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01-20-2009, 09:47 PM   #1
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digitizing slides with a dSLR

What kind of results can expect shooting slides on a light box with a digital camera? My cousin has a few boxes of mounted 6x6 slides from a twin lens that I would like to preserve as digital. The places I checked with to scan them said all would have to be unmounted, thus very expensive. Once I was set up and had a template made for positioning the slides, the camera method would be fairly quick. This would be with a k20 and a the 35mm macro.
Thanks, Ryan

01-21-2009, 01:08 AM   #2
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It works very well indeed, I didi that with a Nikon D70 and the MicorNikkor 55 a while ago.


Get a good lens (35mm macro seems great) and a bellows/extension ring so you can get even 2:1 for copying 1/2 frame or 110.
Use a flatscreen/lightbox and make guides out of cardboard, if you can make a "hood" in black or something to block side light

Exposure can be tricky, but with DSRLs is no problem, make sure you get all the details in the shadows or bracket and then use a digital mask.


QuoteOriginally posted by ryno Quote
What kind of results can expect shooting slides on a light box with a digital camera? My cousin has a few boxes of mounted 6x6 slides from a twin lens that I would like to preserve as digital. The places I checked with to scan them said all would have to be unmounted, thus very expensive. Once I was set up and had a template made for positioning the slides, the camera method would be fairly quick. This would be with a k20 and a the 35mm macro.
Thanks, Ryan
01-21-2009, 03:05 AM   #3
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How does it work with color slides ?

Anyone interested in making a step by step tutorial with pictures ?
01-21-2009, 05:14 AM   #4
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Should be the same, you can play with the color balance to make your slides look good.

QuoteOriginally posted by netuser Quote
How does it work with color slides ?

Anyone interested in making a step by step tutorial with pictures ?


04-12-2009, 07:16 PM   #5
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I tried several before I found a decent setup for 35mm slides. An even light source is the biggest problem. Most setups seem to have edge/corner dropoff. Now I use a scanner instead.
My HP S10 scans negs or slides at 2700dpi and the images end up on my computer directly which is where I want them.
04-13-2009, 02:40 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by titrisol Quote

'...Get a good lens (35mm macro seems great) and a bellows/extension ring so you can get even 2:1 for copying 1/2 frame or 110.../
Could you not use a dedicated slide-copier tube with a PK fitting? I'm told manual PK SMC lenses will fit a Pentax DSLR, so surely a slide-copier K-bayonet will too? It has an adjustable sliding tube, a slide-carrier, and a flip-up diffuser.

I used one of these to good effect on my MX. Regarding a light-source, what about pointing the camera and slide-copier tube (with diffuser fitted) directly upwards towards an overcast sky?
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Russell W. B.
04-13-2009, 03:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Russell W. barnes Quote
Could you not use a dedicated slide-copier tube with a PK fitting?
Ahhh...... I just read the first post properly, and you are talking about 6x6 transparencies - Please ignore my contribution, I felt as if I had to jump in there...

D'oh!
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Russell W. B.
04-13-2009, 05:59 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryno Quote
What kind of results can expect shooting slides on a light box with a digital camera? My cousin has a few boxes of mounted 6x6 slides from a twin lens that I would like to preserve as digital. The places I checked with to scan them said all would have to be unmounted, thus very expensive. Once I was set up and had a template made for positioning the slides, the camera method would be fairly quick. This would be with a k20 and a the 35mm macro.
Thanks, Ryan
The procedure should work just fine for you. One of my last projects before retiring from technical photography was very similar to what you're proposing, involving 1200 medium format slides. It would have taken at least two months to scan the images on a Nikon LS8000. As the main need was for reference copies for research, not high-end publication, I came up with a setup that did the job in three days.

I recommend a light box with a very even, daylight colour temperature light source. As I recall I used a slim Jobo light box.

It's a good idea to raise your slide holder an inch or so above the surface of the light box in order to avoid picking up dust, scratches and any texture that the light box diffuser might have. I just cut a hole in a sheet of Styrofoam and laid it on the light box, then put the slide holder on top of that. I painted the Styrofoam and the holder matte black to eliminate unwanted reflections. The light box, Styrofoam, and film holder were all securely fastened down to ensure that the positioning of the slides was very consistent. This allowed me to change slides quite quickly without worrying about bumping things.

I used a massive Polaroid light stand to hold the camera. If you're using a tripod, make sure it's a solid one.

The results were very good. Used a Kodak full-frame DSLR and a 60mm Micro Nikkor. Good enough for a decent 8x10 print. Not as good, however, as a well-executed scan at, say, 2400ppi on a good flatbed scanner.

I think it's important for you to understand that what you're proposing doesn't come close to preserving the true quality of a really good medium format transparency. Don't throw the slides out, because if something happens to the digital files they can always be rescanned. If the transparencies are Kodachrome, they will last a long time simply kept dry, at room temperature, in the dark. Other film types require more care.

You might find the Wilhelm Imaging Research web site interesting:

Wilhelm Imaging Research

04-13-2009, 09:33 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the help guys. We did it about a month ago. I used a k20 with the 35mm macro, 10MB jpegs. I used cardboard to make a slide holder, so it was easy to consistently register the slides position. For archive, web, and small prints it worked great. Even 8x10's weren't too bad. The ones to be printed up large will be scanned. It was really fun, all the slides were from a yashica 124g, shot in korea and thailand when my cousin was in the military.
Thanks, Ryan
05-28-2009, 03:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryno Quote
What kind of results can expect shooting slides on a light box with a digital camera?
Dunno about slides, but this is a photograph of a 6 x 6 negative (Yashicamat) taken with my K100d: 50mm lens @ f16, 12mm extension tube, light-box (mounted vertically) with negative mounted behind two pieces of masking card. All done on 'manual'.

I inverted the neg in Photoshop and adjusted gamma and contrast, and sharpened it a little.

05-28-2009, 05:44 PM   #11
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I posted some in the lets see those "film" shots Thread

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/53503-cool-let...tml#post609464

was suprised at how well they turned out with such a bogus setup.







Original slides taken with a penatx ME Super and M50 f1.7 captured to digital with a canon 20D a EF100mm F2.8 Macro. Probably not as quick as on a light box but the results are okay.
Negatives are a bit harder, B/W's are okay but getting the colour ones right has proved a bit hit and miss for me so far.
05-29-2009, 02:19 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Russell W. barnes Quote
Dunno about slides, but this is a photograph of a 6 x 6 negative (Yashicamat) taken with my K100d: 50mm lens @ f16, 12mm extension tube, light-box (mounted vertically)...
I forgot to add that by using the lightbox vertically, there is no need for a tripod as the camera sits firmly and squarely on the bench, and can simply be slid back and forward to focus. A couple of matte-finish books can be used to support the camera, and so position the neg (or slide) at a more consistently illuminated part of the lightbox. Taken using mirror lock-up (2-sec timer).

I'm going to have a go at a 35mm slide tonight - see how it compares with my previous copying methods (digital compact on optical slide-viewer; digital compact through 50mm PK lens and cardboard tube; Primefilm 2700 scanner).
05-29-2009, 10:00 PM   #13
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Glad to see this discussion. I have couple hundred slides from years ago that I would like to digitize. Just got a DSLR and now to get good lense for the job. Pro quality not required but nice is desirable. I can build a setup but just wasn't sure what the results would be.

Also have several hundred (color) negetives that I would digitize if I could get good copy. If it works it surely would quicker than scanning on HP 1200 all-in-one, which I havent had good results on.

Steve N
05-30-2009, 01:02 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by snkenai Quote
Glad to see this discussion. I have couple hundred slides from years ago that I would like to digitize. Just got a DSLR and now to get good lense for the job. Pro quality not required but nice is desirable. I can build a setup but just wasn't sure what the results would be.

Steve N
Well, I tried with a 35mm slide and the results were spot-on! I used a 36mm extension tube instead of a 12mm, same lens PK 50mm f1.7 set to f16 and shutter-speed to suit. Of course, I have never used a professional slide scanner (I have a small Primefilm 2700), but my attempts compare favourably with it, if not better (the scanner is a bit 'iffy' on certain images and doesn't render as I would like), and the chromatic aberration present with my Canon Ixus 750 and Hama slide-viewer has gone.

The next-best method I used was to mount the slide, on my lightbox, beneath a 50mm PK lens sitting on a cardboard tube, and place the Canon Ixus directly on the upwards-pointing skylight filter. Better results, but not the entire slide was copied. The DSLR and extension tube method gets the lot!

I have an old projector slide-mount somewhere that will make the job of changing slides easier.
06-01-2009, 01:50 AM   #15
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I tried this last night with a light table, a 645 negative and a macro lens. I got pretty good focus, but when I reversed the image in Photoshop in came out too blue. How did you set your white balance when shooting a negative?
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