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03-05-2015, 07:24 PM   #1
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Scanning old negatives.

I wasn't sure if I should post this question here or in Troubleshooting.


Anyways, My father has been a photographer for a very long time. He started taking photos sometime in the 1950's. We were talking one time about his old negatives (and he has Thousands of them), some 35mm, and a lot of 4x5. He used a 4x5 view camera for a long time.


I have a scanner hooked up to my computer, so I went and found a box of the negatives, I proceeded to scan one of the 4x5's just to see what it was. When I switched it from negative to positive, the picture had an orange cast to it.


Is this a case of the negative being old and not being kept in a controlled condition or is it a case of that I really do not know what I was doing and had something set wrong?


If you are wondering, the photo was taken in the 4 corners area of Colorado and I did not save it because of the orange cast.

03-05-2015, 08:08 PM   #2
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It can be several things:
- Old Kodachrome negatives take on a red/orange tint with time and you can correct that via restoration techniques you can find on the internet or send me a PM so I can quote some sources.
- I'm not sure about what you are doing there and how but it all depends on the type of scanner you're using, you need a "flat bed" with a a special template that can hold a 4x5 negative. In case you don't do that the scanner won't know that it is a negative you're scanning. Maybe you are already doing that...?
- on your scanner you should have a document type setting: reflective (regular copying) or film (for negatives, color or B&W)
03-05-2015, 08:28 PM   #3
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Thanks Rnovo.


It's probably the film. I think it was Kodachrome.


I am using an older (8-9 year old) Hp flatbed scanner, 3970 to be exact.


I placed the negative on the scanner, set it to color photo, did a preview scan, set the scan to fit just the negative and did a scan. This scanner does not have a holder for 4x5 negatives but it does have a
holder for slides.


If you could point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.
03-05-2015, 09:02 PM   #4
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Hi BigDave,
Perhaps you have set the scanner to produce an inverted image.
Kodachrome is a positive image ( reversal film) and is not a "negative" so you should set the scanner to image type film "positive" or similar . I am not familiar with the UI driver for that scanner.
Hope you get it sorted out.

03-05-2015, 09:04 PM   #5
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QuoteQuote:
I proceeded to scan one of the 4x5's just to see what it was.
I read your first post and I think you are scanning negatives like you would scan a photo. So, you need to change your options to negative, and not positive. Your last post said you set it to color photo, you're not scanning a color photo so you need to change that setting also.

Though if you are scanning slides, you need to do what Wambat2go said.
03-05-2015, 09:17 PM   #6
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Color negatives usually have an orange mask in the substrate - this is to compensate for imperfections in the dyes. This mask is corrected out in the printing process. Each film stock had a characteristic mask that is used as a starting point for the printing process. Since each batch of film varied naturally some tweaking has to be done. Film scanner software usually has profiles for various films the help achieve the best color balance. The dye layers fade over time, some more rapidly than others which is why old negatives or slides take on a color cast like magenta

Slides or positive material usually have a clear substrate which often yellows with age.

Names of film for negatives usually end in -color such as Kodacolor. Positive or slide film names usually end in -chrome such as Fujichrome

Why do negatives need an orange mask? - photo.net
03-05-2015, 09:20 PM   #7
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You need to know if you have positives (slide film) or negatives. The negatives will have an orange cast that the proper setting (negative) should account for. I'm not familiar with your scanner, but if you're software isn't doing a good job, check Vuescan (VueScan Scanner Software for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux)
03-05-2015, 09:31 PM   #8
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Bookmarked for good info...

03-05-2015, 09:36 PM   #9
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Silverfast is also a well regarded scanner software package. You need to buy the version for you specific scanner.

Scanner Software SilverFast for Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
03-05-2015, 11:28 PM   #10
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The orange cast is totally normally for color negatives. You can cancel it by performing a white balance adjustment. Just pick something close to neutral gray, like a shady part of a sidewalk, gray hair, etc. Then adjust your levels for the R, G, and B channels individuals so that the highlight and shadow limits touch the ends of the histogram. This can usually be performed through an auto-adjust function. That's a good starting point. Adjust the white balance and re-auto-adjust the levels to tweak the image.
03-06-2015, 05:45 AM   #11
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Thank you everybody for the information and suggestions.


The scanner I am using, as far as I can tell, does not have options for scanning and inverting like scanning a print negative as a positive photo or a slide as a negative or, at least, the program I was using doesn't have that option when acquiring from a scanner.
03-06-2015, 06:35 AM   #12
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Whatever the scanner produces, you should be able to do the inversion (if necessary) and color balancing if you have a photo processing application.
Otherwise, I am sure 6BQ5 will volunteer to do a sample file from you to get you started.
03-06-2015, 06:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bigdavephoto Quote
Thank you everybody for the information and suggestions.


The scanner I am using, as far as I can tell, does not have options for scanning and inverting like scanning a print negative as a positive photo or a slide as a negative or, at least, the program I was using doesn't have that option when acquiring from a scanner.
As I said above, you need the adapter, forgive me but it looks like you don't have one. See this HP link where a "TMA" is mentioned. You can't do anything unless you get one. If it doesn't fit for your negative/slide you need another scanner that has it.

http://http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01530178&tmp_tas...product=298548
03-06-2015, 08:27 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rnovo Quote
As I said above, you need the adapter, forgive me but it looks like you don't have one. See this HP link where a "TMA" is mentioned. You can't do anything unless you get one. If it doesn't fit for your negative/slide you need another scanner that has it.

http://http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01530178&tmp_tas...product=298548

Actually I was wrong. The negative I scanned was a 21/4x21/4. What I did was lay the negative on the scanner, did a preview scan, set the perimeters of where I wanted the scanner to scan, and then did the actual scan. Also your link is not working. Don't you hate when a link doesn't work?


Scanning was not a problem.


wambat2go, changing from negative to a positive was not a problem. I just didn't know how to get rid of the color cast.


Just so you wonderful people know, I am not a newbie to photography, just to scanning. I do know what a negative is and what a slide is. I started out with a KM and a 50mm lens way back in 1980/81. I had also taken photos before then but the KM was my first camera. I never really got into the darkroom aspect but I have spent time in a darkroom with my father.

---------- Post added 03-06-15 at 10:37 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Rnovo Quote
As I said above, you need the adapter, forgive me but it looks like you don't have one. See this HP link where a "TMA" is mentioned. You can't do anything unless you get one. If it doesn't fit for your negative/slide you need another scanner that has it.

http://http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01530178&tmp_tas...product=298548

I know what adapter you are talking about now Rnovo. This scanner does have it but it is only for 35mm film and slides. The negative I scanned was a 21/4x21/4. Sorry for the confusion.
03-06-2015, 08:38 AM   #15
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I was reading his scanner specifications at HP and it says it comes with a regular negative and regular slide holders, but not one for the 4x5 negatives. Do you still have the holders that came with the scanner?

Link to product information:

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/documentSubCategory?tmp_task=prodinfoCate...product=298548
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