Ethan Moses over at Cameradactyl has created a new cool toy. It’s called the Mongoose and it’s a 35mm film digitiser that utilises your DSLR and some kind of backlight. And it does it really quickly. How quickly? Well, around 40 seconds is the claim – which seems backed up by the demonstrations shown in the videos. It’s currently running on Kickstarter, where it’s already ploughed through its $30,000 goal and there are still 26 days to go.
The Mongoose is comprised of two parts. There’s the Scan Module – the unit through which the film is fed – and then a control box. The control box plugs into the Scan Module, and also your camera – in order to be able to fire it. You can see in this video how to get the two units talking to each other and configuring all your settings – and there are a few settings you’ll want to change when you take it out of the box, but Ethan says you should only ever have to do them once (unless you change out your camera).
The Scan Module sits on top of a light table, with your camera mounted above using a macro lens to focus in on the frame. Your film goes in through one end of the module and a motor controlled by the control box feeds it through, firing your camera each time it advances the film along to the next frame. With your settings all dialled in perfectly, it zips through them very quickly.
As the images are being shot by your camera, it means it’ll work with negative black and white or colour film as well as positive slide transparencies. The one thing it will not let you do, though, is scan the sprocket holes, because that’s how the Mongoose advances the film, using that strip – and that’s the only place that does come into physical contact with the Mongoose Scan Module, so you shouldn’t need to worry about it ever scratching your film.
It’s a very slick design, and if you shoot a lot of film or need to archive a lot of film digitally very quickly (who doesn’t have boxes and boxes of film from their parents and grandparents?) then it looks like a fantastic option.
Ethan has priced them in batches. Each batch is slightly more expensive than the previous one and takes a little longer to deliver. The cheapest options have all been purchased on the Kickstarter now, with the current batch priced at $525 and delivery expected in March 2021. Once they get to the final batch, the price will be $650 with delivery in June 2021.
So, if you want one sooner, better jump on it quick!