Taking an idea to a solution

Sometimes you get an idea and you think, this shouldn’t be too difficult. And it turns out to be a lot of work.  That is what happened when I asked my friend Michael Corlew to help me build a copy system so I could digitize my old film archive ranging from from 35mm to 4 x 5. I wanted to build my system based on metal rails because I wanted to be able to break it down and store it if I wasn’t using it. I also wanted it to be easy to adjust for the various sizes of film I had used in the past.

I knew Michael had experimented with some rail system for other projects in the past, and that he was very creative and practical in his ability to design useful tools. I remember when after one frustrating experience we had trying to photograph birds with long lenses from within a vehicle he claimed, “I am going to make something so this isn’t so hard!”  That was the thought that became the Vacu-pod, Michael’s great invention for mounting cameras and lenses on any non-porous surface.  I use my Vacu-pod all the time when photographing from vehicles and I love it.

Michael and I spent about 4 months working on our design, building, rebuilding, starting over and improving every time.  Whenever I would come up with a change I wanted, that I thought would be impossible, Michael came up with a solution. Watching him think a problem through and then craft a solution is mesmerizing. I am glad there are people in the world like that! I know I don’t have that ability.

My ability is being able to show people how useful the device is and why they would want to copy their file images with their high-resolution cameras to create a Raw file that can be processed to make their old film images look even better.

And now we are done!  We have finalized the design and have begun shipping our first sold units and are hoping for more orders. We made a little video on assembling, and aligning the unit, and in the future, I will make some about shooting your film with HDR to get even better files, processing the images, converting negatives to positives and more.

Here is the video we made in Michael’s garage, our workspace for the last 4 months. I joked to Michael how this project is the best diet I have been on because I lost 5 pounds sweating in his garage.



Here are a few of my old 4 x 5 film images that I have copied.

1618-PMP-Edit.jpgSunset Wupatki National Monument, Arizona


5700-60-01-Edit.jpgReeds and Reflctions, Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine


1516-PMP-Edit.jpgRainbow, Toklat River, Denali National Park, Alaska


If you are interested in purchasing a LM-3545 Film To Digital Copier click here.