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mafoofan
04-02-2012, 06:27
Is it impossible to scan black and white negatives with a high-end consumer scanner without clipping? I'm using a Nikon 5000ED and have yet to figure out how to capture the full tonal range from black and white negatives. I've tried using Vuescan's Lock Exposure feature, manually setting the white and black points to 0%, adjusting the buffer area to exclude the film edges, inputting and outputting in various combinations of 16-bit grayscale and 48-bit RGB, etc.

No matter what I do, the highlights are always clipped and the shadows are usually clipped.

I've followed various online tutorials and walkthroughs, too.

Is this simply an inevitable problem with black and white?

johannielscom
04-02-2012, 06:37
Should not occur. At least not always.

Maybe your negatives are quite dense? Or high contrast? As a result the scanner might not pick up too many middle tones and clipping might occur.

mafoofan
04-02-2012, 06:45
Should not occur. At least not always.

Maybe your negatives are quite dense? Or high contrast? As a result the scanner might not pick up too many middle tones and clipping might occur.

Possibly. The film in question is Tri-X, developed in Diafine. I was under the impression that was a very scanner-friendly combination.

VTHokiEE
04-02-2012, 06:51
I see you've tried RGB so this probably won't help, but I gave up using greyscale on my V500. I found that I got much better results when I scanned the negative as a positive then inverted and desaturated the result...

jljohn
04-02-2012, 06:58
I got vastly better results this way too. My workflow was as follows: scan as a color slide (CoolScan with Vuescan), batch invert all scans from that session in photoshop and save over the original scan, import into Lightroom; and edit them either in Lightroom or Silverefex. The extra, inversion, step is well worth the trouble in terms of output. Good luck with it!

I see you've tried RGB so this probably won't help, but I gave up using greyscale on my V500. I found that I got much better results when I scanned the negative as a positive then inverted and desaturated the result...

CNNY
04-02-2012, 07:01
If you set the exposure carefully, and lock it, but do not set a black and white point you should be able to scan the whole tonal range. The clipping probably is occurring because you set the black and white points. I do not let vuescan do any adjustment. I scan 16bit, and then do the rest in Lightroom. Negatives shouldn't really ever clip. I have scanned old technical pan negatives that are very dense, but the Nikon could cope fine. The closest I have come to clipping was with kodachrome slides, but as long as the exposure is set correctly they are ok.

mafoofan
04-02-2012, 07:09
Well, I tried setting the film type and it seems to have worked on the first few trial frames. Originally, I had it set to Generic and Color Negative. I switched it to Kodak TMAX-400 (not the right film) and D76 CI = .80 (not the right developer), and the clipping appears to be gone.

I hate that this appears to work because I have no idea what's actually happening.

Brian Legge
04-02-2012, 07:16
Hmm. I've used generic/color with it and don't have problems.

I do find that I need to occasionally play with the curve low and high to get the range I want. Beyond that, black point 0/white point 0.1 to capture a lot of range. Again, I'll occasionally move these for specific frames if I want the detail elsewhere and don't care about certain areas of the frame.

brbo
04-02-2012, 07:40
Check if setting your output color space in Vuescan to something wider improves (decreases) clipping.

mafoofan
04-02-2012, 07:43
I always set Curve Low and Curve High to .001, the minimum. Whether I turn color balancing completely off or set it to manual and adjust black and white to 0%, the results don't change.

When I try color output, I use a ProPhoto RGB color space.

Jamie123
04-02-2012, 07:54
I've been having terrible trouble trying to scan bw on my Nikon 9000 with Vuescan. Nikonscan did a much better job but unfortunately I can't use it anymore since I updated my Mac to Lion.

250swb
04-02-2012, 08:15
I asked a similar question to this is regard to a Plustek scanner, and the answer my be the same. And the answer is to make sure your preview scan is relatively high resolution if the main scan is using the preview to set exposure.

If you also ignore any presets and use 'generic' you will get a scan without any attempt at replicating a film type and its tone curve which can cause clipping.

Steve

Tim Gray
04-02-2012, 08:30
I've never had much of a problem with - Vuescan and a Coolscan V. These are my setting for the most part:
http://125px.com/articles/photography/digital/vuescan/

250swb
04-02-2012, 23:17
Thanks Tim, very interesting and I'll definitely be trying some of your settings.

Steve:)

jsolanzo
04-03-2012, 00:40
I'm also having this problem, hopefully a simple solution can be found. I'm using a minolta dimage sd2

Gabriel M.A.
04-03-2012, 00:47
Is it impossible to scan black and white negatives with a high-end consumer scanner without clipping? I'm using a Nikon 5000ED and have yet to figure out how to capture the full tonal range from black and white negatives. I've tried using Vuescan's Lock Exposure feature, manually setting the white and black points to 0%, adjusting the buffer area to exclude the film edges, inputting and outputting in various combinations of 16-bit grayscale and 48-bit RGB, etc.

No matter what I do, the highlights are always clipped and the shadows are usually clipped.

I've followed various online tutorials and walkthroughs, too.

Is this simply an inevitable problem with black and white?


So many issues are involved: dynamic range of the scanner, ability to do multiple sample scans (which try to do the pseudo-HDR thing, if you will), the film itself lending itself "friendly" to scanning (oh, yes), not letting the scanning software do "auto-corrections", post-production...not one workflow will be a silver bullet. One must understand every single step of the process in order to be able to adjust accordingly to get to the desired end-result.

You know, like it happens with perceptions of expensive cameras vs. cheap cameras: having a good camera won't compensate for lack of exposure knowledge, and good exposure knowledge won't compensate for a really bad camera when a specific end-result is expected. One must know what's involved in order to have the correct expectations of the possible end-results.

danielmk2
04-03-2012, 00:49
I also have this very sad problem. The solution is using Silverfast. My Vuescan is always clipping and I already gave up. I'm using a Plustek 7600i with TriX, HP5.

johannielscom
04-03-2012, 00:58
I've been having terrible trouble trying to scan bw on my Nikon 9000 with Vuescan. Nikonscan did a much better job but unfortunately I can't use it anymore since I updated my Mac to Lion.

Easy fix!


Hook an external drive to your Mac with a FireWire (faster) or USB (slower) connection.
Insert the Snow Leopard install DVD into the DVD player.
Hold down the Option key when booting and select the DVD player.
Tell it to install (Snow) Leopard on the empty drive.

From now on when wanting to use (Snow) Leopard, just keep the Option key down and select the correct drive.

Try THAT on a Windows computer! :)

VTHokiEE
04-03-2012, 09:45
Easy fix!


Hook an external drive to your Mac with a FireWire (faster) or USB (slower) connection.
Insert the Snow Leopard install DVD into the DVD player.
Hold down the Option key when booting and select the DVD player.
Tell it to install (Snow) Leopard on the empty drive.

From now on when wanting to use (Snow) Leopard, just keep the Option key down and select the correct drive.

Try THAT on a Windows computer! :)

Starting to get off topic, but you can set up any computer to dual boot. You don't even need separate drives, I wouldn't want someone to think they need a MAC to do this...

CNNY
04-03-2012, 10:05
I've never had much of a problem with - Vuescan and a Coolscan V. These are my setting for the most part:
http://125px.com/articles/photography/digital/vuescan/

I for the most part use the same settings, with one exception. I leave the Color tab set to None. I see no reason to let Vuescan do any black and white point adjustments to the 16bit scan file as opposed to doing it myself in LR or PS. I output from with the 'Raw output with Save' option, so I do let Vuescan do the inversion. Especially while batch scanning it is easy accidentally over compensate, and up clipping the file. Just make sure Lock exposure is set correctly, and the scan should be fine.

Tim Gray
04-03-2012, 10:19
CNNY - as to the color tab thing - I don't even know what I have it set on now. I've tried various settings over the years since I wrote that up and have found very little difference in the final product. If I do have Vuescan clipping data, it's set up so it only clips out 'empty' data, which I don't have a problem with. I'll check tonight - I'll fire up Vuescan once I have a scanner hooked up to my computer.

I actually don't bother with the lock exposure thing with B&W negs either.

Godfrey
04-03-2012, 10:28
I'll have to look at my settings when I get home and pull out the Coolscan V. I've not had any problems getting full-range captures with Vuescan, however.

G

Peter S
04-03-2012, 10:29
Have you read following thread http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15304&highlight=vuescan where fellow rff member schmoozit's scanning technique in Vuescan is described ? Long story but in one of the threads about Vuescan I mentioned this technique I had found and that I no longer knew the source. Anyway, for me Tri-x and Diafine worked very well, but the key is to create flat looking negatives. Are you maybe " overexposing" too much for a scanning workflow ? Problem with Diafine is that there really is not much room to manipulate density with dilution/temperature/time as you have with other developers. The only variable is how you expose the film in the camera.

CNNY
04-03-2012, 11:12
CNNY - as to the color tab thing - I don't even know what I have it set on now. I've tried various settings over the years since I wrote that up and have found very little difference in the final product. If I do have Vuescan clipping data, it's set up so it only clips out 'empty' data, which I don't have a problem with. I'll check tonight - I'll fire up Vuescan once I have a scanner hooked up to my computer.

I actually don't bother with the lock exposure thing with B&W negs either.

There is no penalty in clipping out empty data. I tend to find having low contrast negatives is a more frequent problem, so then there is emptiness to clip out.
When you scan, Vuescan puts the data in a 16bit file, which you then manipulate once in Vuescan. The resulting 16bit file then gets manipulated once more in PS or LR. I think it makes more sense skipping one step and doing a single final manipulation to the original data.
The habit of doing manipulation in scan programs is a left-over from before Photoshop could handle 16bit data, nowadays there is no need.
Spending less time staring at Vuescan's crappy previews is also a huge time saver.

Tim Gray
04-03-2012, 11:27
Agreed. That's why (I think) I have it set to Auto, but clip 0% of the pixels. But I might not - I'll check when I get home. I don't even look at the previews or ever touch the controls in Vuescan. The file comes into PS in a consistent manner where all the adjustments are done. Most of the adjustments are pretty much exactly the same file to file, same curve and everything. Obviously pictures taken in different lighting sometimes call for a different curve.

Speedfreak
04-03-2012, 14:22
Is this simply an inevitable problem with black and white?

Please post a sample.

A b/w negative potentially holds a wider dynamic range than a scanner could capture in single pass, but it may or may not matter for a specific image.

Chriscrawfordphoto
04-03-2012, 14:31
I scan BW with Vuescan all the time with no clipping.

I use the Nikon LS-8000, which is very similar to the 5000, just with the added ability to do medium format.

Here's how I set things:

http://chriscrawfordphoto.com/technical/scanning.php

If you still get clipping with those settings, you're film is probably overdeveloped. Scanning as a transparency rather than a BW Negative does capture a longer tonal range, so you can try that if my normal settings do not work for your films. Scan in grayscale, there is ZERO advantage to scanning a BW Neg in RGB, it just makes a file 3 times as large. I've tested this extensively.

135format
04-03-2012, 15:10
problem with B+W is that the scale on the negative is so variable depending on how you have exposed and developed it. No one scanner setting will get it right for every neg and auto makes to many assumptions which might work reasonably well for colour but not for B+W which is too variable.

Go in manual mode in grayscale or transparency mode. Then after prescan goto the histogram and slide the low bar just to lower end of histogram and the highlight bar just to higher end of histogram. Set the low output value to 5 and the high output value to 250 and you are good to go. You will get everything in the scan which is likely to be a little soft but can easily be corrected afterwards in PS or whichever software you are using by adjusting contrast and/or levels. It ain't difficult.

MikeL
04-03-2012, 15:14
Chris, who used to post here, put together a nice tutorial on how he locks exposure in vuescan.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kediwah/sets/72157608202483073/

gho
04-03-2012, 15:22
Holy cow! What is going on here? My tipps:
1. Get the negative right.
2. Get the negative right.
Explanation: If you blow out your highlights in the negative, no scanning-software or scanner will help. Same counts for shadows.
3. How to get the negative right?
Long story. Basic idea: Adjust exposure and development to capture whole tonal range of the scene in the negative, depends on film, developer and what not. While scanning: Adjust blackpoint, whitepoint and contrast to liking. Mostly I try to get the negative right in such a way, that I do not have to adjust any curves during scanning. Look at the negative. Low contrast development gives more leeway for scanning, but I am not sure if this is a good strategy if one wants to wet print.

4. If it is too complicated, try digital shooting - even with a cell phone - and post-processing software, look at the histogram, maybe this is enough for your purposes. Quite similar principles apply to both, RAW files and negatives. However, with film the adjustment of the curves is implicitly done during shooting, and development -> difficult. There is still some room in the wet printing stage, but I do not do that, usually.

5. Have fun!

135format
04-03-2012, 17:15
Please post a sample.

A b/w negative potentially holds a wider dynamic range than a scanner could capture in single pass, but it may or may not matter for a specific image.

sorry chum but you are talking out the top of your head. A properly exposed and developed B+W neg should have a DMax of between 1 and 1.8 at the most. A B+W neg overexposed by two stops may even have a DMax of 2. But either way, that is easily within the capability of just about every consumer grade scanner ever made.
A transparency on the other hand may approach a DMax of 4.0 and that is beyond the limits of most consumer grade scanners. That doesn't mean you can't scan transparencies. It means that some will have shadows so dense they get blocked or show a lot of noise. But B+W should be no problem as far as density range goes. Unless you're scanning ortho film but I don't think we're talking about that.

135format
04-03-2012, 17:19
and to the OP. never try and scan B+W film using a colour neg setting. Colour neg has an orange mask in it (for wet printing) and the scanner tries to compensate for it which is not a good thing if it ain't there. Hence the advice to use grayscale or transparency. But always specify B+W neg as input if there is an option for it.

gho
04-03-2012, 17:28
But either way, that is easily within the capability of just about every consumer grade scanner ever made.

I do not know what 135format is meaning with dmax, but I agree, my consumer grade scanner is well capable of scanning the whole tonal range of the negative. That means, I do not see much of a difference between the eyeballed neg and the scan and given that I did the development right I have quite some room in the shadows and in the highlights.

ryan26
04-03-2012, 17:42
I struggle with highlight clipping on my Nikon too when the neg is high contrast too... I rent an Imacon every few months to scan my high-contrast negs, and anything I'm printing large. The Imacon can see the grain where the Nikon can't - albeit I'm no scanning expert.
I'm reading everything said here closely, I would love to learn to get my Nikon in tune with my negs, if in fact that is possible.

Tim Gray
04-03-2012, 17:53
Most color neg or B&W neg shouldn't have high enough densities to pose much of a problem for decent consumer scanners - particularly the Coolscans. If you are getting clipping, it's probably a function of the software.

I started using Vuescan with my Coolscan because Nikonscan did always seem to clip my negatives.

135format
04-03-2012, 17:55
I do not know what 135format is meaning with dmax, but I agree, my consumer grade scanner is well capable of scanning the whole tonal range of the negative. That means, I do not see much of a difference between the eyeballed neg and the scan and given that I did the development right I have quite some room in the shadows and in the highlights.

DMax is just the abbreviation for Density Maximum or Maximum Density.
Scanners have a claimed Maximum Density (Dmax) that they can scan and typically this is between 3.0 and 4.0 with 4.0 usually being a bit optimistic on the part of the manufacturer.

The values are the log( base 10) of the negative density. You require a densitometer to read neg/pos densities which are usually shown in log(base 10) values.

B+W negs typically should be between 1.0 and 1.8
Colour transparency between 3.0 and 4.0 but can be less or more.
Colour neg I don't know but less than colour transparency.

So the only thing that may cause a consumer grade scanner problems with density range are colour transparencies everything else should scan full density range no problems.

135format
04-03-2012, 18:03
And switch digital ice OFF when scanning B+W negs. It won't scan properly with digital ice on.

Timmyjoe
04-03-2012, 18:12
Been scanning B&W with Nikon scanners and a Mac for almost 15 years now and this is what I've learned. High contrast negatives are going to give you clipping. My original Coolscan III clipped B&W negs pretty badly, negatives that I could print in the darkroom with no problem, clipped with the Coolscan III.

A Nikon tech gave me a good piece of advice: Everytime I open NikonScan, I first trash the .plist Nikon Maid preference and start over. He said there is this glitch in NikonScan where after a certain number of scans of B&W the software/scanner combination starts to go very high contrast. Which produces alot of clipping.

I then acquired a Coolscan 5000, and although it was better than the Coolscan III for B&W, it still clipped quite a bit if the negatives weren't lower contrast. Still kept using the "trash preferences" thing each time before I opened NikonScan.

Then I finally got a Coolscan 9000, and the difference between it and the 5000 was quite noticeable. Like the difference between a condenser enlarger (the 5000) and a diffusion enlarger (the 9000). I still trash the preferences before launching NikonScan each time, and I have a computer that will be stuck running Snow Leopard, because as noted above, Lion won't run NikonScan and Nikon refuses to update it. But I now get glorious B&W scans from my negatives and am quite happy with the set up.

Tried Vuescan a number of different times and never saw an improvement over NikonScan.

Best,
-Tim

Tim Gray
04-03-2012, 18:59
Color neg has about the same dmax as B&W - 1.8 to 2ish. Of course, that's on the straight part of the characteristic curve. If you have some real high exposure up on the shoulder and/or you've over developed your stuff, you could end up with some higher densities. But not as high as slide.

sanmich
04-03-2012, 20:47
My experience is that in some negs I get clipping in the shadows using Vuescan.
I tried a lot of settings, exposure lock etc but couldn't make it right.
Using a scanhancer makes it worse. not using one makes the scratch removal/ dusting a nightmare on some frames (I have to improve on keeping my negs clean)
Nikon software yields better images, and since it is much simpler, I feel there are less chances of something going wrong as it sometimes happens with vuescan.
It's a shame because I love the batch work (scan from preview) of vuescan.

[edit] here: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1722788

ryan26
04-03-2012, 22:47
Been scanning B&W with Nikon scanners and a Mac for almost 15 years now and this is what I've learned. High contrast negatives are going to give you clipping. My original Coolscan III clipped B&W negs pretty badly, negatives that I could print in the darkroom with no problem, clipped with the Coolscan III.

A Nikon tech gave me a good piece of advice: Everytime I open NikonScan, I first trash the .plist Nikon Maid preference and start over. He said there is this glitch in NikonScan where after a certain number of scans of B&W the software/scanner combination starts to go very high contrast. Which produces alot of clipping.

I then acquired a Coolscan 5000, and although it was better than the Coolscan III for B&W, it still clipped quite a bit if the negatives weren't lower contrast. Still kept using the "trash preferences" thing each time before I opened NikonScan.

Then I finally got a Coolscan 9000, and the difference between it and the 5000 was quite noticeable. Like the difference between a condenser enlarger (the 5000) and a diffusion enlarger (the 9000). I still trash the preferences before launching NikonScan each time, and I have a computer that will be stuck running Snow Leopard, because as noted above, Lion won't run NikonScan and Nikon refuses to update it. But I now get glorious B&W scans from my negatives and am quite happy with the set up.

Tried Vuescan a number of different times and never saw an improvement over NikonScan.

Best,
-Tim

thank you thank you thank you

Tim Gray
04-04-2012, 04:45
My experience is that in some negs I get clipping in the shadows using Vuescan.


Looked at your original thread (even commented on it I see). I guess I'm not seeing where you are getting clipping or why you think you have clipping in that example. Scanners should have NO problem not clipping the shadows of a negative since there's no density there, so if you are getting clipping problems, it must be the software. I can confidently say I don't get clipping in the shadows with Vuescan the way I have it set up.

Once again I'll say I avoid all the problems you guys seem to have by staying away from DNG and just editing my files in PS. While I do use raw scans for my color stuff, you have to know what you are doing and what all the different options pertaining to raw scans in Vuescan do, otherwise you are going to get some funky things happening. For example, the film types in Vuescan ALL modify the data in some way or another and after talking to Ed Hamrick, unless you really like the way one of them looks, I'd say avoid them all.

craygc
04-04-2012, 05:17
If the neg is "reasonably well" exposed, there is no way a Nikon scanner 4K, 5K, 8K or 9K, used with Vuescan (no real experience with Nikonscan), should clip either end of the scale. A B&W neg will only give you a density range of around 2.0~2.4 and that is way within what the range of what Nikon scanner can deliver. If you profile the film base and use that for exposure on the scan, you can basically set your black point in the scan without any clipping and the white point will be a way off from the other end of the histogram. I just "never" see clipped scans from negatives on the Nikon unless its representative of the negative itself - ie. there is a lot of blocked up shadows in the image or blown highlights.

cabbiinc
04-04-2012, 10:33
If we're talking about Vuescan clipping things, why don't you post a raw scan and some of us can see if we can give you some help.

Timmyjoe
04-04-2012, 13:24
thank you thank you thank you

You're welcome, happy to help.

Best,
-Tim

mafoofan
04-05-2012, 13:04
I asked a similar question to this is regard to a Plustek scanner, and the answer my be the same. And the answer is to make sure your preview scan is relatively high resolution if the main scan is using the preview to set exposure.

Thank you--I think this hits at the solution. I have increased the preview resolution to 2000dpi, and now it appears that the clipping has gone away.

I have white and black points manually set to 0%, and have switched the film type to Color Generic.

CNNY
04-05-2012, 13:52
With regard to the suggestions that some have made to scan B+W images in RGB, I don't think there is much to be gained by doing this. Vuescan has an option for B+W negatives called 'Make gray from', which allows you to choose which color channel it uses for the scan. It may be a worthwhile exercise to do a test scan in each setting. There are differences, but they are very subtle. It mainly affects the look of the grain. The Blue channel tends to give a harder sharp, while the Red and IR channels are a little softer. I settled on Green, as it is somewhere in between. The differences are pretty small though. In my opinion not worth fretting over. It is a useful feature if you are scanning stained negatives, as you can easily filter that out.

znapper
04-17-2012, 05:05
I second the method of scanning as a positive then later invert and adjust levels/curves.

Scanners will scan the largest range of tones possible when you can it as a positive, in all other cases, the scanner picks black and white point (you may be able to adjust).

For complete control, scan as positive.

Roy Shigley
04-23-2012, 10:38
I've achieved super results by using Silverfast software from Germany. Additionally I used the WET scanning process for astonishing clarity using my Nikon 9000. A full tonal range is possible. For a sample of the results, as seen in my recent book of B/W photos, please visit RoyShigleyPhotography.com We can talk, ok?