What lens for a D610?

So my Plustek scanner is on its last legs and I have a Nikon D610 collecting dust. I reckon now would be a good time to switch to DSLR scanning.
My main question is what lens do I use? I have a spare 55/3.5 AI with an extension tube, what about the 60mm and 100 macros? Does autofocus or added focal length matter?

As for the rest of the setup, I’m looking at the negative supply holder with the riser stand, does the pro mount make life easier at all? I know they sell them as a bundle but I’m not sure if I really need one.


  • Dan

As for your main question:
Just try what you get with your 55+tube. If it does not work to your content, my choice (as a Canonista) would be the ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter which is made for the 60mm lens (check it out) - a set that looks promising if you want to copy 35mm film and slides only. It holds camera and negative into a tight mechanical connection and helps prevent stray light.

I find Negative Supply’s devices interesting but on the expensive side of things.

I’m not OP, but I actually have nearly the same setup. I’m scanning 120, and when I put a tube on, I am no longer able to focus at the lens’s marked hyperfocal distance. Also, With the tube, there is no way to capture the negative in one go. I understand that I could stitch together shots, but that’s a major PITA. Without a tube, I’m able to get the whole negative in frame, but I’m losing pixels. Is there any solution for this? Would a native 1:1 lens enable me to shoot the whole negative and lose minimal pixels? Do I have to cave and use a flatbed?

I wouldn’t suggest caving, I’ve compared DLSR scanning to my flatbed and it’s been no comparison. This should all be simple math if you are willing to plug the numbers into a online macro calculator to decide on the best length of tube. It sounds to me that your tube is too long

Scanning a 645 negative requires a ratio of 42/24=1.75
Scanning a 6x6 negative requires a ratio of 56/24=2.33

You could now try to use a longer lens (if you have one) or a shorter tube (if you have one) or (if money does not matter) buy a macro lens for Canon EF mount. Get a metal lens clamp too or the Irix 150 which comes with a clamp and very decent build and optical quality from what I see in reviews in the Internet.

Trying a lot of things is only worth it as long as you don’t have to buy things you test only to find out that they don’t work for you

Thanks for the insight! I’ve been stuck on this for a few days. So, I’ve actually got this 55mm macro lens, and it says that, natively, it’s magnification is .5x. I’ve got this extension tube, which is 27.5mm of extension. A little online extension tube calculator tells me that this should actually make my lens 1:1 reproduction. I see that to get the ratios you’ve divided the smallest side of the 120 negative I’m capturing by the smallest side of the full frame digital sensor i’m capturing it with. Given that I’m capturing a 6x7 negative, do I need a new lens, a different tube, or both?

Your tube’s description says that “This set is recommended for Nikon F mount/Pre-AI (Non-AI) lenses over 55mm. It provides continuous focusing from 1:2 to 1:1 reproduction.”

There are two mentions that ring my bell:

  1. lenses over 55 mm
  2. 1:2 to 1:1 reproduction

Your lens is 55, not over, but I suppose that this does not matter. Reproduction is advertised between 1:1 and 1:2. What you need is 1:2.5 which is out of range - as you already noticed.

Does your lens go to 1:2 without the tube?

Actually, yes! In attempting to answer this question I have learned a number of things, one of which is that there are markings on the lens barrel that tell me what the reproduction ratio is at any given focusing distance, and also that there are a separate set of markings above those for when the lens is used with this extension tube! The set of markings for use without the extension tube tell me that this lens goes from 1:10 at it’s furthest away, to 1:2 at it’s closest. The set of markings for use with the extension tube tell me that it goes from 1:2 at it’s furthest away to 1:1 at it’s closest. Earlier today I settled on using something rather close to that 2.33 figure you gave earlier (by trial and error, before I had figured out this reproduction ratio thing) to make the scan attached at the end of this post. However, in order to make this scan, I had to crop out a significant amount of border, which is in essence, wasting pixels, no? I am seeing now that the only way around this would be stitching or using a sensor which matches the size of my film, unless I am mistaken.

Absolutely true!

Let’s scale image ratios: 6:7 is equal to 24:28.
Sensor ratio is 24:36, therefore, you don’t use a strip of 24:8 which corresponds to 2/9 of camera sensor area, more than 22% of your pixels cannot be used.

Your image will use roughly 18 Megapixels instead of 24. We can call it a waste of pixels indeed, and you’ll also crop off some borders too…

Stitching shots will certainly raise the number of Megapixels, but will the effort be worth it? How large will you print all these images or will you do a slideshow on a tv screen? And will you look at these prints with your nose on the paper? Probably not.

My approach would be to live with the 18 Megapixels you get per negative and rescan and stitch when you really need or want huge prints.

Of course, you could get yourself a 100 Megapixel Fuji camera or a Leica Monochrome for finer detail. Or try this for monochrome output.

I use Nikkor 60mm AF-S with Nikon ES-2 film holder on my D750 and it’s great. I prefer manual focus to autofocus; I never trust the autofocus so end up looking at each negative anyway; it’s easy to tweak focus with the AF-S. For a few dollars less you can get the 60mm AF-D lens which has the same optics but it’s just more clunky if you use autofocus then want to tweak it manually. If you just use it manually then no penalty. For either lens you can get perfect specimens from Ebay at substantial savings from new. The ES-2 should be cheaper than the negative supply holder. Then all you need is a tripod and a smooth LED light source for which there are good threads on this forum, I got the Chinese rectangular LED unit for about $50 and it works fine.

All of the above applies to 35mm. For 120, my Canon 9000F MkII scanner with VueScan works great. I’ve tried dslr scanning for 120 and it’s more work with no visible benefit.

My $.02