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1 / Camera settings

Format: RAW

ISO: minimal native setting (100-200)

Aperture: f8-f11

Exposure compensation: 0

Self timer: 2-5 sec

In-camera stabilization: off

2 / Focusing

Use auto-focus at each frame if your lens has internal auto-focus (the front element doesn’t move). If your lens extends when focusing, the camera's weight can make auto-focusing problematic. Use manual focusing in this case. It is enough to focus once and lock the focus ring when scanning other frames. You can lock the focus by switching to autofocus mode (activate the back button focusing) or with a piece of tape 😉. Activate focus peaking for quick and easy focusing. 

3 / Lens doesn't focus

You position your camera close to the film in order to fill the entire image with a film frame, but the lens can’t focus? When you back up the camera to allow the lens to focus, the film frame appears small in the image and needs heavy cropping? 

This happens when your lens is not capable of providing sufficient magnification. Note, that BlackBox has no effect on the magnification of your lens, it is an intrinsic characteristic of your camera+lens combination. In such a case, you can use macro-rings to increase the effective magnification provided by the lens. However, I highly recommend using a dedicated 1:1 macro lens for the best results. 

3 / Which light power to use (for BlackBox 135)

Use lower light power for long scanning sessions to minimize the heating of the mask and film. Use high light power if you have motion blur or suspect your table to shake during scanning for any reason. But if you use a 2-5 sec self-timer or remote release to avoid shake, the exposure time will not affect the quality of your scans. 

Note, light power adjustment is available only on BlackBox 135.


The lens is the main component of the film scanning setup. While BlackBox solves several convenience issues (protections from ambient light, homogeneous illumination, alignment, leveling), the quality of your scans primarily depends on the lens. I recommend using a dedicated macro lens with 1:1 magnification. Below are the parameters to consider when choosing a lens for BlackBox in order of significance:

  1. The lens should provide 1:1 magnification. With lower magnification, you will have to crop your images and will lose a lot of resolution. 

  2. BlackBox can hold your lens at a maximal working distance (= distance between the front of the lens and the film) of 350mm for BlackBox120 or 270mm for BlackBox135. This distance is usually plenty for lenses with focal lengths between 50mm and 110mm

  3. It is more convenient, not necessary though, if the lens has an internal focusing mechanism - the front element doesn't move during focusing. 

  4. The filter thread diameter is 67mm, 62mm, 58mm, 55mm, 52mm, 49mm, or 37mm. If not, simply buy any step-up or step-down filter rind to adapt to any of these diameters. 


I found the camera to have less influence on the quality of the scans compared to a lens. The optimal resolution for scanning depends on the grain size of your film. As a rule of thumb, the optimal resolution range for BlackBox135 is about 12 - 24MPx, and for BlackBox120 optimal resolution range is 24-36MPx.

Lower-resolution scans will not capture all details preserved on film, while higher-resolution scans could intensify grain in high-ISO film. 


Manual for BlackBox 120 - system for scanning medium format film.

Manual for BlackBox 135 - system for scanning 35mm film.

Nate from NLP has a wonderful guide for film scanning. The guide is fully applicable for scanning with BlackBox systems with the note that the mentioned issues related to camera alignment, ambient light, light reflections are solved by the design of BlackBox. 

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