The BlackBox 120 Uses a Digital Camera To Scan Medium Format Film

Two images depicting the BlackScale Lab's BlackBox 120 and its components.

A new film scanner has come onto the scene, courtesy of BlackScale Lab. The BlackBox 120 system makes it easy to use a camera to digitize medium format film.

Scanning film using a mirrorless or DSLR camera is becoming more popular, with several products popping up over the past few years. That’s largely because it makes film scanning more approachable and, typically, more affordable than the alternatives. Such devices are partially made possible by the growth in 3D printers and CNC machines. It allows individual users to design and create their own tools instead of relying on large manufacturers.

As reported by DIY Photography, the BlackBox 120 is a film scanning solution from BlackScale Lab that uses a DSLR or mirrorless camera and fairly basic components. It connects via a lens’s filter threads. Below the lens is the product’s namesake, the black box. A film holder slides into the black box, which keeps the film flat. The product’s design means that no alignment is ever needed and that there are no light reflections to deal with, making it easier and faster to scan film.

A hand pulls out the light panel that sits in the BlackBox 120.

Below the film is an LED light with an optical diffuser and a 125-by-100-millimeter illumination area. The light offers a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 98, which results in accurate colors from the film, and a color temperature of 5000K. It requires a USB-A charger or power bank for power. Alternatively, users could use a Rybozen light panel, which would need to be purchased separately.

A hand uses the components of the BlackBox 120 system for film scanning.
The BlackBox 120 is compatible with most lenses thanks to the step-up rings and extension sections.

The kit comes with everything needed except the camera and lens. The step-up rings function with almost any lens and block 100 percent of the ambient light for better scanning quality. The included extension sections (20mm, 30mm, 40mm, 100mm, and 150mm) allow compatibility with lenses up to 140mm. These sections place the camera at the ideal height based on a lens’s given minimum focus distance. They connect with a bayonet lock, much like lens mounts. Keep in mind, though, that with longer lenses and more extension sections, there will be quite a bit of height, which could result in instability.

The BlackBox 120 supports 6×9 film formats natively but includes three interchangeable masks that allow users to scan all 120-type film, including 6×7, 6×6, and 6×4.5 formats. It uses the Canon Film Guide QM3-2695-000 and holds 22cm of cut film, fitting two 6×9 frames, three 6×7 frames, three 6×6 frames, or four 6×4.5 frames at once. The holder protects the film from scratches during the scanning process and keeps a gap of 7.5mm between the light and film to make dust removal easier.

The BlackBox 120 sits on a gray table.

Users can purchase the BlackBox 120 via the BlackScale Lab Etsy page for $309, though it is currently listed as sold out at the time of writing. BlackScale previously made a similar scanning setup for 35mm film, which is also sold out.

Image credits: Photographs by BlackScale Lab