Making Scans with a Digital Camera

[by Peter Krogh]

Many photographers have a lot of film images that they wish to digitize, but conventional scanning techniques may be too expensive.  You can use your digital camera to make “camera scans” that are amazingly good, and very quick to produce.

A basic camera scanning setup includes the camera, a close-up lens, a film holder and a light source. You can rephotograph your film in large quantities, and then adjust it with your software of choice.  For slides and B&W negatives, Lightroom can work really well. Color negatives take a bit more work, and may look best if you “process” them in dedicated scanning software such as VueScan or Silverfast.

If you want to learn more about the hardware, software, workflow or quality, take a look at  There is a page that describes the process, as well as one that steps through an entire workflow.

Process here:

Workflow here:

Peter Krogh is a commercial photographer and the author of The DAM Book, Digital Asset Management for Photographers (O’Reilly 2009).  He helps photographers, companies and institutions worldwide understand the digital ecosystem .

By Peter Krogh | Posted: March 3rd, 2011 | 2 comments


2 Responses to 'Making Scans with a Digital Camera'

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  1. How would the quality I get with this method compare to the quality I get with my Nikon Coolscan 9000??

    By Deborah | Mar 3, 2011


  2. Deborah,
    The quality for the scan itself – resolution and color – is as good or better int he tests we made (using a camera of 16 megapixel or larger).

    For color slides, ICE technology might make dust and scratch removal easier with the Coolscan. (But this might be totally offset by the faster scanning times with camera scans).

    You also might find color negatives easier to adjust on the coolscan, depending on the software you use.


    By Peter Krogh | Mar 4, 2011



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