Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
Steven Seven
Steven Seven Regular Member • Posts: 362
Agree for B&W

So I have to wonder if this obsession with *exactly* reproducing film with our scans is really important, or if it's just the film analog (heh) to pixel-counting.

I agree with you for B&W. A negative is not a final image, and just like I used to experiment with different papers, we're experimenting with curves in Photoshop today.

But a color negative is a different animal. I see two differences:

  1. Designers of a color negative emulsion have a certain final "look" in mind, a certain color profile.
  2. The orange mask is removed by chemical reactions during printing.

So if you're scanning, you probably want to:

  1. Properly simulate the result of chemical reactions in software. It is not a simple white balance adjustment.
  2. Preserve the original color profile of film.

In my opinion, consumer-accessible color neg scanning is, and has always been, in a sad state. 95% of Portra scans I see online do not look like Portra to me: most of them have horrid color shifts, others try to go after "true-to-life" look and end up resembling digital images from early 2000s.

Back in mid-2000s I had a Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED, arguably one of the best film scanners ever made, and despite my best efforts, I was only happy with my slide scans. One can always compensate for the horrible software/hardware with skill and practice (and some dpreview users do) but it's big enough PITA for me to stay away from color negatives.

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