Film News: The Cameradactyl Mongoose

Good film news for all of us who loathe the endless monotony of scanning negatives. There is now a new way to scan.
The new Cameradactyl Mongoose scanner is is up on Kickstarter and has already reached its goal. You can see the Kickstarter by clicking here.

The Cameradactyl Mongoose is an automated 35mm film carrier for scanning film with a digital camera. If you have a digital camera that has a remote release then you are almost ready to get started. If you haven’t already supported this brilliant idea then you totally should.
In case you don’t know, Cameradactyl is actually Ethan Moses, and he has been making some funky and innovative hack for cameras for a while now, which you can see by clicking here.

Mongoose Details

  • The Mongoose will trigger just about any camera that will accept a cable release.
  • The Mongoose has three scanning modes: Manual, Fast, and Automatic.
  • Manual mode allows a user to manually advance and retract a strip of film at high or low speed, and to trigger an attached camera though the control box.
  • Fast mode will advance a strip of film a fixed distance and then trigger an attached camera for an entire roll of film.  This mode only works with film that was originally shot on a camera that produces evenly spaced frames, and has less positional accuracy than automatic mode.  Fast mode can scan a roll of 36 standard sized exposures (24×36) in approximately 40 seconds.
  • Automatic mode uses edge detection of individual frames, which allows this mode to be used with evenly or unevenly spaced frames on a roll of film.  This mode has very high positional accuracy, and can scan a full roll of 36 frames in under a minute and a half.

  • The Mongoose will scan and align black and white and color negative, as well as slide film in all modes.
  • The Mongoose has a 27mmx68mm film gate, which allows it to scan half frame images (24mmx20mm), all the way up to Hasselblad Xpan sized panoramics (24mmx65mm), and everything in between, with a full black border around each frame.
  • The Mongoose has a dual plane film path, which makes sure that your film is flat as it passes through the film gate, even with curly and cupped film.
  • The Mongoose DOES NOT allow the user to scan the sprocket holes of the film.
  • The Mongoose Scan Module ONLY touches your film at the sprocket hole portion of the strip, ensuring that it will never scratch your emulsion.
  • The Mongoose is easy to clean and keep dust free.  There is a removable door which allows the main drive mechanism to be cleaned without disassembly.

  • The Mongoose has adjustments for edge detection sensitivity, assuring that you can scan even the most underexposed or underdeveloped film in automatic mode.
  • The Mongoose has an adjustable built in delay between frames that can be turned off for extremely fast operation, or slowed down so that the scanner does not move the film during a long exposure time, or during a flash recycle time, if the user chooses to illuminate their film with strobe rather than a light box or panel.
  • The Mongoose has a separate control box and scan module, ensuring that you wont jostle the scan module while adjusting the controls or starting a scan.
  • The Mongoose will handle strips as short as 4 standard frames long, however it probably doesn’t save much time when used like this.  It is designed to run through an entire roll of film and be loaded once.  To scan a roll with no initial leader, the first frame or two must be manually triggered.
  • The Mongoose is loud.  This is not nearly a silent device.


To scan film with a mongoose, you will need a light source – this can be a light box, light panel, strobe with a reflector or diffuser, or natural light source with a diffusion panel.

You will need a digital camera that will accept an electronic shutter release cable.

You will need a copy stand to hold your camera and light source in good vertical alignment (recommended) or if you have a good digital level, you can align the camera, light source and mongoose horizontally, as shown in the kickstarter video.  We recommend at least using a tripod for this, which is not pictured in the video, for simplicity.  While you can scan film with a camera and the mongoose just sitting on a table, for optimal sharpness and minimal distortion, it is recommended that you fix the camera in place on a copy stand, or at least a tripod.

You will need a macro lens or set of extension tubes or macro bellows – some lens that can focus close, and fill your digital camera frame with each film frame.


A Cameradactyl Mongoose Scan Module, Control Box, Power supply, Connection Cord, and Electronic Shutter Release Cable. for your specified camera (please make sure that your camera accepts a shutter release cable).  Additional shutter release cables can be inexpensively and readily purchased on sites like B&H or Amazon.  Send us a message if you have any questions about appropriate release cables.  We will put a short list together of appropriate cables for connecting to the mongoose, for those users who want to switch cameras.

Best of luck to Ethan. It is really great to see this sort of innovation and it can only lead to good things in the future.

You can see more film news by clicking here.