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05-26-2019, 01:02 PM - 10 Likes   #1
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My best methodology for film scanning with RAW-camera

Ten years ago I started digitizing all my family prints, negatives and slides. For my prints that lacked the original film material, I used an Epson flatbed scanner, I cropped the photo's of the scan files with Photoshop and developed these to decent JPEGs. For all my thousands of negatives and slides I found a flat bed scanner disappointing, scanning is a lot of work and I choose to do it the best way possible. So I bought at ScanDig a brand new Nikon Coolscan V for € 900,- with SilverFast software to achieve what I had in mind. Nikon then already had stopped producing its scanners and prices were already getting higher and higher. In four years I scanned all my film material that I always had stored well organized, and I developed fine skills how to do that from 120 Mb TIFF files to decent 3-5 Mb JPEGS. The workflow started with Silverfast and was finished with Photoshop. During a scan (2-3 minutes) I did the digital processing of the former TIFF so there was no time lost. About two evenings a week I processed one complete film each. Four years later all my material was digitized, and stored in clouds, DVD's and hard disks and I used my Coolscan so seldom I decided to sell it. Buying, and not renting one had been a good decision, Coolscans were very looked after and I sold it for more than I bought it new...

But sometimes I still shoot film (Kodak Ektar) on my K2 and ME-super, just for fun, and my friends and family also know my skills on scanning... So I experienced how I could digitize these with my K-01. I found some info on the internet, but scanning color negative this way is pretty delicate to do. Choices for the best light source, blue filtering to neutralizethe red cast, white balance etc. resulted in a steep learning curve and I am happy now I found the right way to do it. The results are similar or even better than I achieved with my Coolscan, the digitizing itself goes rapidly fast, but the post processing takes more time, most for healing dusts and scratches. The advantage of the Coolscan is its Digital ICE; the pre-infrared scanning to identify dusts an scratches and repair this automatically with the Nikon software.
For anyone who wants to digitize its films I would like to share my experiences on how to do this in the right way. I only explain the procedure for color negative. Slide and B&W are rather easy to do if you own the skills for doing color negative. First of all; all the color information of your photo is captured in a narrow color space, so you must shoot RAW (16-bits) and develop in 16-bits. At the end you shrink to 8-bits and JPEG. My experience is that there is not more information on 35 mm film material than 10-12 Mpix, the resulting format is 3600x2400 or max 4500x3000. In my childhood I used to play with FisherTechnik. I still own it, now waiting for grandchildren, and I created a lay up with it for my scanning procedure. You can grab it for little on Marketplace here. The best light source is a larger Philips LED Bulb (18,5W 2700K), it offers equal warm white light and gets not too hot for the paper cilinder cover I use and the film itself. The light spectrum fits good with the color layers in the film and the RGB pixels on the sensor. I tried cooler light, blue filtering, tungsten light, but 2700 K LED is OK for the job.

I shoot RAW, the coolest possible manual White Balance (see picture below). Lens mounted is a 100 mm Macro (first M, later DFA, both are very good) at F8 or F11, ISO 100 and 1/500 - 1/1000. Nail the focus wide open on the grain in the film and be aware the whole spectrum in the film is covered in the histogram. I shoot with 2 sec timedelay to avoid any shaking, this is working good. Be aware of clean film stripsand take care during the shootings.

For the workflow of digitizing I use Photoshop / Camera RAW. Now the magic begins... Screenshots of how it works are shown below.

Upload the RAW file to your computer, open it in Camera RAW. I use CS5 by the way...
  • Crop the 3:2 frame, the histogram info shows just the info inside the cropped frame
  • Put the Temperature on 2000 K, Recovery on zero, Fill Light on zero, Brightness on zero, Contrast on 50
  • Now shift the "Tint" slider to the position that the blue channel in the histogram will be covered behind the other colors. Most that's nearby zero position. In fact you are compressing the histogram.
  • Finally adjust the "exposure" slider so the histogram expands to the rightside, and adjust the "blacks" slider to expands the histogram to the left side. What we are doing here is to expand the histogram as far as possible to get all the available information in full 16 bits color depth.
  • I always do some sharping in Camera RAW: Sharpness 50/1.0/2.5/0 , Color NR is 25 and Detail 50.
  • Now press on "Open Image", the 16-bits file will be loaded in Photoshop.
  • First thing I do is cropping it: 45cm x 30cm at 100 pix/cm, this results in a 4500 x 3000 pixels file.
  • To reduce digital noise and grain, choose Filter / Noise / Despeckle. This halves your file size without losing real sharpness.
  • Now invert your picture to positive; Image / Adjustments / Invert.
  • With the Levels menu you can make a brilliant picture of it; Image / Adjustments / Levels.
    • Expand for each color the histogram to full width (see screenshots) and press OK.
    • After that, tweak to good color balance by adjusting the central sliders for each color in the same histograms.
    • Not satisfied? Try to adjust the output levels under the histogram for each color, for instance, with the high Output Red you can cool a sky that is coloring toored. Press OK.
    • PS-experts; there are many more controls for the best results, I leave it here to the basics.
  • Now try "Auto Levels" and "Auto Color", sometimes this is the finishing touch, sometimes it worsens your result, then you undo it easily.
  • Finally pimp your result with some "contrast" and/or "vibrance" in your adjustments menu.
  • Remove dust, scratches and unwanted feet... with the healing brush tool in PS.
  • Now reduce by Image / Mode to 8-bits and save as a JPEG-file level 10.
First picture is the old original Coolscan-file, second one the recent result as described here. The Coolscan file is a bit cleaner due to the ICE-mode, the K-01 scan is more crisp and shows no halos. The Coolscans sometimes does show linear halos (line-sensor) near clipping contrasty areas. When you get used to this procedure, and you own some PS-skills, scanning with a RAW camera really goes fast. Most work is caused by restoration of damaged film and dirty sensors. Because you are expanding the dynamic range so much and use small lens opening, you will see every anomaly in blue skies etc.

My youngest son's face is expanded to 100% to see the difference, the left one is K-01 scan, the right one the original Coolscan. The boy has grown now over 1.90 meters...

I hope this is helpful and useful for you, please reply your improvements, I am still in a learningcurve... Thnx!



Coolscan first, K-01 scan second:









































Last edited by Henrico; 05-26-2019 at 02:09 PM. Reason: spelling thing...
05-26-2019, 01:12 PM   #2
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Nice! Thank you for sharing this.
05-26-2019, 01:21 PM   #3
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Excellent post. I don't have a need to do this, but it is so well written, I enjoyed it anyway!! Thanks for sharing
05-26-2019, 06:28 PM   #4
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Excellent post! Thank you for this. I have a few bijillion slides and negatives that I've been needing to scan, and I've been putting it off and off, trying to figure the best way to do it. My wife has an Epson slide scanner I was thinking of using but she's not too happy with the results she's gotten. Looking at your setup, I'm now regretting selling my K-01 Panda. Though I'm sure I can suffer through with my K-3 or K-1 just fine

05-26-2019, 08:43 PM   #5
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A terrific explanation. This is a lot more sophisticated than my arrangement, where I just strap the slide holder on the front of my DA35 LTD, point up into a blue sky and fire. No doubt you are getting every bit of information your way, but I don't have enough knowledge to PP raw files better than camera JPEG, although I do spend time cleaning up my JPEGs before adjusting for exposure contrast and brightness plus minimal sharpening then saving.
Still, I have had satisfactory results:
[IMG][/IMG]

Pentax MX c1978
05-26-2019, 10:49 PM   #6
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Excellent post, it's almost an article.
05-26-2019, 11:03 PM   #7
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Thank you, Henrico.
I use different method of postprocessing - Lightroom. No need to convert DNG / RAW files to TIFFs, no increase in file size, you have always original file. I use 6000K LED (2700K is not optimal in any way for me, nor 3500-4200 K, because after inversion you get a lot of blue color (as you know, 2700 K lamps have more red color). Postprocessing in LR is a little tricky, because after inversion sliders work in oposite direction. And I use special Custom Color profile I created using Adobe DNG Converter.
I shoot with K-1, Pentax FA 100/2,8 macro, but do focusing on grain at F8 (I use preview button; not wide open, because it seems, that my lens has some focus shift).
Some pictures from old times (19 years ago).


05-27-2019, 02:13 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Thnx for your replies. The road from shooting a analogue picture on film to a scanned view on your monitor is very interesting. First of all, I'm not an expert..., and I think the color management is very complex here.


Most of the times it is daylight illumination that lightens your object. Daylight is a more or less equal spread bound of wavelengths in the visual spectrum from 400 nm to 800 nm. Shooting pictures you project your object on a color negative film that is sensitive for three subtractive primary colors: yellow, magenta and cyan. When you scan this film, it is important the wavelengths of your light source correspondent with the three layers in the developed film. Best light source I think indeed is a clear blue sky with all the wavelengths in it. It will result in a complete spectrum of the illuminated exposed and developed film. LED light however is build up with specific bounds (or spikes) of wavelengths, in fact it is very unnatural light. It is a uncompleted spectrum. Warm white LED has a different spectrum than warm white halogen for instance… Warm LED also is cool lightbecause it consumes little energy. The sensor of your digital camera is sensitive for Red, Green and Blue. So this whole chain of components must result in a natural view on your screen, that hopefully is calibrated. Then there is the color space itself; sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProFoto RGB. Our the eye's retina finally consists these three different kinds of light receptors for red, green and blue. I started to get dizzy from this all, so I tried things out and stayed on what I liked most.


Illuminating your negatives with blue sky light absolutely will work fine, but here in the Netherlands we don't have that often those blue skies, it is difficult to do this reproducible, and most of time I do the scanning at winter evenings…


Using cooler light (higher K's) resulted to my experience to clipping oranges/reds due to the intensive blue transmission. But because LED light has those specific spectra, there might be a better fit with other bulbs than I chose myself (2700K).


Good to see more of you are experimenting in scanning, your pictures are nice too. I would like to learn from you to understand better what's all happening in this chain of conversions.

06-04-2019, 01:38 AM   #9
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I'm sorry to say that, but I prefer the first shot, it looks like a real analogue photo.
The second one looks like a digital photo.
06-04-2019, 03:02 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
I'm sorry to say that, but I prefer the first shot, it looks like a real analogue photo.The second one looks like a digital photo.

Do you mean the two beach photos in the original post? Then I'm afraid I have to disagree.

The first photo looks like the output from a scanner, which is exactly what it is. Strangely, many film shooters nowadays seem to have decided that the look from a scanner is somehow the "authentic" film look. And of course that's nonsense. The authentic look of both colour and B&W negative film is a wet print made in a darkroom, and the authentic look of slide film is the slide itself.

It's completely normal in wet printing to use a variety of methods to get the best possible result from the original negative -- to do what you might call "analogue post processing". So surely it's equally legitimate to use digital post processing to get the best result from the negative too.

DSLR "scanning" is simply a different (and in many ways better) method of making a digital copy from film. The comparatively dull output produced by most home scanners isn't the "authentic" film look at all -- it's a look that all too often makes the results of film photography far worse than they should be.
06-05-2019, 12:48 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
Do you mean the two beach photos in the original post? Then I'm afraid I have to disagree.
Yes.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
The first photo looks like the output from a scanner, which is exactly what it is. Strangely, many film shooters nowadays seem to have decided that the look from a scanner is somehow the "authentic" film look. And of course that's nonsense. The authentic look of both colour and B&W negative film is a wet print made in a darkroom, and the authentic look of slide film is the slide itself.
Now I must disagree. It is not nowadays, but it has always been so. If you look at, for example, a slide film, you see directly how it looks. If you scan and have a different look (not calibrated scanner or digital shot) it is not normal. The darkroom print should give the same look as the film itself, or it is then an art scan/print. All films have a different look. If you change that look, you could then use any film to have such manipulated look.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
It's completely normal in wet printing to use a variety of methods to get the best possible result from the original negative -- to do what you might call "analogue post processing". So surely it's equally legitimate to use digital post processing to get the best result from the negative too.
No it is not. I use only digital post processing to remove dust spots, add a signature and make a reduced copy for flickr. Sometimes I change a little bit the contrast, but no other process.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
DSLR "scanning" is simply a different (and in many ways better) method of making a digital copy from film. The comparatively dull output produced by most home scanners isn't the "authentic" film look at all -- it's a look that all too often makes the results of film photography far worse than they should be.
A scanner can do that better, when calibrated. A 48 bit Tiff file has more information in it than a 42 bit raw file. You have also multi-exposure in Silverfast or Vuescan for more dynamic.
With negative films it is even more complicated, because the interpretation of the reversal process must be calibrated to have always the same result with the same film.
06-05-2019, 01:12 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
The darkroom print should give the same look as the film itself, or it is then an art scan/print. All films have a different look. If you change that look, you could then use any film to have such manipulated look.

Of course everyone is entitled to their own aesthetic preferences, and if you prefer straight prints with no manipulation then that's fine. But I have to respectfully disagree with your use of the word "should" when you say : "The darkroom print should give the same look as the film itself." To say that is to forbid all the various techniques that were developed by film photographers over the decades for getting the best possible prints from their negatives.

My original point was that film photography in the digital era seems to have been hijacked by those who believe that only a straight, unmanipulated wet print or scan counts as the "true" look of film. And I think that's sad, because film is capable of so much more than that.

But ultimately it is just a question of aesthetic choices. When I make digital copies of my three decades worth of Kodachromes I always DSLR scan, and I process in Photoshop to make the result on the screen look as close as possible to the original slide on my daylight balanced lightbox. And when I occasionally shoot a roll or two of film nowadays, I feel entirely free to post-process in whatever ways will give me the result I want.
06-05-2019, 05:26 AM   #13
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So you're taking a photo of the negative instead of scanning it? That's... not something I would have thought of, but this seems to work very well. That's quite impressive!
06-05-2019, 05:38 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
But I have to respectfully disagree with your use of the word "should" when you say : "The darkroom print should give the same look as the film itself." To say that is to forbid all the various techniques that were developed by film photographers over the decades for getting the best possible prints from their negatives.
I meant with "should", if you use it like stated by the processing notes of the manufacturers.

If you want to manipulate your photos, why not use only your DSLR ?

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
But ultimately it is just a question of aesthetic choices. When I make digital copies of my three decades worth of Kodachromes I always DSLR scan, and I process in Photoshop to make the result on the screen look as close as possible to the original slide on my daylight balanced lightbox. And when I occasionally shoot a roll or two of film nowadays, I feel entirely free to post-process in whatever ways will give me the result I want.
I only said that I prefer the first photo of the op. I haven't seen your photos, so I can't tell you if I like or not what you have done with your scans...
06-05-2019, 08:16 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
I only said that I prefer the first photo of the op.

That's true. I realise now that I jumped on your comment because it gave me a chance to have a rant about something that's been bugging me for a while. It wasn't fair to do that, and I apologise.
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