Nikon D850 Negative Digitizer Mode

Hello, everybody! Here in this blog post, I will show you how to access the Nikon D850’s unique “Negative Digitizer Mode”. Now, I would apologize for the lack of sound on my video because for some reason my iPhone picked up nothing. So I was talking loudly making sure that you will hear what I was saying but once I got to see the video I was disappointed to find that no sound was recorded! This is probably good news for people who dislike my bastardized “Commonwealth English” accent. Again, my sincerest apology! I will make up for this!

img_3069I have been digitizing my negatives using DSLRs for some time now. I have been using the Nikon Picture Control so I will get a positive image when I preview my capture on the camera’s LCD. While this works well with monochrome pictures, I wasn’t very happy with this workflow when it comes to C41 process films due to the heavy amber tint and this requires more time and effort to fix in post but I have gotten used to it somehow (unfortunately) by now and Nikon rocked the boat so to speak when they implemented the new Negative Digitizer Mode.

Here is the brief video showing how the new “Negative Digitizer Mode” works. I wasn’t planning planning on making this video so I didn’t have any negatives at hand but I trust that you will quickly pickup what’s going on anyway.

You will have to enter into the Live View picture taking mode and then click the i button to bring out the menu on the right side bar. Scroll down a bit until you see the icon for the Negative Digitizer Mode. Select which one you want between monochrome and C41 process film and begin capturing! It’s very easy!

As you can see from the picture at the beginning of the post, you will need a lens that is macro-capable and something to secure your negatives. I’m using an old Nikon ES-1 for this but Nikon is coming out with the Nikon ES-2 for strip film. It should be much better because it has a holder for strip film but the price is not cheap at $190.00! Will I buy one? Hell, no!

Before I forget, you will also need to illuminate your negatives so you will need a flash gun. Some people just use bright LED lights or sunlight but I prefer to use my Nikon SB-700 instead. To be honest, anything should be OK so long as you’re illuminating your negatives properly.

Having the Negative Digitizer Mode means that I will spend less time working on the curves and white balance of my capture so that it will look as close to what’s it suppose to be. If you look at the video, you can see that the velvet mat on the table is red and as I point the camera towards it that turns blue because blue is on the opposite end of the colour wheel. The colour also gets inverted when you are in monochrome mode but as the name implies, it is best suited only for your monochrome negatives.

This all looks handy and nice until you realize that you will NOT get the results as a RAW file! I am not sure why because this can be easily be implemented so I am now thinking that this is just an extension of Nikon’s in-camera RAW editing features where post-processes like “Photoshop filters” are implemented and isn’t something that cannot be embedded within the RAW file. This is sad because the whole point for me using a DSLR to digitize my negatives is having the powerful RAW manipulation tools at my disposal like exposure, etc! This should make the purists and the “direct from scanner” crowd happy.

Will I recommend this as a way to digitize your negatives? Yes, of course! It can be very fast compared to a scanner-based workflow and the Nikon D850’s 44MP sensor will be more than enough. To be honest, I can really forget about having the RAW files if the captures look great. I haven’t seen anything yet outside of what is shown on the brochures so I cannot make any conclusions just yet. If I’m going to base it on marketing literature then the results look good enough. If it’s that good that you don’t need to play around with it at post then I am all for it.

By the way, I highly recommend that you read part 2 of this on this link. I went back and I made a new recording and this time, my iPhone’s audio is now working and I brought a piece of negative to help you visualize it better.

Thank you guys again for supporting my blog. See you guys again next time, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my account ( Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Oskar Ojala
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 19:32:58

    It’s an interesting feature if it works well. I don’t shoot Nikon DSLRs anymore, so I’m not going to see it, but they interesting parts is how accurate the color is with different films and how the new ES-2 works. Film flatness is always a problem! I also tried a high quality microscope lens with 4x magnification on a slide frame and got better detail than with dedicated 1:1 lenses, which bothers the perfectionist in me. Anyway, your picture reminds me I haven’t tried my 55/3.5 in a while, need to give it a go, I remember it was very good.


    • richardhaw
      Sep 18, 2017 @ 03:58:31

      Thanks, Oskar. I think it should be OK but my biggest disappointment is the lack of RAW support. Ric


      • IainC
        Oct 02, 2017 @ 17:17:16

        How are you going to get a colour corrected and inverted RAW file? That’s not what RAW is. If you want a RAW file, you’d need to shoot the negative normally and then manipulate the RAW image in post, but your final output still won’t be a RAW image either.

      • richardhaw
        Oct 04, 2017 @ 09:58:42

        Hello, Iain.
        You can get that with you custom Nikon Picture Control. I do that all the time. Works great for monochrome but can be hit or miss with C41. Ric.

  2. E James.
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 18:05:46

    Hello Richard,

    Just a short note to say I’ve been copying 35mm negatives for a while now. After much analysis and equipment experimentation, my set comprises of the following: Nikon D3100 DX DSLR, Bowen Illumitran (stripped of internals – own white light source diffused in DIY light chamber below the neg), an anti-newton ‘sandwich’ to hold and flatten the neg, Rodenstock APO-D 75mm f4 1:1 copy lens.

    It’s about 99% perfect. Corner to corner ‘grain sharp’ even at f5.6 or less from the APO-D lens.

    I think all my uploads to flickr are sourced from the above set up.

    Hope you may find this useful.

    Best regards



  3. Trackback: Nikon D850 negative digitizer mode | Nikon Rumors
  4. A Betin
    Oct 02, 2017 @ 22:47:09

    Thank you, Richard. Do you have images of actual negatives “scanned” this way to share?


  5. Daniel Cutter
    Oct 03, 2017 @ 20:45:22

    So how do you set up picture control on other Nikons to get a positive JPEG of a monochrome negative? that somehow eludes me.
    I’ve been using one of my elder bodies to create raw photos of the negatives and would then invert them in Lightroom. Using lightroom after that isn’t much fun as all the sliders are inverted.
    I’ve also inverted the raw file with image magick. But the result is a 3x the size TIFF. Even if the sliders in LR are then correct again.
    Having a preview and JPEG as a positive would mean being able to see which photos can be skipped and which need more work and therefore LR and the raw file. But as stated I can’t think of how you do it. Got D7000, D7100 and D750 bodies here.


    • richardhaw
      Oct 04, 2017 @ 10:04:16

      Hello, Dan!
      The custom picture control can be made with and all you have to do is mess around with the curves. Once you did that, save that preset to your computer.

      I will save my lightroom presets and have it available for download one of these days. I am going to write one this month but I am very busy, please forgive me. Ric.


  6. Trackback: Update: Nikon D850 Negative Digitizer Mode Pt2 | Richard Haw's Nikon Maintenance Site
  7. lightroom presets
    Nov 03, 2017 @ 04:05:19

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I
    know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me
    an e-mail.


    • richardhaw
      Nov 03, 2017 @ 13:25:53

      I do write stuff for other people here on my blog at times. You can reblog my stuff and just link to my site. That’s better than some people just snipping my content without even notifying and linking to my work. Ric.


  8. Randy Hendrickson
    May 02, 2018 @ 14:37:31

    Your gallery looks great. Did you need the ‘anti-newton sandwich’? Is it mainly for medium and large format negs? I have a Bowens on the way, and i also have a nice copy stand, color heads and a few other rigs I’ve been experimenting with over the past year or so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: