Why would you want to scan diapers? Well you wouldn’t of course, but when you’re in Paris for 3 months without a scanner and a boatload of film cameras producing roll after roll of film that you can’t afford to scan, you get crafty!
I’d seen a few ideas for diy scanners on Feeling Negative?, all were quite amazing, but some were either more work than I was up for, or I’d need materials that I didn’t have around. The only tools I brought with me to Paris is a Leatherman and a roll of duct tape! The simplest scanner seemed to be just taking a negative sleeve and hanging it in front of a white screen on my macbook pro and taking a picture with a macro lens (sigma 105). While this worked in practice, once you looked at the picture full size on the computer, you could see all the individual pixels that made up the white colour, a neat effect, but not what I was going for.
I searched around for something to use as a diffuser, then one day our baguette came with some tissue paper. I thought this would be perfect, but the paper had creases and made the light from the screen too dim. Finally I decided the solution would be to bring the film away from the screen and set the lens to a shallow depth of field (2.8), thus eliminating the pixels showing through. To do this I constructed a box the size of the screen with a depth of about 5cm. I then cut a hole in the centre slightly larger than a standard 6×6 negative and duct taped the negative sleeve to the front over top of the hole.
As you can see from this xpan pic, it worked quite well for something that took a couple of minutes to make. The image isn’t as sharp as a high end scanner, and it took a few minutes in photo shop to get it to look right, but for web posting on our Paris blog it’s more than adequate. I can always re-scan the best ones when I get home on my Epson v700.