testing the Wolverine film converter

central drive-in

central drive-in

Last week I checked an Amazon lightning deal for a Wolverine 20 MP film conveter that normally sells for $110 and was discounted to $70.  It looks like a toy in the ad but desperate people do desperate things and I needed a converter.  When it arrived I didn’t even open the box for several days because I really didn’t expect it to perform very well.  Once unboxed, it set up easily and I took a box of slides, color and black and white negatives at random and ran some tests.  The ease and flexibility were impressive and there are some manual controls for exposure and color balance.  Within 10 minutes I scanned an entire box of slides (24) and saved them to an old SD card.  I also scanned (converted, that is) some color negs and B&W negs easily.  While I think the optics could be a bit sharper, the converter did a pretty decent job on all film types.  The photo above (from about 1984) was from a 35mm color negative which I converted to this monotone in Lightroom.  (My brother has the original color print in his living room).  Here’s what I learned in the past two days:

–  It’s not a Nikon scanner, so don’t expect that kind of result in the scans.  But despite its looks, it’s not a toy either and the conversions may surprise you.  Also, I don’t think there are any moving parts as in a traditional scanner so I don’t think it needs to be as robust as one.

–  CLEAN YOUR NEGS AND SLIDES BEFORE CONVERTING.  There is no dust or scratch removal hardware or software included.

–  Native files are jpg only so I convert them to tiffs and edit in LR4.

–  There are some correction that can be made before converting but even the jpgs or tiffs can be edited easily in LR or whatever editor is available to you.

–  CLEAN YOUR NEGS AND SLIDES BEFORE CONVERTING (I repeat this because it’s an important step and can save you a lot of time post scan).

–  I find that out of the thousands of slides and negs I have, not every one is conversion-worthy.  The image on the screen in the converter is a close approximation of the actual file so it makes it a bit easier to decide weather to convert or not to convert.

–  It’s a bit difficult to get the exact color balance in the converter but relatively easy to get in LR during post processing.

–  You can put a lot more scans on an SD card than what will fit on the converter internal memory.   I have a few old cards I could use and I would suggest getting one if you don’t have one available.

–  View the process as a new opportunity to be creative with your older work.  The transition to digital can be a bit of a challenge but at the same time very rewarding.

–  CLEAN YOUR NEGS AND SLIDES BEFORE CONVERTING (you’ll thank me later).

from Kodachrome slide 1

from Kodachrome slide 1

from Kodachrome slide 2

from Kodachrome slide 2

from Kodachrome slide 3

from Kodachrome slide 3

from Kodachrome slide 4

from Kodachrome slide 4

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18 thoughts on “testing the Wolverine film converter

  1. John Linn

    Ken,

    Images look quite good. Interesting that you converted to TIFF for editing instead of just editing the JPEG in LightRoom. If you start with a JPEG, what advantage does the TIFF provide other than a much bigger file?

    A few years ago I got a Groupon for film scanning (the only Groupon I ever bought). I had a bunch of APS negs from a trip in 2000 to Africa. The scans were done to high quality JPEGs and the images were OK but required some work to dig into the shadows and reducing contrast. Some turned out pretty good (see http://2look.blogspot.com/2011/10/africa.html)

    I too have many slides and color negatives in the 35 mm format… not sure if it is worth getting them scanned. My Epson flat-bed scanner will do them but it is a very time intensive process. Looks like the device you have would go quite quickly.

    I am glad to see your taste was to the abstract even back in the 80′[s (or earlier?).

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. Converting the jpgs to TIFF is a requirement we have at the RMSC and I just followed through with this as well. TIFF files that require further editing in Photoshop don’t degrade like jpgs do and in my early digital photo training I was told that the TIFFs are a better archival format. Old habits die hard.
      The scans of photos you posted are very well done. I, too, have an APS slr (Nikon) and I shot thousands of frames with it. It’s a great camera but I noticed the higher contrast with the prints, too. Results from shooting with color negative film relies on a three part process: shooting conditions and exposure, film processing and printing. There is a generous latitude in color negative film but part of that latitude can be higher contrast. The Wolverine will also scan 110 film but not APS. Nikon made an APS adapter for some of the scanners they sold but they could be hard to find now.

      It’s very interesting to go back (way back) to review your own work. I’ve always had a fondness for abstract and experimentation in photography since I saw a Man Ray exhibit at the Eastman House when I was young.

      Reply
  2. ehpem

    This looks like a pretty effective solution to the stacks of 35mm film problem that some people face. My experiments with an old slide copier mounted on my DSLR were not as satisfactory as this is, though I owe it some more time before abandoning. Great shots too – that Kodachrome richness comes through pretty well.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, ehpem. I took out my slide copier when I got the D600 but early test didn’t look very good to me. It didn’t capture the sharpness very well so I assumed the optics (optic?) wasn’t very good.
      Kodachrome was my film of choice when I had the money. It cost more than other slide film and processing was quite a bit higher also.

      Reply
      1. ehpem

        In my instance the optics were supplied by an excellent 50mm macro lens so that was not the source of the problem. But I too had sharpness issues (though some of them are int the film when I look closer, just not as well taken as they should have been).
        Kodachrome was my first choice as well. This is good on one level because when it comes time digitise that film, there will be less fiddling around to adjust for different film types. I did shoot Ektachrome sometimes, and rarely Fujichrome. Each would have it’s own set of challenges I expect.

  3. Earl

    Ken, from the results I’d say you found a good bargain there — brand name or not. It will be great to have digital copies of those 35mm slides.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Earl. Though i didn’t post any results on the black and white negs, the converter did a fine job on them, as well. I used a harsh development technique designed to give a harder contrast to the negs and they are a bit more difficult to work with.

      Reply
  4. Charles Ford

    A few months ago I resorted to photographing some of my old slides projected on white cardboard. Not the most elegant or quality solution. I have an old Minolta film scanner but it is a monumental pain and SLOW. This Wolverine thing could be the answer! Thanks for making me aware Ken. Those leaf Kodachromes look niiice.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Charles. I tried that with unsatisfactory results on the conversion but it was fun to dig out the projector and see some old slides on the “big screen”.
      I’ve been checking the lightning deal on Amazon for about 6 months and this was the only time I saw this item.

      Reply
  5. Paul Maxim

    Just wanted to say that the image of the Central Drive-In really brought back some memories. I grew up in Spencerport, so this was a very familiar spot – first with my parents and then with friends. Going to the drive-in on Saturday night was a big deal. Not many of those around anymore………..

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Paul. My mom lived close to the drive-in and I shot it on the way back from one of my visits. I’m guessing early to mid ’80s. I made several decent prints of this but I was never satisfied with even the best of them. I like this version the best of any of the color versions but it was difficult to get a decent B&W from a color neg without buying special paper.

      Reply

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