Digitising Transparency film

The above images were shot in France in 1987 on Fuji Velvia transparency film and digitised yesterday. Now usually film stock is scanned but there are some issues with this for me.  I have a Nikon LS9000 35mm / MF film scanner and while it is very good, it's old, and Nikon don't support it anymore or have any spare parts. So when it 'dies' I can't replace it or get it repaired. There is really no alternative in the price range I can afford as neither the Reflecta or Plustek 35mm / MF film scanners are any good. I've tried the Plustek and it's actually pretty awful, producing very soft scans. The Reflecta gets pretty terrible reviews as well. I needed to find an alternative since having the amount of images I need to scan done at a lab would be VERY expensive. So I came up with this.

It consists of my Leica SL (Typ 601) fitted with a Canon 105mm Macro lens via a Novoflex adapter, using an iPad as a light source behind the transparency. I have a slide collection that consists of 35mm and 6 x4.5 and 6 x 6 both mounted and unmounted and I needed something flexible and moveable to handle the different formats. Now some people will tell you that slide copying using a macro lens is a complicated procedure, but in fact it's not. I just have to make sure that there are no stray light sources to spoil the image and I use f/16 on the lens to make sure any curving or bending in the transparency is taken care of. In terms of colour rendition and sharpness the resulting files are spot on. And of course I can see what I'm getting on the screen. 

I use the focus peaking in the SL to make sure the image is in focus and because both the camera and the transparency are moveable I can make sure each slide is focused properly. It's simple and much quicker than scanning. And I can set it up anywhere. The downside is that high end scanners have Digital Ice or something similar which uses software to eliminate dust and scratches, so all of these files have to be cleaned up in Photoshop. However even doing that it still takes me a shorter time per scan to do this than using my LS9000. The most important thing for me however is that I have an ongoing and repeatable way of scanning my transparencies, which doesn't depend on my crossing my fingers that my scanner keeps going. Now I really want to do this using my Sigma SD Quattro H as that produces amazing high quality large files. But getting my hands on a Sigma 105mm macro lens is proving very difficult. So until I can do that I will use the SL.

Below are some 35mm slides digitised the same way.

Now obviously I'm doing this to get usable images to upload to my stock libraries and while the SL does do a pretty good job at getting the colours close to the original, it's not 100% accurate and colour negative stock doesn't work that well. I can invert the images in Photoshop but it's very hit and miss. However since I have very little shot on colour negative it isn't really an issue for me and so long as I can get a realistic colour I'm happy. Photoshop is also great for cleaning up the images. The spot healing brush is seriously quick and I can remove all the blemishes from a very dusty slide in a few minutes. I am also not too 'greedy' in terms of image size. While most of my MF stock does look OK at the 24MP the SL creates, 35mm has to be reduced in size to keep the sharpness. So all in all it works very well and certainly solves a problem for me.