Upgrade scanning setup for MF

Hi, I would need some advice. I currently shoot only in 35mm and for scanning I use a Nikon D5100 with a Nikkor AF micro 60 D, I also have a Plustek 8100 which I don’t use now because it takes too much time. I’ve recently started using MF so I intend to sell both the Nikon and the Plustek and without spending anything else I would get to buy one of the following cameras Nikon D800, Sony A7, and Sony A7r to use only for scanning so what I’m interested in is maximum output in this function. I was thinking more about the Sony because being small it’s easier to stabilize and level, and in addition, it has focus peaking, but I’m also evaluating other cameras if you have advice (the fuji are a bit out of the market as price ex: X-T3). What do you guys think?

I’ve never owned one but I believe there was an issue called ‘Shutter shock’ with the original A7R, might be worth researching that, a lot of people seem to use the A7R2 and that is also 42MP instead of 36MP, I think the problem was fixed for that. The D800 or D810 would give very good results with that lens and there is always Live View but as you say it is heavier so your copy stand would need to be up to it and mirrorless is great to have with its focus-peaking, and lightness.

Are you thinking of one shot capture for medium format or stitching? For one shot then the extra 36 or 42 MP would be good to have compared to the 24MP A7 but it’s going to depend upon what you need to use them for, what size prints in particular.

…and welcome to the community!

Thank you very much i didn’t know about this issue with Sony A7r. I never scan 6x6 before but exactly as you say if I can find a camera around 40M I would avoid stitching otherwise I have to do it. Another option is the Sony a6300 or the Fuji x-e3 but I don’t know much about digital cameras maybe some other suggestion to look around? Is it better an old FF like Sony or Nikon or an APS-C like the Fuji x-30 or Sony alpha series for my type of use?

What is your target print size?

  • A 24 Mpixel camera will provide for a print that can be up to 20 inches wide if you print at 300ppi. Allow for cropping and print at 240 ppi to retain the nominally 20 inch wide print. Sensor dimensions don’t really matter here, provided you have good lighting and know how to expose.
    Film Scanning Best Practices | Negative Lab Pro

Get new gear or not?

  • Maybe you could use your current nikon gear and see what you can get out of it. Camera scanning MF negatives with a smaller sensor helps to keep the imaging ratio low, which can, depending on lens design, make extension rings or bellows etc. unnecessary. Dimension mismatch can be remedied through stitching, but Lightroom’s stitching algorithms can cause loss of pixels or “invent” new ones, both of which might be undesirable.

Thanks for the information. Okay, so I’m going to try to upgrade. by selling the one I have I would come out even, and I would have the possibility then of not having to resort to stitching except for cases of special prints. I just don’t know if it’s better to go for an old 25/40Mpixel FF camera or a somewhat newer 24Mpixel APS-C one considering that for the purpose I don’t need any special functions other than focus peaking which can be useful. Not having much experience on digital cameras I wouldn’t know how or what to go about looking at.

Again, don’t invest unless you’re sure. Check the manual and the forum.

I’d go for something with a flippy screen and a newer sensor…but would probably pass on X-Trans sensors because of the “worms” it can cause with sharpening in Lightroom.

I use a Canon EOS M6 with the old EF100mm macro lens (full frame) wirelessly tethered to an iPad. Newer sensors have less noise though. If I were to start from scratch, I’d probably be tempted by a Sony due to sensor quality and wide selection of excellent macro glass from, e.g. Laowa and Sigma.


Full disclosure, I use a Fuji X-T2 and I am completely happy with it because it’s a camera I am happy to use for everything that I do. I have toyed with a Sony A7RII for film ‘scanning’ though as the price seems to be coming down but really I can’t justify having that camera just for film copying because I would carry on using the Fuji for everything else. There is an advantage to having more megapixels that goes beyond simply maxing out on resolution though, it means that you don’t have to fill the viewfinder with your 35mm frame, you can leave room for cropping afterwards and still get a decent number of MP. This allows you to use the very best part of your lens because all lenses show a little less resolution towards the corners.

Then there is the added complication of the processing of the X-Trans files. This introduces scope for a kind of paranoia about Fuji ‘worms’ but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen any in my film ‘scans’. However the Sony A6300, also 24MP, is also a very good camera and avoids any chance of experiencing such moments of self-doubt.

Not noticed that so far with a decent enlarger lens, perhaps I’ve been lucky so far, perhaps 6.14 is better than later CC versions. That 60mm Micro-Nikkor should be fine also as that series of Micro-Nikkors starting with the 55mm were particularly designed for lack of distortion and high resolution, but then there is also Hugin which I believe is highly recommended.

Please note that scanning medium format negatives introduces additional loss of pixels due to different w/h ratio. While 35 mm is 24x36. MF can be e.g. 56x56, which will give you a max. of 4000 pixels square. A 24 Mpixel camera will be like a 16 Mpixel camera under this condition.

As for worms, I’ve seen them when testing with sample images from dpreview.com a few years (?) ago. Preprocessing the scans with e.g. DxO PhotoLab eliminated the worms though.

@gillesp, search the forum for “medium format” to find a wealth of hints. No need to repeat them here!

Yes, I imagine he realises this but we don’t know which format he is using, I was talking about 35mm. This is the reason why I think that going to the trouble of basic photomerging for medium format makes a lot of sense. By basic I mean the long dimension of the sensor across the 56mm width of the film, so in your example 6000 px square for 6x6, a substantial up tick in resolution and quite simple to do though 3 exposures will be needed for 6x7, a single exposure for 6x9 might be considered enough I suppose. I’ve never been tempted to photomerge across two dimensions personally.

I know, that is why I brought in pixel loss - the thread title mentions MF.

Mentioned 6x6 here but this might just be a synonym for all MF formats. Nevertheless, the aspect ratio of the source vs the digitising sensor comes into play. I’ve posted an illustration about that, cannot find the post though.

It might have been this thread:

Or could it have been this one?

Either way, just using your own illustration, with a 24MP camera and a single shot:

6x6 (56 x 56mm)- 16 MP
6x7 (56 x 67mm) - 19 MP
6x9 (56 x 82mm) - 23.5 MP

Stitched, long side of sensor across width of film:

6x6 (56 x 56mm)- 36 MP
6x7 (56 x 67mm) - 43 MP
6x9 (56 x 82mm) - 52 MP

APS-C vs Full Frame vs MP

I started scanning 35mm and 6x6 with a Sony α6500 24MP (APS-C) and Micro Nikkor 55mm f2.8. After a while I decided to do a comparison of the same image area using the lens at APS-C magnification vs Full Frame magnification. This meant using the “M” ring to get to 1:1 magnification. The same scanned selected image area was significantly better at 1:1. From which I deduced that the improved image quality was due to using more of the “lens’s circle of illumination” (covering power) for the selected neg area, which makes sense.

I currently use a Sony α7C 24MP (full frame) with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro Art at f5.6. Although the Micro Nikkor is good the Sigma 105 has more dynamic range.

I also am considering upping my resolution but it’s a bit vexing:

Do I get an α7Rv with M RAW 26MP or L RAW 60Mp.
Where 26MP is similar to my α7C and 60MP is a huge file, overkill?

Or an α7Riii with 40MP, a nice upgrade from 24MP?

Probably the best Mpixel/cost ratio: Sigma fp-l
It also accommodates Sigma’s (and Laowa’s) macro lenses.


Does it have alternative RAW resolutions?

Thanks for all the information. To clarify a bit I am supposed to start scanning 6x6 negatives. So from what is reported it seems that maybe to get a little more resolution without stitching the Nikon D810 might be the best solution with only negative point that it does not have tilt screen and focus peaking. Alternatively Sony a7 or a6300 with regard to the latter two I don’t know which is better, one is older but FF and maybe would perform even better with my Nikkor AF micro 60 D lens.

Stitching is so difficult to do right?

For my need 16Mpixles after crop can be ok if sharpness end details capture is the same.

@Graham Do you notice an improvement going from a6500 to a7c?

There’s a pretty broad consesus that at 24MP and below there is no appreciable difference between the results from full frame and APS-C all other things being equal. On the other hand all things aren’t quite equal because in your case you will be using the same 60mm Micro-Nikkor f2.8, at least for now. APS-C requires less magnification for any given film format than full frame so your lens might perform slightly better, particularly with respect to corner resolution. The optimum aperture is going to be slightly wider when you use it on APS-C, say f5.6 instead of f8. Vlad’s Test Target is a good way of establishing that.


After the α6500 I bought an α6400 which enabled me to shoot tethered to my laptop which made everything easier to asses, focus and adjust exposure. As well as being able to save straight to the laptop or separate drive with specific file names and numbering (brilliant). A huge advantage when digitising lots of photos and later reference.

I then bought an α7C with a Sony 90mm Macro which was better but the Sony 90mm had quite noticeable chromatic aberration at 1:1 so I bought the Sigma 105.

In my opinion a full frame camera (such as the α7C or better) would be more suitable especially shooting the whole MF (6x6) or whatever image area.

I find with a lot of my 6x6 negs and trannies that I can crop into to a 3:2 format, getting a higher resolution (using whole sensor). Sorry, I realise that it spoils the wonderful “square format”. I scan mainly for projection on a 120" 4K screen. which is 16:9.

Also stitching isn’t that difficult provided you design your setup for medium format around it. For example you set up a straight edge that you can move your film holder along above your light source and then mark the steps against a reference point on the holder. However you will need the room to move your film at 90º to the normal orientation, so towards the column if you are using a copy stand. Alternatively if you can find a lens collar to use on your Micro-Nikkor you can turn your camera instead, or maybe use an L-bracket.

As Digitizer has suggested you could try all this with your existing Nikon D5100, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Oxymoron alert!

Be sure about how large you’re gonna print. Then you can establish the minimum number of pixels needed. Sharpness and detail can be influenced by processing within certain bounds only, but…you could always use Lightroom’s super resolution feature if you need “more pixels”.