The Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter is a small accessory that can be mounted on a lens to allow you to photograph slides and negatives with a DSLR to create digital images. It comes with two holders, one for mounted slides and the other for strips of film.
Digitizing film requires close focusing and the ES-2 is designed for use with the following Nikon lenses:
AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED
AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D
AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G
It’s also ideally suited for use with the Nikon D850 as the high-resolution sensor should ensure plenty of detail is extracted from the film. I used it with the D850 and AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED for our review.
Assembling the Parts
Nikon supplies two 62mm adaptor rings that enable the ES-2 Adapter to be mounted onto the AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED and AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D lens. It can be mounted directly onto the AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G.
The appropriate adaptor ring simply screws into the filter thread of the lens and then the ES-2 Adapter screws onto the ring.
Unlike the Nikon ES-1, the ES-2 doesn’t hold slides directly within it. Instead, a slide holder or film holder is used. The slide holder is capable of holding two mounted slides side by side while the film holder is designed to hold strips of up to six frames of film.
Build and Handling
Nikon has used a mixture of plastic and metal for the ES-2’s construction and this ensures it’s lightweight but has a good-quality feel.
Both the film holders are made from plastic and while the slide holder feels quite robust, the strip film holder feels a little more delicate. This is similar to some scanner film holders, having a hinge that allows it to be opened and the film inserted.
Aligning the film requires some care as it can shift slightly as the holder is closed.
I found that some mounted slides push easily into the holder, but some that were mounted in high-quality Gepe mounts demanded more pressure. Removing these slides also required a pair of thin-nose pliers to get a good enough grip to be able to extract them.
You can feel when the holders are in the right position as they are slid into the ES-2. However, you may need to adjust their angle a little to get the film/slide square in the viewfinder.
There’s a zoom mechanism built into the ES-2 Adapter that allows you to adjust the framing of the slide. With the 60mm f/2.8G ED lens on the D850, I found that this had to be around its shortest point for the slide to fill the frame.
The hardest part when using the ES-2 Adapter is getting the framing right, particularly if it’s a dark slide or dense negative. Once you’ve got the position right, there’s a screw on the top of the adapter that can be tightened to help keep it in place. However, it’s easy to give the holder a nudge out of place as you push to the next frame.
As recommended by Nikon, I used natural light to illuminate the slides and negatives that I digitised, pointing the diffuser towards the sky. It’s also possible to use an artificial light source, but this needs to be uniform in both colour and brightness.
On the whole using natural light worked well. I only needed to adjust the exposure a little one way or the other using the exposure compensation dial on the camera when the images were especially dark or bright.
The D850 also generally handled the white balance well in its Natural Light Auto white balance setting, but naturally, colour negatives required some post-capture work to compensate for their brown base colour.
I used ISO 100 for all the digitising I did as this ensures high-quality results, however, film grain and texture is evident in all my images. That’s not the adapter’s nor the camera’s fault, it’s just a feature of the film.
|Original file from a mounted slide||Cropped and adjusted|
|Original file from a colour negative||After inverting in Photoshop|
If you have a large collection of slides or film and a high-quality Nikon DSLR like the D850, the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter is a convenient way to digitise them. It won’t be a fast exercise but it’s feasible to digitise slides, transparencies and negative in batches once you get into a routine.
The ES-2 does a good job, but you may be surprised by the amount of grain visible if you zoom into 100% on-screen to check sharpness and detail.