Thursday, 11 April 2013

Scanning Minox Transparencies

For a short time in the 1960s my wife had a Minox A (AIIIs) camera with separate meter. As well as monochrome films, she tried some Agfacolor CT18 reversal film. The results from the first two films were originally mounted in Minox's own slide mounts. They were then shown, using a home-made adapter, in a projector made by one of the other manufacturer's of sub-miniature cameras, possibly Minolta. Then I made an adapter to hold the small mounts in a conventional 2 x 2 projector. The results were not good in that they would take little enlargement — an 8 x 11 mm film size with 'grainy' film was not a recipe for high definition.

When it came to scanning the slides, I realised they would not fit into my Nikon film scanner. So I bought some Gepe 2 x 2 slides with Minox masks in order to scan them in those. A few transparencies were destroyed in the process. They had become stuck to the glass of the mounts and the emulsion was left behind; a few others were damaged. However, 59 survived the move and were scanned. The results, as expected were not wonderful but at least we had a record. I have written in previous posts of the 'grain' and 'dye clouds' of CT18. On an 8 x 11 slide the grain really shows.

More recently, I have tried removing a few of the transparencies from the Gepe mounts and scanning them in the Epson V500, using a variety of masks to prevent newton rings. I did so in order to see if I could get better scans without interference from the glass of the mounts. In short, it made little difference and I stuck with the original scans.

We also had a film that had not been cut and mounted. It was in the three lengths that came back from Agfa. These I held in the film-strip scanning device for the Nikon, scanning each shot in turn and moving the strip occasionally to avoid the horizontal bars that marked the edge of a 24 x 36 mm frame.
However, the curl on the film from top to bottom (like a steel tape measure) was fairly marked. Again more recently, I have rescanned these lengths in the V500. Newton rings proved to be a problem because no matter how I tried to mask and anchor the strip, the non-emulsion side often touched the glass of the scanner. Eventually, I did get a scan of all 34 shots on the film without newton rings and a little better than my original efforts.

Neat Image again proved useful in removing some of the graininess but one film in particular was markedly worse than the others, again raising the question of whether Agfa had real problems with quality control at the film making or processing stages. The colour though has survived very well from 1966.

Here is a scanned Minox slide:

Dissatisfaction with the Minox (a good-size enlargement was only 5 x 7 cm) led to its postage back to UK and its theft (most likely at Heathrow airport) in transit.

At least I could say out loud (as I say silently to myself): 'if only you had stuck to 35 mm and Kodachrome, I would not have had all this trouble in scanning YOUR slides'. I should have known better. The riposte was instant: 'Well, YOU persuaded me to buy that Minox and it did fit in my handbag'.

All our slides (and negatives are scanned). I only hope that the occasional requests from friends and relations to scan transparencies are for 35 mm Kodachromes.