If you have a pile of medium format film that needs digitizing, as well as an understanding of 3D printing and electronics, you might be in luck. Montreal-based film photographer and programmer Seckin Sinan Isik has designed and built a film carrier that automatically advances each frame into position under a camera’s lens ready to be digitized. The carrier uses LIDAR to recognize when the film is loaded and in the right place, and can automatically advance a range of different formats as well as trigger the camera’s shutter.
Seckin has made detailed plans for anyone else who wants to make one too, and offers designs and plans to download, as well as a list of all the components he used – and suggestions for how things might be improved. He says it costs about $100 to build, though about $400 if you need to also invest in a 3D printer to make the parts.
The main idea behind the carrier was to create a device that can detect when a length of film is inserted, to pull it into the carrier and position it ready for the first frame to be recorded. The carrier uses rollers to pull the film in and also to maintain enough tension to keep the surface of the film flat within the edge guides. The rollers only touch the rebate of the film, so the picture area doesn’t come into contact with the carrier at all.
Once the film is loaded the user can micro-adjust its position before the first frame is recorded, and then use a button to tell the carrier what format is being used so it can keep the frames aligned under the camera as they advance. The carrier needs to be placed over a light box, and the camera positioned directly above on a copy stand or a tripod.
The current design leaves the top of the carrier uncovered so users might want to create a mask the size of their frame to prevent non-image-forming light, from the surface of the light box beyond the frame to be copied, entering the lens, causing flare and reduced contrast.
You can see the whole article on Seckin’s Duck After Duck website, where you can also download the designs.