FilmLab makes it easy to view and digitize film negatives. All you need is your iPhone or iPad, and a light table or other back light. Whether you're an active film photographer who wants to share your latest roll of film on social media, or a family archivist with a box of old negatives to look through, I hope FilmLab will make your workflow easier and more fun.
FilmLab's camera makes it easy to inspect negatives, with a live preview showing what they'll look like as positives. If you want to save or share an image, tap the capture button. FilmLab uses custom image processing to seamless combine multiple photos from your device's camera for maximum detail.
After capture, you can keep an entire proof sheet, or crop down to a single frame. FilmLab includes modes for color negative, black and white negative, and color positive. It also provides tools for rotating and flipping the image, and adjusting exposure and color balance. FilmLab's negative-to-positive conversion is much more than a simple inversion. It uses custom algorithms to emulate the chemical processes used in darkrooms, and produce accurate colors and tones.
Once you're happy with your proof sheet or image, you can save it to you Camera Roll, or share it using AirDrop, Messages, or social media apps.
Each film image is unique and special. That piece of film was in a specific place at a specific moment in time, and it captured the light as a permanent image using nothing but science and chemistry. Viewing these images always fills me with wonder and puts a smile on my face. I hope FilmLab gives you the same kind of feelings. Thanks for taking the time to check it out!
FilmLab 1.2.1 fixes a bug where exposure would be wrong when using certain iPhone models with bright light tables.
Ratings and Reviews
I hesitated at first with some of the negative responses. I got it and immediately loved it. I am an amateur photographer from the 60’s with hundreds of pounds of negatives that mostly were only contact printed for review, with many more that I never found the time to print. Now I can without setting up a lab. I use my iPad as a light box, with a common sheet protector over it to diffuse the pixels; you know what a sheet protector is; a common article in any office, fits in a 3 ring binder, protects paper from finger dirt. Works perfect. Don’t expect lab quality, but you will be happy when you resurrect a forgotten negative into an enjoyable picture. I’m getting my old enlarger from the attic to project negative images to a screen, to see just how far this app will go.
Wishing for more
I don’t know why, but I assumed this app had a light table functionally when used with an iPad. I was disappointed when I needed to find another method to turn an iPad into a light table.
At first, it’s magical. Seeing your negatives become positives by hovering your phone over them is pretty exciting, but it soon gets frustrating.
First, I really wish you could take multiple pictures of the negatives and the edit them later. This is my biggest complaint. Holding a negative flat on a light table with one hand and then positioning the phone AND tapping the shutter button with the other is tedious and cumbersome. Having to crop, edit, and save the image before moving to the next image slows down the process.
Second, the actual capturing of the image seems hit or miss. Sometimes the image seems over exposed or underexposed depending how you hold the phone. I also it sometimes have difficulty being able to capture an image and I’m stuck at the “hold still capturing image” progress bar. I wish this worked more like some document scanner apps that took several images at a time to provide a more accurate representation.
Hopefully this app gets better as I really want to like and use it more.
Does what is says; nothing more
First, you NEED a backlight for this to work. Then, it only takes grainy “photos” of your negatives. But, this is still very useful if you’re trying to figure out which of your 1000+ negatives to print. It’s handy for quickly viewing negatives as positives.
If your want hi-res “scans” to print, use a flatbed scanner or a dedicated film scanner. But that takes a lot of time.
I wish this had a tutorial. Not sure what the difference between 1/50 and 1/60 is. Shutter speed? Who knows? This app really needs a tutorial instructing how to adjust the backlight and the ambient light. It’s a mystery. Worth the $6? Depends on your purpose.
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.