View Full Version : Scanning 120 film

11-26-2008, 04:16 PM
As with many of my posts, I am still learning and am looking for advice.

I have a regular flatbed scanner with a negative scanner attachment for 35mm film only. Is there a trick to scanning 120 negatives on a flatbed scanner or will I have to invest in a scanner that is equipped with a 120 scanning attachment.

Using the scanner bed, I am assuming I will need an even light source that will transmit light through the negative so the scanner can see it. I wonder if a small light table would work.


11-26-2008, 04:45 PM
I am fortunate enough to have a Epson 4490 scanner which is setup to scan 120 negatives with a mask with no problem.

For larger negatives than 120 I just scan the whole bed with the negative and then crop and adjust in software.

You will have to check to see if your scanner can scan the entire bed as a negative.

Here is one interesting technique to get results with just a digital camera.




The quality will not be as good as a scanner can be, but results can be obtained.

11-26-2008, 04:51 PM
Another option is to make a mask from foam card or cardboard of an appropriate size but wide enough to fit 120 negatives.

Just make sure your scanner can still read certain areas on the mask to be able to scan, sometimes these will be a certain shaped holes or cross bars on the mask.

12-01-2008, 10:32 AM
Thanks for the tips, Clocker.


12-31-2008, 05:08 AM
See reply #10 of this post, I have exactly the situation you describe & do it as shown. 645's can be scanned in one piece but unfortunately anything larger has to be done in more than one pass & joined in software (not as bad as it sounds).

Paul Mitchell
02-16-2009, 06:24 AM
Here's the B and W scanning technique I use created by my friend Michel Pollet ovet at the Manual Focus Forum


Would help to attach the link! http://oomz.net/bw_workflow/

02-17-2009, 05:36 PM
Thank you, Paul, that is a very useful tutorial.

02-20-2009, 09:20 PM
Thanks for the tutorial.

05-06-2009, 10:19 AM
Using the scanner bed, I am assuming I will need an even light source that will transmit light through the negative so the scanner can see it. I wonder if a small light table would work.

Preparing to scan my first negative by a regular flatbed scanner, I am going to build a "mirror light box" which would bring the light from the scanner itself
through the negative. Just two mirrors held in right angle configuration... I would share my experience here.


05-06-2009, 11:28 AM
Here's my story of trying to backlight large negatives on a flatbed scanner:

I have an Espon 2480 flatbed scanner, it only takes 35mm and slide mounts, although I've scanned square format 120 slightly cropped in the slide mount windows. I expose larger format negatives, and experimented with using this el-cheapo scanner for larger negatives.

I tried placing an 8x10 light box (the type used for viewing slides, full spectrum flourescent tube) face down upon the scanner, with film on the glass, and the scanner's software set to reflective; I can get an image that would otherwise look pretty good, but it is overlayed with a dense screen of parallel black lines, making the resulting image useless. I suspect the lines are some interaction between the lightbox illumination and the scanner's sensor.

What I have not tried yet is using the external lightbox with the scanner set to the "film" scanning mode. In this mode it uses the film template, which has calibration areas along the edge. I would need to make my own overlay template with similar calibration markings in order to proceed with this experiment.


Jim Jones
05-06-2009, 05:22 PM
Joe, the flouresent lamps in the light box flicker at 120 cycles/second. This would likely cause parallel lines perpendicular to the sensor travel. Long ago I tried to improvise a light source for a cheap Mustek flatbed, using a mask, a diffuser, and an incandescent movie light. The results were never good. One problem with that scanner was the lack of a convenient way to disable the reflective light source.

11-17-2009, 02:10 AM
Has anyone tried by placing the 120 negative sandwiched between two thin sheets of transparent glass coated with anti-reflective coating and scanning as a reflective material with a flatbed scanner? Heard about this technique but yet to acquire the raw materials form a local optical supply stores.. So in case anyone can throw a light on this setup or on the approach, it would be immensely helpful..

Jim Jones
11-17-2009, 12:04 PM
To scan as reflective material, you'd have to back up the negative with something white and reflective. I just tried this, but with poor results. Inverting and tweaking the scan on Picture Window Pro wasn't nearly as good as scanning the negative as a transparancy. The tweaked image was somewhat posturized and didn't match the grey curve of a properly scanned negative. I don't see the advantage of using anti-reflective coated glass. I just laid the negative emulsion side up on the scanner, and white paper on the negative.

11-18-2009, 02:07 AM
Jim - thanks for the post.. I have tried that paper trick [used high quality tracing paper] myself but with very poor results.. heard about the mirror / ARC glass route and hence querying..

11-18-2009, 03:50 AM
here's another interesting thing to try http://www.xs4all.nl/~tomtiger/
as the author says, it's good for getting a shot up on the net quickly and without too much hassle. some time ago i found on the net a method using a pyramid made from regular paper over the negative on the scanner and a bright light over it, supposedly it makes the light more diffuse so there aren't reflections. i haven't tried either method though, need a scanner first.