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Nikon D850: Turning Those Old Slides and Negatives into Digital Images

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Curious to see, but no doubt useful for many. If I had the time, I’d go redo all my old slides and negative film that Kodak PhotoCD turned into crap when I spent the money years ago.

The quick, easy way to convert film to digital data — Negative digitizer

Some seasoned photographers may be exploring ways to convert their film assets created with old cameras into digital data. Taking advantage of its high-pixel count of 45 megapixels, the D850 offers an option for digitizing film (35mm-format), which can handle color and monochrome negatives.

First, set an optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter onto a lens such as the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED attached to the D850.

Then insert the film to be digitized in an FH-4 Strip Film Holder or FH-5 Slide Mount Holder, and shoot.

The camera’s digitizing function automatically reverses the colors and stores them as JPEG images. This once time-consuming process involving a film scanner can be done much more quickly. You can enjoy pictures with family and friends while selecting and digitizing by displaying them on a large TV monitor connected via an HDMI cable. Enjoy your old film images by digitizing them with the D850.

I guess I count as “seasoned” at this point. All four quarters of the year too.

Job H writes:

I am curious why the description of the d850 states that it can "scan" slides and negatives to Jpegs... Surely you want raw or dng especially for negatives! You need to deal with different mask colors after all. I once tried this: sample the mask color, then fill the background with this color. Then put your scanned negative in another layer and set the blending mode to subtract. Voila, perfect!

DIGLLOYD: JPEG seems like a limitation, but I am not so sure—it might let the camera do special processing that cannot be done in raw. Plus the camera resolution is so high that it will be capturing a great deal of film grain so that JPEGs ought to fine, given that the color balance is presumably spot-on with the adapter.

Sampling the mask color is a bit tricky for perfect color, as any white balancing using a gray card tells me whenever I shoot a scene with one.

As for raw files, convert to raw, put into layers, etc... for 1000 slides? When I had a high-end film scanner, 6000 pixels wide was pushing the resolution right into grain. With a camera resolution of 8256 pixels, JPEG should be just fine, and we can hope that the camera has scratch reduction and similar built into the process.

See also Photographic Film Really Was Not Much of a Performer.

James M writes:

I doubt that the Nikon D850 scanning has the automatic dust detection and correction of the Nikon Super Coolscan 5000. The FH-4 strip film holder and the FH-5 slide mount holder may be convenient, but I doubt that they are more convenient than the Super Coolscan equivalents.

Also, remember that the Nikon software for the Coolscan included Kodak’s ROC (restoration of color) software for faded color film and slides. That’s the gold standard for restoration. Nevertheless, I must admit that using the FH-4 strip film holder and FH-5 slide mount holder is much less expensive.

DIGLLOYD: since the dedicated Nikon film scanners abandoned software support (at least for Mac) 5 or 6 years ago, they are not an option, so this comparison is specious. However, Silverfast might have support for Nikon Coolscan scanners.

I also doubt that the Nikon D850 solution has automatic dust detection and correction. But I don’t see why it could not do it; the CPU in the camera is very powerful.

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