This page compares the results of using a digital camera to copy a film negative to the results from a film scanner.

The negatives are 35mm Kodak Ekatar 100 exposed in a Pentax MX SLR, usually with the "normal" 50mm SMC-M f/1.7 lens.

The Digital camera is a Fuji X-T1 combined with a Schneider-Kreuznach Componon-S 5.6 / 100mm Enlarger Lens mounted on a bellows. This 16MP camera produces images at dimensions of about 4800 x 3200 pixels after minor cropping. These digital images were inverted from negative to positive in Photoshop, and required significant color corrections. It may be that my light source for photographing the negatives is less than ideal. The LED panel I used does not specify what color temperature is provided and no CRI is specified. My digital camera rig is pictured below.

The film scanner is a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900. At it's maximum resolution of 2820 dpi, the dimensions of the working scans are about 3800 x 2530 pixels. These images are a little smaller than Fuji digital images. I use VueScan software to  invert the negative to positive. VueScan provides a film profile called Ektar 100 Gen.3 SY. Using this film-specific color profile as a starting point, I found it was a little easier to get more natural colors in Photoshop. When dust specks were present, they were less obvious in the camera copies, but much easier to eliminate using the infrared feature of the film scanner.

This test is not-at-all scientific because I made no effort to standardize the post processing I did in Photoshop. As I am still learning how each type of  image can best be processed, it's too soon for me to say one method is superior to the other. My initial impression is that film scanner files seem to have more noise in the shadows, but better color, overall. The camera copies are much quicker than using the scanner, and (in my case) produce higher resolution files. But great care must be taken to achieve exact alignment and focus of the digital camera, and to prevent any camera movement during the 1/10th to 1/3rd of a second exposures.


Hover your cursor across the images below to compare my camera copy results (on left) to the film scanner results (on right).

Some of the image pairs do not line up perfectly because I made different crop/rotation/perspective adjustments in Photoshop. Each pair is from the same negative in spite of the slight apparent differences.

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