Suggested backlight sources for scanning film with DSLR

I got a reply from Skier, in which the representative says the following:

  • That is a good suggestion. There is currently no production exclusive to negatives of 28×28mm and 13×17mm. You can use 135 film holder to scan negatives of 28×28mm and 13×17mm first.

I’m not sure how that could bring optimal results, as the film strip assumably wouldn’t be supported from all sides. Anyway, I’ll probably order my film holders from Negative Solutions.
Thanks again argaach for your help

Reviewed a few shots I had taken from my Durst M605c Light source and ran a shot through NLP to see what it did with it. This is what I got.
Bildschirmfoto 2020-02-28 um 14.22.43

As we can see, the lighting at medium format settings is everything but even. Colored borders showed already in the original shots, but the histograms did not look that bad. Processing one of the shots with NLP created this image, which exaggerates the situation. Nevertheless, the shifts in hue were visible in some of the landscape shots I tested with.

If you want to verify your lighting, you can proceed like this

  1. Take a shot of the backlight at the settings (focus, aperture) you set for digitizing
  2. White balance the raw file in Lightroom and crop it to eliminate borders
  3. Apply NLP - This here was converted using the Basic setting with Saturation set to 3

BTW, the tone curves look like this:

Hmm… I wouldn’t recommend this. NLP will always try to normalize the image, so even if you gave it a blank shot with nearly perfect light, it would still probably produce a result like this, or even just not work (if there isn’t room to place points on tone grid).

What you could do is to copy/paste the settings from an actually frame conversion, and apply that to the blank light source image (you may need to adjust the exposure so that it isn’t blown out). This way, you are seeing the same contrast that is being applied to a real conversion, but now just applied to your light source - so it should be a more accurate representation of the amount of unevenness present…

Or, you can just crank up “contrast” all the way to 100, which is what I usually do when teseting!


I’ve run a few similar tests and found that they gave me some insight on what my light sources and camera sensors are doing under certain conditions, the practical value of these tests is rather small though, they just helped me find smudges on the front lens that I did not see but still turned up in the macro photos from time to time. No need to waste your time with such tests hoping for practical use!

Thanks a lot for this thread, very good information.

I’m on a Plustek 8100 currently, but I have banding issues and wanted to give the Nikon ES-2 a try now. Just deciding on a light source now. Has anyone experiences with the Lume Cube 2.0? This seems like a good combo with the ES-2, and I could use a portable light source anyway. Just not sure about the specs… On their website they say it has “True Daylight Balanced 5600K Color Temp & 95+ CRI”.

What do you guys think?

I thought of checking out the Lume Cube because it looks good on paper and does all the things you mention in your other post Lume Cube 2.0 as light source

What I’m now using after my first test with an enlarger as light source is a Kaiser slimlite plano. The following thoughts brought me there:


  1. :grinning: I already have two of them
  2. :grinning: they are sturdy
  3. :grinning: they take up to 6x9 cm negatives
  4. :grinning: negative holder has adjustable crop borders
  5. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: awkward to use unless the camera has a flip-out screen

Lume Cube type of Lighting

  1. :grinning: looks good on paper
  2. :thinking: how to mount for more than occasional use?
  3. :thinking: can I get a negative holder for FF and MF film?
  4. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: not my first choice!


  1. :grinning: lies flat under the enlarger that I can also use as a copy stand
  2. :grinning: also serves as a light table to browse negatives in their filing sheets
  3. :grinning: was readily available
  4. :thinking: negative holder(s)?

The Skier box looks exactly like the thing I could use best because it can easily handle uncut film with its film holders that are well centered to the light box. Something that my Kaiser and Lomo filmholders do not do without further crafting, but hey, why not?

The thing that really got me off a lume cube scheme was the effort for creating a stable and sturdy setup and the additional cost of getting all the mounting materials like screws and rails. BTW, I also looked the “FilmToaster”.

Thanks for the answer! I received the Lume Cube today, so far it seems like a very nice piece of gear. Once I have the ES-2 as well I’ll make some comparisons with my Plustek.

Regarding your points: All very valid. If I would have the space I would probably go for a copy stand as well. For me though it’s an advantage to have a setup that I can quickly store in an airtight box somewhere when I don’t need it. I only shot like 1 roll a month, so I don’t scan that often. Also, my room is not dark, so having a “closed system” like ES-2 seems more convenient for me in regards to ambient light.

True, that’s certainly a bonus, although none of the copies I’ve taken without darkening the room have turned out wrong so far.

maybe not the perfect place here, but has anyone experienced difficulties importing the skier lightbox into the EU? (Germany, to be specific)
The customs deparement didn’t hand it out to me because of the us-plug and because of “it has electronics” in general. Now it is being tested… and the lady told me the chances are rather slim that it gets accepted.

Mine came in to Ireland no problem, about 1 month ago.

Just received one this week, apart from the import duty taxes that were ridiculously high (France) it has arrived very quickly, it was well packed and the lad at Skier included a US to EU plug adapter.

I’m wondering if anyone has used an LED light from a hardware store?
This one has 3000K, 4000k and 5000K settings with a CRI of 90 and only $20 CAD:

yes, I’ve used LED bulbs in my enlarger, they work well and keep the housing cool.
I’ve dropped trying led “lamps” because they are too expensive just to find out that light quality might not be good enough. Cheap lamps usually have lower quality light.

PS: Your link gets me a 404 (I’m in Europe) but I can still find a bunch of lamps (Nicor DLR Series 6in.) that advertise with a CRI of 94.

I use a similar system to the light panel in plywood case above. I use a Pixel P50 panel:

I need a big light source, as my dslr scanner is mainly used for 8x10 film.

The case is made out of solid, white pvc. I used white plexi as a diffuser, and strip of neutral density light gel to even out the light. The distance from the light source to the diffuser has a big effect. On top of the diffuser is a piece of P99 textured acrylic, with the texture side up. This eliminates Newton’s rings. Masking off stray light is very important.

Before this new system, I used RGB led strips, thinking that being able to control the individual channels would be useful, but I ran into problems with banding.

Suggestion for light evenness. The usual problem is darker edges in the negative image. This turns into a bright or colored ring around the edges in the positive.

  1. Find a piece of processed uneposed film (It’ll be orange). Scratch a few marks on it.
  2. Place in your cam-scan rig, focus on the marks and expose, Import file into LR
  3. In DEVELOP module, WB somewhere near mid-image
  4. Then check brightness in center vs corners (just hover cursor, read LR’s #'s)
  5. Corners will likely be darker than center. Add radial adj to bring up corners.
  6. Use this radial adj as Develop-Preset on Import, fix evenness before NLP

Here’s an example. Looks OK at first glance, but note brighter away from the center. Note the colored blob upper RH corner. Also, NLP has skin too dark. All resolved with radial adjustment pre-NLP.

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Another possibility for better evenness is Lightroom’s Flat-Field Correction, which is mentioned in this post too: Orange bleed at edges of scans! Need help!

On the other hand, you could just counterbalance the effect by adding some vignetting back into the image. Based on your posted jpg, it looks like it is possible with these settings. Other settings should be able to correct the effect in your raw files.
Bildschirmfoto 2020-04-06 um 20.04.24

If you find your settings, you could save them as a preset and apply it on import.

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I got the Kaiser Slimlite Plano in the mail today and I plugged it in, I noticed one things:

Operating the switch on the side that is supposed to toggle between USB and battery power results in the light flickering for a moment, when I touch the switch. Is this something anybody else experienced or should I be worried of an unstable light also during normal use?

Same thing here and I never saw any flickering during normal operations with USB power. I use battery power only to review film strips or for short tests. When I take photos of slides and negatives, I always use USB power in order to keep brightness constant and not have it slowly creep dimmer over time.

The switch does not look and feel like a heavy duty one million cycles switch though and it’s probably best to not use it unless it is necessary.

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I second Digitizer’s suggestion. Flat field correction should completely correct this problem and eliminates all of the tedious work adding and adjusting radial filters, etc. to counteract the unevenness.

@bearojupiter how high ? … I wanted to buy a Skier copy box but don’t want to spend 200€ on the copy box + 100€ on taxes …

I’m currently scanning (mostly) B&W film with sony a7 + olympus 80mm on auto-bellows + cheap light table from amazon + Digitaliza 135 and 120 film holders.
I’m not happy with the light source nor the film holders and skier copy box appeared to be a nice solution to my problems : curled film in digitaliza holder, time spent to put the film right in the holder, some light reflections on the film holder and quality of the light source.
@bearojupiter or other skier copy box user, do you think it is worth the money?