20 Mar Plan B From Inner Space
If you are currently cooped up for any reason short of embezzlement, you may be able to put your time to use digitising your slides and prints. There are lots of ways of doing this – the Epson scanners were mentioned in previous posts. If you have a V-700,800, or 900, settle down seriously and use it. If you don’t have one, come see us at Camera Electronic and we’ll supply one.
But if you don’t want to go down the scanning route – Plan A – because of costs or noise or time required, there is a Plan B. It’s more trouble to set up but might prove just as do-able for you. And you may own a number of the components for it right now.
The Rube Goldberg device you see in these pictures is a simple frame made of scrap MDF board that allows you to accurately position a 35mm transparency in the 2 x 2 mount every time. It suspends a standard mirrorless camera – in this case my travelling Fujifilm X-t10 camera – and a macro lens above the colour transparency. ( If I’m not going to be travelling any time soon, I might as well get some use out of the machine this way.
The mechanical stage you see is a dear old Novoflex focusing rail from the 1960’s. It has followed me everywhere since then and pops up whenever I need to be semi-precise in positioning a camera. There are far better rails available right now from the shop.
It sits atop a light box. Not as common as they once were in the darkroom days, they are still available as accessories for viewing X-rays or making a light table. And they are just a lightbulb in a box – if you can put a light in a box you are there.
The whole device takes longer to set up than it does to use. You bolt on the camera – flip up the LCD screen – and take a custom white balance from the white rectangle below the lens.
You set the aperture to f:5.6 and the shutter to Automatic. Then just drop the mounted slide into the rectangular stage and press the shutter release. If you set your camera to take a slightly less contrasty picture it is essentially all done in camera and you may not need to do any post processing. You produce results as fast as you can clean and position the slides. And there is no scanner noise while you do.
The bit of thread? That’s to allow you to flip the slide up out of the holder easily without shifting the lens.
This is a MLC and macro lens – fancy gear, but I already own it all. You may have a compact camera with in-built macro setting on the lens that will do even better at close distances. You might be in the digitising business for the cost of the MDF and the light fittings.
A final note from Colin Feilen – he was describing just this sort of procedure for another photographer at the last Photomarkets. But he suggested taping a cardboard stage to a window open to the sunlight and then photographing the transparencies through that with your camera mounted on a tripod. I’ll bet that’s just as valid – a Plan C.