So you’ve got yourself a new BBF, or you’ve loaded 35mm into your Medium Format Toy Camera after I showed you how (or not, *heh*) or you may have bought a 35mm back for your Diana + camera or for your Holga. You have finished your first roll of film that you opted (in the case of BBF or dedicated 35mm back) to use in a way that will expose the image over the sprockets, and of course now you would like to see those cool sprocket holes in your resultant photos! – But SHOCK, Horror, Much Gnashing of Teeth! To your dismay the prints you pick up from the lab don’t show your sexy sprockets! Unfortunately most labs just aren’t geared up for those kind of exposures, they have set frame sizes for their prints and their machines won’t recognise non-standard frame sizes (the definition of which includes the full negative width ‘sprocket look’). They could probably find a work around to do it, but it would take time and effort, which of course equates to money in business. I get my film developed only (no prints) which is less expensive than develop and print. I just scan all my negatives these days, printing those I like. I take so many non-standard photographic shots such as panoramic, or exposures all the way to the film edge (sprockets) or square format (which isn’t really that non standard but try telling any modern lab that!) it is far easier for me to do this than put up with prints that don’t really reflect what I shot in the first place! So, you will need to scan your own negatives in, on a scanner capable of taking negatives. Remember, to get the sprockets in your scan, you will need a scanner that scans outside of the usual 35mm margins, which usually means one that can scan medium format film. There are many different scanners that will scan medium format negatives. Notably Canon & Epson make good models like the Canon 8800f, the Epson v500, v700 or if you look at the second hand market there are superseded models that will scan negatives well for a cheaper price.but it doesn’t stop there!
It can be a tricky thing scanning in the sprocket holes. Most scanners I know of have a special mask, or cartridge like thang that you have to place your cut negatives in. Most likely these were not designed for the cool sprocket effects you can get with the bbf, so these masks often will cover the sprockets area.
One user has modified his 35mm negative mask (on his Canoscan 8400F – same as mine) as seen here to enable it to scan in the sprockets, but I didn’t want to physically modify my mask, so used the 120 mask and placed the negatives in that, stopping the negative from touching the flatbed by using rubber bands across the body of the mask to hold the negative above the surface of the glass. Or if you like you can get out the hobby knife and stiff cardboard and fashion your own mask like this one I made (as illustrated) …
But wait! There’s even more!! It still doesn’t end there!
If you select the whole area of the negative including the sprockets to scan, those extra black areas can drive the scanners ‘auto’ settings a bit crazy! I know they do with mine…
I have a Canoscan 8400F and I have to ‘trick’ it into not auto-adjusting the levels to some weird blue cast by (in preview mode) selecting an area on my negative just inside the sprocket holes (see example image). Once that is done I use the ‘set’ option on the Canoscan 8400f to set tonal values for the selected area, the tones will stay the same when you re-size the selection area…. then you can readjust your selection margins for scanning to include the sprocket holes and scan. These particular options when using the Canoscan software are only available in the advanced mode of the scanner. I hope (if you have a scanner other than the Canon model referred to here) these options translate to whatever scanner/software combination you are using.
Note – You have to ‘set’ again after any ‘reset’ however, as the scanner will reset anytime you move your selection boundaries unless you specifically set it. Does that make sense?
**UPDATE! Finally (and with the help of the new Quicktime X screen recording capabilities) I have made a video tutorial on using the scanner interface to scan in your sprockets (and also avoid that weird blueness that can afflict your scanned negatives)