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Author Topic: Equipment Questions  (Read 5685 times)
Dale
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« on: December 22, 2009, 12:05:47 PM »

I’d like to copy the following:
•   4,000 transparencies (mostly 35mm)
•   6,000 negatives (35mm, mostly color, some B&W)

My first thought was to do it via scanner. My Epson Perfection 3170 Photo does transparencies/negatives at 3200 pixels, but (a) it’s a slow process, and (b) I'm told a dedicated film scanner such as the Nikon 5000 is better, but quite expensive, and according to B&H discontinued anyway.

When I saw in the book the idea of doing it via DSLR and explored it further in the forum and reading the white paper, I was interested. My camera resolution of 4272 x 2848 seems adequate and is not too different from the scanner resolution. Plus I could shoot in RAW whereas the scanner would produce a TIFF.

I dug around in the basement and found I have from some years ago the following:

•   Testrite-Kingdom Illuminated slide copier with a 250W 3200K bulb.
•   Copy stand with spring-loaded height adjustment mechanism for camera or bellows, and two light arms for 3200K lights.
•   Bellows attachment for copy stand with 75mm flat field macro lens, but with a manual Minolta camera mount.

I did a test with the lenses I have for my Canon XSi. I could not get the EF 70-300mm to focus. I did get the EFS 18-55mm to focus, but the transparency did not fill the frame. I also scanned the image.

I opened both ithe DSLR and scanned images in ACR 5.5. The scanned image required less adjustment. However, (a) the 3200K bulb in the Testrite copier was old and may no longer be color correct, and (b) the lens I used was obviously not optimal. Both scans looked similar after ACR adjustment (but I have not had time to do a detailed analysis of any differences).

Now to my questions:

•   What are good lenses to consider (cost is a prime consideration, though acceptable quality is necessary; other uses for the lens would help the equation)?
•   Is additional equipment required other than the right lens?
•   Is there a camera mount replacement (Canon XSi) for the bellows unit?
•   Is there an alternate set-up you'd recommend?  (There seem to be differing thoughts on the Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide, for example).
•   If I should opt for the scanner alternative, what scanners would you recommend? Scancafe says a dedicated film scanner works better than the Epson 4490 for transparencies, but doesn’t say whether that’s because the image quality is significantly better, or because the process goes more quickly. The copy on my 3710 didn't look too bad once edited, but I have nothing to compare it against. A quick look at B&H showed there is a variety of film scanners available at different price points.

Dale
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Dale
BobSmith
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 03:08:47 PM »

I'm guessing the bellows and 75mm lens you have is a far better option than your zooms.  That's a lens made specifically for the type of copy work you're attempting.  Your zooms are most definitely not... even if you can rig a way to make them focus that close.  There are loads of camera adapters out there.  Try eBay.  Those adapters are typically pretty inexpensive.  You will be using the lens completely manually.  You don't need an adapter that has any electronics in it.  You just need to be able to attach the bellows to the camera.  If the existing Minolta mount can be removed, it's usually not too terribly difficult to fashion a Canon mount from parts taken from a damaged lens, and old extension tube or some such.  Again, eBay is great source for odd bits like that at inexpensive prices.  If that 75mm lens is not in great shape... maybe an old lens has developed some mold growth between the elements... look for most any enlarger lens to mount on the bellows.  Very good examples can be had at extremely reasonable prices.

Bob Smith
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 03:27:12 PM »

Dale,
If you can use a lens directly instead of on a bellows, the process is generally easier. Most bellows units are not auto aperture, so you'll need to switch between full aperture viewing and stopped down for shooting.  There is an inexpensive Canon 50mm ($300 or so) that Richard Anderson used with great success.

If your copy unit is nice and perpendiclar and steady, as well as offering quick swap of negatives and slides, you'll make up more time by using the copy process than it should add in the image adjustment process. 

As to light sources, it's my understanding that daylight is closer to the "sweet spot" of the sensor than tungsten is.  This should give a better image than using a tungsten balanced light. If you need to use a tungsten light source, I'd filter it to daylight with blue filters.

Peter
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Dale
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2010, 09:29:17 PM »

In thinking through the replies (both of which I appreciate) -- I may be interested at some point in trying to figure out what adaptor would work for the bellows unit (and a quick scan of eBay showed me that as you said, Bob, there are many available).

However, so far as clearing up the backlog of copying transparencies and negatives, Peter, it does seem like the right lens would make the process much faster, which is an important consideration right now. The 50mm Canon lens you mentioned might be the best alternative. I use an XSi to keep the size and weight as low as possible when traveling). I'm wondering if this lens with that camera would allow me to produce full frame copies?

What would be a good example of a daylight source for transparencies and negatives for copying? The slide copier I have simply consists of a metal box with a small always-on light for focusing, and a 3200K bulb for copying. Color temperature aside, it also produces a lot of heat, which means you can't use it for too long, which reduces the efficiency of the process. Something that allowed more extended sessions would be helpful.

Dale
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Dale
peterkrogh
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2010, 07:23:17 AM »

Dale,
I think that 50mm lens should work fine on the XSi. If it works on a FF camera (which requires magnification) it should work on a crop-factor camera. Don't forget ergonomics when considering throughput. A comfortable position is essential in a repetitive task like this.  I'm 100% convinced that the RRS rig is the best, fastest, and most comfortable way to do this for 35mm (for 120 and larger, a bench-based system may be best.)

As to lighting, I think that a conventional "studio strobe" is the best bet. (See the other thread about lighting).  Bright light to focus and frame, and daylight balanced light for shooting. Less heat, etc.

Peter
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BobSmith
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2010, 10:07:33 AM »

I have access to a 50mm Canon Macro (nice lens for the money) and an older Digital Rebel.  The lens says 1:1 on the focusing barrel but when I racked it all the way out on a full frame of 35mm film it only filled the Rebel's viewfinder maybe 80%.

Bob Smith
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jcbenner
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2010, 06:55:48 PM »

For a 1.6x crop body, you might consider the Canon 60mm EF-S macro.
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Dale
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 08:07:38 PM »

I would have expected that a 50mm macro lens on a 1.6x camera would be able to fill the frame with a 35mm transparency as Peter suggested. Therefore I'm surprised a bit, Bob, that it didn't work that way for you. But that's what I'm trying to avoid. JC, I briefly looked at reviews and comments on both the 50mm EF lense and the 60mm EF-S lens and both seem good. But I wouldn't expect the focal length difference to be enough to allow a full frame 35mm transparency on it if it can't be had on a 50mm. What has your experience been as to that?

Dale
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Dale
BobSmith
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 08:46:57 PM »

I just looked at specs on B&H.  The 50mm lens only does 1:2 unless you add a special "Lifesize" adapter.  That adapter costs as much as the lens itself.  That puts the total at more than the 60mm EF-S which is supposedly an even better lens for the smaller chipped cameras... and it does 1:1 as is.

Quite possibly my single most used lens is Canon's 180mm macro.  Absolutely superb lens.  I also have the older non "L" 100mm macro... also an very good lens.  I don't use either of those for the type of work you're trying to do and I'm not suggesting that.  Just a general vote of confidence in Canon macro lenses.

Bob Smith
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jcbenner
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2010, 10:07:26 PM »

I don't have any experience with the 60mm macro, but understand it is a very sharp lens, and as mentioned does 1:1.

I use a 100mm macro on a full frame body, and get essentially a full frame of the slide (minus the area cropped off by the slide mount). A 60mm macro on a 1.6x body has a field of view equivalent to 96mm on full frame. That should be pretty close to getting you a full frame.

The difference between 50mm and 60mm on a 1.6x crop body is larger than you might think.  The 50mm lens has a full frame field of view equivalent of 80mm vs. 96mm for the 60mm lens.

Before you buy one, you might rent one and try it for a week.

http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/canon-60mm-f2.8-ef-s-macro/for-canon

John
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Dale
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2010, 09:07:47 PM »

Here is what I'm thinking of now for copying slides and negatives on the XSi. The goals are (a) decent quality, (b) lowest cost, and (c) not having to hunt parts or build anything time-consuming.

  • A good quality lens (either 100mm f2.8 or 60mm f2.8 – not low cost but can also serve as a macro and even a portrait lens.
  • An inexpensive macro focusing rail to use with the copy stand I already have.
  • A light source of either
  • -------my current 430EXII flash as a backlight, with the slide/transparency laid on glass, and something in between to diffuse the light, or
  • -------an inexpensive lightbox with a color-corrected fluorescent daylight bulb.
  • Other considerations:
  • -------Take the plastic frames for slides from the flatbed scanner and tape them to the lightbox/or glass as a way of quickly positioning the images to be copied.
  • -------For negatives, use a piece of non-glare glass to ensure that they lay flat. Probably means I can’t use the plastic frames for negatives.

What pros and cons do you see with this approach?

Dale
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Dale
peterkrogh
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2010, 09:30:08 PM »

Dale,
Lens - probably just fine -
Copy stand and rail - probably fine
Camera strobe - not so fine, since it has no modeling light for framiong and focus.
CC fl - probably fine
As to film positioning, yes, faster is good.
I would be wary of putting glass in the optical path.

Peter
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Doug
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2010, 09:40:42 PM »

Dale,
I'm using the Canon 60mm macro and find it quite acceptable. I can see everything in my scans at 100% that I can see in an 8x loupe. I can't exactly picture your set up. Mine is horizontal and I'm using an inexpensive light umbrella and light stand with a shoe-mount Canon flash off-camera. I find that room light is enough to frame and focus with. 
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Doug
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2010, 09:45:30 PM »

Dale,
I'm using the Canon 60mm macro and find it quite acceptable. I can see everything in my scans at 100% that I can see in an 8x loupe. I can't exactly picture your set up. Mine is horizontal and I'm using an inexpensive light umbrella and light stand with a shoe-mount Canon flash off-camera. I find that room light is enough to frame and focus with. I spent a little while in the garage with a hack saw and some brackets from Home Depot, which it sounds like you don't want to do, but I ended up using like $25 in parts (other than things I already had) including a Canon film stage.
-Doug
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Dale
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2010, 09:16:22 AM »

Quote
I'm using the Canon 60mm macro and find it quite acceptable. I can see everything in my scans at 100% that I can see in an 8x loupe.
I'm debating between the 60mm and the 100mm macros. Both appear to be excellent lenses. The 100mm is usable if I ever go to a full-frame. On the other hand I believe the 60mm is lighter, and the crop frame camera body saves airline carry-on weight as well, so I may not go to a full-frame. I'm glad to know the 60mm works well for this purpose. John said he'd done this on a 100mm with a full-frame body; has anyone done it with a 100mm on a crop frame body?

Quote
Mine is horizontal and I'm using an inexpensive light umbrella and light stand with a shoe-mount Canon flash off-camera. I find that room light is enough to frame and focus with. I spent a little while in the garage with a hack saw and some brackets from Home Depot, which it sounds like you don't want to do, but I ended up using like $25 in parts (other than things I already had) including a Canon film stage.
I'd love to see a picture of your set-up if you could post one. Where did you find a Canon film stage? I googled last night and didn't come up with anything. I don't have the time to spend days hunting down parts and building it. Since the parts seem cheap enough, if they can be readily found and assembled quickly, it could be a possibility.

Does your setup handle both transparencies and negatives?

Quote
I can't exactly picture your set up.
I can't post a picture since I haven't ordered it all yet. I'll try to describe it better.

I have an old copystand. I would mount an inexpensive macro focusing rail to the copystand. I'd mount the camera to the rail. Thus the camera would face the ground and I'd use the macro focusing rail to make slight adjustments.

The next thing is the light source. On the ground under the camera, I'd put an inexpensive daylight color-corrected lightbox (something like http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/32011-REG/Logan_Electric_750428_8_x_10_Desk.html). I'd place the transparency or negative on top of it so that the lightbox would provide backlighting.

The final thing is to be able to position the transparencies or negatives quickly. I have an Epson scanner that has a black plastic sheet with cutouts for slides or transparencies. I'd tape this sheet onto the light-box so I could quickly always have the transparencies positioned in the right place.

I hope that's clearer.

This seems workable, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet to order the focusing rail and lightbox, so I'm open to your suggestion if it can be done without a huge time investment.

Dale
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Dale
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