Suggested backlight sources for scanning film with DSLR

Yes it is a great tool. I used a Bencher copy stand from 1980 to 2012. The first eight years, I was a multi-image AV producer, copying thousands of yearbook pages for editor training workshops, along with lots of slide duplication and special effects work. The Bencher was key in all of that. I wore out a 55mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor on my pin-registered F3 with that setup!

I used it off and on as I had eight other jobs at the same company, eventually using it heavily again with digital cameras from 2005 to 2012. I replaced the quartz peanut lighting system with two Westcott TD-5 Spiderlites with 27 Watt photo grade daylight fluorescent lamps in them, and two 32x24 inch softboxes with two layers of light diffusion. That got rid of all copy glare, by making everything a highlight.

Folks, If you can find them, used Bencher copy stands are awesome.

Does anyone have any experience with the new Negative Supply light boxes?

I am considering between the similarly priced Negative Supply 5x7 Light Source Pro (unfortunately only the 95 CRI version as the 99 CRI is out of my budget) vs the Skier Sunray Copy Box 3 Panorama (135+120+45). I understand that I’ll be able to shoot 135, 120 & 4x5 on both of them and that the CRI is more or less the same (95 vs 94). While the Skier does come with film holders I already have Digitalizers for 135 and 120 and anti newton glass for 4x5 so that doesn’t significantly alter the equation for me.

Does anyone know their relative brightness and how collimated the light of each is?

Thanks in advance

So apparently v3 now supports panoramic mf film, 6x12 is supported which isnt very appealing to me. But I have noticed that they have changed the light source here is some info from their website:
Copybox 2 Zen:

  • 5600k
  • 18w
  • 97CRI
  • 1250Lm
  • 1 stage switch

Copybox 3 Panorama:

  • 5500K
  • 22W
  • 94CRI
  • 2600lm
  • 3-stage switch (25%,50%,100%)

What do you think of these changes? Do you think it will still be a good light and a good product worth buying? I was going to buy the v2 but a retailer was out of stock and told me to wait for v3 but v3 is more expensive!

Not much I can say, except that they did a good job with the V1 and V2 light, which suggests they’ll make a good choice for this.

Brighter light is interesting change. The V2 light is bright enough; gives me ~1/100th 1:1 f/5.6 ISO 100.

I thought this was interesting as well, but most likely I doubt there will be any significant difference in the quality of light from the new panel. I am also surprised at the increase in brightness considering how bright V2 is (my current settings are ~1/320th, ISO 100, f/8).

Like you, I have no need for any of the “upgraded functionality” that comes with V3 as I only shoot standard 35mm and medium format up to 6x7, so I am lucky that a second-hand V2 popped up for sale just after Skier sold out of their crop of V2s and before they announced the V3 box.

Might be a long shot, but may be worth reaching out to them directly to see if they are able to sell you a V2 if they have any leftover parts/stock, or at least a V3 box with V2 holders if that’s an option.

Hi everyone.
Wondering if anyone had comparisons between Skier and Negative Supply gear?
Also do both systems allow you to include sprocket holes in ‘scans’? If so how much of the film borders is possible to include?

Thank you!

Fred HB

@FredHB, you can find at least one answer here:

Hello everyone!
I’ve been reading this entire thread and others on this forum and i learned so much!
Until last week i never new CRI was a thing… But now looking to buy a light source i stumble upon TLCI score.
Is it important for film scanning ? Should i care ?

Thank you for your advice!

I searched the internet in order to find what TLCI score was and found an article that says a few things that might be it or not:

Halfway down the page is a table that I find very informative. It’d be interested in seeing something similar regarding CRI.

Yes this is it. It looks like TLCI important for color rendering in video recording… But does it matter for film scanning ?
Or am i really nitpicking here ?
I found this page with a huge database of CRI(Ra) CRI(Re) TLCI and some more color accuracy score for LED light source
I’m kinda overwhelmed with info right now…

Interesting page, thanks. According to those measurements, the highest light quality, dual-digit priced light is the Aputure Amaran AL-M9. I’d suppose that the light needs some extra diffusion layer(s) that will swallow some of the output.

Yea, definitely still interested in the v2, no need any of the pano functionality for now, but im not sure if they will continue to make v2s, hopefully they do, and not just offer the v3 from now!

I was wondering if it would make sense to set the screen of my ipad to some off-white color to offset the orange cast from the film to get more dynamic range in the reds (edit: i meant greens and blues)?

please be gentile with this newb to film scanning :blush:

I’ve been asking myself this question and tried it by taking, with my iPad, a shot of the orange mask. Then, I inverted the shot and displayed it as a backlight.

I found that it made not much of a difference, also because contrast of negatives is relatively low. Although the blue channel gets less light, it is still good enough. ETTR can help too.

Interesting, what you did in using a picture of as a light source is quite smart, didn’t think of that. Can’t wait to play with my own scanning setup.

Hi! I have a Solux 4700k, but so far I can’t figure out how to get the most uniform diffusion on the negative. Who managed to get it with halogen bulb?

Try the following things separately or in combination To get a more evenly lit negative

  • Move the bulb away from the negative
  • Insert a diffuser between negative and bulb
  • Indirect lighting: Shine the light on a white surface behind the negative

All of the above will require longer exposure. Intensity drops with the square of the distance, which means that doubling the distance will cost two stops approximately. Some of it can be equalized by shining the light through a tunnel that you could make from a can for instance.

Hi Richard,
2 things.
-Between using flash or a phone (pixel 3) which woud you recommend? I’m trying to use what I have before investing in something else.
-About using a flash as the light source. What do you recommend in terms of modifiers, white balance, distance between the negative and the flash/modifier, etc. I do not have a RA54 flter.
Thank you!

How Much Light?

I wondered how much light we actually need or want for camera scanning. The more the merrier - but let’s give it a few thoughts and measurements before getting out the big guns.

As I wrote a few posts up, I use a Kaiser slimlite plano 2454, which, according to its operating instructions, has a light density of 600 cd/m2. I ran all my tests using it as backlight but I’d like to use it as a light table to check the film strips rather than using it as an oversized backlight. Which brought up the question of how much light I actually needed. I’m not overly fond of flashes, so I had a look at a few LED panels that promised good light quality as well as a reasonable price.

According to what I see on this page, and based on what I can easily get where I live, I had a look at the specs of the Aputure AL-M9 and -MX panels. They looked good and the prices are okay. Both panels promise a CRI of > 95. Now, the question arose if the M9 had enough power or if I needed the MX.

Here is what I found

  • Aputure AL-M9, 5x8 cm, LUX at 0,3m: ≥ 900
  • Aputure AL-MX, 6x9 cm, LUX at 0.3m: ≥ 2400
  • Kaiser slimlite, 22x32cm. LUX at 0,3m: ca. 350 (measured, Lux in usual use at 2 cm: 1400)

If I’m not mistaken, this would mean that the M9 has plenty of light if I put it 0.1-0.2 m away from the negative. Other than having more power, the MX can vary colour temperature and looks more robust.

I’d appreciate comments or corrections if my calculations are wrong or if anyone uses one of the mentioned AL-Ms. Thanks in advance.

I use AL-MX and run it with 50% power most of the time to keep things cool. Blenti of light output even in half power. Also CRI is really high on MX model, tested it with CRI measuring stuff. Also TLCI values were high, what means they don’t cheat (or don’t cheat so much) on CRI values.