Suggested backlight sources for scanning film with DSLR

I guess if I buy a video panel I’m going have to count on needing additional video diffusion. I bought some edge lit video panels, but they weren’t even at all. I was hoping that being edge light (as the Kaiser light table is) that they’d be even.

Hello everyone, does some of you have experience with these light panels?

currently i can only afford aliexpress gear, so if anyone of you have any recommendation of light panel in aliexpress. I’ll be very greatful.

Hi all,

I found this interesting thread that will allow me to achieve my photo reproduction bench.
You can see it here ; it is in French but Google or DeepL is your friend.

I have already reproduced more than 200 slides 35 mm and processing is incredibly faster comparatively with my old scanner Konica-Minolta ; ergonomic is also much better.
I have also added a solution for 6x9 cm films.

I wanted to improve CRI and you give me many solutions with CRI 95.
My current backlit panel is certainly rather bad but the result is satisfying with old films and faded colors.
I use DxO to develop RAWs.

I have a Huion light panel, which looks just like the second one you listed. I normally use it only for sorting slides and negatives but the other day I decided to run some tests to compare it to my more expensive light panel which I use for digitizing film. My good light table is 5500K, whereas the Huion comes out to about 9400K, very cool. I digitized several 35mm slides that have good skin tones, grays and a mix of other colours.

To my surprise, the scans are virtually indistinguishable. But the key is to set the camera to a custom white balance using the light panel. To do this, put your slide in position and focus on it. Then remove the slide, stop down 2 - 3 stops and do a custom white balance on your camera. It works remarkably well.

Note: For any light panels that have adjustable brightness, make sure you set the brightness to full. LEDs do not really dim. Instead they turn on and off very quickly, faster than the eye can see. So if you’ve set the brightness to 60%, the LEDs are on for 60% of the time and off for 40%. In your photo, depending on your shutter speed, this can lead to banding.

So, is it okay to use a cheap LED light table? I’d expect that a light table with a low CRI may not reproduce all the colours with 100% accuracy, which could be important if you’re shooting products such as cars or clothing for a high-end client, but for general purpose, at least in my tests, it seems to make little, if any, difference.

But it’s very important to set the camera to a custom white balance. These two shots are with the different light panels. Original slide is a 35mm Fujichrome RDP from the 1980s.

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Did you ever get a go with instruments at colour proofing light tables type oh Just-Normlicht? How do those perform? In theory they should be the clear winners …

I theory, however the only way you can get a somewhat ever true collimated light source is via an old hot light enlarger or extremely expensive LED light-boxes made for product inspection.

I am starting to think that area vs line sensor has more to do with the sharpness comparison of scanners and cameras …

I use this viewer to filmLupo-visore-luminoso-pellicole-20180519175332 with a 5000 ° K fluorescent lamp I am fine, put a glass plate above and shooting with Nikon D500 and Sigma 180 f2.8 Macro 100 ASA f8 on tripod, Raw files get very defined, even in the 35 mm.
I purchased NLP and I am too good about that, I have yet to learn well the settings for black and white.

I bought a skier copy box (v2) a while ago, but I did a little test to see the concentration of the light source or how diffused it is. I pulled the image around a bit here, but this was the result. I included the Lightroom panel so you can see how I pushed the image around - it’s a pretty extreme grade, but I do have a tendency to push my film images around as much as I can, and it’s good to know where the limits are / where the light source is acting as a problem. I was a bit disappointed because this seems to be very highly recommended. Although the plastic seems to do a good job at diffusing the light, I wish the light source wasn’t so concentrated.

I got the nicer one. Need to test it out more as I’m getting an orange color cast in part of my image.

Has anyone used or heard of the Nanlite Compac 20? It came up when I ran a google search for the nanguang cn-t96. It looks to be the same thing (maybe). I know Nanguang rebranded to NanLite, so it would make sense. Both are listed at CRI95, though the Compac 20 doesn’t have cn-t96 anywhere in the specs. If it’s actually CRI95 and the still the same light source as used in the Skier and cn-t96, it’s a heck of a bargain at $40 on B&H. It comes with a diffuser, but I also have the EFH which would add another diffusion layer.
NanLite Compac 20 Daylight Slim on B&H

Interesting findings. I have just begun my exploration into “DSLR” scanning (using my Fuji XH1 and an adapted Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5) and have been having an awful time tracking down the source of some vignetting and edge exposure issues. I am running the Skier Sunray v3 box. So far, after much deduction, I think the problems are coming from the light source or the film holders, or both. So very interesting to see you have noticed similar things.

Hi, I’m new to dslr scanning. Really enjoying this feed as I’m still trying to find a good set which I am happy with before starting to digitise boxes of old film rolls.
I now experimented with a flash shooting into a white box with my negative holder sitting on top. It’s really even and bright illumination. But I noticed that the film grain is so much more noticeable and harsh. I really like the overall look of the scan but in magnification the grain is just too much.
Am I missing something important for this technique as flash is often recommended as very good solution. Like I said I love the look of the scan. The stronger light seems to work very well, but can I reduce the grain sharpness somehow? Or is it just normal that you’ll get more grain with a stronger light source?
Much appreciated!

Flash is a very good solution but it needs to be diffused. You can either fit a clip-on diffuser to the flash head and/or place a sheet of opal perspex or other diffusing material between the flash and the film holder. The light will be much softer and you will have less trouble with film grain, scratches, etc.

You can also white-balance on the unexposed ladder … This will produce an orange mask deduction base.


could one of you guys who own it be so kind and post a Kaiser “slimlite plano” LED light box illumination shot? I would love to evaluate the distribution of light before I buy it …

Thank you and best regards!

Compare a shot of a central part of an A4 Slimlite Plano:

Without tonal adjustments (check histogram)

With some extreme processing (check histogram)

Note how the extreme processing shows how LEDs are mounted densely and in diamond shape. It also shows lens vignetting and that light shone onto the panel from a window. All this is not relevant or visible under normal working conditions (check filmstrip)

Differences appear greatly exaggerated due to the following:

  • tone curve: instead of 1/255, edges are placed at 200/210
  • Structure slider at max
  • Clarity slider at max
  • Haze slider near max
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Thank you thats very helpful and a bit discouraging D:

I was convinced the LEDs are in the edges of the panel reflecting from the bottom surface like with a monitor.

That would be the best architecture for uniformity.

Don’t be discouraged, conversion tonecurves will be nowhere near the curve shown in the lower screenshot. I found that the plano is easily good enough as a backlight.

If you want something better, you might want to use a white surface lit by the sun or a couple of tungsten lamps in a setup lika a copy stand and put a few feet between the negative and the lit surface. Not very practical, but best CRI you can get…

I’ve also just checked the plano for how the LEDs are mounted. I thought they were spread over the surface, but it rather looks like edge-lighting… See the photo taken from the panel’s backside:

Looks like the diamond shape is caused by the light-guide.

Here’s a shot of a negative treated with the settings that revealed the diamonds:

I found not the slightest hints of the diamonds, no matter what I did. This extreme treatment brought out the ribbing of the sofa’s covering - and imaged in the medium format negative shot against the light - and it would take a heck of a lot of postprocessing to make it visible in a real image. BTW, I keep my negatives an inch off the surface of the backlight.

Summary: Stay cool, the plano will do its job, as will many other products or DIY solutions.

I was dramatising a bit, but yes — sometimes I have a hard time curbing my OCD.
Than again — I just got rid of that Skier thing. It produced fall-off visible to the naked eye with medium format.

Now, the problem with this panels is they all use cheap diffusion plastic instead of something better as the materials sells.

But yes, as you said — one needs to put the image to the stretchers to make it apparent on that Kaiser. Not all of the light tables though.

Again thank you for you effort :slight_smile:

Hi, I don’t have time to read all the responses you got but I’ll tell you about my experience.
I had the Digitaliza from Lomography and it was kind of disappointing, time-consuming, wouldn’t hold the negatives flat etc etc etc… After spending money in everything else, it makes no sense to fail on your scanning methods, so after a little research I decided to try the Skier and it’s very good, no regrets and only good things to say about it.

The metal: is safe, it has a coating or some sort of treatment that makes it smooth, that’s the best I can say to describe it. The flatness: it holds the negatives flat, at a high enough degree that I haven’t had a problem since, sharp from corner to corner, it was a nightmare with the Digitaliza, especially with 135 film. The speed: it depends on you :slight_smile: I get through the rolls in 5min max, faster with 120 even taking two exposures per shot when doing 6x7 or 6x6.

The only con for me, if you go too slow, it gets warm, and the rolls tend to curl a bit. I couldn’t be happier with it. Mine came with two pairs of microfiber gloves that I wasn’t expecting at all.

Happy to share my experience,
Good luck!