This Simple 3D-Printed Frame Makes It Easier to Digitize Your Old Film Negatives

You can use a DSLR camera and this 3D-printed frame to scan your old film negatives.

It’s easy to take digital photos for granted if that’s all you’ve ever taken, but those of us who grew up before digital cameras became affordable and common know how truly revolutionary the technology was. Today you can snap a virtually unlimited number of high-quality photos, see the results immediate, edit them, and share them without ever setting down your smartphones. In contrast, film photography required expensive film rolls, careful shots, and expensive and slow development services. Fortunately for those of you with film negatives lying around, you can use a DSLR camera and this simple 3D-printed frame to digitize them.

There are plenty of services out there that you can send your film negatives to in order to get them digitized, but they’re hardly affordable. Most services charge $0.25 to $0.75 per negative, which can quickly add up. There are also devices on the market for this purpose, but they’re expensive too. If you already have a decent DSLR camera on hand, this DIY solution is far more affordable. The idea here is easy enough to figure out: you’re just going to use the DSLR camera to take digital pictures of the film negatives and then process them to get the final product. The devices designed by Jan just make that process easy and repeatable.

Jan’s specific designs are intended to be used with a Sony A7r mirrorless DSLR camera, a Sony 90mm macro lens, a haze filter, and a Canon EX430. But the designs can be adapted to work with other setups thanks to parametric CAD tools. Jan designed two versions of the device: one that is fed manually and one that automatically feeds the negatives when you turn a knob. Both are made almost entirely with 3D-printed parts that can be made on any 3D printer. Once your camera settings are dialed-in, you can easily capture more than five negatives per minute. That’s pretty reasonable considering how little the devices cost to make. If you’ve been looking for a way to digitize your old film negatives, this project is worth tackling.

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