PetaPixel

How to Scan Film Using Your Phone or Tablet Computer

We shared a couple weeks ago that it’s possible to scan film using an ordinary flatbed scanner and a DIY cardboard adapter, but did you know you can also use a large-screen cell phone or tablet computer to provide the necessary backlighting? All you need is a way to turn a large portion of the screen entirely white (e.g. a “flashlight” app). Simply place the device facedown over the film on the scanner, and scan it with the cover open.

If you’re scanning negative film, you’ll need to invert the resulting scan:

Voila! A simple way to scan your film using an ordinary scanner.

Turn Negatives Into Digital Photos Using Smartphone and Flatbed Scanner [Macro PB]


Image credits: Photographs by Jackson/Macro PB and used with permission


 
 
  • ruben hamelink

    wouldn’t you get the pixels of the phone/tablet seen through the picture, and creating a sort of super low res picture, (there are not very pixels the area that covers 35mm of even 120 film)
    cause i tried shooting negs once with desktop behind it and this was my problem, maybe its verydifferent with scanner in stead of camera

  • ruben hamelink

    wouldn’t you get the pixels of the phone/tablet seen through the picture, and creating a sort of super low res picture, (there are not very pixels the area that covers 35mm of even 120 film)
    cause i tried shooting negs once with desktop behind it and this was my problem, maybe its verydifferent with scanner in stead of camera

  • http://ahmadramadan.com AR

    realy nice :) , thank u .

  • Fidoman

    is it possible to scan colour film first with red then green and then blue backlight,  invert images and compose them in photoshop ? 

  • http://blog.wingtangwong.com/ Wing Wong

    Sweet! This looks like a really cool way to scan mulitple negatives with my ipad providing backlight…   as for the concern of pixels showing… you can probably mask with a translucent sheet of plastic or use a flat piece of glass 1/4″ or so to separate the light source from the film, moving the pixels out of the DOF of the scanner.

  • http://blog.wingtangwong.com/ Wing Wong

    Sweet! This looks like a really cool way to scan mulitple negatives with my ipad providing backlight…   as for the concern of pixels showing… you can probably mask with a translucent sheet of plastic or use a flat piece of glass 1/4″ or so to separate the light source from the film, moving the pixels out of the DOF of the scanner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.suzuki Daniel Yu Suzuki

    This also mean if you have an old lightbox and set it on top of a flatbet, you can scan multiple negatives because of the increase in surface size.
    I always wondered if this would work and thought you would have disable the light coming from the scanner, but I guess it works either way. 
    This is awesome because you can use this instead of a $500+ scanner for large format. 
    Again, AWESOME.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.suzuki Daniel Yu Suzuki

    This also mean if you have an old lightbox and set it on top of a flatbet, you can scan multiple negatives because of the increase in surface size.
    I always wondered if this would work and thought you would have disable the light coming from the scanner, but I guess it works either way. 
    This is awesome because you can use this instead of a $500+ scanner for large format. 
    Again, AWESOME.

  • http://twitter.com/gothick Matt Gibson

    I did find that, but adding a sheet of white tissue paper between the phone and the negative seemed to help significantly; I guess it diffuses the pixels enough…

  • http://photocontestinformation.com/ photo contest

    take your phone and start shooting you fav images… no need to go through the harder process

  • http://photocontestinformation.com/ photo contest

    take your phone and start shooting you fav images… no need to go through the harder process

  • http://twitter.com/bubbLycreashunz Deborah Nana

    this would be great if my scanner didn’t need the lid to be securely closed. thnx. -__-

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J7L4PTCNBZ57XDGQVG3TL7MW7U John

    Hmm, I’m scanning slides and they are coming in in black and white and I can’t find any way to adjust it. When I’ve scanned documents in the past with color in them, the color comes out. What gives??

  • v_bassist

    sell you ipad/iphone and buy a (semi) decent film scanner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminjmarshall Ben Marshall

    its not pixels you see, its the touch screen.  which is a mesh inlay.
     

  • itsdebraanne

    Soon, as I read this I grabbed my iPad and film! this is color slide 120 film (which is so much better to scan than negative film) but… i think there’s something wrong. no matter how many times i tell my scanner to scan in color, it’s black and white
    help ):

  • amahs

    Does it work with canon mp250 and ipad?

  • Fenix Fotography

    I was doing this in 1999, with an inverted light box.