A Lomography Guide
to Scanning

Scanning is a really important part of analogue photography and Lomography is here to give you some starter tips!

Read on for advice on choosing your scanner, using scanning masks and scanning special Lomography formats such as X-Pro and sprocket hole photos...

Mention scanning to any analogue photographer and you’ll likely get one of two reactions

Either they’ll tell you they’d love to scan their own photos but don’t where to begin, or they’ll tell you that they do scan and absolutely love it. Don’t worry if you’re someone in the first category, scanning your own negatives really isn’t daunting once you know the basics.

With the help of this Lomography Guide, you’ll turn into a photo scanning fanatic in no time!

Why Scan?

Be In Control

Scanning puts you in control of the output you get. If a photo lab scans your photos, you get what you’re given; with your own scanner, you call the shots.

The Cost-Effective Solution

Scanning your own negatives is the most cost effective route in the long-term for any serious analogue enthusiast. Instead of forking out extra scanning costs every time you get photos developed, scan your own negatives and save money!

Scan Everything!

Some special Lomographic formats such as sprocket hole photos and endless panoramas can’t be scanned by a regular photo lab – Scan your own negatives and you’ll be able to do this! Want more reasons? Why Every Lomographer Should Use A Photo Scanner by t0m7

Choosing your scanner

The first thing to decide when embarking on your scanning journey is what type of scanner you want.

There are various kinds of scanners available but the best for scanning all kinds of analogue formats are backlit flatbed scanners.

Flatbed scanners allow you to scan both 35mm and 120 formats and, with the Lomography DigitaLIZA, you can easily scan sprocket holes and other unique analogue formats.

When choosing your scanner, there are two important features that you should look for

Scanner Resolution

A better scanner resolution will mean a better quality scan of your photo, so it’s really important. It’s best to look for a scanner that gives you a resolution of at least 3000 dpi. Ignore any talk of ‘interpolation’ when picking your scanner – Interpolation basically means that the scanner guesses what color pixels are supposed to be; not what you want for an accurate image.

Dynamic Range

A scanner’s Dynamic Range relates to how much detail the scanner can bring out in highlights and shadows. It’s measured on a scale of 0-4 and is usually called Dmax. Ideally, look for a scanner with at least a rating of 3. Read more about choosing your scanner - How to properly scan – From Equipment to technique by Cameron Knight

Using Scanning Masks

When you get your scanner, it will probably come with a scanning mask. These scanning masks are usually great for scanning standard photos but they leave little room for experimentation with your scanning.

That’s why Lomography introduced the DigitaLIZA, a scanning mask that works with all backlit flatbed scanners and holds your negatives perfectly in place whilst you scan – The best thing about the DigitaLIZA is that it allows you to scan special photographic formats such as sprocket hole photos, overlapping exposures and long panoramas.

The DigitaLIZA is a great investment if you’ve got a Spinner 360°, Sprocket Rocket, Horizon or any other Lomography camera! There are also versions available for both 120 and 110 film!

More about the Digitaliza.

Scanning Sprocket Holes

At Lomography, we love photos in which the sprocket holes are exposed. If you want to scan sprocket holes, there are various different scanning programs you can use. The Epson scan software which comes with Epson scanners works fine for scanning sprocket-hole photos. Unfortunately, CanoScan software (which comes with Canon scanners) can’t scan sprocket holes because it’s specially calibrated to work with Canon scanning masks. However, with a Canon scanner you can still easily scan sprocket holes with software such as Vuescan and Silverfast.

How to scan sprockets with different scanners

Scanning sprocket holes using Epson scanners

Scanning Tip For Spinner 360 Photos by russheath

A Video Tipster: Scanning Sprocket Holes by simonh82

Scanning With Your Smartphone

If you have some 35mm negatives or positives you want to scan and you own a smartphone, then the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner is for you.

The Smartphone Film Scanner offers Lomographers and analogue lovers a quick, easy and portable way to scan 35mm films. Simply turn on the Smartphone Film Scanner back-light, insert your film, take a photo of it using your Smartphone and use your phone's camera or the specially-developed App (iPhone and Android versions available) to edit and share.

In an instant, you'll end up with a digital version of your film which can be archived, emailed, posted on social media sites or printed. It also offers unrivaled speed and convenience when compared to other film scanners.

Find out More

Scanning X-Pro Photos

Like anything else in the world, it takes a little practice to achieve the results you want when scanning your own photos. This is especially true for x-pro (also known as cross-processed) photos in which you want your scans to really show off all the wild colors on your film. The best thing to do is experiment with your scan settings until you get results you are happy with – Just see what works best for you!

Experiments in cross processing – Scanning Tutorial by paramir

A little bit of tweaking by stouf

Lo-Fi Scanning

If you can’t afford a proper scanner yet, there are still a few ways to get digital versions of your photos – Read these articles from the Lomography Magazine to find out more!

Ghetto scanning with the DigitaLIZA and a digital camera by lomoluxlux

Scan It Yourself Tips: Scanning With An Ordinary Scanner And Tablet by lomofrue


  • 35mm – The most common type of photographic film – You’ll be able to pick it up and process it in most supermarkets.
  • 110 – A type of pocket film once discontinued but revived by Lomography in 2012. Can be used in cameras such as the Fisheye Baby and Diana Baby.
  • 120 – A film type used for medium format cameras such as the Diana F+ and Lubitel 166+.
  • Backlit Flatbed Scanner – A flat scanner which has a light within it.
  • Drum Scanner – A type of scanner – Read more about them in this article.
  • Endless Panorama – Photos which overlap to form one long panorama – See this example.
  • Overlapping exposure – Photos in which elements of one photo overlap into the next – See this example.
  • Scanning Mask – A mask such as the Lomography DigitaLIZA that holds your negatives in place whilst you scan.

About Lomography

Lomography is a Magazine, Shop and Community dedicated to creative, experimental photography.

It all began with a fateful encounter in the early 1990s, when a group of students in Vienna, Austria, stumbled upon the Lomo Kompakt Automat – a small, enigmatic Russian camera. Mindlessly taking shots from the hip, and sometimes looking through the viewfinder, they were astounded by the mind-blowing photos it produced – the colors were vibrant, with deep saturation and vignettes that framed the shot – it was nothing like they had seen before! Upon returning home, friends wanted their own Lomo LC-A, igniting a new style of artistic analogue photography that we now know as Lomography!

More about Lomography