Photographing old negatives / workflow

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
LarsHP Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: Photographing old negatives / workflow

PLShutterbug wrote:

Moderator: Let me know where this belongs if not here. I looked but couldn’t find a topic area that seemed a better fit.

I have something like 4,000 old negatives and slides to digitize in formats from 126 Instamatic to 2-1/2”x4-1/4”. I plan to photograph these using my Z7, Nikkor 60mm Micro, and a negative stage I built myself. I’m not interested in using a scanner for this.

Best practices? My current plan:

  • Create custom picture controls for each emulsion type so I can see positives in camera before I even fire the shutter. That way I can just not photograph ones that don’t look interesting.
  • I use Affinity for editing so plan to shoot RAW, save to disk and then use View-NXi to bulk convert to TIFF before tweaking those I’m interested in. That way I don’t have to re-process the RAW files again in Affinity.
  • I’d like to connect my camera to PC to preview and maybe save direct to disk. Looks like Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 for this but wonder if it provides the flexibility I know I will want. In particular:
  • - If I know an image should be vertical, I’d like to indicate that so the original is flagged that way.
  • - Auto dust and scratch healing?

Has anyone here done this, and have advice?


For slides and B&W negatives, it's relatively straight forward.

For color negatives, I started out making a custom profile in Adobe Camera Raw that I fine-tuned, fine-tuned and fine-tuned. In short, my experience told me that it was a lot of work and the profile was semi-useful at best to other negative types. You plan to make profiles for each "emulsion type", but for negatives that might end up with a profile for each film type (Fujicolor 100, Kodacolor 400 etc. etc.).

In the end, I have found out that getting acceptable colors from negatives is so difficult, that I will recommend paying for a plug-in software specifically made for this. This means either something like Negative Lab (which unfortunately works as a Lightroom plug-in only) or a scanner software that will let you convert from TIFF. Since I have some medium format negatives and a few large format images, I ended up buying a flatbed scanner for those and for 24x26mm color negatives that were too difficult for me to get the colors right. Resolution is not as good with the scanner, but colors are much better.

 LarsHP's gear list:LarsHP's gear list
Nikon Z6 Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH Leica APO-Summicron-M 90mm f/2 ASPH Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar +8 more
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