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How to digitize film at home

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Surely many still have negatives from old film cameras. I don’t want to print photos from the film, but if they were digitally on a computer, it would be cool to see them and remember the good moments of your life :)

I scanned film at home with an ordinary digital camera and a couple of simple devices. Below I will share with you the tricks of digitizing negatives.

If you were a student when there were no photocopiers or they just appeared, then you had to use a homemade scanner at least once from a piece of glass, two stools and a table lamp. Below in the photo, the design is improved, instead of chairs, a plywood box with fixed glass and an energy-saving 15-watt white light bulb.

To fix the film, I used two pieces of glass, the glass took thin from the wall photo frame. Glasses are glued with strips of white self-adhesive, this is done to direct the film and for protection from sharp edges. Two glasses are folded and glued together with self-adhesive pieces. Between the glasses, due to the thickness of the self-adhesive, a gap is obtained, into which we will charge the negatives. I don’t give the sizes of glasses, I did everything by eye from what was at hand.

This is how the film is inserted into our device:

A white film is glued from below, it will serve as a diffuser of light from the bulb.

We put our film holder on the "student scanner" directly above the lamp, I still fastened it with pieces of adhesive tape, so as not to fidget.

Now I took a large plastic glass from sour cream and painted it inside with a black marker. At the bottom, I cut a hole for the camera lens, more about it below.

Fotik is the most common, digital. The main thing is that there should be a macro function.

I glued a black self-adhesive washer onto the lens, this is done so that the shiny lens does not reflect on the photographed negative.

We put a glass on the lens. The blacker the inside, the better!

Now put the glass on the scanner and turn on the lamp. It should be noted that the energy-saving lamp was taken for a reason! It has a white light and it heats up quite a bit, unlike a conventional incandescent lamp. The incandescent lamp is very hot and can spoil the negative, the light from such a lamp is yellow.

We set the macro mode on the camera, you can also experiment with white balance.

As close as possible, my fotik refused to take photos too close, so fotkal as shown below, and cut off the excess in Photoshop.

Here is a photo obtained from my camera:

So I photographed all the negatives, and there were several dozen of them.

Next, we need Photoshop. No need to be scared if you don’t know how to use Photoshop, I’ll tell you everything you need to click :)

So, open the photo-negative in Photoshop. Press the key combination Ctrl + i (invert), now the combination Ctrl + m (the window will open as in the photo below). From the drop-down list, select "Blue" and holding down the Alt button on the keyboard, move the two arrows with the mouse (indicated by red arrows in the photo) towards each other. When the Alt key is held down, the background of the image will turn blue, and when the arrow moves, black dots will appear, as soon as several black dots appear, we stop and select "Green" and "Red" from the list (the list is indicated in the photo by the green arrow). development operation to black dots.

To crop excess edges, select a special tool and select the cut-out piece of the photo, press the Enter key. If you didn’t cut it as you wanted, you can always undo the last action by pressing Ctrl + z.

To save the photo, press Ctrl + s. In the window that opens, select a JPEG format from the drop-down list, select a folder for the photo, and click Save.

As a result of this lesson on digitizing negatives at home, I got this photo:

In the photo, I, my brother and mother. I’m completely “green” here, I really like Ut magazine and all sorts of paper models.

Method One: Film Scan

For digitizing film, special mini-scanners are best suited: KONICA MINOLTA Dimage Scan Dual IV, Espada QPix MDFC-1400, etc. However, there is no need to spend money on the purchase of such devices: an ordinary scanner is also suitable for work. In addition, modern models often provide a special compartment for fixing film. For example, it can be found in the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II, Epson Perfection V600 Photo and other scanners.

With this device, the principle of digitization becomes simple: you need to fix the film in the holder and scan it. Then save the resulting negatives to the PC and proceed to post-processing.

The second method: “re-shooting” negatives

Not everyone has a scanner at home or in the office. This means that the first method is not suitable. But even then you should not give up attempts, collect the films in a bag and put them in the pantry until better times. They can still be digitized at home. The second easiest way is to re-shoot the negatives. You will need:

You can use both the camera and the camera on the smartphone. Be sure to turn off the flash in advance and set the maximum resolution in the settings.

Its role can be played by a table lamp, a flashlight, or even a laptop screen, if you set the maximum brightness in the settings for it. It is also advisable to open Notepad or a blank sheet in Paint in full screen.

  • device for fixing the film.

Decide how to fix the film in front of the light source. Otherwise, it will curl during shooting, the photo will turn out blurry. The device for fixing the film can be built from improvised materials. For example, you can take a small sheet of cardboard or thick paper and cut a 35x35 window in the center. Two centimeters to the left and right of it, make two cuts. You can stick the film into it, then it will not curl up and bend. You can quickly and easily make a good shot.

To make the structure stable, make two folds at the edges of the sheet. Fix the resulting “legs” with a stapler or scotch tape. Now you can install the film in front of the monitor screen or above the lamp and figure out how to digitize the film at home.


Arrange the objects in the following order: light source, design with photographic film, camera. It is highly advisable to pre-mount a camera or smartphone on a tripod or a stack of books. If you shoot with your hands, the photos may be blurry. Take pictures of all the desired frames, and then transfer them to the PC.

Post-Processing: Perfect Results

Now you need to download "PhotoMASTER". In this program, you can turn the resulting negatives into normal pictures and, if necessary, improve their quality, remove minor defects and much more.


Launch the editor and open any of the photos. Go to the Tools section and select the Curves tool. Change the position of the RGB curve: move the bottom edge up and the top down. All light shades instantly turn into dark, and light shades into dark tones.


If necessary, you can adjust the brightness of the photo. Create an additional point (or several) on the line and drag it down or up. Follow the result in the preview window.


If the edges of the photo do not look very neat, then crop them. The Crop function will help you here. You can manually set the cropping boundaries or use the proportions suggested in the program. With their help, you can easily and quickly prepare photos for the post "VKontakte" or for publication on any other site.


Sometimes on the films there are various defects: burnout, spots, scratches or holes. If it is problematic to digitize a videotape or film strip with such shortcomings, the situation is different with film tape. Digitization is the only chance to save old shots life.


In the photo editor, you can easily “patch” holes, fix the highlighted photos, and generally improve the quality of the source. To get rid of scratches and stains, activate the repair brush. Adjust its size and feathering in the right panel and click on the problem spot. A moment - and the defect is no more.

Now you know how to digitize old photographic films at home. Pictures can be saved to a computer or printed right there. Download the PhotoMASTER program and give new life to frames from photographic films today!

Types of film and their features

Before you begin the process of digitization, you need to find out what type of film you have to work with:

  1. Positive film or slide film. The image on it will be transmitted in the original color that fell into the frame. In other words, a positive film is a full-fledged slide on which we already see the final image.
  2. Color negative film. This is the most common type of film. The image on it is inverted, that is, the shadows on the film become light, and the light areas are darkened.
  3. Black and white film or silver. The image on them is monochrome and consists of metallic silver.

Digitization of film by a scanner

If you decide that digitizing film at home is what you need, let's get acquainted with the most common methods of this process. In order to digitize the film, you can use a special scanner. They come in several forms:

  • Flatbed scanners with the function of scanning film, which is clamped in a special frame and placed on the glass of the scanning device. The built-in lamp transmits the frame, and it is converted to a digital form. However, due to the fact that the lamp shines through and the scanner glass, which does not scatter light rays, the image is not very contrasting.
  • Specialized slide scanners of the closed type. The film, tightly clamped into the frame, is inserted into the scanner itself, which directly shines through it. Some scanners are even equipped with anti-Newtonian glasses.
  • A pseudo-drum scanner for digitizing film in which it is placed not directly, but in an arc. Such a bend of the film helps to overcome the uneven sharpness of the image and increase the resolution.
  • A drum scanner for film, which uses highly sensitive photocells. Originals are fixed to the outer part of the rotating cylinder-drum and shine through from the inside. Scanning on such a scanner is fast, sharpness of the frame and its high color saturation. But the high cost and massive design are a significant obstacle to using the scanner at home.

Digitization of film by a conventional scanner

If you do not have the opportunity to purchase a special scanner for film materials, and at home there is the most ordinary and not multifunctional, scanning negative and positive film can be done using it.

To do this, you need to take a sheet of A4 white cardboard, one side of which is silver. From it we will make a reflector. By capturing light, it will help reflect light on the back of the film frame. First you need to draw or print such a template on cardboard.

Next, it must be cut and glued with the silver side inward.

The glued structure should be wedge-shaped with one open side.

After the reflector has dried, we begin to operate it. To do this, a film (or slide) is placed on the glass surface of the scanning device. A reflective structure is placed on top of it. The scanner lid does not close.

In order to achieve uniform illumination, put thin paper between the film and the reflector, which will help the light flux not to scatter. After the film is scanned, it must be processed in a graphical editor. We will talk about this below.

How to bring life back to the film with a digital camera

If you are wondering how to digitize the right film at home without a scanner, use a digital camera with interchangeable lens for these purposes. The main thing is that the digital camera has a macro mode to achieve better frame resolution.

The essence of the shoot is to photograph the film on a white background and adjust the resulting digital image using special programs.

For such digitization, many models of photographic equipment today are sold with a special lens attachment, which already has a white background.

If your camera does not have such a nozzle, you can do it yourself using the materials at hand. To do this, you need a cylinder with a cavity inside, which is slightly larger than the diameter of the lens (for example, a cylindrical jar from fish food, tea, or another). On the one hand, you need to attach a pad to the cylinder (a piece of thick cardboard, plastic), having previously cut a hole for the frame on it.

The other side we put our cylinder on the camera lens.

The camera on a tripod with a homemade nozzle must be placed in front of a light source. The best option is a liquid crystal display of a computer or laptop. A white background is created by opening a new document in Adobe Photoshop and expanding it to full screen.

The film must be installed at a certain distance from the monitor (up to 15 cm) so that the wave-like glow from the screen does not go, but at the same time does not dim the screen brightness. Next, turn off the light and re-shoot the film on a digital camera.

Digitize a film without a nozzle

Full-fledged digitization of the photographic film with your own hands is possible without the purchase of a special nozzle on the camera lens.

To do this, we need a camera, tripods and a computer monitor directly. We fix the camera on one tripod, and on the other - the device with which we fix the film or slide. You can use frames from photo enlargers or projectors for this.

If they are not available, then the following construction can be done.

We take two glasses from the photo frames, glue their edges with white self-adhesive tape to protect against sharp corners and thicken the structure. We attach two glasses to each other, on top and bottom we also glue them with tape. In the resulting gap between the glasses, we insert a film. Next, we put this design parallel to the monitor, we can fix it with improvised materials, for example, stacks of books on both sides, turn off the light and start shooting.

The resulting image is processed using inversion (Ctrl + i), adjustment layers, channels (blue, green, red Ctrl + m) and manual correction using Adobe Photoshop or another graphics editor.

As you can see, this method of transferring a film image to digital is also quite affordable and feasible at home, so it’s up to you to decide how to digitize the film. Scanning, camera or darkroom - the choice is yours. The main thing is that the result lives up to expectations and gives pleasure from the received and viewed pictures.

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