I remember one of the main pain points I observed with the Negative Supply 4×5 Light Source Basic unit from a couple of years ago. The strength of the light source often seemed less than I would have preferred. Being a nondimmable source, there wasn’t much I could do about this. I often found myself having to increase the ISO to a high value to get a well-exposed shot of negatives. I also had to keep using a shutter release cable because using the shutter button with slow shutter speeds would introduce camera shake. Alleviating a lot of those issues with their new release is the Negative Supply Light Source Mini 97 CRI.
Table of Contents
Improved Light Quality
Right out of the box, you notice many subtle yet handy features in Negative Supply Light Source Mini 97 CRI, at least when compared to their 4×5 Light Source Basic MK1 unit (which we tested a couple of years ago). Named for the 97 CRI bulbs used for even illumination, it’s four stops brighter. You’ll notice the finishing quality to be even more refined than the exceptional quality we’re used to from Negative Supply. The sides sport a ribbed design for you to hold and move the unit around more safely. And most importantly, the power cable doesn’t keep popping out like the one on my 4×5 Light Source. Overall, this isn’t just a brighter unit; it’s also designed much better for you.
What To Know About The Light Source Mini 97 CRI
- 4 stops brighter than 4×5 Light Source Basic. Equal in brightness to the 5×7 Light Source Pro
- 18,000+ LUX with 97 CRI light rating for high color accuracy
- Suitable for scanning all formats up to 6×9 120 film
- Improved finishing quality
- Excellent light uniformity across the surface
- Compatible with all existing Negative Supply accessories for 4×5 Light Source Basic
- The power cord definitely stays better connected in this model
Easy To Use
We paired the Light Source Mini 97 CRI with their Pro Film Carrier 35 (a glorious accessory) for scanning our 35mm film. Negative Supply also sent over their Pro Film Carrier 35 Adapter Plate for this review. The Basic Riser MK1 was used to support our cameras for the scan process. For scanning 120 film negatives, we used the excellent Negative Supply Basic Film Carrier 120.
Much like with their other equipment, the process of film scanning is quite straightforward once you’ve set everything up. Except with the Light Source Mini 97 CRI, you now don’t have to worry about having to bump up your ISO too high. Nor do you have to deal with shutter release cables when using low shutter speeds. Because the extra 4 steps of brightness really (literally) shines here.
Take a look at both the images below to see how much better the brightness is in this new model. The first one was shot using the 4×5 Light Source Basic, while the second was with the Light Source Mini 97 CRI. Both photographs were taken at ISO 400, f7.1 and 1/640s shutter speed. The difference in brightness is almost night and day.
As always, ensure your negatives are clean and lint-free. Don’t forget to wear darkroom gloves if you can, and choose a narrow enough aperture so that your scans are sharp from edge to edge. You’ll probably have to mount the camera to the stand as the last step in the process. This is because you’ll have to adjust the height of the camera and lens to the appropriate focal distance once you’ve loaded the negatives in the carrier. But the good thing is that since this unit has much more brightness, you can get away with not having to use a shutter release cable. Set your camera to its native ISO, set a fairly narrow aperture for good sharpness, and start your scans.
Much thanks to my friend Don Surrendra who graciously lent me his time and negatives for this review
One thing I really hope to see from Negative Supply is a dimmable light source. This would really help with micro-adjusting the exposure a lot faster for scans. But for now, starting at USD 149, the Negative Supply CR 97 Mini is definitely worth the investment for any serious film photographer. Pair it with their Basic Scanning Kit and your choice of their many film carriers.