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Using an ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter for black-and-white negatives

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Ian Watson:
Nikon's ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter (what a mouthful!) comes with just about everything one needs to tackle either slides or strips of negatives. There is a holder for a strip of six negatives, a holder for a pair of slides, the carrier either of these that includes a diffusion screen and adapter rings to attach the carrier to either an AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D or an AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G.

The carrier has a 52mm thread and so is suitable for any Micro-Nikkor of your choice. Not having one already, I settled on the 55mm f/3.5 AI that seems to be well-regarded here.

The photograph below shows, from the camera outwards, the PK-13 extension ring that allows the lens to reach 1:1, the lens, a K5 ring and then the carrier. The screw allows one to rotate the end of the carrier so that it lines up with the sensor.

As you can see, when focused on a negative (not shown) this arrangement is at somewhere between 1:1.1 and 1:1. This captures the entire negative and a smidge of the holder.

Ian Watson:
I have only used this for black-and-white negatives. The holder is plastic and has guides inside that make it quite easy to position the strip of negatives. It then closes securely. There are detents that allow spring clips inside the carrier to hold each negative in position in front of the lens.

Alas, there is a bit of wiggle room at each detent. This not only affects the horizontal position of the negative but allows the holder to rotate slightly too. If you don't watch it then you will lose corners of your negative when you take the photograph. On the bright side, a little pressure from a finger will keep the holder in place during exposure. Everything is connected to the camera and so this even works handheld at whatever your shutter speed happens to be. (I was getting around 1s on a cloudy day.)

My light source was either a cloud or the open sky. I set cloudy white balance for the former and shade for the latter. This was not perfect but not a problem for black-and-white.

Ian Watson:
Inspired by Seapy's bracketing and merging the results into an HDR image with slides, I tried the metered exposure plus 2 stops either side. (Three exposures in total.) I also tried using just the metered exposure. I have to say that the HDR result looks overcooked and more grainy. It might work well with slides but not for black-and-white negatives. Here are a couple of examples so you can see for yourself.

I began by desaturating in Lightroom and using the curves panel to invert the negatives. This made adjusting exposure and whatnot a bit tricky because the sliders worked backwards  :)

Since I'm trying to learn Photoshop, I used it to invert, crop and adjust the images. The various healing tools are new to me so please pardon any dust spots.

pluton:
The black and white rendering here looks pretty good. Isn't it shocking every time you see how low the resolution of the film was?

Ian Watson:
And how!

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