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Pentax Film Duplicator Overview

An upcoming film digitization accessory · 02-16-2014 · By PF Staff in CP+ 2014
Pentax Film Duplicator Overview

A film duplicator accessory was among the prototypes on display by Pentax at this year's CP+ show.  This bellows-like setup makes it easy to digitize film photos and slides using a DSLR without having to use any other external hardware or software.

It's no doubt surprising to see a film-related accessory being launched this far into the digital era.  This product does make a lot of sense, however.  Traditional flatbed scanners or even film scanners are slow and require you to use your PC to process and catalog the digitized files.  With this accessory, you can use your existing DSLR and macro lens to quickly digitize not only traditional 35mm film, but also medium format (120/220) film.  Before starting to copy a roll of film, you can adjust your camera and focus the lens so that the crop is perfect and you don't have to make any edits later on.  This gives you ultimate control without having to learn how to use a computer program.

The accessory itself employs a rather simple design.  At one end, there is an adjustable sliding mount for your camera and lens.  At the other end, you attach a flashgun to illuminate the film.  The film itself sits in dedicated holder which does not require you to cut the strip.  The lens disappears into the bellows, which blocks out stray light.

While pricing and availability details are still unknown, we expect this accessory to go on sale later this year since we were able to get a complete demo of it in use at the show.  Click on any thumbnail below for a larger version of each photo:

1. The first step is to insert your film into the holder and align the desired frame with the opening.

Film Holders

2. Next, attach the holder to the end of the bellows.  Below you can see a positive color slide being inserted.  If you insert a negative, you will have to invert the colors after taking the shot, which can be done when printing from a PC.  It is also possible to invert colors on the fly via the retouch menu in recent Pentax DSLRs.

Here you can see what the camera sees:

3. Third, you need to ensure that the camera is focused properly.  Using live view will help ensure that the focus is accurate and that the framing is good.

On the other endof the bellows, there's a diffuser for the flash on the other end.

If the camera you're using supports wireless flash (all current Pentax DSLRs do), no cords will be needed to trigger the flash on the other end.  You can of course use Pentax or non-Pentax camera with the accessory.

4. Finally all you need to do is release the shutter and the film photo will find its way to your SD card!

Below is a video that demonstrates the process from start to finish:

To conclude, do bear in mind that this was a prototype, and it will likely change slightly prior to official launch.

PF Staff's avatar
About the author: Various writers regularly contribute articles to the Pentax Forums homepage blog. More recent articles are published under each author's forum username. We hope you enjoy our guides and news coverage!

Tags: film copier, slide copier, film digitizer, film duplicator

More Posts in CP+ 2014 | More Posts by PF Staff

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bobphoenix [Delete] Apr 19th, 2014 10:34AM

Um, not to be a fly in the ointment, but...
I have had a set of Pentax "Auto Bellows" and a "Slide/Film Duplicator" for years (45 to be exact...) Yeah, it is a little bulky and heavy, but once it is set up on a tripod... I'm clicking away 25-30 slides an hour...
If I were going to purchase one, there is no way I would want to pay $1200.00 for a new one when I can get one on Ebay ( Look on ebay for "pentax+auto+bellows...)
These older units have infinate adjustments, (if they are complete) they come with metal scales to calculate distance and lens... and there obtainable (between $175 and $250 (In great shape)...

So I gotta ask... Why?

DSims [Delete] Apr 17th, 2014 12:48AM

Keebler - Most Pentax models use a wired remote shutter release - the exact same cable as used by most Canon APS-C cameras. This is how I used a Gigapan Pro, for example. So it's extremely likely the SlideSnap Pro will work, unless they don't want to psychically fit the cameras. Hopefully they'd fit lenses other than the Tamron 90s (such as a D FA 100 macro WR) too.

Keebler [Delete] Apr 15th, 2014 10:51AM

This looks intriguing! I scan slides for clients using a Nikon Coolscan 5000 or Epson V700 for larger sizes with Vuescan. It takes 2-4 minutes per slide depending on settings. Despite all attempts at illustrating the benefits of a dedicated slide scanner, I find most clients balk at the pricing. They expect $0.30 or $0.40 per slide which is below minimum wage when I can only scan x amount per hour! :(

In other words, a solution like the above would be welcome!

If folks are looking for online services, be aware that some will ship your slides to Asia for processing.

As someone who is in the business of preserving memories, that thought makes me shudder.
Your memories are not like hard drives or cameras which can be re-ordered if a shipment is lost!

Something like this proposed unit could help although I envision the manual intervention slowing the process down. However, if the slide scanning or photo taking of each slide churns out fantastic results, the benefits would be there I believe.

I've looked at this device. Definitely not for the individual consumer, but maybe a combination of Pentax's prototype and this would be perfect.

Google slidesnappro dot com

I don't work for this company - was just looking into it.

You need a camera with automatic shutter release and I believe the Pentax lineups don't support it.

MD Optofonik [Delete] Apr 14th, 2014 2:13PM

Considering the drop in sales of digital cameras, the relative popularity of enthusiast "retro" styled digital cameras, and the growing interest in and rising prices of used film cameras it makes sense that the next evolution in photography and biggest opportunity for camera companies to renew profit growth for shareholders is film. Marketing film as the next big thing and convincing everyone to buy new systems will insure huge profits from a product that requires zero technical R&D. The millions that would normally go into R&D can be redirected into massive marketing campaigns. Film may not be dead after all.

offertonhatter [Delete] Feb 25th, 2014 4:41PM

I like it. I just hope it is a reasonable price. No Heath Robinson style home made unit that is just okay. As I have loads or negatives, and still use film on both 35mm and MF, it could be a great addition instead of the lacklustre scanner I currently have.

SyncGuy [Delete] Feb 21st, 2014 7:00AM

Finally! The much-awaited Pentax unicorn has arrived!! Oh my... Full Frame! Beat this CaNikon! Sensors changeable and format changeable too baby! This is how we dare to be different; Pentax!

j0n4hpk [Delete] Feb 20th, 2014 6:17PM

I can see the need of such a product in the following situation: you happened to slide this product in your gadget bag (or suitcase between piles of wardrobe) and are visiting a country of interest, where you stumble with someone that wants to share what you perceive are valuable memories in 35 mm or bigger negatives (I wonder if 126 film [Kodak Instamatic] can fit). No computer, no scanner? No problem. You ask permission, setup this device, spend a quality time with the folk and promise to get that folk a CD or DVD of those images too. Many countries of interest may have not have yet computers and scanners readily available, so this is a very good alternative.

jhmos [Delete] Feb 19th, 2014 8:39AM

The lens in the video looks just like the standard SMC D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro (the non-WR version). I assume fine focus is achieved using rail rather than the lens.

kadajawi [Delete] Feb 19th, 2014 1:56AM

@Markitectonic: Nice idea, nice product, but 100 dollars? I don't think so. In Europe at least they go for at least 2-3 times that amount. Now I guess if I sell it I'll get back the money, so it won't be such a big deal...

Substitute [Delete] Feb 19th, 2014 1:27AM

I've been doing this for years....also Google is your friend and you'll find how-tos on Petapixel...

MikePerham [Delete] Feb 18th, 2014 8:08PM

For those suggesting a slide/film scanner, they are too slow. I have a 4K dpi unit that takes 4 minutes to scan a single 35mm slide or negative. This new unit, once set up could breeze through a batch of slides in no time. I had considered sending my slides to a commercial service, but their high speed scanners would not produce as high a resolution and they are not cheap.

Markitectonic [Delete] Feb 18th, 2014 3:28PM

Why not just buy a Bowens Illumitran copier..mount your digital body (they came with copy lenses) and to protect the camera flash circuitry get a hotshoe voltage converter and you are good to go. These units had a focus/framing light and a flash built in and were made to copy 35mm and larger film formats with different adapters. You may need neutral density filters to cut down the flash intensity. These units are available on Ebay for less than 100 dollars.

john carter [Delete] Feb 18th, 2014 9:54AM

I built one of these, 5-6 years ago. I found that using a 50mm Macro lens was almost mandatory. The flat image plane really made a difference.

Hogdriver [Delete] Feb 18th, 2014 8:42AM

Like the idea, especially if this can also be used for other photography work. Any ideas of lens size/restrictions connecting into the bellows? Otherwise, I stick with my Epson V500 scanner for ~$150

Adam [Delete] Feb 18th, 2014 2:47AM

No MSRP yet, because this product hasn't been officially announced. It's currently just a prototype.

6BQ5 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 10:51PM


Andy511960 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 7:18PM

Well I bought myself a cheap lightpad from amazon, fitted my camera on my manfrotto tripod, hooked up my sigma 70-300 macro lens.. and can shoot both slides (transparencies) and negatives. Cheap as chips and no flash needed. A sheet of thin glass, keeps them nice and flat... Those cheap film scanners are ok. but they just don't have the reso0lution my pentax K-5 does. and they don't shoot raw either

MarkJerling [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 5:53PM

Nice idea. But it could be a bit of a slow process to digitise my 8,000 (or therebouts) negatives and slides.

Hank [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 3:11PM

My 2 cents:
Nifty and possibly useful for small amount of work, but if you're going to be scanning in an archive of several thousands, then this really isn't going to be for you, as this solution does not scale well.
A few other thoughts (sadly, all negative):
Workflow - Very manual process.
Automation - No tools for automating the process.
Tethering - Again, for scaling- I'd want to shoot directly into Photoshop or save directly on the computer.
Power supplies required for both the camera and flash.
Lack of support for continuous lighting.

shideg [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 2:24PM

Hmm...I have a slide copier that I used to use with my SuperProgram bodies. I wonder if I could just use that with my K-5 or K-10D...assuming the bellows are intact.

xmeda [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 1:36PM

What macro lens is used? Is it planned to be sold as bellows only, so you can fit your flash and your (50/100mm??) macro lens? Or is it planned to be sold as whole unit(huge price)?

Not a Number [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 11:55AM

You could easily adapt an enlarger for this. There should be negative carriers for 120 and 35mm film and even mounted slides. Just mount the camera where the lens would be. And you have a light source, if you have a dichroic light box you can dial in color correction.

unixrevolution [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 10:13AM

I would buy one of these. This would make putting the output of my Pentax LX, MX, 6x7, K1000, not to mention my 35mm rangefinders and other MF cameras into a digital format much easier and faster than using a flatbed scanner.

That said, why not just get an old slide duplicator, a sheet of white diffuse material, and a flash stand, and make it myself? I guess I'd have to worry about getting the Medium Format stuff to work.

With renewed interest in film and darkroom, though, I don't think this accessory is too late. Not at all. I think this is the best time since the end of the film era to introduce this, especially as modern DSLRs are now capable, sensor-wise, of actually gleaning most of the info off of these film frames.

regor [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 10:07AM

Not obvious how you'd ensure the sensor is perfectly parallel to the film surface, hence avoiding the possibility of parallax and focus errors.

owl [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 9:27AM

This won't work unless it is waterproof. No way my wife is I'm going to get through a session of scanning pictures of the kids from years ago without crying all over the damn thing. My landscapes and architectural shots, now there's an opportunity.

krebsy75 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 7:45AM

What OFER4 said. It's going to be hard to beat the Epson solution for the money.

Not a Number [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 7:25AM

I bet the price tag on this will take your breath away. It shouldn't be too hard to fabricate something of your own from a 4 x 5 view camera.

I suppose you could wait for the Chinese knockoffs or on the used market after people convert their film collections. There was a short time when you could pick up used Nikon Coolscans for pretty cheap after people had no use for them.

klh [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 7:07AM

As long as the price is reasonable, I'm in. Does anyone know of a Lightroom plugin to invert film? I've been scanning negatives with a Canon 8800F and using VueScan to process the image file, but this should give better and faster results.

topace [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 6:18AM

This is very interesting. It probably won't be very cheap, but maybe, just maybe, one could build a simple and quick workflow out of it. Film scanners (nikon included) take up a lot of effort and time to get reasonable quality out of.

I might well buy this.

goubejp [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 6:15AM

A camera software update to invert the négatives would be cheap and handy to use this accessory ;-)

goubejp [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 6:13AM

Nice, I'll have one cause the Nikon scanners are definitively too expensive

LaurenOE [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 4:53AM

This *is* an interesting accessory, not because of what it is, but *when* it has been introduced. What we have here is 100% proof that Ricoh is clearing out the Hoya/Pentax pipeline, and they are digging deep into the Pentax R&D investments. That is, *some* return on investment is better than nothing. It's 2014 and this accessory is something like 5 years late or has even missed the market. At least Ricoh is working through the Pentax/Hoya backlog, and maybe we will finally see the MZ-D as the final-ultimate-stalled R&D project from the Pentax/Hoya days.

Heie [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 3:33AM

> Eh? Why does the number batteries matter?

Does he not realize the flash takes AA batteries? I take it he's 100% against owning an external flash then.... o.O

calsan [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 2:51AM

Eh? Why does the number batteries matter?

mythguy9 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 1:40AM

I hope it comes with another mask that reveals sproket holes for more creativity.

i83N [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 12:31AM

Two sets of batteries, one in camera one in flash. No thank you.

ofer4 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 12:23AM

@dugrant153... Yes, this is how I do it. I converted a box of my grandfather's film last year, and the color conversion was a pretty painstaking process. After getting one photo of a particular film type right, though, the lightroom profile could be used in order to get very close on subsequent shots.

dugrant153 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 12:11AM

I like the idea of this but whether it will replace my Epson V700 remains to be seen. I would love to be able to pre-crop and ensure there is no dust in my scans before hand and doing it with these bellows... hmm....maybe it's the ticket?

How does one convert negatives into positives anyways via PC? Do you have to photoshop filter each file?

ofer4 [Delete] Feb 17th, 2014 12:09AM

Adam, any word if Pentax is providing software for this item? The inversion process for color film is far from trivial (and certainly is not something to do in-camera unless film-specific profiles are provided).

kadajawi [Delete] Feb 16th, 2014 10:41PM

The 18-55 kit lens with a retro adapter should do just fine at filling the frame full with 35mm film, IIRC. Bigger film won't work, cause it's too close. However focusing that lens could be hard, cause it's hidden by the bellow. Maybe I'll give it a try if I can get enough distance to the film...

Hopefully this will be affordable...

derekkite [Delete] Feb 16th, 2014 9:47PM

Did they say do what lens? Nice to see attention to accessories.