Suggested backlight sources for scanning film with DSLR

Avoid the TikTeck $29 panel on Amazon.

I suggest everyone experiment, one good frame of a color checker in direct sunlight, then see what NLP does with your light source.

Wishing you all good shooting!

New recommendation: If you can use an MR16 bulb, SORAA “Vivid Light” MR16 bulbs seem excellent, comes in 3K and 4K, but these two may not be that different. With my usual testbox, SORAA bulb, and NLP 1.31, I think I have the best auto conversion yet.

Previous winner for illumination was the iPhone 7 (8 and X have same screen). Here’s a comparison, both with NLP 1.31, Frontier, Film=Fuji, and then Brightness to -6. Otherwise Auto. Both are slightly warm (not corrected).



The iphone 7 is a POOR light source with regards to CRI, R9 (deep red) and overall color rendering when measured with the i1Pro2 and Babelcolor CT&A program. CRI of 73, deep red rendering R9 of MINUS 19.


With regards to a constant “hot light”, the Solux 4700K is THE reference source to beat. Easily surpasses the SORAA LED in all regards. Take a look at the spectral distribution in the upper left panel, a D50 match. There aren’t any “hot blue” ramps like those found in the Profoto, Alien Bee or other flash units, nor are there any “blue pump” peaks like those found in 99% of the LEDs on the market. Glance over the right hand panels and you’ll find very little deviation from ideal. The bottom chart is a sampling of 99 different colors and their accuracy. Previous chart of the iphone 7 was quite ragged. Look at the Solux 4700K - darn near perfect. I’m using the MR16 4700K in my setup. Be advised however that the larger PAR38 Solux does NOT have the same performance and the CRI drops down to low 90s, R9 deep red goes down to mid 50s with the larger sources. Reason? In the large PAR38 / PAR series, only the bulb is coated with the patented vapor deposited film. The MR16 utilizes the ENTIRE interior reflector with the coating.


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The Soraa Vivid series in PAR30L configuration. This is after a 3 minute warmup. Note that this is considered one of the BEST LEDs out there on the market, even better than the Kaiser LED panel. Still, check out the bottom 99 samples and the overall spectral graph. Not even close to the Solux 4700K, but when compared to other LEDs, Soraa is one of the best as of this writing. My money though is on the new Nichia Optisolus series.


@PM01 - thanks for this awesome info. Would love to see your setup (and maybe a few scan examples) over on the scanning setup thread:

You wrote, “iPhone 7 is a POOR light source…”

Yeah, look at the spectrum, and you don’t want to use this light source to evaluate artwork. It’s not a high CRI.

But, as I wrote, it’s surprisingly good as a light source for camera-scan of color-neg and then inversion in NLP. Why? What does this tell us about the importance of CRI for the light source? I don’t know, but will keep investigating.

Yes, of course Solux has been the gold standard. Kodak/Pakon adopted this for their terrific 235 scanner. Is it still? I have all these bulbs. Grand question: Solux puts out a lot of heat (50W) compared to LEDs and iPhones. Is there an advantage to this bulb? And, if so, it is big enough to be worth the bother of accommodating the heat?

My examples posted above were probably NLP 1.2; will be worth rechecking.

Is there an easy way to mount a 50W MR16 bulb, such as the Solux 4700K, so that it can be used with DSLR scanning? I have searched and searched online and I can’t find any actual lamps to hold the bulb. I’d love to be able to try an MR16 bulb for my backlight.

I had trouble with this.


  • Buy a MR16 track lighting head, take it apart, and rewire as needed
  • Buy this pack of MR16 sockets, attach to something that can stand some heat, or just hold it in place with a clamp.

You want the GU5.3 base, not the GU10.

Thanks Richard. I read about this new LED backlight on Reddit, and I ordered one. I have to say it is a huge upgrade from my previous LED light (a cheapo tracing tablet). Here are the specs:

  • 95 CRI (or so they say, I don’t have a way to test that)
  • very bright at full settings
  • very finely textured surface is has a matte finish and seems to generate few if any Newton Rings
  • even distribution (passed the “underexposed picture of it” test)
  • adjustable color temp and brightness
  • it can work on cable or on battery
  • at $58, it’s less than half the price of a Kaiser Slimlite Plano
  • doesn’t get very hot after being on for several hours
  • when I’m not using it, I can use it as a video or photo light with the hotshoe mount.
  • can be used on tripod/lightstand (e.g. when using a Nikon ES-2) or can be laid on its back (e.g. when using a copy stand). if you plan on using it on it’s back I’d recommend resting it on four small blocks (maybe wood or rubber) so as not to block the vents.

I think the RALENO Led Video Light should go on the “Reccomended LED Panels” in the top post ( hint: @nate )

There is also an older version that is half the price and has the same features, but it isn’t as bright, has a smaller battery, and doesn’t support charging while using, which could be limiting. Still, at $35 it could be a good budget budget panel that provides 95 CRI.


What are good light sources for camera-scan with NLP?
I have done experiments and posted on this over the past few months. Tonight I updated my conversions with NLP 2.0.0 of my Fuji 200 test box negatives with a range of light sources.
I can recommend these lights as giving the best colorful results, listed alphabetically:

  • Flash, with or without RA54 filter
  • Kaiser panel
  • Solux 4700°K incandescent bulb
  • SORAA 4000°K LED bulb
    In addition, I can say the iPhone 7 (or 8 or X) gives a very good result.
    Hope this is helpful.

Here’s the comparison Flash and Kaiser. Excellent conversions, nice clean whites, good colors. (Frontier, PreSat 4, Standard, Film=Fuji, minor adjustments to light/dark).

Shutter speeds for the tested light sources. All at f/5.6 at 1:1, so this is an effective aperture of f/11:

  • iPhone and Kaiser panel about 1sec
  • SORAA and Solux bulbs, depends on positioning and diffusion, but I shot at about 1/30th
  • Electronic Flash at your camera sync speed

Does anyone know if there is a difference between the old Kaiser Slimlite LED and the new one Kaiser Slimlite Plano in terms of CRI.

Thank you.

Here’s a new option, a crafted box about 1.5" high with built-in LED light source and nice aluminum negative carriers for 35mm and MF.

First, the product is quite good; the web site is spotty. Communication with the guy in Taiwan is excellent. If you like the item, go ahead and order with confidence. Delivered to me in the US exactly one week after ordering.

This is the product: A wooden box, internal LED illumination, good looking negative holders. Plugs into US 110v power; switch in the line cord. (European editions??)

Internally, there’s a power supply and an LED panel that just about fills the box, 1/2" below a diffuser.

Light from this panel is bright. For camera scan at 1:1, f/5.6 nominal aperture, exposure will be around 1/100th. Far brighter than a Kaiser panel. This box is designed for camera-copying, while the Kaiser is designed for judging transparencies. (In similar setup, I had exposures of about 1 sec with Kaiser.)

Spec for the back light is 5600°K and 97CRI. I measured (iPhone Pocket Light Meter app) at 5100°K. Pretty good.

How good is the light? I’ll compare to flash which is my “gold standard” (along with Solux). Test conditions: UV filter. 1:1 shot with Sony A7. Good blocking of all stray light. Convert in NLP 2.0 using Nate’s recommended settings for a neutral conversion (Basic, PreSat 5, Linear+Gamma) and I used Film=Fuji.

I think that’s an excellent comparison. Good colors all around, no cast on the white t-shirt. All with no manual adjustments. (Another big bravo to Nate!)

Negative holder for 35mm is nicely creafted aluminum. Care taken so that sliding the negative through cannot scratch the image area. I worried this might let the negative be not-flat, but it looks pretty good. Opening shows part of sproket holes and some rebate. (iPhone shot of the opening with a negative.)

MF negative holder is a nice design. Adjustable for formats. Minimum opening is 56mm x 60mm. Max is 56mm x 91mm. Advertised as 6x45 to 6x7, but I think it’s 6x6 to 6x9.

Question is how does this compare to a Kaiser panel? My answer: It’s thicker (about 1.5"), includes negative carriers, it masks extraneous light, and the quality of light is at least as good. For backlighting for Camera-scan for NLP, in a vertical setup, I think this is quite good.

One more: It’s not setup for slides, but you can place a slide on top of the 35mm carrier, just fits left-to-right. Will work fine for slides one at a time.


Excellent review, @Richard1Karash - thanks so much for sharing. Seems like a really great light. Just went to order one and it looks like it is already on back order (the Negative Lab Pro kiss of death!). Have one on back-order and can’t wait to try!

Wow, guess I ordered just in time, then! I ordered mine sunday evening, and it just shipped, so I guess I got one of the last in stock. Sorry, Nate! :worried:

Really looking forward to trying it out, though! :smiley:

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Note the imprint on bottom of the light panel: CN-T96_DB_V2

Can anyone identify this panel? Seems like a good light source.

As I got an email from Kaiser directly these days they told me that the older panels with CRI=88 are no longer produced since two years ago. The newer ones with CRI=95 are extra marked as that on the packaging.
They also have a so called FilmCopy Vario Kit with a holding device for 135 and 120 films and the LED light box. Here is the link in English:

For lovers of the german language here is the original text:

Sehr geehrter Herr Rester,

vielen Dank für Ihre Email.

Die Leuchtplatten der Serie slimlite plano haben alle einen CRI 95
wie es in unseren Unterlagen und auf der Webseite vermerkt ist.

Leuchtplatten mit einem CRI 88 sind bereits seit über zwei Jahren
ausverkauft und dürften schon lange nicht mehr im Handel sein.
Die “aktuellen” Leuchtplatten haben auf der Verpackung den Vermerk
mit einem CRI 95 aufgedruckt. Damit ist eine Unterscheidung ggf.
möglich um nicht doch noch eine alte Leuchtplatte zu “erwischen”…

Da wir nicht auf Amazon verkaufen, ist es sehr schwer, den leider
noch alten Wert aktualisieren zu lassen. Ebenso aktualisieren die
Händler nicht Ihre Webseiten, auch wenn man sie explizit darauf

Zur Digitalisierung von Filmmaterial gibt es auch das FilmCopy Vario
#2458 incl. der Leuchtplatte #2453:
Damit lassen sich Filmmaterialien von Kleinbild bis 6x9 per Kamera
und Makroobjektiv hochwertig digitalisieren. Mittels Dreibeinstativ
oder Reprostativ kann die Kamera dazu exakt ausgerichtet werden.

Gerne helfen wir Ihnen bei weiteren Fragen zu unseren Produkten

Freundliche Gruesse / Best regards

i.A. Andreas Haerlin
Techn. Support

@Richard1Karash I just Googled CN-T96 light panel and got a bunch of hits for the Nanguang CN-T96 video and product lighting kit. Not sure how or where he’s sourcing the exposed LED panel for his light box though, but I didn’t look into it much further.