Lomography DigitaLIZA Makes Film Scanning Easy

And fun!

  • The DigitaLIZA is a backlit film holder and a smartphone stand to make scanning films to digital dead simple.
  • This is one of the cheapest ways to scan negatives with your phone.
  • If you have a good local photo lab, though, you should just use that.
Lomography DigitaLIZA film scanner on a white background

Lomography

Lomography's DigitaLIZA lets you shoot on film and scan the negatives into your phone.

Snapping film photos is easy, and you can even develop the film in the kitchen. But making prints? Forget that. You need a darkroom, or at least a dark closet, and it's a real investment in time and gear. You're better off buying a dedicated film scanner or, as we'll see today, scanning the negatives with your smartphone. 

"The brand new Lomography DigitaLIZA+ and DigitaLIZA Max are new, all-in-one film scanning kits," Lomography's Birgit Buchart told Lifewire via email. "[They're] suitable for both beginners and advanced photographers, for scans at home [and] on the go."

Scanner

For the best results when scanning film, you should use a dedicated film scanner. However, these are expensive, quite slow, and bulky. Still, they give amazing results and are the way to go if you want to squeeze every last detail out of your film negatives or slides. 

But if you're in the film game for fun, the great colors, the enjoyable retro cameras, and all you want is to get a decent digital version of those photos, then you can just "scan" the negatives with a camera. 

The brand new Lomography DigitaLIZA+ and DigitaLIZA Max are new, all-in-one film scanning kits.

And still, there's a hierarchy. A DSLR or mirrorless camera will give you the best results, thanks to its big sensors and high-quality lenses. But again, those are expensive and bulky, plus you need a way to light the film, then hold the camera steady and completely parallel to the film.

Finally, we get to the most convenient, and also the worst, option: your phone camera. However, "worst" doesn't necessarily mean bad. After all, if you were after the "best," quality-wise, maybe you wouldn't be shooting film, to begin with. 

DigitaLIZA

Lomography’s DigitaLIZA is actually two kits. One, the DigitaLIZA, works with your digital camera and requires you bring your own tripod. The other, the DigitaLIZA+, works with a camera or a smartphone, and includes a smartphone stand.

The DigitaLIZA+ film scanner with a smartphone stand

Lomography

Both units use a baseplate to keep the film flat and a light panel for even illumination and a good scan. One nice touch is you can spool the film onto a real, then quickly twist a knob to advance it through the holder, making for short work of the scanning.

The kit includes frames for all kinds of film formats, including 35mm, 120, and even 127.

Alternatives

The downside with smartphone scanning, as mentioned above, is that the quality is limited by your camera. However, lighting the film evenly, and holding the phone in the right spot above it, eliminates the biggest issues of phone scanning.

I’ve made quick and dirty scans of my negatives before, using just a phone, with an iPad and some tracing paper as a backlight. The results were, shall we say, acceptable. Note for those going the DIY route: the tracing paper, or similar diffuser, is necessary, so you don’t photograph the pattern of the iPad screens pixels. 

In the end, it's all down to time and money. If you find a good lab and don't care about the cost, then you should just let them develop and scan the films for you, like we used to do in the days before digital. You'll get excellent scans from their pro-level scanners with zero effort. 

At the other end, you can develop B&W images in your own kitchen and scan them with a 35mm film scanner, which you can pick up for several hundred dollars. In the end, this is probably the cheapest option, but it is also by far the most time-consuming. Ask yourself if you can really commit to this busywork before you dive in. 

"The only other 35mm holder I know with a quick advance knob is the negative supply holder, which costs hundreds [of dollars]," says photographer Jonby on the DPReview forum. "A kit containing this, plus [a] 120 holder and light source for $75 looks like good value, but of course, it depends on whether it is fit for purpose."

The DigitaLIZA is a good compromise between cost and quality, and it's certainly fun. And after all, isn't fun the whole reason you got into film photography in the first place?

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