Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,159
Re: Agree for B&W

Steven Seven wrote:

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.

Yes, after 23 years of scanning many color slides, color negatives, and B&W negatives I consistently found that B&W negatives are the easiest and best, color slides next, and color negatives last.

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Henry Richardson

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