane of glass on top that I use to hold the negatives flat, and I have mask on top of my light pad to block out extraneous light. The negatives themselves are clean, and so is my lens, sensor, and light pad.

Sometimes the scans come out clean, sometimes with the marks, and they’re not consistent in size or location:

cart%20spot%202 cart%20clean

space%20needle%20spot%201 space%20needle%20spot%202 space%20needle%20clean

I’m going to try masking out the sprockets on the negatives and using a different part of the light pad to see if that helps, but i’m not too hopeful.

Has anyone experienced this or tell me what they could be?

Hmm… if you are getting orange spots and blotches when “scanning” film with a digital camera, somewhere in your process you have one of the following: a) uneven illumination from your light source, b) lens flare, or c) light reflecting from your lens/camera back onto the film.

Tell me more about your equipment and settings… what light pad are you using? What camera and lens? What film holder?

When users have this issue, I usually go through this checklist first:

1. Make sure to mask at ALL the stray light from your light source. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Some dark construction paper with a mask cut out will do.
2. Be sure to use your lens hood
3. Take of any filters that are on your lens (like UV filters)
4. Shoot the emulsive (matte) side of film facing towards camera (it’s less reflective and less likely to catch the light reflecting back from your camera/lens).
5. Make sure your aperture is at f/8.0 to avoid lens vignetting.
6. Shoot manual and expose with your DSLR so that the negative is just right of center in preview histogram on camera. (If the digitization is extremely under-exposed, it could exacerbate unevenness issues during processing)

So make sure you are following that checklist above before moving on…


Again, always make sure to mask out all the area around your light source that isn’t illuminating the film. (That includes masking out the sprocket holes.) Your mask doesn’t need to be fancy - you can cut out a piece of thick card-stock paper and that should do the trick. But in your case it sounds like you’ve already tried that…

So the second thing I’d try is take a direct shot of your entire light pad with the exact same setup without any negative in it (be sure to shoot around f/8.0)… add a LOT of contrast to that shot in Lightroom and see if you observe the same kind of unevenness you see in your negatives… Here’s an example of a Portra Trace that was giving a user an uneven illumination source (that resulted in orange blobs in conversion)…

(EDIT - of course, this could also be caused by lens flare)

If you get something like above, you need to replace your light source. See this page for suggested light sources for digitizing film.

If all that is OK, try taking a shot of the film with the camera and lens further away from the negative… If doing this removes the orange blob, then it is safe to say that the orange blog is either being causes by lens flare or by light reflecting off your lens and back onto the negative. This is one of the reasons I shoot with an 80mm macro lens, because the further distance away from the negative, there is less chance of running into this issue. It’s also worth looking at your camera itself and seeing if there are any highly reflective parts of it that could be causing the issue - for instance, if your camera is silver instead of black, this could cause a higher chance of reflection.

Hope that helps and definitely want to help get this resolved for you and other users who are experiencing something similar!


Creator of Negative Lab Pro


Really appreciate your thoughtful and thorough response. You help a lot of people with your attention to detail on issues like this.

I’m using a Fujifilm XT-30, a Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro, and a Raleno LED Video Soft Light Panel, which I actually saw recommended by another user in your light source thread. It has a high CRI, is priced reasonably, and got a good review from that user. Though that user stated that his passed the contrast/underexposure test, mine apparently has not. As you suggested, I think that’s the issue here.

Ignore all the dust, as it was just a quick picture, but after adding contrast and taking down the highlights, it’s clearly not evenly illuminated. I’m going to try another light source like the Kaiser Slimlite Plano or the new iPhone when it comes out and see how it goes.

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