Finally, a Good Automatic Scanner for 35mm Film at Home

For those shooting and scanning 35mm, scanning can be slow and painful. That is, until now. 

In this video, Mat Marrash does a review of the Cameradactyl Mongoose prototype soon to be available to the public. The Mongoose is an automatic film scanner for specifically made for 35mm film. If you're a film photographer who scans a lot of your own film, this scanner could shave off a lot of your time. If you run a small lab, this scanner can be a huge time-saver. 

As someone who shoots a lot of film, 35mm to 120 to 4x5, I spend far more time next to my scanner than I'd like. For 35mm in particular, the process is entirely too slow for what feels like a minimal payoff given the small negative. Further, I typically have multiple rolls to scan at once, which depending on the number, can take hours to scan. The one thing that will hold me back on buying one of these is the inability to utilize ICE, as my Epson V600 can, and the fact that it only does 35mm. Should they ever make the hardware for also scanning 120, I could definitely see myself picking up the Mongoose. Who knows, with as much black and white as I shoot (you cannot utilize dust removal on black and white film), maybe I'll look into one anyhow. 

Do you scan your film at home? How much time do you think you'd save with an automatic film scanner?

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20 Comments

Fristen Lasten's picture

The guy in the video seems to have the scanner part flipped from what is shown on the kickstarter website.

Rashad Hurani's picture

Who invented this kickstarter's thingy?! so many disillusioned people

David Moore's picture

That seems insanely priced for what it is.

Rappaport Arts's picture

Stop calling these things scanners. They ... are ... not ... scanners. Would you call a scanner a camera? Of course not. So why is it OK the other way around? Would you call a fan an air conditioner? Words ... have ... meanings. Seriously, this can be considered as advertisement fraud — you advertise it as a scanner when it is not. It's a fraud.

Fristen Lasten's picture

Ran out of meds today, eh?

JL Williams's picture

I already have a fairly optimized 35mm digitizing workflow, based on a repurposed Beseler Negatrans film holder, so having a motorized device to advance between frames wouldn't save me much time. But it could save tedium... IF I could trust it to operate unattended.

JL Williams's picture

For the record: the “reviewer” acknowledges he is a friend of the inventor, he admits he doesn't shoot a lot of 35mm, and he was using the Moongoose upside-down while evaluating it! So, not exactly an expert, unbiased overview...

Ben Coyte's picture

I wonder how it handles film that is already cut into strips of 5 or 6 shots that have no lead or run off.

A Hef's picture

I use a Plutek scanner for 35mm, slides and negs. It may take an hour to do two scans. All the corrections are made in the software before the scanner does the final scan, and it isn't one stop shopping. Each image requires individual settings. I guess if you want good results, you have to spend the time.

Mr Blah's picture

700$???? That guy is off his rockers. The idea is worth it, but the execution is flawed. The boxes really should be only 1 (why in 2 boxes????) the screen should be better for that price, the finish is a joke (or is this a prototype?) and it's not automatic if you need to set the delays and other timing references in order for it to work...

I'll take the manual version where the knob is hand activated and pocket the 600$ difference, thanks.

Adriano Brigante's picture

Yep, this thing is not worth three Epson V600 scanners.

Andy Stone's picture

I've taken the film holder from a 1960's filmstrip projector, replaced the rear glass with opaque white perspex and removed the projector lens. My DSLR is mounted in front with 100mm macro lens.
With the projector lamp on and moving the film manually, I am taking about 1 frame every 10- seconds.
Batch import the RAW files with a preset in Lightroom before some individual tweaks and job done. Far greater than my old scanner, higher resolution, and more than good enough for my needs. Even better, it has cost nothing :)

David Harrison's picture

Finally? This has been possible for quite a while now.

I'm still using my Nikon CoolScan 5000 that I bought back in 2005. With one small hack to the SA-21 filmstrip adapter, it will automatically scan full rolls of 35mm with one button press.

The SF-200 slide magazine is also great, it can scan 2 boxes of slides at a time while I'm doing more productive work (or just watching a movie).

C D's picture

$500 for what is basically a film holder that doesn’t do any scanning whatsoever? It’s labelled as a scanner but then you realise you need, a camera, a macro lens, a light box and copy stand/tripod. I can’t believe people are actually funding this

RT Simon's picture

ICE does not work with silver halide film.
I have nearly finished one collection of about 14,000 B&W negative scans using a Sony mirrorless camera and homemade carriers held together with earth magnets. This device is very clever. I want one. It probably takes more time handling each cut film strip. The main issue remains retouching. Sometimes a film is almost spotless, while other films may look like they were dragged through hell. My best tip is using the latest version of Capture One 20 which has a brilliant spotting tool. It is accurate and faster to clean out all those annoying white dots and pieces of dust that are sitting on your ARW files. RAW files cannot be retouched, so these corrections are done on a separate healing layer. I found it really annoying having these large Capture One archives with many of the images covered with these defects. A quick treatment of each negative in Capture One makes the appearance of the overall archive look much more acceptable, for I do not have the time to create 14,000 Tiff files and retouch them in Photoshop. This was a welcome improvement in C1.

stefano giovannini's picture

I did this with a macro lens, sony mirroless camera, enlarger negative holder and a led panel. It worked for black and white. But i could not get proper colors when reproducing color negs. I would invert curve but colors were off. How to deal with orange mask?

RT Simon's picture

Yes, this is difficult, as that orange cast is a different colour on every film base. No one corrective formula will work. This is why I still use my Nikon film scanner for colour negative film, as it also allows me to use digital ice. Now I have gotten some good colour results in capture one, but it takes time. Essentially what one needs to do is subtract the orange base colour before neutralizing. When I used to colour print in a dark room many years ago, flesh tones were always the most difficult to achieve in a good print. But for all other scenes, the basic rule was to print for the neutral areas in a shot, and let all the other colours fall where they may.