Pixl-latr Sprocket Gates

After trying the Pixl-latr at the end of July, I was happy to receive the prototype 35mm sprocket gates. There was no information in the package, but the gates were stamped with Forester, so I went to the website I found on the net to see if there was more information. I couldn’t find any, so lucky me…I really do have a prototype. Unlucky me, I caught Covid soon after receiving the package. That meant I had to isolate for 10 days, plus didn’t feel great. After I finished my personal isolation, England went into national lockdown meaning I still could not go out.

I really wanted to take new photos of something interesting rather than just rescan negs I already have. Hence it has taken me a while to get to the project. Yesterday, I managed to go to a local park for my allotted exercise walk. While there I took a few photos using my Holga 120CFN loaded with Ilford HP5 which I had rolled inside 120 spool and paper. Using the 35mm film this way would mean the sprockets would be exposed and I had the numbers on the paper to act as a guide when winding on.

As I arrived at the park at 1pm, it was starting to get dark so I decided to push the film to 800asa when developing it.

Ok, all done, now to use the gates.

I used the same set up as before, with my table lamp and my Sony A37. I haven’t got a stand yet, I am interested in the one featured in this post. That is a little way off yet though as I would need a different light source too.

As you can see the side gates that keep the negative on the diffusion plate are a little skewed on my set-up. It could be that I used the wrong extra gate. They only need to be a couple of millimeters larger. This would make the gates tighter and help keep the negative flatter. Though as I said I didn’t have instructions so it might have been my fault.

Once I finished taking photos of the negs in this set up I used Acorn to crop, invert the colours, convert to greyscale, and adjust the curves. It really didn’t take long.

When I first saw the results, and considering the skewed gates, I thought…well this is crap. The photos have an obvious issue in the middle where they are out of focus, meaning they were not flat. The gates were just not tight enough.

But look at the writing, it is sharp all the way through. That means the “bend” occurred inside the camera not on the Pixl-Latr. To test this theory I then scanned the negs with my Canoscan.

Yeap, it occurred inside the camera. So that issue aside, how was the Pixl-latr and the sprocket gates.

Fab actually. As I said the side gates might need to be a little tighter, but other than that everything went to plan. Have a look at some other examples below, along with the canoscan equivalent.

The canonscan seemed to cut a little too much off and are slightly softer. So, if you don’t have a film with the bend issue that I have, these gates would be a good way to scan the film quickly and efficiently.

UPDATE: I read on the pixl-latr Facebook page that the side gates are tricky to print tighter. Some people suggested putting a weight on the gates or using your fingers to hold them down. With my set up, using the feet and not having a copy stand, this would be impossible. If you have the device flat this suggestion would work well. When I use these gates again in I will add a small piece of blu-tack to the very edges of the gates to help. Alternatively, I might use a tiny bit of epoxy and file it down to gain a better grip by millimetres. I will go with the tack first though as it is non-destructive.

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