How to Use Your iPhone as a Quick and Easy Negative Viewer

If you do any darkroom work, you probably regularly print contact sheets to peek at the positive versions of your B&W negative film strips. Did you know that your iPhone can be used as a quick an easy tool for this same purpose?

Like Macs, your iPhone comes with an accessibility option that allows you to invert colors. What’s neat is that you can assign this feature to a “trick-click” of the home button.

To do this, simply go to Settings->General->Accessibility->Triple-click Home, and then select the Invert Colors option:

Once this is set, all you have to do is press the home button three times in rapid succession in order to invert all the colors on your screen.

Now, all you need to do is put your black-and-white negatives up to a monitor or down on a lightbox…

…and then boot up your favorite camera app and point your iPhone at the negative:

Voila! Instant negative viewing without having to waste time and photo paper.

Here’s a great video version of this same tutorial by photographer Nate Matos:

This tip will work for other phones and devices as well, as long as you can find a way to invert the colors of your display. We hear that it also works well with a loupe if you need a closer look at the details of your images.

(via Nate Matos via Reddit)

  • kyleagee

    I’ve been using “Film Scanner Lite” for some time now that achieves the same thing not only with black and white, but color negatives as well. It’s free and seems to work pretty well.

  • Andreq

    You could use Ipad Photo Booth application with “negative color” effect activated.

  • dan

    thanks for the info that really really really really helped

  • Kristian Saks

    I’ve been using one as a lightbox coupled with a loupe as well for some time now. A very handy tool for judging sharpness.

  • Libby Stack

    Good post. I sometimes use my cell phone just to light a footpath in the dark. But as I have a lightbox that is ancient and falling apart and I’ll soon be getting an ipad, this came just in just at the right time – thx.

  • Dave

    *The sound of a million hipsters heads exploding*

  • Andrea Rosado

    three times in rapid succession in order to invert all the colors on your screen.

  • Nate Matos

    Wow thanks for sharing my video guys!

  • Philip Han

    Damn it, I’ve been doing this for 3 years now. Why didn’t I just make a video and get some fame early on? Hahaha

  • Lars

    Hip enough to have a smart phone, but too hip enough to still be shooting film?

  • Simon wardenier

    Have been doing this little trick for a few years already, should’ve made a video/blogpost about it…

  • Margarite Louise Garbre

    iPhone 5s screen for accesibility page is different….it doesn’t offer triple click home….help :)