A few months ago, I put put down $18 to help bring Abe Fetig‘s FilmLab app to life, and today, the first beta dropped… Woo!

First off, it’s a beta release and there are still bugs to work out but so far it looks promising, and I’m excited about it! [At time of writing, the Android release is not yet available, but I only have an iPhone 7, so that’s all I’m going to review here. Apologies to any Android users who got fooled.]

For this test, I chose the first 5 frames from a recent roll of Fuji Superia XTRA 400. They’re some shots from a recently started project, so something of a sneak preview perhaps… I threw the negatives on the light table, and was ready to go.

It launches into a sort of preview screen, ready to get to work. I noticed some strange, distracting flashing as it flips between positive and negative. I wonder if there’s some meaning to the flashes or not, like maybe it flashes when it’s out of focus or something, but I didn’t really notice a pattern.

From this screen, in theory, you click on a frame and it captures a scan that you can export, or back out and try again.

To export a frame, you click on the export icon in the lower right, and are greeted with the usual export pop-up. This works fairly well, though in landscape mode on an iPhone 7, the text for the bottom row is chopped off, and if you’re unfamiliar with this screen, you might have some difficulty finding what to do.

The resolution is limited in this beta, as mentioned in the release notes, so ignore that. It’s also not very good at getting the frame straight on. It probably doesn’t help that these negatives aren’t completely flat (more on that later), but it sometimes struggles to lock on at all.

It almost refused to lock on to one frame, over and over again, almost insistently.

I’m not sure what the problem there was, but it’s noted in the release notes, and I’m sure it’ll be corrected in future betas and by the time an actual release comes up.

When it captures a frame, it does a great job with color, but overexposes by a stop or two.


Compare that, with a recent quick dslr scan of the same image.

I don’t expect my iPhone 7 to compare with a dslr scan, and this is a beta, but Abe, if you’re reading this, here’s something to aim for…

To export a frame, you click on the

So, FilmLab is here, almost! I’m very excited to be part of the beta test, and I look forward to following the progress. At the very least, I think it will save me running every frame through the Scan-O-Matic X, and who knows, once resolution and sharpness gets there, and if I Capture One Pro (or, *shudder*, Lightroom) can read iOS RAW files, it may even do for most web-related sharing.

Here are some more scans if you’re curious… the resolution is low, and I’m not sure I got the focus right: there’s not any indication of achieved focus, as far as I can tell, and no way to set or lock focus. If I end up using it long term, I’ll probably build a little shelf or something to set the phone on and make sure focus remains steady for the entire scanning session.

Edit: just before publishing, I decided to try again, with the negatives in the Digitaliza scanning mask, and (maybe) noticed a bug: it can’t see the frames in the carrier. I think it needs the sprocket holes and all to determine where the frame edges are, and the black edges of the scanning mask confused it. It wouldn’t even flip the curve.

Oh well. It’s a beta release,  after all, so I wasn’t expecting perfection, and this is a great start, to what looks to be an exciting new way to scan negatives! Thanks to Abe for all his hard work on this, and thanks to my fellow Kickstarterers for helping to get this thing going!

I’ll revisit this when the next update comes through, and I knocked this little intro review thing out super quick, so if I missed anything, or if there’s anything you’d like me to check, please let me know!

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