Well it’s another day and another Kickstarter project hits the store shelves, funded by enthusiasts and built by visionaries. Or something like that. This concept promises to take the 35mm film scanning world by storm, providing a cheap, easy to use tool which will interface nicely with any smartphone and give great results. Have they succeeded?
The Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner raised a whopping $268,702 or 500% over its target back in the beginning of February. The concept was simple, to produce a 35mm film stock scanner which anyone could use to transfer old photos onto their phone. Well we’ve got our hands on one of the first units out on the shelves, and at first glance they’ve actually done what they set out to do, and with an admirably effective and simple product.
The unit comes packaged in a beautifully designed box, along with a well produced, if brief, user’s manual in multiple languages. To get going simply assemble a couple of panels according to your smartphone camera preferences, insert two AA batteries, place your phone in the clamp and switch on. Shove your 35mm film into the slot, turn a knob, snap a photo with the phone and job done. Yeah, that simple.
There are no complicated moving parts, the only thing doing the work are your fingers turning the knob to advance the film strip, and the batteries are used just for illumination. The product has been tested to work with a whole bunch of smartphones (yes, chances are yours is on the list – PDF) and the whole thing is so simple and yet well thought out that it’s hard to find fault. Check out my video run through to get an idea of how easy this is to use.
However one thing we come back to, which seems to be some sort of trend with Kickstarter, is the fact that once again the product has been shipped to customers in an incomplete state. There is supposed to be a companion phone app for iPhone and Android which will make it super easy to invert your negatives once they’re scanned, so you can distribute or print them. The app is however not ready, and so buyers will either have to wait, or get hold of another software program to do the conversion job.
It’s not a deal killer, but it’s unfortunate. Is it really worth risking the user experience for a week or so (assuming that’s how far away the app is from release)? Anyway, if you can’t wait and need to get going now, you can do the job using the free open source Gimp program and selecting Colors – Invert. You will need to play around with the image adjustment settings to get the result you need.
In conclusion we have to say that this is a winner product. It works out of the box, is very easy to use, is nicely light and portable and surprisingly fast in operation. Best of all it’s on the market at the sort of price which won’t break the bank, which makes it a great choice for scanning all those old shots lingering in the attic.
Price: $90.79 / £59.99.