Film strip and Slide Duplicator

  This project consists of using my current view camera, a 4 x 5 Cambo, to duplicate 35mm film or slides using my digital camera. I have a lot of film negatives and slides from years past, and I once purchased a dedicated Nikon film scanner to scan those films and slides, but the process was way too time consuming. Using a digital camera seemed the next logical choice--simply point and shoot.

  See below for examples taken with this setup of some Kodachrome slides.

  The first step was to purchase a bellows for my Nikon 55mm 2.8 Macro. I have a PK-13 for the lens I'll use, so I can achieve a 1:1 magnification ratio using a full frame sensor. I started looking on eBay and found that the Nikon bellows were too expensive for something that I was only going to use occasionally. And I would still need to mount the setup somehow so that I could align everything. Then it dawned on me: I have a bellows. A big one. It's attached to my view camera, and along with the view camera's standards, it's sturdy and adjustable.

  This led me to engineer some parts so that I could attach the lens and camera to one end of the view camera, and the film holder to the other. I found a Nikon film duplicator adaptor in amongst my stuff. This was a starting point for the film holder. I merely needed to attach it to one end of the view camera's lens boards. I had one extra lens board for the film holder, and cut out a square opening to accommodate it. I needed to add a spacer to move the film holder away from the lens board to allow my fat fingers room to grasp the slides for removal. 

  This image shows the modified film/slide holder and the spacer that I made from Delrin. 

Slide Film holder.jpg

Modified Nikon slide holder with Delrin spacer

  This image shows the slide adapter mounted to the lens board with a strip of film loaded. You can see the LED light that I use for illuminating the film during exposure. This light has an adjustment for output, so I can use that to adjust exposure for each capture instead of using the controls on the camera. The camera gets set to manual, lens set to about 5.6 and the shutter is around 1/100th second to prevent shake–I use my remote shutter trigger to keep things steady. The camera is mounted at the other end of the view camera (you cannot see it at this angle). 

Slied dupe 3.jpg

Film strip mounted in holder ready for capture

  This next image shows the entire setup, minus the bellows mounted between the two standards. The lens is a Nikon 55mm 2.8 Micro-NIKKOR with a PK-13 extension tube to achieve a 1:1 magnification factor using a full frame sensor. I'm using a Sony a7 for the capture, which is full frame. Focusing is done by moving the standard that the camera is attached to, not the lens; the lens is incased in the bellows, so that would be difficult. Once focus is set, it doesn't need further adjusting due to the fact that each film inserted goes to the same spot. The slot for the slides is in a slightly different plane that the slot for film, so a little adjustment change is needed when switching between the two medias, and easily done by moving the standard that the camera is attached. 

  I use the Peaking Level mode of the camera to assist in focusing; this shows when the film is in focus by placing a user defined color at high contrast edges that are in focus. In this case when the film is in focus, the entire image on the film is in focus. 

Slied dupe 2.jpg

Complete setup with bellows removed for clarity

  Here is a shot of the camera mounted to the other lens board. The bright ring is a clamp that I made to hold the PK-13 up against the lens board–you can see the set screws that pull the PK-13 extension tube up against the lens board. I will paint or have this part anodized sometime, but it works fine as is. Between the camera and the PK-13 is the F to E-Mount adaptor that I made some time ago using a Nikon PK-3. Any F to E mount adaptor would work. You can find details about mine by clicking the link at the top of this page. One could also use a camera with a smaller image sensor, you would simply have to make some adjustments with lens to film distance. 

Slied dupe 1.jpg

a7 mounted at the other end

  The line of progress from one end to the other end: LED light, film/slide holder, Macro lens, PK-13 extension tube, Nikon F to Sony E-mount adaptor and then the a7 camera. I can use the camera in tethered mode to avoid removing the memory card and send the files directly to the appropriate folder on my computer. 

  This project is now finished, so I can start capturing all of those shots that are in the form of film and slides. The task lies before me. 

  This next shot is an example of a Kodachrome slide that was captured using this setup. I love those creamy colors that Kodachrome produces. Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away!


Merry-Go-Round, Jantzen Beach, Portland, OR

  This next shot is a photo that my father took while stationed in Japan in 1954. After having spent some time with this setup and working on a technique, this is the result so far. This image has some processing, but not much. Click on any image to see it full size. The film is Kodachrome and is quite old, so there are a lot of spots that need to be removed. I will attempt to wash it at some time, but it kind of adds to the feel of the image. This shot is of the entire slide. 

  This image was exported from Lightroom at half size: 3000 x 2088 as a 1.5 MB jpeg. The original is a RAW file that is 25 MB taken with my Sony a7. The three images below this one are screen captures at the stated resolutions. 

Notice the front suspension on the bicycle, and the engine with its throttle lever.

A Classic Kodak Moment, click image to see full size

Here is a 2:1 blow up without any processing.

2:1 no processing

  And here is a 2:1 detail with processing. Variance in monitor calibrations will cause the image to appear less than ideal, but close enough. 

  With the same processing as the full-frame image above, the grain and other artifacts become quite apparent at 2:1. But at a normal viewing distance, it looks very good. 

2:1 with processing i.e. USM, contrast, color etc.

  Below is a 3:1 with no processing. This shows pretty good detail without a whole lot of pixelation. All of these shots were taken with this duplicator. This capture: ƒ-8 @1/45 second, NIKON 55mm Micro-Nikkor 2.8 with the LED light source shown above.

3:1 no processing

  If you have any questions regarding this project, contact me by clicking the link above.

© Daniel Morrison 2014