Using a Light Box with a Scanner

A light box is a useful way to scan negatives and other transparencies into your computer using a regular scanner. A light box is included with some higher end models of scanner, although it's fairly easy to make your own if you prefer. Making a scanner light box simply requires a small box and a few light bulbs.

The light box will simply be used as an extra source of lighting to back light the negatives so that they can be scanned in. This is actually a very effective way of scanning negatives into your computer, which can then be edited as needed. Although this method works, it is time consuming for large quantities of negatives. If you have a lot of negatives you want to scan into your computer, then it will be easier to use a dedicated negative scanner.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Scanner
  • Light Box 
  • Negative

Step 1: Preparation

Before you can scan negatives into your computer, you will need to do some preparation. First, plug the scanner into your computer and install the drivers if it's the first time you're using the scanner. Then, plug your light box into the electricity and ensure that it's working correctly.

Step 2: Negative

Place the negative or other transparency onto the glass of your scanner and ensure that it's within the scanable region for your scanner. This will make sure that the negative will be scanned completely into your computer.

Step 3: Lighting the Negative

Because a negative is transparent, it cannot be scanned without an additional light source. This will be your light box. Place the light box on top of the negative and line it up so that it is positioned over the part of the negative that you want to scan into your computer.

Check that the light box is still turned on and that it's providing enough light to the negative so that it will be able to be scanned into your computer properly.

Step 4: Scanning the Negative

Now you've finished preparing your negative or slide, it's time to scan it. The scanning process won't be any different, and this should make it very simple to use. Open up your favorite image editing application and click File, Acquire, From Scanner. This will cause your scanners utility to fire up, which can then be used to scan in the negative.

Click the button to start the scan and your scanner should start slowly scanning over the entire image. If you are doing a fast pre-scan first, then you will be able to select the individual section you want to scan by dragging a box around it and clicking Scan again.

Once the negative has scanned in, it will automatically be loaded into your image editing application. It's a good idea to save the negative before doing any work on it just in case your computer decides to stop working for any reason.

Step 5: Restoring Colors

Negatives are taken using negative colors and so you will need to restore the colors to get a good result. Almost all image editors include a negative color option, which will convert a negative image into normal colors. Select this option and save your image again.

Now you're ready to start editing your photo and changing whatever you want to in order to make your photos look better.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: