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Helmut – turn your phone into a cool instant film scanner [Freeware]

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There are many ways to scan old slides and film stock to convert to digital, but most of these involve some sort of expensive or cumbersome equipment. The dedicated scanners are great for doing the job, but they cost a fair bit, which can be a problem if you just want to do a conversion of a few precious memories.

We recently reviewed the Lomography Film Scanner, and a reader pointed out that there’s actually another option which you can use with your smartphone to give a more reliable result. Helmut is a free Android app which makes it trivially easy to use your phone’s camera to scan and digitize your old negatives quickly.

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You use the app to capture the negative (or positive) with the phone’s camera, in much the same way as a conventional scanner does. But once you’ve done the capture, you get a whole bunch of editing tools which you can use to improve the result considerably. Light levels, color balance, sharpness and rotation are all on offer and you can instantly share the results via Dropbox, Facebook and other services.

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The one thing missing of course is a good light source, so the program developers offer some suggestions as to ways to backlight your negatives for optimum capture (assuming you don’t have something like the Lomography product to hand). We particularly liked the suggestion to use your laptop or tablet computer with an open blank white text editor page and your brightness turned up full. Very guerilla, and a great little app too.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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