View Full Version : Scanning BW film as color transparency or color negatives?
I just read the February issue of Leica Fotografie International in which there is an article on scanning black & white film.
They say that you can get the best results scanning your black & white films if scanning as color negative film or color transparency film.
I just tried that and still find the best results are if scanning black & white film as black and white film in greyscale mode.
I am using Ilford HP5 and FP4 films and a Nikon Coolscan IVED.
Does anybody know something about this issue?
Thanks and greetings,
Scanning B&W as B&W -> Greyscale gives better result. BUT chromogenic B&W films such as T400CN is best done as colour film because then I can use dust & scratch removal tool.
My scanner is the measly Canon 5000F though; a flatbed!
Shutterbug published an exhaustive (for me) article a while back about b/w scanning. The author suggested scanning b/w negatives as 24-bit color negative.
Here's a link to the article:
Mike, I visited the URL you posted. I didn't read the article very thoroughly, but the author actually suggests scanning B&W negative as B&W positive (e.g. Agfa Scala) at the highest bit depth possible, then invert the scan in Photoshop.
My guess is the author is trying to by-pass the limited capability of scanning software for inverting the negative image? I notice USM feature in my scanning software is nowhere as good as that in Photoshop. I get much more sharpening artifacts if I use USM in this ScanGear CS.
I've done it both ways: first scanning B&W negs in greyscale and then scanning other negs/Scala slides in color mode, and then desaturating.
I liked the latter; it was easier and quicker, and I didn't have to worry about the outcome. Try them and find out yourselves! :)
Kris, you're right about that. I don't know where I came up with the 24-bit RGB color thing. And I meant to say that the original image should appear as a negative on the screen. So I pretty much was wrong on both accounts. Oh well.
Luckily, the article offers a much better explanation than me.
Mike and Martin
I tried scanning B&W negatives as if I was scanning B&W slide (i.e. the scanned image looks like the negative).
One thin I notice straight away is the improvement in hightlight areas. When I scanned B&W negs as negs, the details in bright areas are burnt. Having it scanned as B&W slides (then invert in PS later) preserve the details. Contrast is more managable.
Check this example. The hot area just above the tram has details here. Compared to the same photo but scanned as negs, that area has no details. I did try playing with curves in the scanning software when doing the earlier scan but no details can be salvaged.
The earlier scan is here:
Conclusion: indeed it's better to scan the negs as if it's a B&W slides.
PS: My scanner is the cheap 5000F flatbed. If yours is the better film dedicated scanner, then this conclusion may not apply.
Also my scanning software is ScanGear CS, very limited and pain in the @$$ to use but I have to live with it since there's no 3rd party available that I know compatible with the 5000F.
After reading this I re scanned some test negs from my new Bronica 645 RF which were on 120 HP5 film. I tried B/W greyscale, colour neg and colour reversal settings on my Epson 3200 scanner. There was no doubt that scanning as colour reversal and inverting then desaturating in PS gave the best results. There were far more details in both the highlights and the shadows; amost no noise or grain and a better range of tones.
This is the method I will use in future; thanks very much for the tip.
Comparing my own trials using the Nikon 4000, 5000 and 8000 with other people's experience I suspect that it depends a lot on what you want and what scanner you use - so my advice is the same as Francisco's: try it for yourself.
I generally scan conventional B&W neg as a greyscale neg and occasionally as a greyscale pos. Note that if you want to use GEM grain suppression you need to scan in RGB for all films.
Experimentation is the best way to decide for yourself. I've tried the scan as col transparency thing and, for me, it didn't add any quality. In part it's a function of the scanner you're using and also the scanning software.
I use VueScan for B&W scanning it keeps the hilights and shadows in much better shape than the Minolta scanning software that came with my Minolta 5400. The Minolta software is notorious for clipping at both ends.
Thanks for the tips - I'll try this evening if I get time.
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