If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself : Film Negative Scanning

Back story...
The first time I used a diana mini, the photos I got were half exposed, half unexposed on a full frame. To make it worse, the lab I sent my photos to had a hard time scanning the negatives cause of it's "weird" format. When I got home to check the negatives, the scanner missed some of my favorite shots or only scanned a part of the shot I liked.

1 half frame good, 1 half frame bad

I was trying to save money, cause more money means more money for film and film processing, So I tried doing several DIYs I read from the net. To make the long story short, the "methods" I tried resulted to poorly scanned photos with a weird blue tinge.  So, I told myself - fine I'll give in and just buy a smart phone film scanner which was pricey (and more expensive where I live) and which isn't as readily available (means I have to travel an hour to go to the store that sells it and isn't always in stock). As luck would have it, I ended up seeing one at CDR King - a store known for it's cheap ass CDs , electronics and other tech accesories with "ok" quality (you get what you pay for). 

The cost of the film scanner was around half of the list price popular smart phone film scanner. It comes with a slide film holder, a negative film holder, the scanning device, an installation CD, a USB cord to connect and scanner and the computer and a quick start guide. I didn't want to cut my negatives so I just directly scanned it without the film holder. This is going to sound funny but I used both hands to keep the film in place and used my chin to press the scan button to scan the negatives. There is a live view so you can adjust the film as you please. No, it can't scan the sprockets plus the scanning field is a bit smaller than the actual area of the exposed film negative. What I like about it the most is that the brightness, tint and saturation can be adjusted prior to scanning with the help of the live view. Which I find very useful, especially when I shoot in different lighting conditions using 1 roll of film. Tip: turn of all lights when scanning, especially fluorescent ones to avoid bluish scans.
contents of film scanner package

I compared it to the lab scanned films and the results were more or less the same. Although some scans looked a bit dull to the lab scanned negatives but this could be easily remedied by using auto-correct in photo editing software.
 photo lab scanned

"me" scanned

photo lab scanned

"me" scanned"

 photo lab scanned

"me" scanned

 the lab missed this pic

another missed pic

It isn't portable, it  isn't stand alone. It will only work when it is connected to a computer wherein the film scanning software is installed. So if you are looking for something you can take with you on trips, just get a smartphone film scanner. If you just want something to scan films with which won't break the bank, this is highly recommended. Note: having film scanned isn't as expensive (where I live) especially if you have a discount card. Doing a cost-benefit analysis, it would take 33 rolls of film before I would break even but control on how my film is scanned is important to me (more so cause I'm shooting with the very temperamental diana mini). So for the price I paid, it is very well worth it.


  1. What sort of film scanner if this? Is it one of those that looks kind of like a tall box, with an inbuilt sensor of about 2MP that you connect to the computer? How much did it cost? I tried one like that years ago, but all the photos turned out weird.

    1. Sorry wasn't able to reply right away. I usually post more on my tumblr account. Yup, it's one of those that looks like a tall box that you connect to a computer. I'm not sure about the sensor though, I didn't notice it on the box. I got for about 40USD, from a shop that sells cheap ass electronics and accessories (but the quality isn't consistent). When I scan negatives, I usually turn off all the lights. I noticed that fluorescent lights gave my photos a "weird" (bluish, grainy effect) look when they are turned on.

    2. BTW, thanks for adding me to your blog roll!

    3. No worries, you did the same for me after all! Yeah that sounds like the same thing I tried. None of the scans really turned out, so I returned it and got a refund. Maybe I just needed to turn off the lights?


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