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Lomography Digitalizer 35mm Film Scanning Mask

Lomography Digitalizer 35mm Film Scanning Mask

I’ve mentioned the Lomography Digitalizer 35mm Film Scanning Mask (Lomography Digitalizer) in a few of my blogs but I thought I’d focus specifically on it for this one.

Firstly, the Lomography Digitalizer is a simple scanning mask which can clamp and hold a strip of up to six 35mm colour or B&W negatives. You could use it for any number of negatives between one and six of course but six is ideal. It consists of 3 parts, a metal baseplate, a plastic hinged frame which clamps the edge of the negative and a plastic central clamp which holds the film flat when you close the frame. Magnets are incorporated into the design to provide the clamping force between the various parts. Basic operation follows the procedure of placing the metal base plate in the bottom of the frame, placing the negative strip in the frame holder, placing the clamp on top of the negative, it has location guides for this, closing the frame and then removing the clamp. Because the magnetic attraction is now broken with the base plate, this falls away and you are now left with the negatives securely held in the frame ready to scan.

Loading the Lomography Digitalizer is a little fiddly especially if the film is curling. If the curl is along the negative strip then this is one problem but often the curl is along and across too so it’s really important to ensure the film is positioned correctly before clamping down the edges. This is where the central clamp does it’s work. However, because this locates on four tiny plastic prongs, it is possible to knock the film moving it slighly in the rebate when loading the central clamp. However, once the central clamp has secured the film flat against the metal baseplate, you simple close the frame and this secures the edges of the negative strip. You then remove the central clamp which drops away the metal baseplate – remember I said everything is secured using magnets. Now, while it is impossible using this technique to completely flatten the film in the holder, it does appear to do a reasonable job. Of course, the flatter your negatives, the flatter they sit in the frame. You are now ready to scan the negatives.

I should have mentioned that before doing any of the above, I recommend blowing off any dust that might be on the negatives. Cleaning both sides of the negative makes for a far better result when digitising.

In use, the Lomography Digitaliser is relatively simple to position but I do recommend either a jig or frame to ensure that you can quickly position each negative frame perfectly with respect to the camera lens. If you don’t do this, you will spend a lot of time fiddling around trying to position the frame in the right place. This is doubly relevent if you are using a 1:1 macro lens as the negative fills the frame so accuracy becomes far more important. There are other products out there that do a better job of negative positioning but they are more expensive, some very much more expensive. You pays your money and makes your choice as they say.

With regards the digitising process, if the negative is held flat, using something like a light box, mine is lit by a flash head, positioned under the frame with the camera set on say F5.6 or F8 at 1/125 or whatever your camera syncs at, ensures that you have a good DOF through the frame. This should result in a crisp, accurate digitised image. I am using a Tamron 90mm f2.8 1:1 Macro which is ideal for this task.

35mm Scanning Mask – An epic Ebay failure

35mm Scanning Mask – An epic Ebay failure

Well, my attempts to buy a Lomography 35mm Scanning Mask on Ebay have met with abject failure. My first attempt, a cheeky Make An Offer for £10 fell foul of the seller with a reply of “oh, I let my auctions run, I didn’t know I’d set make an offer, sorry”. BidSnipper also failed to win it for me, my top bid of £17.39 was pipped by one for a measly £1 more at £18.39 although he could of course had set a higher bid. Bugger!! That was a nusence.

Let me explain. I want to digitise some 35mm film negatives and I don’t want to spend £200+ on a scanner such as the Epson V600, useful though it is. I’m therefore looking at various ways I can do this for pennies or a few pounds. My idea then is to use a DSLR, in this case my Nikon D600, which will sit above the film and take a 35mm image which I can later crop and process in On1 2021. The easy part is to build a light box. My idea is to use a sturdy cardboard box, A4 size, this being lined with maybe metal foil (I need to check this idea in practice as it may affect the light white balance) or at least use something reflective to push the light upward onto a flat plastic diffuser and then onto the base of the film. It’s possible just a piece of white card curved to focus light might do the trick. To help with focusing, I’m going to use a daylight LED reading lamp, the USB type which will sit below the aperture in the lid. A flash head will also protude into the box, this being the main back light when triggered by the camera taking a photo. The idea is that the flash will obliterate the LED lighting so it doen’t matter too much about whether this stays on or off or what the WB is. The only problem left then is to hold the film negative perfectly flat and parallel to the box lid and this is where the scanning mask would have come in handy as it is precision made. 

Going back to my little story, Plan B was to bid on a Diana F+ toy camera kit with loads of goodies including, yep, you guessed it, a Lomography 35mm Scanning Mask which was hidden away in the small print. Current bidding was stuck on £21, even though these little camera kits sell for £70 new.  Now, I needed to be a bit careful here because I can buy the 35mm scanning mask from Speed Graphic for £29 plus shipping so this had to be taken into account, especially as I don’t really want the camera stuff. That being said, I felt that getting a toy camera thrown even if I had to pay a little bit more, say £5 wasn’t too bad of a deal so worth a punt. No such luck!! Even though BidSnipper did it’s stuff, yet again the eventual buyer pipped me by £1 getting it all for £34.91. Damn it!! Of course, I don’t know what his highest price could have been, he could have set his max bid at £40 or more for all I know.

Watch this space as they say!