Lomography improves iOS app for Smartphone Film Scanner, now faster and streamlined

lomography film scanner hands on smartphone

Update on April 28, 2014: Lomography announced that a new app is now available for the Film Scanner. The LomoScanner 2 offers “faster and more streamlined scanning experience,” the company says. The features include: a cleaner interface; manual controls to adjust picture quality; faster, easier panorama stitching; animation creation (LomoKino); sharing via social media; and adding filters. When we last reviewed the scanner, we thought the app needed more development. Lomography says the updated app was created in response to user feedback. It’s available right now, but only for iOS 7; an Android version is in the works. Read our review below.

Archiving is a big trend. Twitter is still trying to send out archives to all the users who requested them, the Library of Congress is doing the same, and gadgets like the Memoto life logging camera want to ensure you never lose a bit of the past. Now that nearly everything’s going digital, it only makes sense that your own film photos get the Web archive treatment, too. Lomography, the analog-based photography company, has just recently kickstarted its first foray into digital with the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner. We goes hands on to show how you can transfer all your film photography straight to your mobile device.

Look and feel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut of the box, the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner is barebones and simple. It’s essentially layers of plastic rectangles stacked on top of each other with a battery-operated light underneath. The top piece is where you’d rest your smartphone; this area is adjustable to fit various smartphones, from Androids to iPhones, regardless of whether the phone’s camera is centered or off-centered in an upper corner. You can also press the clamp wing button to widen or tighten the cushioned fit so your phone doesn’t fly off from the stand. This also means you can use your phone without taking it out of the a case, if you use one.

The plastic stacks can be removed or added for the best distance your smartphone’s camera views the film. We tested the Lomography scanner with an iPhone 4S and a Samsung Galaxy S2 and only needed two stacks for the best focus. The neat thing about this scanner is its size; since the parts easily disassemble, you can take it around on trips without needing wires or a computer to scan freshly developed film.

How to scan

Lomography film scannerThe first thing you need to do is make sure the scanner has two AA batteries put in (batteries not included in the set). Turn the power on and begin feeding your 35mm film through the bottom slot and turn the wheel rightward. Mount your smartphone on top with the camera facing inside the scanner until you get the most optimal view of the film. If done correctly, you should see the negative of your shot illuminated on your phone’s camera preview. Snap the pic and move on to the next shot.

Once you have captured every photo you want archived, roll the film all the way to the right, and pull the strip out from the base. It’s important to note that you might find yourself taking the scanner apart to push the film through if the film is not perfectly flat, so be careful not to smudge your fingers on the negatives.

The editing begins

lomography film scanner with iphone 4s

The process of scanning is as easy as taking photos from negatives below – but here comes the hard part. Unless you have dedicated software to invert the negatives, you’re in for a long editing job. Lomography has its own proprietary scanning app, but it’s still in beta and only available on iOS, thus still needing a lot of development.

The company does recommend several photo editing apps to help you invert and color correct, but options are still limited for Android users. If you want to edit on Photoshop, then you’d have to e-mail yourself the photos, crop, and color correct each picture individually. That’s a long time for something I could scan on a regular flatbed, e-mail myself, and put through Instagram for similar effects. At one point, I got fed up and just turned the whole thing black-and-white because I couldn’t get the blue cast from the negative inversion to go away.

Even after the process, the colors still do not look as accurate as ones from the photo lab. That’s because it’s not supposed to; after all, this is a Lomography product and if you’re expecting to get professional scans without the aged look, you’re looking at the wrong tool. For further illustration, check out the photos below scanned by a professional lab versus the Lomography scanner.

Professional Lab:

Professionally scanned photo

Lomography Scanner, pre-edit:

Lomography Scanner edited photo

Lomography scanner, post-edit:

Lomography edited scanned photo

Should you buy it?

The Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner is definitely a novelty device meant for someone who enjoys the look and charm of lower quality film photography. If you’re a fan of slightly blurred images, light leaks, and minor discoloration, this is the film scanner to help you achieve those desired effects without the help of Instagram. If you are a cataloger who wants to digitize the stacks of film you have sitting in the closet, however, this will not help you. No matter how hard you edit, the colors and quality will never look as vivid, accurate, or sharp as ones scanned by a higher-end product or at professional labs.

Still, at $60 a piece, the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner is a fun toy for those who have the patience. It’s simple, easy to use, and allows you to add a vintage effect to something we already consider to be vintage. The scanner also works with Lomokino 35mm film and slides, and comes with an attachment just for Lomokino films. Don’t forget the added benefit of having your film photos scanned straight onto your smartphone. This makes it easy to share them via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even Instagram if you still want another layer of color readjustment.

The Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner is available today in stores and online.

(This article was originally written by Natt Garun, published on April 17, 2013.)

Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.