Please share your scanning method
Old 05-08-2010   #1
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Please share your scanning method

Hi,

I've just purchased a Nikon Coolscan IV ED and am learning to use it. I was hoping to get some advice on how you are using it to get excellent quality scans. Also I have some questions; Does the Ice feature not work with black and white negatives? Why are there white borders above and below my scanned negatives?

Thank you,
-J
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Old 05-08-2010   #2
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Digital ICE only works on color film or the C-41 process black and white films, not on traditional BW films.

The borders are cause the scanner sees a slightly larger area than the neg

To scan BW negs, I scan as a transparency and invert in photoshop. This gives a little wider tonal range if the neg is a contrasty one. Scan as greyscale. Contrary to some claims there is NO advantage to scanning BW film as a color RGB image. It just makes the file 3 times as big. Scan EVERYTHING as 16 bit, the difference between 16 bit and 8 bit is dramatic if you have to adjust contrast much, as you usually do with BW negs; they scan very flat and need a lot of contrast added in photoshop.

Scan everything at 4000 DPI. Nothing sucks more than scanning a neg at a low resolution then later deciding you want a big print and having to not only rescan but redo all the dodging and burning and other work you did on the scan.
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Old 05-08-2010   #3
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A couple of quick points:

Though many people criticize Nikon Scan and advocate using Vuescan, I've gotten excellent results using Nikon's software. I like to scan at 4000 dpi and output to tiff files. I typically do all of my post processing in Lightroom, though the analog gain feature in Nikon Scan is useful at times with slightly underexposed slides. Ice works very well for e-6 and c-41, but it destroys fine edge detail with Kodachrome.

Last edited by not_in_good_order : 05-08-2010 at 13:40.
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Old 05-08-2010   #4
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I suspect you might get a few different answers to this one - but I go with Chris Crawford except that I don't scan as a transparency but as a B+W neg - I don't seem to have any problems with tonal range.
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Old 05-08-2010   #5
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I scan in VueScan and save files as DNG, with most post in Lightroom and sometimes a bit of work (e.g., spotting) in Photoshop.
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Old 05-08-2010   #6
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Use you software's cropping tool to define the area you want to scan. That eliminates the border.
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Old 05-08-2010   #7
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Chris has some very good monochrome on his site or here, can`t remember so I would follow him.

I scan B&W mode, 16 bit, full rez, and get the curve to not clip. The rest is all photoshop

If the contrast range is too large, I psuedo HDR it. Make a highlight scan and shadow scan and combine in photoshop with a luminosity mask or hand dodge a mask.
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Old 05-13-2010   #8
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Is there a way to set it so I don't have to crop each time. Setting up everything each time is a pain. My scanner didn't come with a manual so I just have to guess at everything.
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Old 05-13-2010   #9
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Welcome to the club. I actually use Vuescan on my Coolscan V ED. ICE does not work with B+W (unless C41) film. The white edges are a result of not cropping correctly in the scanning software. I would definitely give Vuescan (www.hamrick.com) a try, it even allows me to continue using my scanner under Windows 7 64 bit for which there are no Nikon drivers available.

The trick with scanning is to maybe change your developing process (assuming you do your own) to slightly less contrasty negs and then scanning to make sure that you get as much information out of the negative as possible (highest not interpolated resolution and adjusting exposure to minimize clipping). The scans will look grey and dull, but that is fine as you will be able to finetune contrast in the post processing software of your choice.

Below link gives some information on how to use Vuescan. You may or may not need to scan as a positive as Chris suggests, there are many ways that lead to Rome. The scanning part is easy to learn and you will get the hang of it after some experimenting. The hard part is the post processing.


http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...hlight=vuescan
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Old 05-14-2010   #10
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So far, I have been disappointed with the scans because I thought I'd get more shadow detail and highlight for that matter, but maybe I just need to develop my negs to a little less contrast.
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Old 05-14-2010   #11
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Sorry to hear that you are not happy. Don't know which scanning/post processign software you use, but you can also try to do 2 scans. One scan exposed for shadows and one for the highlights and then combine the two in post processing to extend the tonal range.

Don't give up too soon. You will get there.
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Old 05-14-2010   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by click View Post
Is there a way to set it so I don't have to crop each time. Setting up everything each time is a pain. My scanner didn't come with a manual so I just have to guess at everything.
You can download the manual here: http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/...4000_40_en.pdf

You can also find the latest version of Nikon Scan on the nikonusa website.

You don't have to crop each time; you can save scanning settings. See the manual.
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Old 05-14-2010   #13
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Do you adjust your curves before the scan or after? My gut says leave the scan alone and adjust in post but I could be wrong?
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Old 05-14-2010   #14
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Negs that are developed to print on #2 paper with a condenser enlarger are as high a contrast as you want to use. Less is even better.

Tri X is a good scanning film, so is Delta 100, T Max 100 and 400. Expose at half speed and cut development 20% from above contrast recomendation for even better results.

Keep the film clean and you will not need digi ICE or any other tricks. If you reuse fix and do not have filtered water and air, then pay the price. Find the clone stamp.

A clean darkroom gives clean negs and prints.
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Old 05-14-2010   #15
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I use both the 5000 and 9000 -- wonderful scanners. I also use Nikon's scanning software and am completely happy with it and the results.

Scan your black and white negs using the mono setting - and either in gray scale or RGB. I scan using RGB for a lot of reasons (I use to sell million dollar scanners - I had some of the world's best teach me how to scan) -- either way works fine.

Learn to use the black point tool to set your black point. Adjusting curves to adjust tonality is fine with the software, but when you save as a 16bit TIFF, you can easy adjust in post processing. The key is to make sure your scan captures all the tonal range possible - so adjusting the curve is pretty important. I'd say the more you scan, the more you'll become aware of when to use the curve settings.

If I'm using images for the web only - I tend to scan at 1200dpi (I will usually use those same scans to print out 4x6's for fun in our house). If I know I'm going to print something on a nice digital printer I'll scan at highest resolution - 4000dpi. There's a school of thought that says to scan at highest rez all the time, but those files are huge - and for my purposes pretty unnecessary - especially for web work.

There are several great resources on the web. Several schools use Nikon scanners - or used them in the past - and they have instructions online - with tips. Google Nikon Coolscan - and you should come up with plenty of resources.
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Old 05-14-2010   #16
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Dear click,

Depending on the possibilities of your post processing software I would always do curves after scanning. Best practice for printing is highest resolution/bit depth and just getting as much information out of the negative as possible. Making the image look like you visualized you do as much as possible in post. It simply gives you more options for tonal seperation, interpreting tones, doing some very light HDR etc etc. In case you have scanned with curves and you change your mind about how you want the picture to look you will have to scan all over again. With a good clean neutral master scan you just use that file for a different interpretation in post processing software, much easier. 9 out of 10 times when scanning with curves you still end up in Photoshop or whatever if you really want your prints to look nice. It is a myth that the digital darkroom takes less time or effort than the old wet darkroom.

Last edited by Peter S : 05-14-2010 at 08:38. Reason: a.o. very bad grammar. A little bit better now.
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Old 05-14-2010   #17
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My thoughts about key issues for great scans:

1) critically edit negs first on a light table with a good loupe. You are ultimately going to use only 1-2 negs per roll. So decide which ones they are before you scan. That saves you so much scan time that you never have to worry. BTW, it is easy to edit negs. You just have to realize you can do it.

2) realize that a good scan is one that captures all the data in the neg. No more, no less. Don't worry if the scan look flat and crappy. It is just a step along the way to the final result. In fact, a good looking scan will typically not result in the optimum print.

3) take time to understand what your scanner functionally does in hardware (very little) and how much it does in software (typically a lot). Then strive to eliminate as much of the software driver image manipulation as possible. Do all of those functions later with your image editor where they are much more controllable.

4) Remember your scanner is not some mysterious black box that you can make do wonders by knowing some secret codes. So don't over complicate the process. There are only a few key points to getting great scans. Yet, there are many involved complicated things you can do that will take time but won't improve your scans one bit.
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Old 05-14-2010   #18
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I don't bother trying to eliminate the border when performing the scan. I simply fo that when I post process in lightroom. I do very little within the scanning software other than trying to capture as much data as possible in the tiff
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Old 05-25-2010   #19
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Thank you for all the kind advice. I've listen to the audio blog on scanning, read up and experimented. can anyone point me in the direction of more information on two part scanning where I scan for the highlights and scan for the shadows. I want to try this and am not sure how to do it. My scans look so flat and I know from darkroom experience how they're supposed to look. Even the old scans I had done at Walgreens look better than this and I'm using a much better scanner at a much higher resolution.
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Old 05-25-2010   #20
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Quote:
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<snip> My scans look so flat and I know from darkroom experience how they're supposed to look. Even the old scans I had done at Walgreens look better than this and I'm using a much better scanner at a much higher resolution.
If you scans look flat they are probably very good. What you want to do with the scan is capture all the data. No more, no less.

Now you can take that flat looking scan and adjust the levels and contrast in an image editor (like Photoshop) to make a great looking print or JPG.

A scan that looks good right out of the scanner already had the levels set. Maybe where you want them, maybe not. If the histogram is clipped, you have lost data that you can never retrieve. Also, that good looking scan already has the contrast adjusted. Maybe it is where you want it, maybe not.

Remember what comes from the scanner is only an interim step, not the final product.

Edit: I just realized that I said all of this a week ago.
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Old 05-26-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
If you scans look flat they are probably very good. What you want to do with the scan is capture all the data. No more, no less.
Wow, somebody finally said that!

Quote:
Now you can take that flat looking scan and adjust the levels and contrast in an image editor (like Photoshop) to make a great looking print or JPG.
Part of the trials and tribulations I had learning to scan was trying to make the perfect scan, doing all kinds of futzing around with the bells and whistles of the scanning software.

I finally learned, as you say, to do most of this "in post" using Photoshop.

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I like this quote! It especially applies to this thread.
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Old 05-26-2010   #22
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There's a very effective tutorial on using Vuescan for B&W on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/groups/ishootf...7608204093047/

The key is setting the exposure initially to an off frame section of the negative.
This tells the scanner what the maximum black should be, everything else falls in place. This reminds me of a wet printing technique I learned from Fred Picker's video where you set the exposure time to the the one that first turns the test strip section max black
I've found that getting detail from shadows is ridiculously easy.
You do get a flat scan out of this, and then need to apply S-curves in post-processing. I've used Photoshop and Aperture for this, in the end I bought Aperture 3.0
The scanner I use is a Nikon Coolscan V. I tried Nikon's scanning software - it kept crashing on my Mac
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Old 09-19-2010   #23
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Quote:
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So far, I have been disappointed with the scans because I thought I'd get more shadow detail and highlight for that matter, but maybe I just need to develop my negs to a little less contrast.
I heard a lot of people say in the past that you should develop negs to a lower contrast for scanning to be sure to get all the detail. This is just plain wrong IMO.

The reason is that most modern scanners have a Dmax of somewhere between 3 and 4. That number is the log of the density and each 0.3 equates to one stop of negative density (not subject stop range). A normal black and white negative will have between 1 and 1.8 density depending on how you developed it and your subject. Occasionally it might goto 2 or even a bit higher. Either way, it is well within the 3 to 4 which the scanner is capable of unless you have a cheap or old scanner.

But the thin part of the neg (the shadows) may not retain all the information in the scan if you don't adjust the actual scanner settings to correct for the neg. So if you are always going to scan to print, then I would give a little over exposure to always get plenty of shadow detail in the negative. Then you can adjust in post processing. Only half a stop extra. The highlights will still be well within range of your scanners ability to get the neg highlight detail out.

Incidentally transparencies can have a Dmax of 4 which is why they are difficult to scan and you get a lot of noise in the shadows. With B+W negs you will get noise in the highlights if they are too dense but you shouldn't reach that level of density in a normal negative.

B+W negs can look really bad when scanned from some scanners. A scanner with a really strong diffusion sheet between light source and neg will probably work best. I don't have a current Nikon but my old coolscan LS-30 was useless for B+W 35mm film. It made grain look awful. I think newer ones are much better.

digital ice works by using IR light. dust stops the IR from passing and that indicates to scanner that dust is there to be removed. Silver in B+W negs looks like dust to ICE software so never use it when scanning B+W negs.

And I agree with others above that a flat looking scan is normal. This is because a B+W neg density range is much less than the scanner can handle as I pointed out above. So you shouldn't reduce development but just give a little extra neg expsoure.

Nikon scan should work just fine if you you set it correctly and save to tiff.
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Old 11-18-2010   #24
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Having trouble with the latest Vuescan version, I tried to go back to Nikonscan 4 and found that, since I have upgraded to Window 7, it no longer works properly. I can scan individual negs, but there seems no way to get the software to recognize the batch method on my LS50. So I'm back in Vuescan and using the Flickr tutorial method referenced above. The results seem to work, but are a bit time consuming. I scan all negs and afterwards delete because there is no way for me to really determine how good or bad a shot is based on the preview. Aside from the occasional flat-out BAD photos.

If I do an exhibit print, I may set the scanner software for three passes per scan. Very time wasting it seems at first, but usually great results.
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Old 02-07-2011   #25
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four things to do to improve your scans
I have found four things using the Epson V700 scanner that vastly improve my scans. I assume they would relate to pretty much any hardware.

1, turn the small clips that hold the film holder up from the glass plate from the - to the + setting, obviously only for the Epson V700, this increases sharpness noticeably!

2, turn everything off sharpening, ice, dust removal etc.

3, scan the image to actual print size you desire at 300 dpi or whatever dpi you actually print at.

4, turn color management off in your scanner software, this gives you a virtual scanner raw file, then process the scan in Lightroom or something similar, just as you would a RAW file from digital capture.

By doing all four of these things I have improved my scans to the point where they compare well to many drum scanners.
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Old 03-10-2011   #26
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In my experience, each negative needs to be treated differently. Many people, for example, always scan B&W negs as a 16-bit transparency. I've found that sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Using this method, I've gotten scans that were actually worse than simply scanning as an 8-bit B&W negative.
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Old 04-21-2011   #27
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After lots of experimentation, pulling hair out, various scanning programs, reading lots of information about scanning, more hair pulling, I still do not get good results. I tried Vuescan, I read the tutorials about getting maximum black and the results in every case are terribly grainy, ugly images. For some unknown reason Vuescan produces an output that is completely black. Nikon's scanning software results mostly in images that look like a bad solarization job or are so grainy they're unusable. I don't know if there's something wrong with my scanner. I've tried every setting there is, no settings, factory defaults and nothing works.

I primarily need scans to update my website and to provide customers with digital versions of my work. I don't make prints digitally as they don't hold a candle to my darkroom work.

Does anyone have any ideas?
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Old 04-21-2011   #28
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Quote:
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After lots of experimentation, pulling hair out, various scanning programs, reading lots of information about scanning, more hair pulling, I still do not get good results. I tried Vuescan, I read the tutorials about getting maximum black and the results in every case are terribly grainy, ugly images. For some unknown reason Vuescan produces an output that is completely black. Nikon's scanning software results mostly in images that look like a bad solarization job or are so grainy they're unusable. I don't know if there's something wrong with my scanner. I've tried every setting there is, no settings, factory defaults and nothing works.

I primarily need scans to update my website and to provide customers with digital versions of my work. I don't make prints digitally as they don't hold a candle to my darkroom work.

Does anyone have any ideas?
It sounds like you have Digital ICE turned on while scanning black and white film. ICE only works with color film, or the C-41 process black and white films, not traditional BW films, and it gives exactly the effect you describe!
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Old 04-21-2011   #29
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Thanks Chris, I will make certain that feature is disabled. I'm reasonably sure that I turned it off but as I've tried so many things who knows for sure?

Trying again now.
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Old 04-21-2011   #30
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Another tip for Epson v700 users (don't think this works with the Nikon) ...

I was getting decent results with 35mm using the supplied film holder, especially after fiddling with the height of the film holder against the glass platter. It wasn't a big adjustment, but it made a significant difference. The v700 seems to have a definite sweet spot in terms of sharpening.

Also, I tend to be fanatical about flattening my neg's nowadays. I wasn't before, and just scanned them (b&w or color) after developing. But as we all know, different film brands tend to react differently after developing. I tend to throw my negs in a dense book (Intro to Calculus, always a good choice!) ... and let them get pressed for 2-3 days. This is probably obvious to other people already, but for me, neg flatness makes a huge difference.

I was also having issues with scanning my medium format stuff into the Epson. I was never happy with the results. I bought the 'Better Scanning' holder with the ANR glass ... and still wasn't that happy. Finally, I abandoned the Epson plastic holder and Better Scanning holder ... and tried something radically different.

I went to an art supply shop and had two pieces of museum-quality archival glass cut into 8x10 inch squares. The glass is very thin and multi-coated. I handle it with gloves. Literally.

What I do is place my 120 negs on the glass and make a sandwich. I place this glass sandwich directly on the scanner's glass bed. Sometimes I have to use a bit of adhesive tape to keep the glass pieces in place. Low-tech, but it works. I can typically mount half-a-dozen 6x6 or 6x7 negs this way.

I mask this sandwich with the Epson 8x10 black scanning boarder that is supplied with the scanner. This helps the scanner identify and locate the necessary scanning area.

Using the native Epson software, I use 'pro' mode and 'film area guide', then select the negs I want to scan using the manual tool.

The quality of the scans I have gotten from this method have been incredibly sharp -- breathtaking, really. Equivalent (to my eyes) to scans from a much more expensive machine.

It's a lot more hassle than throwing the medium format negs in that flimsy Epson film holder, but the results are worth it. The Epson v700 series scanners are really really good -- you just have to experiment and learn what works.
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Old 08-24-2011   #31
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Hey guys, I use the scanning method which I have described in detail here:

http://goo.gl/1y3FJ

I am yet to find a good one for the colour negatives... This one works great for black and white.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-24-2011   #32
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... cut development 20% from above contrast recomendation for even better results.
This is good to hear. I thought I was the only one who found this to be the case.
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Old 08-24-2011   #33
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Less development is the key. But it depends on the film whether a neg that prints on #2 paper with a condenser enlarger will scan right. Plus X is worst, too much contrast. Tri X is the best. Done extensive teasting.

Delta 100, TM 100 & 400 both print and scan well if made for #2 paper/condenser.

I tried scanning as color pos and it got no more range.

If the whole range will not fit, make two scans, one for good highlights, a second for good shadows. Then combine in PS with the darker on top with a luminosity mask. This works with a digital camera also. See "The Lights Right.com", digital dark room tab, video tutorials, blended exposures.

The better the scanner, the more grain you see. Nik Define 2 is my solution. Wet scanning is better, but a PITA.

Leave the negs under a book for a few days until they flatten before you scan otherwise they buckle just like an enlarger. Reverse roll emulsion out for a few days also works.
Commercially developed film normally will not have that problem.

I never scan in any automatic mode, only manual. Save the setting so you do not reinvent the wheel each time.

Bring it into photoshop and it will be not be in correct color mode, so I convert mind to the latest monitor profile, then go to image, adjust , black and white and I get a true no color cast monochrome. Tone with any number of ways. I usually use a graduated color mask modified using "blend if" to keep the color out of the very deep blacks.
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Old 11-20-2011   #34
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Originally Posted by marcr1230 View Post
There's a very effective tutorial on using Vuescan for B&W on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/groups/ishootf...7608204093047/
I've been using this method with Vuescan for B&W for some time. Just starting now with color negative and positive.

I'd like to know if anyone can provide me with a link to a viable method for color?
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Old 11-20-2011   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noimmunity View Post
I'd like to know if anyone can provide me with a link to a viable method for color?
After so many approaches at different techniques I now use Vuescan. I am scanning colour negatives as colour negatives (so I let the software to process it for me). Then, I am manually setting the white balance and later I only change white point - nothing else. The effect I am taking through Adobe Camera Raw, as it has perfect white balance setting tools (so I can super-refine it) and it doesn't destroy data while working on the file. From ACR, I am exporting the files to whatever size/crop I want, and later fine-tune them (if required, mostly just sharpening) in Photoshop.

This works well for me.

Fuji Superia 200 (Ricoh 500G) scanned this way (pretty accurate colour-wise, as far as I remember this hot Moroccan roof and the crazy cat ;)

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Old 12-27-2011   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noimmunity View Post
I've been using this method with Vuescan for B&W for some time. Just starting now with color negative and positive.

I'd like to know if anyone can provide me with a link to a viable method for color?
I've started using this method http://benneh.net/blog/2008/04/21/be...-with-vuescan/ and also his alternative method (which requires a PhotoShop plug-in) http://benneh.net/blog/2010/09/25/vu...uide/?goal=yes

The Color Perfect method is the easiest, but the plug-in isn't free and it doesn't work with most non-PS editors, even the ones that work with most PS plug-ins (I prefer Corel Paintshop Pro).
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Old 05-26-2012   #37
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My technique;
Scan on the glass with my V750, keeps the dust away and you dont get lines and other problems as when you use the holders. The difference in sharpness is minimal.
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Old 06-17-2012   #38
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Hi,
thanks to all your comments and suggestions.

the above is a scan of a neopan 400 35mm film from my epson v700.
here are the stuff i gleaned and implemented from this thread:

a. changed the height adjustment from 3mm to 3.5mm, i did this after detecting a ever-so-slight increase in shadow details between 3mm and 3.5mm (both with sharpening turned off).

b. scan as 16-bit grey

c. scan at 3200 dpi

d. turned off auto-exposure but left sharpening to default medium.

e. adjusted the histogram to make sure both black and white pointers covered the entire histogram; as for the middle grey pointer, i moved it as left-most as possible while keeping the "tone curve" as concave as possible, too much left would make it an "S" curve.



This produced a very flat low contrast file, which I Post-processing in PS.

I would appreciate comments, especially on part e.

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Old 06-30-2012   #39
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Personally I would do two things differently, that is if I were scanning with post processing in mind. Seldom does a scan to ready for print work well.

I would set the Ouput range to 0 to 255. This increases the angle of the curve, increasing the spread of the histogram. I would also not set mid-grey as high as 1.65. I would set it closer to 1.00, giving a straighter curve, but not necessarily completely bereft of toe and shoulder. Check the Show ouput view. Want you want is a good spread of values all along the histogram from 0-255 if possible. Have in mind some negatives just will not scan well, no matter how hard you try.

I agree with Bob and Chris. A low contrast scan with a good and even spread of values from black to white will give you a good starting point for post processing. In PP you have much more control over levels, contrast (in general and locally), exposure, definition, sharpness, the lot. Much of which most scanners/scanner SW are not very good at.
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Old 06-30-2012   #40
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I don't have much to add here, but to say that I have the Nikon Coolscan 9000. I can get a pretty good
scan now, after a bit of a trial.

I scan at the highest rez, and output to 250 or 300 DPI. I use a glass holder, keep everything clean, and
turn off "ICE" and Clean up the inevitable dust later in Photoshop.

I don't know what others have found, but for me, "ICE" seems to make things just a little less sharp,
particularly on 35mm. Yes, It does save time, because it cleans up dust etc. , but if you want a little more sharpness, turn it off..

I output to RAW. Which for this scanner is a .NEF file. file. I have the older version CS3 version of Photoshop.
CS3 does not recognize .NEF files so I had to download the free version of "Adobe DNG converter" from Adobe
which will convert NEF files to DNG files.
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