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Scanning Film with the Nikon D780 and ES-2 ‘Film Digitizing Adapter’


Chris Niccolls over at DPReview TV recently got a chance to try out Nikon’s $140 ES-2 ‘Film Digitizing Adapter’: a convenient attachment that works with Nikon’s DSLRs to let you quickly and easily “scan” your old 35mm slides and negatives.

Niccolls wanted to find out how well this convenient bit of kit actually works, so he grabbed Nikon’s new D780 DSLR and used the ES-2 to digitize some negatives from the beginning of his photographic journey, highlighting the adapter’s pros and cons along the way.

As Niccolls demonstrates, the adapter itself is extremely easy to use, especially if you have one of Nikon’s latest DSLRs with the built-in film-scanning functionality. You simply attach the ES-2 to the end of your Nikkor lens—preferably one of their macro lenses—put your slides or negatives into the provided film holder, and slide the contraption into the adapter.

Then just place the end of the lens near an even light source and start shooting.

If you’re using the D780 or D850, you can use Nikon’s “Negative Digitizer” function in Live View to preview a positive version of your results and adjust the brightness of your “scan” before you capture the shot. It can even convert your image to black-and-white in-camera. However, this mode can only shoot in JPEG, so you really have to dial in your settings properly.

If you’re not using this function, you have the advantage of shooting in RAW and using any Nikon camera at your disposal, but you’ll need to do the reversal and processing yourself after the fact.

Obviously, neither of these options will give you the kind of clarity, resolution, and overall quality that you can get from a great flatbed film scanner—and especially a drum scanner—but it’s a great option for quickly digitizing a box full of old negatives or slides that would otherwise waste away in the attic. For some of us, preserving—rather than high-res scanning—is the name of the game; and for that purpose, the Nikon ES-2 is an extremely convenient (if not exactly affordable) option.

Check out the full DPRTV episode up top to see the Nikon ES-2 in action.