Albinar High-Load 28-Inch Copy Stand

  2013 May    Film   Scanning


In a previous article we looked at macro capture of slides.  A good copy stand is one of the most important elements, but pro-quality ones can cost $500 or more. 

In search of a more affordable solution, I decided to test the Albinar (available here).   Total cost, including shipping, is considerably lower than the $500 stands.



The Albinar stand with a DSLR


The fit and finish are reasonably good.  It's a lightweight stand, the upright being an aluminum post with square cross-section.  There's a set screw on the back to keep the camera mount from lowering under its own weight.

There is no significant headshake with the set-screw tightened, and there is very little without it.  This is a good sign.  It's steady enough to take macro pictures of 35mm slides.


Some specifications:

Overall height:  28 1/2"
Total weight:  just under 7 1/2 pounds
Base dimensions:  about 15 3/4" x 18 3/4"
Column material:  aluminum
Maximum camera weight:  10 lbs


The quick-release mechanism is much like what you'd find on a typical tripod, except that it has a lock that can be engaged to prevent the camera from falling out.  It's that brass pin that sticks up (see photo above).  Don't forget to lock it when you have the camera in place!

The rack-and-pinion gear system is pretty smooth, considering it's an inexpensive unit.  The one major drawback of the whole stand is this:



On my stand, the rack gear is in two sections, and they don't meet in the center.  The gap is too great, so the whole mechanism stops.  Fortunately, this occurs at a height greater than you'll probably need for slide capture. 

If you turn the height adjustment knob hard enough, you can get past the gap.  I don't know how this affects the longevity of the whole arrangement, though.  I'd be wanting to use the extra height for backing the camera off a bit from the subject, then zooming in to correct barrel distortion.  I should emphasize that this is not macro-lens territory, though.  Therefore, the design flaw is not a show-stopper, but it would have been nice if they'd made the whole rack gear out of one piece. 

Maybe your "copy" of this copystand will not be like this, but at least you're aware of it.   As I said, the stand is quite usable for macro capture of slides just the way it is.

Oh, and if I didn't mention before:  don't get into the habit of picking up this stand by the upright.  The support is made of plastic and might not be able to take repeated torque.   Pick up and carry the stand by the flat base, and it should last you a long time.

UPDATE:  Macro capture of 4x5 film sheets, using this stand, requires the camera to be just above the disjunction in the rack gear.  It wasn't that difficult to jump the gap, I guess.  With my setup, the correct distance for 4x5 on a mini light pad puts the end of the lens at about fourteen inches above the baseboard.   What's cool about 4x5 is that if you have a camera / lens combo that can do close focus (such as this one), you don't even need a macro lens. 

I like this copy stand, actually, quite a lot.  Here's a "scan" of one of my personal favorites from a batch of 4x5;  I used the Albinar copy stand for this:



For All I Knew, It Was 1897

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 (4x5)

Nikon D5100 camera scan
 Micro-Nikkor 55mm AIS macro lens
No extension ring, because 4x5 doesn't require 1:1 macro


As you can see, I used somewhat short depth-of-field on this one;  I think it works for this particular landscape photo.  (I also left the uneven yellowing, an artifact of the developing chems;  it sort of gives an old-time look to the picture.)

In another article I'll probably post a close-up to show you that this setup can resolve the film grain.  (It definitely can.)  Maybe we'll also talk about the exact settings (etc) that I used for scanning 4x5 film. 

For now, though, I'd just like to say again that this stand is adequate for macro capture.  It's no $500 pro model, but it works.


Conclusion


If you're serious about capturing slides with the sharpest focus, a macro setup is the way to go. 

This stand lets you do that economically.  With shipping, it's much lower-cost than the professional-grade copy stands

The Albinar High-Load 28-Inch stand is a reasonable compromise of cost versus quality
(please get yours through this link and help keep my site on-line). 

I don't know that it would hold up for decades of repeated, daily use (the way a more expensive stand would), but it ought to be sufficient for the average user.   Here's the key:  If you set it up for one kind of capture (such as 35mm slides), so you don't have to keep re-adjusting the height, it ought to last indefinitely.  To me, this stand is the most cost-effective way to get into macro slide capture.

I hope you found this review informative.  Please help me keep this site on-line by shopping for your gear through any of the links on here.

Thanks for reading!





         


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