What's the best way to lay your film flat?

There’s so much stuff about it online that it gives me a headache… Some say digitaliza stuff is the best, then I see that their stuff for 120 film is built in a way that obviously damages film, what should I buy?

Welcome to the forum @Michaelq16000

I have used Digitaliza 120 film holders and got no damaged films from it so far. One has to be cautious though with the mix of materials and the stamped metal plate and its relatively sharp edges. Put the plate with the sharp edges pointing downwards and don’t drag the film through a closed holder and you should be good.

Digitaliza 120 has its drawbacks though: the cutout is not optimal, e.g. for 645 negatives which means the we have to reposition the film in the holder or cut shorter strips and them the edges are floating and flatness could suffer.

My next tests will be with negative holders from enlargers. These holders can be found on ebay and prices vary greatly. New holders can be bought from respective manufacturers or dealers. The “Kaiser FilmCopy Vario Kit” looks good, specially if you start from scratch.

Another thread on here overlaps with yours:

There was a link to ‘Lobster’ holders which looked interesting but no feedback as yet:

It looks well designed to me but of course I’ve never used one. There are quite a few 3D printed options on Etsy and of course even Negative Supply and Valoi are using 3D printing for some of their components. You are somewhat dependant on those making them staying the course and keeping up with demand but that’s also true of some of the major players in what is a fairly niche industry.

Those shooting film now (as opposed to scanning an existing archive) want to be able to quickly scan every frame on a freshly developed uncut film so those holders are designed for a fast throughput.

I’m also fortunate to have Durst holders from their M605 & M700 enlargers and these are good, very well made. My favourite is their anti-newton glass below and metal mask above, shiny side against the glass. The Durst metal masks came in pairs with the upper slightly oversize, on its own that shows some rebate, excellent. However they are a little scarce and even if you buy an entire enlarger they don’t usually come with a full set of different formats, I had mine from my darkroom days.

Good introduction to film holders from Vlad Srerebryany (Vlad’s Test Target) here:

I have a 120 DigitaLIZA also. It allows you to scan more than just the image area, but consequently only grips a small part of the film edge.

I mainly use the Plustek OpticFilm 120 which has adjustment for different formats. I find it works very well:


I have had the same concerns about digitaliza (I used the flat version, as the negative supply-esque Digitaliza+ didn’t exist back then), so I developed my own film holder called the toneCarrier that works very well for 35 mm and 120. It’s optimized for scanning full rolls, rather than strips, it can still handle shorter strips around four 35 mm frames long. Also includes sprocket holes in the scan if you’re into that.

I also made sure that no part of the image ever touches any part of the holder (the film channel has plenty of clearance and there are cut-outs where the film enters and exits, so all contact is limited to the edges.

Full disclosure, this is a product that I sell, but I do really believe that for the price it’s a good choice. If you have a 3D printer, you can make one yourself really affordably. You can check it out on my website here.

I’m probably going to do some scanning this weekend so I can take a picture of the full setup and share it on the main thread if people are interested.