So, about that new thing I tried…


This is my first (and absolute VERY LAST) attempt at scanning film with a DSLR.

Knowing full well that a scanner is “just” a digital imaging system, I decided I would get on board with the “much ballyhooed” (LOL, Peter’s term, not mine…) DSLR scanning of film negatives.

I patiently assembled everything I needed from Flea-Bay, B&H, and the four corners of Middle Earth…


  • The Nikon PK-13 Macro Tube,
  • The Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 Macro lens, and
  • The all-important Nikon ES-1 slide copying adapter

and dutifully read every tutorial while I patiently waited for it all to arrive.

That fateful day came yesterday, and I finally managed to assemble the unholy setup, crank it onto my D810, adjust the framing, fine-tune the exposure, and “scan” my first photo…

And it SUCKED.

To begin with, the process itself is EXTREMELY fiddly.

More importantly (while it is possible I am just being overly dramatic here…) the file honestly looks exactly like a digital photo, of a film image.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but–despite the huge increase in resolution–the file loses something that a dedicated film scanner seems to preserve.

(And DO NOT even get me started on the dust and specks!!)

(…and yes I used compressed air).


Anyone want to buy a super-cheap Nikon macro setup?

Sorry gang…I am not a convert.

10 thoughts on “So, about that new thing I tried…

  1. Karim Ghantous says:

    I don’t mind the look at all – I’ve seen much worse from a Canon sensor, so be grateful you don’t have one of those. But the process cannot be efficient, and that’s not even taking into account the dust.

    I think that a monochrome sensor is what you need to do this properly. A Bayer sensor cannot give a good scan of a b&w image, AFAIK.

    “Continue the research.”

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thank you Peter, Naomi, and Karim.

      I have had some issues with my Pakon recently in terms of sharpness, so I am starting to explore other options; A dedicated film scanner is definitely the way to go.


      • Brendan Kong says:

        if you are ever needing to get rid of your Pakon, I would gladly take it off your hands 🙂

      • mewanchuk says:

        Thanks Brendan–very kind of you.


        I sold one on FM about two weeks back (I had a spare…) and it went in minutes–obviously didn’t charge enough!!



  2. jkjod says:

    So, here is what I do…because this is what I do.

    I use a Negatrans (lots of them on the Bay) – its a special negative holder from the dark room days that has a wheel/pulley system on it to transport the negative frame by frame. It is what makes the set up easy for me. Well, that combined with a a copy stand (well a home made one at least). I looked into the ES-1 but to change between negatives seems like a pain in the arse.

    I think the other important thing for me is using MakeTiff and Colorperfect – I’m sure you already know this but MakeTiff makes a linear DNG file which ColorPerfect converts. Even with the black and white the ColorPerfect makes a difference – you can set it up so PhotoShop opens files from a specific folder and batch processes all of them at once. I used to have a big problem with dust, but compressed air and a quick wipe down (ChemWipes) of the negatives seems to have solved it for me.

    Sorry it didn’t work out for you…I don’t think there was anything “wrong” with your Pakon scans to be honest.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hey Jordan,

      I knew I would hear from you, because I consider you be the expert in this field…


      In any case, I didn’t know about the Negatrans, but I don’t think it would really change things for me. The problem is the dry, static-filled Alberta air. As for Colorperfect, I have played with it extensively (using linear RAW files from VueScan…) but didn’t really enjoy the plethora of variables to adjust. Somehow I never really felt as though the result was “perfect”. That being said, it certainly is a powerful program!

      Thanks for your info,

      • jkjod says:

        I think “ballyhooed” (I’ll admit I had to look that one up) probably describes me better than “expert”

        I don’t even go into ColorPerfect when working with the black and white negatives. They have changed it some and now they have “actions” for Photoshop, I click on the action and it does all the work – it doesn’t even open ColorPerfect, which I agree is weird and not any fun to work in.

        Either way, I stand by my thoughts that your Pakon scans were just fine – and nothing touches that thing in regards to ease of workflow. Maybe a Coolscan V and SA-21?? You can have the SA-21 converted so its possible to scan a whole roll at once. The other option…SP3000

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