Yes I know that supposedly the iPad is not really a good content creation device. That is is said not to be good at doing real work like on a real computer…. Supposedly!
On the other hand, in my eyes the so called ‘real computers’ are more or less on their way out. Yes, I’m convinced of that!
(Sorry for the macabre example, but I happen to like that one…)
Of course working with the iPad means relearning a lot of things. It means finding new ways to do something. Sometimes even easier ways. But not always….
The goal I have set myself is to get a film photographer’s workflow going on the iPad.
With digital it’s quite straightforward. Lots of apps, from Apple’s own Photos to Lightroom Mobile make digital life easy. Import your photos and start working on them….
Not so easy with film! I’ll have to find a way to ‘scan’ my negatives properly. Of course, a film scanner does not work with an iPad. So there has to be another way.
I’ll have to use my digital camera to scan the negatives. With the added benefit that the so called scanning will be much much faster than on my Plustek scanner. But will it be good?
Well, let’s do a test. I set up my test rig on the living room table. I know it will be better with a stable repro stand for the camera and a proper macro lens.
Bummer is I got none… so I use my sharpest lens, the Revuenon 55mm f:1.7 with extension rings to fill the frame with a negative.
And I need a light source. That one’s easy, I have a cheap USB powered light pad from HUION I got on Amazon. I normally use it as a light table, works like a charm.
Of course I have not bothered with stuff like darkening the room to get better contrast or masking the unused part of the light table to minimize stray light. If this setup works somewhat I’ll do it better next time.
First, it was quite fiddly to find out which extension rings to use, to focus correctly, to get the stuff set up in a way that works. Once it’s done I’ll be able to recreate the setup quite quickly.
At first I released the shutter by hand with the result of nice motion blur. Then I switchet to the 2 second self-timer. No more motion blur!
The lens setup looks a bit….. otherworldly though.
But it works! That’s the point. And it works fast. Once set up I ‘scanned’ a 6 negatives strip in about 30 seconds. Including careful repositioning of the negative carrier. Much faster that the scanner that takes about 90 seconds PER NEGATIVE!
OK, so now I got the negatives on the SD card. Great! But I don’t have one of those card reader dongles for the iPad. For this step I’ll have to make a detour to the Mac, load the photos into the Photos app. The’ll be automatically sent to the iPad tough. Thanks to Apple’s Cloud!
Negatives! That’s the key word! I’ll have to invert them somehow. I know why I started with a black and white film. I don’t want to bother with color correction just yet.
I’ve searched for an app (there’s certainly one for it!) and found Snapseed. In fact the curves tool in Snapseed, a free software which is a very great advantage, is easy to use and gives me a usable starting point.
A little more tweaking in Snapseed and Photos (still have to see which one I’ll use finally) and I achieve this nice result:
Looks sharp enough, contrast is nice, just as I like it. Let’s compare it to the original scanned version from the Plustek Opticfilm 8100, a very good scanner:
To my eyes, apart from obvious differences from processing the photo, the result is as sharp and detailed as the scanned version. It looks grainier, but that might result from a more agressive use of the Clarity slider. I’ll have to play around with Snapseed some more. In fact the uncompressed files on my screen look very good. I think with a real macro lens instead of the awful contraption I used, I’ll get even better results. There must be a reason why they sell macro lenses!
What I need to do now is to find a setup that allows a quick setup of my gear, buy a nice M42 or Fuji macro lens and some light blocking stuff. And perhaps there’s some app out there that makes the conversion easier… I’ll log some Google time.
Why I do this you ask?
Well…. just because I can! I like tinkering with stuff and find new ways to do something. As my Mac, a venerable 2012 Mac Mini, will reach it’s best before date soon I’ll have to see where I’ll go from here. Tried Windows and Linux and I hate them, sorry. Macs are crazy expensive nowadays, so that leaves the iPad way open to me… a promising way I’ll follow a bit further.
I’ll keep you updated over the next weeks with my progress…. or failure. 😉
If you want to chime in with comments, advice or even incomprehensive headshaking, you’re very welcome.
Thanks for reading!