What is Camera Scanning

Camera scanning, or sometimes called DSLR scanning, is the process of photographing a piece of film using a digital camera to create a digital reproduction of the image.

This is a great alternative to scanning using a traditional scanner because you take advantage of advances in modern digital imaging technology while not relying on old technology that might break or become incompatible with modern computers.

picture of a camera scanning setup including a copystand with a camera mounted vertically pointing downwards, the VALOI film holder system and a computer showing the most recent scan from the setup.

A typical high-end camera scanning system, including the VALOI 360 system and a Novoflex copystand. FilmLab is open on the computer with the latest scan made.

Photographing film using a camera has been done since the advent of photography to reproduce originals, it is often called reproduction or just repro. When done right, the results using a digital camera are very comparable to traditional scanners because scanners are, in essence, cameras with lenses.

Scanning using a camera requires some set-up: In addition to a film holder, you need:

  • Camera
  • Lens (we recommend a macro-lens or enlarger lens)
  • Light Source
  • Camera stand: Copystand or tripod

Finally, negatives also need to be converted from a negative to a positive. This is not a direct inversion, and additional software such as Negative Lab Pro or FilmLab, is very useful.

Learn how to do camera scanning with the easy set-up guide from VALOI:

Technique Guide 

If you are unsure what camera or lens to get, VALOI also has a guide for that:

Gear Guide