I have a fair few negatives lying around the home and while I'm very happy with the scans I get from Sobotka, I would love for them to be of a higher resolution. The resolution is actually quite good, but I love it when I can cut out the middleman and do things myself. To that end, I looked up how to do this with a DSLR and it seems that using macrorings is a key (if you don't have a macro lens), as well as backlighting them properly. So here are the tools I used to do it:
- Nikon D5100
- Nikkor 50mm 1.8D
- eBay Special macro rings
- Old lightbox
- Manfrotto tripod
Unfortunately, as you can see in the title image, my results weren't that fantastic. I think I worked at this for about an hour, trying every possible setting, all the various combinations of the macrorings and still couldn't quite get it to work properly. Here is what I was trying to achieve (click the thumbnail for a larger view):
Notice how you can clearly make out the street sign in the professionally scanned image whereas my attempt at photographing the negative has none of this detail. My theory as to why I couldn't get this to work properly is because I am using a crop format sensor. I think for this to truly work well and capture the necessary detail, I need to use a camera with a full frame sensor. I'm pretty sure the macrorings are fine and I know my choice of lens is correct, but I'm wondering if perhaps my camera is simply not up to the task of capturing that kind of detail.
This is actually really disappointing for me because I wanted to start a new project over the summer that is going to continue over several years, if not decades - I want to begin archiving all of the family photos that my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents have collected over the years. I want to find all these negatives, put them on the Internet so that way the family can access them whenever they want and also record the life stories of our older family members. It's always nice to hear about a family member from another, but I think it would be so much more enriching to have actual video of someone and truly immortalize them. Unfortunately, if I have no way of properly scanning in the negatives then I have no way of properly archiving them outside of gathering all the negatives with the various information that my family can give me about them and storing them until I am ready to begin digitally preserving them.
If anyone has had any luck, I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback and/or tips that you can give me.