Film photographers, especially those who develop their own films at home, know all too well the struggles of digitizing their negatives without a film scanner. That’s why when Hamish Gill announced that he’s developing a tool he called pixl-latr, everyone who ever thought and tried creating digital versions of their film photos took to his Kickstarter campaign to support his project. If you haven’t yet, maybe you’d like to check this device out and see if it’s something you need for sharing your film photography.
If you’re just tuning in and joining the party, the pixl-latr is a simple tool that solves two main issues when scanning using a digital camera or smartphone camera: keeping the film negative flat and in place and back lighting it uniformly.
The pixl-latr can hold 35mm, 120 (up to 6 x 12), and 5×4 film formats and is comprised of a few parts, as we can see in the photo below. There’s a diffuser with locator pins, a frame, three gates, and a stand. To use and assemble, simply place the negative or transparency on the diffuser, aligning it within the locator pins. The 5×4 negative fits inside the 4 pins, while 35mm and 120 negatives are placed on top of the side locator pins.
The frame has notches and holes to attach to the locator pins and hold the negative in place. With 120 film, the two gates should be slotted on the top and bottom of the frame, and an extra gate at the top for 35mm negatives. This way, the gates cover the edges of the negatives and ensure that only the area of the the negatives will be backlit. The fun part is the way the gates are made, which assures that the sprocket holes of 35mm films are also showing.
See the photos below to see how these components fit together:
Once you’re done with that, you’re ready to “scan” the negatives. Simply put the pixl-latr on a light box or a tablet, or attach the stand and place it against a light source to back light it. Then, take a picture with your digital camera or smartphone camera. Afterwards, use your favorite photo editing software to invert, crop, and tweak the scan into your final digital image.
The concept behind it seems simple, but it was marinating in Hamish’s head for the past 5 – 6 years before he was finally able to make a final prototype. He still has to make a final tweak to the design, as he plans to have the locator pins be made out of rubber instead of metal, so it doesn’t scratch the surface of tablets.
Sounds like a helpful device for you? Check out the already fully-funded (amazingly 250% funded within 24 hours!) campaign to learn more about the project or grab your own pixl-latr at a Kickstarter price of around $42!