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I have a standard flatbed scanner, which doesn't come with any special accessory to scan negatives. If I scan x-rays by just putting them under the lid, with no special provision, the scans comes out very dark. How can I get a better result, without buying additional equipement?

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try scanning them with the lid open. –  Journeyman Geek Sep 28 '11 at 0:32
+1: I hope this works for transparencies too ... –  Everyone Jan 14 '12 at 10:49
+1 - Nice weird science title. –  suspectus Jun 19 '14 at 10:09

7 Answers 7

I just used the scanner settings of 600 dpi with the greyscale selection and my xrays came out just like the digital print out. No fussing around. It did not work with the black and white setting. Good luck to you.

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Step 1: Open scanner lid
Step 2: Place X-ray film on glass
Step 3: Get a desk lamp with an incandescent bulb (I used a 40 Watt one)
Step 4: Turn on the lamp and hold it above the scanner about an arm's length away so that the film is evenly lit
Step 5: Scan in [grey-scale] [image] mode while holding the lamp

I used the scanner on a Canon Pixma 2440 (regular all-in-one printer).
You might be able to use your phone's LED light if you can't get an incandescent lamp.
My scan came out looking just like how a digital X-ray looks.

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Try putting a mirror or similar reflective surface instead of white lid. It works for the photographic negatives.

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Why was this down0modded ? It seems like it could be a creative trick which might work. [ I don't have any X-Rays to try it on though] –  davidgo Nov 8 '13 at 9:01

I know you said without buying additional equipment, but I wanted to point out that they make scanners with transparency capabilities. Basically they have an additional "head" in the lid that provides a light to shine through the film when necessary. You can get them for just over $100 on Amazon.

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The best results are with a good digital camera and the screen you are looking at right now - that's right, the PC screen with a "blank" word document works the same as the Doctors X-ray viewer. Perfectly even diffused light and if need be, just turn up the brightness to suit.

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Skip the scanner and use a digital camera with a backlight behind the film.

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I've done this many times with a decent digital camera and a tripod. The results were very good. When creating the backlight, use a diffuser (towel or something to make the light more 'smooth'. –  kobaltz Sep 28 '11 at 4:44

The negative probably needs to be back lit instead of front lit in order to scan right. You could take apart an old scanner... cover up the light bulb with something to prevent it from lighting up x-ray. You could try taking out the light bulb and hope the scanner doesn't complain. Then you would need to figure out a way to light up the x-ray from behind. You might be able to get it to look good with both front and back lighting... so the scanner mod might not be necessary.

Laptops and LCD displays tend to have a plastic light diffuser that spreads the light out evenly across the entire surface (even though the bulb is on the bottom). You could lay one of those across the top of your x-ray to light it up from behind while its being scanned. Or you can figure out another way to evenly light up your x-ray from behind while your scanning it.

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