Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?

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Autonerd Contributing Member • Posts: 629
Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?
4

I've read a lot of comments here about the best way to scan, reproducing true colors from the film, whether post-process color balancing is a good thing or not, etc., etc.

In reading all this, it occurred to me that something has been forgotten: The fact that, in the pre-digital days, color correction was, I believe, a part of the C41 color-printing process. IIRC, the machines did it (by operator or automatically? not sure) and I know we had that option available to us in the darkroom. (Though in my color print class, I don't remember doing it much, if at all.)

We mustn't forget, after all, that C41 negatives are as orange as an Oompa-Loompa.

Same for exposure -- there was so much latitude built into the films that your exposure and balance could be off by a stop or two and the prints still looked good and probably great. That's why 35mm point-n-shoot cameras became so popular -- you were almost guaranteed good results. Worlds better than disc or 110 or 126 (all of which I owned, albeit as a kid).

Same for B&W -- a not-quite-perfect exposure could be compensated for in the printing process. That's why we did test strips. Otherwise we'd just print everything at the same (enlarger) exposure.

Color slide was the exception, because what you shot is what you got. And even then we didn't necessarily want real-life accuracy. That's why we shot Fuji Velvia. What Paul Simon said about Kodakchrome was right: "Makes you think all the world's a sunny day."

To me, photography wasn't so much about how I saw the world as it was about how I saw it and wanted it to be seen.

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.

Recently I got some healthy negatives from a roll of FP4+ and thin negs from Arista Edu 200. My scanner produced beautiful scans from both of them. Thank you auto-exposure. At first I thought this was a cheat, but then I realized, no -- that's exactly what I would have done in the dark room. Test strip and pick the best exposure.

I want my B&W negatives to reflect what I shot, but I've had to ease up on myself about adjusting contrast and brightness -- things we could do in the darkroom with filters or different paper.

The point being negatives didn't have to be perfect (or perfectly printed) then and don't have to be perfect (or perfectly scanned) now. Except slides.

But I have a feeling that the quest for that perfect scan is the urge to avoid the manipulation inherent in digital. In digital anyone can dress up a crappy shot; in film  you have to shoot just right. Except back in the days you *didn't*  have to be totally right. You just couldn't be totally wrong. (Except slides!)

After all, isn't Photoshop merely the darkroom of the present? It just makes the process a crap-ton easier and faster. (Certainly too easy for me, and beyond contrast and brightness I don't bother.)

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my views are outdated. I understand some color print films are specifically made for scanning. So maybe they do need perfect reproduction.

Thoughts?

Aaron

Steven Seven
Steven Seven Regular Member • Posts: 362
Agree for B&W
2

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.

Olifaunt Contributing Member • Posts: 818
Re: Agree for B&W
1

Steven Seven wrote:

In my opinion, consumer-accessible color scanning is in a sad state right now. 95% of Portra scans I see online do not look like Portra to me:

I agree. One of the two major consumer scanner software, SIlverfast, doesn't even have a scanner profile for the decade-old "New" Portra 400. Instead, all you have to choose from in Silverfast are profiles for one of the older Portra emulsions that haven't been produced for a decade, apply it to a non-applicable negative scan, and then hope for the best (which is often not very good).

Photo labs who use more expensive scanners (e'.g. Frontier, Noritsu) have a Portra "look" that is a little better and relatively consistent across labs and scanners. But a lot of people, and labs, do digital post-processsing to change the look of the final scan or print, which is fine; people did the in wet printing days also to customize their palette.

Steven Seven
Steven Seven Regular Member • Posts: 362
Funny you mention those

Photo labs who use more expensive scanners (e'.g. Frontier, Noritsu) have a Portra "look" that is a little better and relatively consistent across labs and scanners.

Heh... I actually tried to buy a Noritsu LS-600 scanner. Found a few within driving distance on eBay and Craigslist. The crazy thing is none of the owners had Noritsu software capable of running on Windows 10, so in addition of $3K for a used scanner you'll have to drop another $2K for a software to use it. And even then, some Noritsu LS-600 owners claim that DSLR scanning gives them more dynamic range. Unbelievable...

Neil-O Regular Member • Posts: 443
Re: Agree for B&W
3

Steven Seven wrote:

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.

This coronavirus  situation has given me a lot of spare time and I've been culling loads of prints that frankly should have been binned a long time ago.  Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience.  Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation.  It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

I'm not sure you can fully compensate in post processing either, but as you say it is such an effort, and seems to go against the ethos of using film in the first place.

it is somewhat different with slides and I have a few prints that I am quite happy with, but I still wonder what they would have looked like wet printed.

It's been such a long time since chromogenic printing was the norm, I wonder how many observers of colour neg film images actually know what they should look like.

Slides are horrifically expensive to work with and famously intolerant of poor technique, but I'm coming to the conclusion that it's the only option for colour film as I can't see (consumer) scanning technology/software improving at all.

Olifaunt Contributing Member • Posts: 818
Re: Agree for B&W
1

Neil-O wrote:

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

This is true.

The trigger for me to go back to film 3 years ago was one day when I stumbled upon my long-ignored stacks of envelopes of my old wet prints from the 90s.

In those prints I saw lifelike color, tone, and dynamic range that I hadn't seen in my digital images in 15 years. I used a cheap point and shoot and never thought for a second about exposure except for fill-in flash. A good lab did the rest. Back then you discarded pictures because someone's eyes were closed or something, because technically they were all pretty much guaranteed to be fine.

You can get a some of this back in good scans. Never quite exactly, because they will for the most part be sRGB (smaller gamut) and displays are not paper, but still usually pleasing. It is hard to find labs today that will give you scans as good as those prints were in the 90s. And to get good scans at home, you really need a good eye.

Neil-O Regular Member • Posts: 443
Re: Agree for B&W

Olifaunt wrote:

Neil-O wrote:

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

This is true.

The trigger for me to go back to film 3 years ago was one day when I stumbled upon my long-ignored stacks of envelopes of my old wet prints from the 90s.

In those prints I saw lifelike color, tone, and dynamic range that I hadn't seen in my digital images in 15 years. I used a cheap point and shoot and never thought for a second about exposure except for fill-in flash. A good lab did the rest. Back then you discarded pictures because someone's eyes were closed or something, because technically they were all pretty much guaranteed to be fine.

You can get a some of this back in good scans. Never quite exactly, because they will for the most part be sRGB (smaller gamut) and displays are not paper, but still usually pleasing. It is hard to find labs today that will give you scans as good as those prints were in the 90s. And to get good scans at home, you really need a good eye.

Browsing the internet over the last few weeks I notice how many pro landscape photographers have migrated to digital, for example Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite who might not be known worldwide, but to UK amateurs are pretty much household names.  I was astonished to discover both these guys, who for so long have been associated with medium and large format film, are both solidly digital now.  I do wonder if the demise of chromo printing services is one reason for this.  It might not have been the case say five years ago, but with modern digital equipment it is just so much easier now to get a commercially acceptable result.

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 26,742
Re: Agree for B&W

Neil-O wrote:

Steven Seven wrote:

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.

This coronavirus situation has given me a lot of spare time and I've been culling loads of prints that frankly should have been binned a long time ago. Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

I'm not sure you can fully compensate in post processing either, but as you say it is such an effort, and seems to go against the ethos of using film in the first place.

it is somewhat different with slides and I have a few prints that I am quite happy with, but I still wonder what they would have looked like wet printed.

Cibachrome prints from slides could be very good, although the high contrast of slides was difficult to deal with.

When "scanning" with a digital camera, HDR deals nicely with the high contrast. Many cameras have an HDR mode built in, if you don't mind the JPG output. Otherwise you can bracket and use Affinity Photo; but this is much slower.

It's been such a long time since chromogenic printing was the norm, I wonder how many observers of colour neg film images actually know what they should look like.

Slides are horrifically expensive to work with and famously intolerant of poor technique, but I'm coming to the conclusion that it's the only option for colour film as I can't see (consumer) scanning technology/software improving at all.

I wonder how good Nikon's in-camera software is ?

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 26,742
Re: Agree for B&W
1

Neil-O wrote:

Olifaunt wrote:

Neil-O wrote:

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

This is true.

The trigger for me to go back to film 3 years ago was one day when I stumbled upon my long-ignored stacks of envelopes of my old wet prints from the 90s.

In those prints I saw lifelike color, tone, and dynamic range that I hadn't seen in my digital images in 15 years. I used a cheap point and shoot and never thought for a second about exposure except for fill-in flash. A good lab did the rest. Back then you discarded pictures because someone's eyes were closed or something, because technically they were all pretty much guaranteed to be fine.

You can get a some of this back in good scans. Never quite exactly, because they will for the most part be sRGB (smaller gamut) and displays are not paper, but still usually pleasing. It is hard to find labs today that will give you scans as good as those prints were in the 90s. And to get good scans at home, you really need a good eye.

Browsing the internet over the last few weeks I notice how many pro landscape photographers have migrated to digital, for example Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite who might not be known worldwide, but to UK amateurs are pretty much household names. I was astonished to discover both these guys, who for so long have been associated with medium and large format film, are both solidly digital now. I do wonder if the demise of chromo printing services is one reason for this. It might not have been the case say five years ago, but with modern digital equipment it is just so much easier now to get a commercially acceptable result.

I think B&W film still makes sense, because it is an alternative kind of image, like pen-and-ink, etching, wood engraving, pencil drawing, etc.

Colour film, I doubt.

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Dan Wagner
Dan Wagner Contributing Member • Posts: 761
Re: Agree for B&W
3

For color, you want neutral scans. So if there's an eye dropper tool you can find a neutral area - then see how the preview looks. Scan similarly exposed and processed negs/slides whenever possible.

For black and white try to preserve details and tonality.

Avoid dust.

Try to avoid moire patterns.

Keep your film flat or it won't be in focus from center to corners.

Use multiple pass when possible.

Usually 8 bit looks as good as 16 bit.

For color - you can use ICE to remove dust.

And it's very rare that a scan won't need adjusting in Photoshop.

Look at image at 100 percent or greater and clone out dust and scratches.

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OP Autonerd Contributing Member • Posts: 629
Re: Agree for B&W
2

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

I haven't done much in the way of scanning color film negs, but I happened to find a shot that was on of my favorites. Scanned it on my Epson V550 with just the presets for the film (3M, I believe -- cheap drug-store stuff). I was actually rather pleased with the result -- a little flat, perhaps, but it has that "film look" as I remember it:

I have the print around here somewhere but have not compared them... not sure I want to.

Aaron

Mike Engles Contributing Member • Posts: 584
Re: Agree for B&W

I have been archiving my family negatives and slides and use a Epson V800 with Lightroom. Generally I get reasonable results, as I am not expecting that much.

I do scan with very conservative flat settings and then take my time in Lightroom.

I just output 3000x2000 compressed tiffs, there is really not much more to be had from the films.I usel Lightroom, because I scan the whole film and cull later as it is quite easy using the film strip to get a general result that  is consistent

This is a scan of negatives and they compare pretty reasonably with the machine prints I have. Scanning them is much easier than trying to print them, which is why 30 years ago I prayed for the ability to do this on a computer and save the waste of materials and expense

LolaColor New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Funny you mention those
1

You can totally get an LS600 running on Windows 10 if you disable driver signing... or something. Can't quite remember, but that's what I did. Or some people have a dedicated Windows 7 box for scanning.

Noritsus offer the possibility of a v low contrast scan so dynamic range shouldn't really be an issue. There's also an option to delve deeper into overexposed shots to recover more highlight detail.

DSLR scans won't beat a Noritsu for pretty colour IMO. I don't think you'd regret it.

Steven Seven
Steven Seven Regular Member • Posts: 362
Re: Funny you mention those

But I was under impression that to unlock all features [1], one needs to have a copy of "EZ Controller" software. If I buy a scanner without it, I'll be stuck with only the basic adjustments via a generic USB scanner driver.

Are you saying that EZ Controller doesn't add much value? It's hard for me to say, the information available online is limited.

[1] 48-bit scanning, much faster speed, CCD noise reduction, DSA (digital scan adjustement, whatever that is)

Smaug01
Smaug01 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,353
Re: Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?
1

Autonerd wrote:

I've read a lot of comments here about the best way to scan, reproducing true colors from the film, whether post-process color balancing is a good thing or not, etc., etc.

In reading all this, it occurred to me that something has been forgotten: The fact that, in the pre-digital days, color correction was, I believe, a part of the C41 color-printing process. IIRC, the machines did it (by operator or automatically? not sure)

I worked in a Ritz Camera & One Hour Photo in the early 90s. I had two girlfriends who were lab girls. They could do magic with a negative that wasn't totally wrong, as you said below. They did exposure compensation when printing just by a glance. They could tell when color was off by a glance at the negatives. ("It looks too cyan, give it a couple stops of magenta")

A good negative yielded a perfect print. An OK negative yielded a perfect print. A bad negative could still yield a usable print

I think this is the major source of perceived film latitude. It's not so much that the FILM can take it, but that it can be corrected in printing, which could not easily be done with slides. (and definitely not when projecting through them)

*******

These days, I find myself manipulating my B&W scans just as I would a digital image from my digicam. I just want the contrast, exposure and crop to be right. Occasional dust or spec removal, occasional cloning out of a zit or something.

But somehow, the results look better with film. Maybe it's just because I take so much care in the whole process...

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*********
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Kevin Omura
Kevin Omura Senior Member • Posts: 2,326
We used to say, garbage in, garbage out...

Always best to strive for the best quality possible. Granted as you said, film has some pretty good latitude and if you are taking that negative and scanning it then a lot can be fixed in Photoshop or other image editing software.

I shot a spot news photo with the then brand new Kodak panoramic disposable camera. I was out testing it and stumbled upon a scene that was the aftermath of a major news event that week. Only camera I had was the Kodak but I took the shot anyway because there were no other media there. I knew it was going to be underexposed so I pushed it two stops back at the office and still got a pretty thin negative. But by scanning and tweaking digitally we a got a very usable A2 photo for the paper.

Film has great latitude but todays digital cameras that can be cranked up to insane ISO's kind of put things into perspective.

In terms of C41 processing. We ran our film through a Kodak then Fuji Minilab, it was possible to slightly tweak the process to squeeze an extra stop out of it only in an emergency. The older Kreonite could be pushed to 2 stops.

Anyhow you always wanted the best quality negatives you could possibly make so it starts with the exposure then tight controls in the processing. Eg running control strips daily to ensure the processor(s) are in spec.

We had a Hope processor for our B&W films and it too was carefully monitored using test strips and then read with a sensitometer to ensure it was in spec. Same for the C41 processors.

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Trevor Sowers
Trevor Sowers Senior Member • Posts: 1,129
Re: Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?
1

Autonerd wrote:

I've read a lot of comments here about the best way to scan, reproducing true colors from the film, whether post-process color balancing is a good thing or not, etc., etc.

In reading all this, it occurred to me that something has been forgotten: The fact that, in the pre-digital days, color correction was, I believe, a part of the C41 color-printing process. IIRC, the machines did it (by operator or automatically? not sure) and I know we had that option available to us in the darkroom. (Though in my color print class, I don't remember doing it much, if at all.)

We mustn't forget, after all, that C41 negatives are as orange as an Oompa-Loompa.

Same for exposure -- there was so much latitude built into the films that your exposure and balance could be off by a stop or two and the prints still looked good and probably great. That's why 35mm point-n-shoot cameras became so popular -- you were almost guaranteed good results. Worlds better than disc or 110 or 126 (all of which I owned, albeit as a kid).

Same for B&W -- a not-quite-perfect exposure could be compensated for in the printing process. That's why we did test strips. Otherwise we'd just print everything at the same (enlarger) exposure.

Color slide was the exception, because what you shot is what you got. And even then we didn't necessarily want real-life accuracy. That's why we shot Fuji Velvia. What Paul Simon said about Kodakchrome was right: "Makes you think all the world's a sunny day."

To me, photography wasn't so much about how I saw the world as it was about how I saw it and wanted it to be seen.

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.

Recently I got some healthy negatives from a roll of FP4+ and thin negs from Arista Edu 200. My scanner produced beautiful scans from both of them. Thank you auto-exposure. At first I thought this was a cheat, but then I realized, no -- that's exactly what I would have done in the dark room. Test strip and pick the best exposure.

I want my B&W negatives to reflect what I shot, but I've had to ease up on myself about adjusting contrast and brightness -- things we could do in the darkroom with filters or different paper.

The point being negatives didn't have to be perfect (or perfectly printed) then and don't have to be perfect (or perfectly scanned) now. Except slides.

But I have a feeling that the quest for that perfect scan is the urge to avoid the manipulation inherent in digital. In digital anyone can dress up a crappy shot; in film you have to shoot just right. Except back in the days you *didn't* have to be totally right. You just couldn't be totally wrong. (Except slides!)

After all, isn't Photoshop merely the darkroom of the present? It just makes the process a crap-ton easier and faster. (Certainly too easy for me, and beyond contrast and brightness I don't bother.)

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my views are outdated. I understand some color print films are specifically made for scanning. So maybe they do need perfect reproduction.

Thoughts?

Aaron

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when I’m scanning negatives I’m just trying to make the best image I can get from the negative. When I’m scanning slides I’m trying to get a scan that looks like the original slide because the slide looks superior and it’s difficult to get a scan to do justice to the original

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Rich42 Senior Member • Posts: 1,501
Re: Agree for B&W

Olifaunt wrote:

Neil-O wrote:

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

This is true.

The trigger for me to go back to film 3 years ago was one day when I stumbled upon my long-ignored stacks of envelopes of my old wet prints from the 90s.

In those prints I saw lifelike color, tone, and dynamic range that I hadn't seen in my digital images in 15 years.

Then you need to seriously have your digital camera repaired or seriously check your technique. I've spent a career processing film, and your experience is quite unusual re digital quality vs film.

I used a cheap point and shoot and never thought for a second about exposure except for fill-in flash. A good lab did the rest. Back then you discarded pictures because someone's eyes were closed or something, because technically they were all pretty much guaranteed to be fine.

You can get a some of this back in good scans. Never quite exactly, because they will for the most part be sRGB (smaller gamut) and displays are not paper, but still usually pleasing. It is hard to find labs today that will give you scans as good as those prints were in the 90s. And to get good scans at home, you really need a good eye.

Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,169
Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camera)
4

I wrote these blog posts in 2013 and 2014 and then an update in 2019 (I have been scanning film since 1997 using 3 different film scanners):

Part 1: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camera)

http://bakubo.blogspot.com/2013/12/scanning-torture-or-learning-to-love.html

Part 2: Over 10,000 35mm slides and negatives scanned!

http://bakubo.blogspot.com/2014/01/over-10000-35mm-slides-and-negatives.html

Part 3: Update on scanning color negatives

http://bakubo.blogspot.com/2019/12/update-on-scanning-color-negatives.html

I think many people here will find them very interesting. By the way, I found that the most satisfying scans were from B&W film, followed by color slide film, and lastly color negative film. Since 2000 I have been using the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900 with Vuescan. Here is info and a review of the Scan Elite:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DSE/DSEA.HTM

Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900

Having said all that I enjoy working on my old film scans and can usually get pretty good results.

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Henry Richardson
http://www.bakubo.com

Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,169
Re: Agree for B&W
1

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
http://www.bakubo.com

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