New Lomography Kickstarter Makes Your Smartphone a Mobile Film Scanner

Though I understand where these things come from, calling something like Lomography "the analog Instagram" is like calling Kodak's new Super 8 stock "the chemical MiniDV," or even better, "the new digital from back before digital" -- for the sake of modern analog (dear lord I just said that) we're getting our chicken-and-egg orders mixed up. That said, we've seen some pretty interesting blends of the old and the new... and then back to the old again. There was The Impossible Project's Impossible Instant Lab, which made Polaroids of cell phone stills -- which we also called "the Real Instagram," though again, I understand why. Thanks to (both a hobby and) a company called Lomography, the opposite chicken-egg process is possible -- with some help, your smartphone is now also a digital scanner of film negatives. Read: Instant scanning, insta... sharing.

Lomography is an enthusiastic movement of stills photography that centers around the use of -- you guessed it -- analog cameras, and particularly those which produce an impressionistic, lo-fi, and generally difficult (if not impossible) to otherwise-recreate effect overall. I'd come to know it as the 'plastic camera' or 'toy camera' look -- and thusly Instagram as the app which best capitalized on digitizing the aesthetics of such a movement (there were and are others). In any case, it's clear several generations of photographers and casual photography enthusiasts can appreciate and enjoy this type of thing, be it analog or digital. Interestingly, Lomography (a specialty design company which champions the eponymous movement) is Kickstarting its Smartphone Film Scanner -- having already surpassed its goal of $50,000 by February 4. Combining a smartphone-mounted device with an app that turns the whole jumble into exactly what it sounds like it does, there may be a whole new movement of 'legit' or 'hardcore' (or, yes, 'real') Instagram-ing on the horizon. From the Kickstarter:

Simply turn on the Smartphone Film Scanner back-light, insert your film, take a photo of it using your Smartphone and use the included 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.

The Smartphone Film Scanner was conceived as a way to offer photographers and enthusiasts a quick, easy and portable way to scan 35mm films. It offers unrivaled speed and convenience when compared to other film scanners. In addition, the scanner will work with a free integrated Lomoscanner App, which allows you to easily edit and share your scans.

These images are examples of the project in action -- for a closer look, hit the Kickstarter page -- and tell me they don't remind you of "Instas." Of course (if you have to look at it in this way) they're cooler, because what's going on is an actual new school A/D conversion of the old school, not a preset-filtration of the new school in emulation of the old school -- but in any case, I'm no hater. Below is the video for its Kickstarter campaign:

And for good measure, a video about how the scanner works:

This is definitely a novelty item, but that's where the heart and soul of something like Lomography lies -- it's the genuine cuteness of the vintage and the unpredictable nature of what comes out at the end that's endearing about it all. Albeit somewhat clunky to carry around, perhaps, you have the option to scan film negatives wherever you go -- so if this interests you, hit up the Kickstarter page and preorder/endorse the project for $40 to receive the scanner at a discounted pre-launch price.

How do you guys feel about this device and its accompanying app? Does it make more or less sense than Instagram, especially given this is closer to a 'real' version, in a way, of what Instagram tries to emulate? Do you see yourself using it over other negative scanning solutions, which are no doubt less portable and just plain cool?

Link: The Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner -- Kickstarter

Your Comment


Combine this width the lomokino and you've a very interesting video set up shooting with 35mm and converting to 8mp!

January 15, 2013 at 6:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


$40 is a cost-effective alternative to similar devices that run 3-5 times as much. My mom would probably appreciate this.

January 15, 2013 at 6:28AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


but you still needing to develop that wich is not that easy/inexpensive

January 15, 2013 at 6:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Mr Martin

i dont really like it, its kind of hipster

January 15, 2013 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Pablo Saldana

Ha the name Pablo is the meaning of hipster.

January 15, 2013 at 10:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


An 8mm and a 16mm version would be ideal to scan a whole film movie (with a lot of patience, of course).
While you'll hardly buy a 35mm cine camera, a 8 or 16 mm movie camera is more affordable on ebay.

January 15, 2013 at 8:24AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


2013 - the year of celluloid film hipsters

January 15, 2013 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Ah yes, another hiptastic piece-of-crap gimmick on Kickstarter. I've been a long-time reader but these Kickstarter posts (in my opinion, which may be shared by others) clutter the otherwise good content this site provides. Maybe I need a Chrome plugin that blocks out any mention of Kickstarter. Commenters, if you intend to beat me down for this point of view, please read this first to get a better idea of what I'm thinking.

January 15, 2013 at 10:05AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think Kickstarter when used properly is awesome, like what Koo did, or the Underwater Realm... I'm stingy with my money and I've only backed three campaigns, all of which I'd followed the project for more than a year prior. I had a safe and easy way to donate money while being able to track their progress at the same time... how could you hate on that?

I don't intend to beat you down, but offer this link as a counter argument...

January 15, 2013 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Aaron G

Oh yeah, I totally agree 110% for funding projects like that with some legitimacy behind them, I think crowdsourced funding for creative endeavors is the next big thing and is really giving the traditional studio a "run for the money" as they say; I'm just tired of the platform getting cluttered with this new gadget and that new tech that doesn't innovate very much. Again since the legitimacy of a project and its worthiness is subjective, and I'm all for the democratization of creation, I can't see this going away anytime soon. It even raises the point on if it even needs to go away!

I've backed a few film projects and a few gear projects. There's been a distinct difference I've noticed on the gear side- 1) never on time 2) cheaply made 3) don't deliver on expectations.

There are exceptions to everything but that's just seemed to be a recurring trend I've found.

January 15, 2013 at 1:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


congrats, now you can be a hipster among hipsters

January 15, 2013 at 11:49AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I own a lomokino and love it - but the process of getting it digitized is a bitch since no regular lab really knows what to do with it so you end up with half cut off images and the lomostore can develop and scann it for you perfectly but charges a nice premium of $20 for the whole process which makes it a whole less fun.....
so this contraption might be a good idea but on the other hand you end up with 72ppi images made with a phone instead of having nice higres scanns
So to me it's a gadget for hipsters who don't actually care....

January 16, 2013 at 11:01AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I goddamn dream about this thing. I bananed up to scan 20 rolls of lomokino on cheap 1997 year scaner. But i have no smartphone anyway, so forget buot it

January 18, 2013 at 1:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is a totally pointless idea...has anyone actually taken film to a lab in the last decade and NOT had them give you a digital copy as well? (And at a much higher quality.). You don't even have to ask anymore, it's assumed.

I'd like to see more posts on things filmmakers need or use, not consumerist crap. Stuff like this, as well as posting about stuff like this is just lowering the already low kickstarter gadget bar.

January 23, 2013 at 5:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Daniel Mimura