Using the Dual MF Film Holderä For Agfa®, Microtek® and Similar
It pays for itself quickly by allowing you to be more efficient with your time and helping to minimize “handling damage” to your film.
The Dual MF Film Holderä has been designed to mimic the performance characteristics of the factory supplied medium format holders. If you have problems concerning color balance, system calibration and other software related issues, please seek help with these issues from the manufacturer of your scanner (Microtek® Support) or your third-party software supplier (e.g. Silverfast or VueScan). The ScanTips.com website is also a great resource to learn basic scanning techniques.
Tip: You will probably find it easier to work with and align your film within the holder if you work on a light table or on a flat surface with a bright white sheet of paper lying underneath the film channels. The resulting higher contrast makes it much easier to align your film within the film channel.
If your film is relatively flat, orient the film as described in your scanner’s manual.
If your film strip has a pronounced arch/curl to it, place the film in the film holder so it arches/curves upward from the base of the holder. You do not want the film’s arch/curl to allow the film to “bow” down. When the film’s arch/curl is oriented correctly, the T-Lock system (see below) will help to minimize arching/curling by pressing it flat. If you flip your film over so that it arches up, you may need to reverse or flip the final image. This is easily accomplished in Photoshop by using the following menu commands: Image > Rotate Canvas > Flip Horizontal.
Place the film within the film holding channel so that it aligns straight over the Dual MF Film Holderä window.
(In this picture, the film has not yet been locked down in place by the T-Lock, so you see a larger than normal gap along the sides due to the film’s “arch”.)
The Dual MF Film Holderä window is slightly wider than the OEM film holder’s scanning aperture and thus will “mask”/frame your film frames differently. This was done purposely to accommodate cameras which produce slightly wider images (which the OEM holder will crop too much). The film channel (recessed area in which the film is placed) is slightly wider than normal by design. This makes it possible to scan out of specification films and images from cameras that do not center the image on the film (quite common). A clean pencil eraser is a handy tool for moving/final adjusting of film strips placed in the holder.
Important Notes on How The T-locks Function
#1 – The T-locks are not designed to fit into the holder very tightly in order to prevent premature wear issues. The T-locks only need a slight tension to stay in place and to push the film down flat. Don’t not mistake a tighter fit for a better fit because a tighter fit can torque the holder.
#2 - With the “dual” type of holders, if you only plan to use one of the two film channels to just scan a single strip or frame of film, you should also insert T-locks into the unused/empty film channel. When T-locks are only inserted in one film channel, the holder can flex to the point T-locks may not fit tightly enough. At a minimum, you should place T-locks at positions approximately one quarter, one half and three quarters of the length down the empty film channel. (See image on the left.)
#3 - Due to the tight design tolerances of the T-Lock, if you don’t have the T-Lock inserted perpendicular to the film channel, it will not hold itself within the film holding channel. If you insert it at an angle, it may not hold well and may cause premature wear of the T-Lock.
Grasp both ends of the T-Lock at the “ears”. Align it so that it is perpendicular to the sides of the Dual MF Film Holder’s film holding channel.
Now, gently insert one side of the T-Lock bottom just barely down into the film holding channel (1 mm or less). Any more than this and you will risk damaging the T-Lock to the point where it will not adequately hold itself in place.
When applying pressure to the T-locks, press on the thicker body of the T-lock as opposed to the thin “ears.” Now apply gentle pressure to the other side of the T-Lock until it pops down into the film holding channel. Continue applying downward pressure evenly on the T-Lock to firmly seat it into the film channel. While you don’t want to over exert pressure on the T-Lock, you must push it in down far enough so that it holds the film strip in place and keeps it from shifting.
Always double-check to be sure that you have fully inserted each T-lock down into the film channel. A small gap between the ears and the top surface of the holder is normal BUT you must make sure the T-lock is fully inserted down into the holder (i.e. lightly pressing the film down against the film channel). Failure to do so means the ears could stick up too high. This could result in damage to your scanner because the scanning head assembly could hit the incorrectly inserted T-lock.
Common sense dictates that, to avoid damaging your film, it is imperative you let the T-Lock come into contact with the film only in the frame gaps between the images as shown in the picture. Once the T-Lock is secured into the holder, DO NOT try to move it or your film while the T-Lock is secured in the holder. If an adjustment is needed, pull the T-Lock out and then reposition items into the desired location before reinserting the T-Lock.
One of the main advantages of the T-Lock system is its infinite adjustability. If you plan to scan only one or two frames, you can “mask off” just the frames you wish to scan. By placing the T-Lock right up against/next to the frames to be scanned, you maximize the T-Lock’s film-flattening abilities. Lock down one end of the single frame with a T-lock across the top end of the film channel (where it can lock and fully grip/compress the film against the lower part of the film channel all the way across).
If you plan to scan a longer strip consisting of multiple frames, there are a few T-lock placement strategies that can be used. If you are using three T-locks, one technique is to FIRST insert one T-Lock close to the middle of the strip at/over one of the film strip’s frame gaps. Then insert the second T-Lock at the top end of the film strip and the third T-Lock at the other end of the film strip (see picture at left). If you are using four T-locks, the strategy is pretty much the same where you first insert toward the middle and then work your way outward. By inserting the middle T-Lock(s) first, you minimize the chance of a wave or hump forming in the middle of your film strip.
An alternative technique is to place the film in the film channel, lock down one end of the film strip with a T-lock across the top end of the film channel (where it can lock and fully grip/compress the film against the lower part of the film channel all the way across the opening instead of at just one point on/along each side of the film channel), create a slight tension at the other free end of the film by pulling on it the end of the strip, and then press in the second T-lock at this other end. Finally, insert the other T-Lock(s) in film frame gaps in the middle of the strip. This technique really helps to keep the film as flat as possible during the heat buildup of scanning. If you plan to scan a longer strip consisting of one frame (e.g. 6x12 or 6x17), I recommend this tension technique.
Due to the thinner “ears” on Dual MF Film Holderä T-locks but thicker overall body, it is best to remove a T-lock by grasping the T-lock toward the middle with both hands and gently pull upward. If there is an occasion you need a little extra leverage, you can grasp the T-Lock in the middle with one hand while inserting a fingernail under the end of the T-Lock and gently pull up.
Once the film is positioned in the holder, do not let the holder drop or slap onto your work surface. If you do, an air cushion created by dropping/slapping the holder can possibly reposition your film and/or cause waves in the film. Always place the holder gently down on any surface.
The Dual MF Film Holderä was designed to closely mimic the suspension height of the OEM holders. With the factory supplied OEM holder or the Dual MF Holder, you may find that a slight adjustment of the suspension height can provide a more optimal scan (this will not be necessary with every scanner). If you wish to experiment and test this, four adjustable set screws have been incorporated into the holder. Please visit the following page for detailed instructions on this feature:
Caution: If you shim more than 1 mm in height, you must carefully recheck to make sure the holder (with T-locks inserted!!!) still clears the internal carriage that moves during scanning.
Storing Your Holder – Very Important
Please follow common sense in caring for your holder and…
DO store your holder at room temperature away from direct sunlight and store in an environment where the holder will not be exposed to large changes in temperature.
Do NOT leave T-locks inserted in the holder when the holder is not in use.
Do NOT store your holder in its scanner drawer. It is very important to store your holder on a flat surface. Consider turning the holder upside down and placing it on the scanner’s glass bed (used for transparency/reflective scanning) and lower the scanner’s lid so it provides gentle and even weight on the holder during storage. If you have another surface that you know is flat, you could also place the holder on that with a wide book on top that weighs a few pounds.
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