A really simple DIY 3D printed film scanner module

  • Number of hours to print (including failures and troubleshooting this crappy consumer 3D printer : ~48hours
  • Cost of filament : Quite Affordable
  • DIY Satisfaction and the film scanned : Priceless

This project was motivated by a friend of mine who has more than 10 rolls of films that she wanted to scan but with no accessible or affordable scanners. Instead of the closest thing you can get which is the Lomography Film Scanner (and many DIY methods out there), I decided to make my own version with 3D printer.

You can download the STL to modify or print on your own here. (zip is not supported by wordpress, so just rename the .doc to .zip).

Here is how it works:

filmscanner_cad.jpg

film_scanner14

The print consists of 3 modules (left to right):

  1. adapter_phone – Height adjusted for most smartphone, iphone, android to have enough focusing distance. A simple blue-tack to use as a universal phone sticker. The adapter was also designed keeping in mind if I can design a different module, example to mount to a DSLR.
  2. base – The main light preventing cover.
  3. film_holder – For elevating the film (will explain later).

 

Other components you would need:

  • Scanner (a smartphone camera or any digital camera)
  • Light box (a genuine light box or any smartphone that can load an app to display white screen)
  • Blue-tack

film_scanner13

film_scanner12
Reason for the odd shape and positioning, this is the maximize the phone’s longitudinal aspect ratio to scan 2 pictures at a time, since the fact that most smartphone’s camera doesn’t have a very good macro and chances are you can’t take a single picture with maximum resolution.
film_scanner06
Turns out that I do not need to design a different mount, the base module is sufficient to scan with a DSLR.

Why do you need to elevate the film if you are using another phone as the light box? It is because if the film rest right on top on the LCD screen, you are likely to get this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Left: Shot with Olympus E-M1 + Vivitar 55mm macro. Right: Shot with iPhone4.

Thanks to the high definition nature of modern digital camera… you are likely to capture all the pixels from the LCD! iPhone’s poor interpolation algorithm will render it even worst. This is the reason where there is a 4mm elevation from the film_holder module to off-focus the LCD. 4mm is sufficient for DSLR, however if you still see the artifacts, just simply lift the whole thing further away from the ‘light box’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
No more artifacts after installing the 4mm film holder.

Converting Negatives

sc_226 Aug. 07 11.55
The scanner is designed to take up to 2 pictures at a time. Reason being, most smartphone camera does not have a very good magnification to fill up a single frame with one picture, so why not save time by scanning 2 pictures at a time?
sc_227 Aug. 07 11.55
My method here is using old school Photoshop, just apply ‘invert’. You can find on Google where people have many different methods of converting negatives, there’s even app for that for Android.

sc_227 Aug. 07 12.01

sc_228 Aug. 07 12.01
After inverting color.
sc_228 Aug. 07 12.03
Play with curves to get the colors you want.

Conclusion

This is the first prototype, more of a gift for my friend as I do not have that many film for scanning. Operation was okay, I like how the commercial product has a roller where you can shift the film, maybe this is some feature I shall design in the next prototype. Post-process picture by picture is a huge pain in the arse, I have yet to do any research on an automated batch process but I think there should be such softwares available.

Well, I shared the .STL so you can print it on your own! Feel free to modify and improve on it, or leave your comments below how can we improve it!

 

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