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01-06-2016, 02:16 PM   #1
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Scanning 35 mm negatives - Questions

Sorry for my ignorance, I'm new to a lot of this. I've seen some posts about people scanning 35 mm negatives.

When one scans 35 mm negatives, are they somehow converted into usable files that can be edited and made into new photos? (Does that make sense?). If so, how would one go about doing this? I have 100s of negatives I'd like to be able to use again!

01-06-2016, 02:40 PM   #2
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I don't know what you mean about "new photo" exactly. But scanning converts the film to a digital file that can be edited in graphics or RAW editors much like any RAW file from a digital camera. If you have lots and lots of negatives to scan in a timely manner, you might be better off finding a service to do it. Scanning can be time consuming for commodity scanners especially if you want the best results that often require custom editing each file in an image or RAW editor to adjust the contrast curve to your taste and pull up/down low/high values etc to get the image the way you want it. But you can also adjust those things in the scanning software ( no localized adjustments like an image editor can do though).

How much latitude you have for editing can also be a function of your scan. Scanning 48-bit color in the ProPhoto RBG color space, for example, will give you maximum latitude and then you export it to a JPG file for printing or web display in the sRGB color space vs scanning in 24-bit color and sRGB.

There are link in the film threads where you can find scanning services; otherwise, to do it yourself you need to purchase a film scanner and learn to use the scanning software. Scanning software usually comes with a scanner but you can also purchase it separately. It has the basic contrast curve adjustments and color settings. It is not easy scanning color negatives often. But slide film and BW films are often easier to scan.
01-06-2016, 03:04 PM   #3
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The scanner must have the "scan film negative" option, and you easily get regular images after the scan. Some scanners dont have this option.

edit: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/film-scanners
01-06-2016, 05:25 PM   #4
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Scanning 35 mm negatives - Questions

Tuco, by "new photo" I meant a workable RAW file I could edit. I just didn't really know how to express what I meant. You explained perfectly. Where should I look for the link for scanning services? Do you know where in particular or should I just browse til I find it. Sounds like scanning is going to be way beyond my abilities right now.

Penumbra, thanks for the link! I was definitely wondering how the image would be converted from negative to positive


Last edited by doroth2; 01-06-2016 at 05:37 PM.
01-06-2016, 06:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by doroth2 Quote
Tuco, by "new photo" I meant a workable RAW file I could edit. I just didn't really know how to express what I meant. You explained perfectly. Where should I look for the link for scanning services? Do you know where in particular or should I just browse til I find it. Sounds like scanning is going to be way beyond my abilities right now.
I'd have to really dig in some posts from 1 to 3 years ago in the film thread. So I'll refer that to you or perhaps someone will post a link. But since I've been on this forum the question about scanning lots of slides/negatives has come up frequently and all I remember people giving some good links to bulk scanning.

As far as a "RAW" file from scanning goes, I only know of VueScan scanning software that will let you scan to a DNG file. Most others are TIFF. But that DNG file is not the same as a digital camera's DNG. It is a partial implementation of the DNG spec. And Lightroom will read it. Some RAW editors won't because they expect fully qualified DNG files. In that case just scan to a TIFF file.

A film scanner is a transmission scanner and to scan a pice a paper is a reflective scanner. Some scanners can do both. But when we say film scanner it is inferred we are talking about a transmission scanner.
01-06-2016, 06:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by doroth2 Quote
Tuco, by "new photo" I meant a workable RAW file I could edit. I just didn't really know how to express what I meant. You explained perfectly. Where should I look for the link for scanning services? Do you know where in particular or should I just browse til I find it. Sounds like scanning is going to be way beyond my abilities right now.

Penumbra, thanks for the link! I was definitely wondering how the image would be converted from negative to positive



There are a few but pretty good scanning devises or 35mm Scanners on the market right now or you can have the scanning done at your nearest photolab.


One which I recommend is the Pacifica Prime Xe scanner you can buy it new here: Pacific Image Prime Film XE Film Scanner PRIMEFILM XE B&H Photo


Another is the Pustek 8200i : Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Filmscanner review: picture quality, scan speed, resolution, device test of the dia scanner in detail


For an obsolete unit which is very, very good you can look for the Nikon CoolScan 5000: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-9238-Nikon-Super-CoolScan-5000-ED-Film-Scanner/dp/B0001DYTOY


For the very best check here : Amazon.com: Nikon Super CoolScan 9000 ED Film Scanner: Electronics




For the Ultimate Google Hasslebald Scanners...
01-08-2016, 09:59 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Don't forget that you can photograph your negatives with your camera and macro lens. You can do all the processing like color inversion, white balance, etc and get excellent results.
01-08-2016, 10:20 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Don't forget that you can photograph your negatives with your camera and macro lens. You can do all the processing like color inversion, white balance, etc and get excellent results.

I didn't even think of this! They would need to be on a light box, I assume? Any tips?

01-08-2016, 11:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by doroth2 Quote
I didn't even think of this! They would need to be on a light box, I assume? Any tips?
In bulk that can mean a lot of editing for color negative film. And you'll have to learn to adjust that orange mask out. A scanner that has a 35mm carrier that can hold a half your roll can be set to auto scan and adjust. Then perhaps you'd only need to edit your better images to maximize them.

But it's certainly an option and worth giving it a try. I did a test with some old family slides with my 36MP digital camera vs my Nikon 9000ED scanner and the scanner edged out the digital camera I feel. But I certainly would do positive film with a digital camera just to get them in digital form except all but the better shots I wanted to optimize.
01-08-2016, 11:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
In bulk that can mean a lot of editing for color negative film. And you'll have to learn to adjust that orange mask out. A scanner that has a 35mm carrier that can hold a half your roll can be set to auto scan and adjust. Then perhaps you'd only need to edit your better images to maximize them.

But it's certainly an option and worth giving it a try. I did a test with some old family slides with my 36MP digital camera vs my Nikon 9000ED scanner and the scanner edged out the digital camera I feel. But I certainly would do positive film with a digital camera just to get them in digital form except all but the better shots I wanted to optimize.
I think if I am photographing negatives I will be pretty selective as to which images I use. Most of the negatives I want to scan are black and white, though I do have some color. I doubt I'll be buying a scanner anytime soon, so if I can't make it work with the camera I will have to send them out. Unless, that it, there is a way to use a regular flatbed scanner?
01-08-2016, 11:39 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by doroth2 Quote
Unless, that it, there is a way to use a regular flatbed scanner?
I'm not aware of a way to utilize a reflective scanner for film. One approach for a digital camera is to modify a slide copier of the film days kind of setup to hold your negative film. Or something like this Side Copy Adapter as a starting point to make your own setup. Getting the camera lens orthogonal to the film surface is important because of the shallow DOF.

I'm sure 6BQ5 can give you some good pointers on this process. But I found in addition to alignment, a good macro lens, extension tubes or bellows, a diffused daylight color temperature light source (for slides) and holding the negative flat all help get the job done.
01-08-2016, 11:42 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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Pentax Slide Copier and SMC-K 50mm macro lens

QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Don't forget that you can photograph your negatives with your camera and macro lens. You can do all the processing like color inversion, white balance, etc and get excellent results.
Pentax Slide Copier and SMC-K 50mm macro lens
My current setup:


Works great for colour slides and B/W negatives. Colour negatives is another matter because of the orange layer. Negative scanners have film profiles that take care of that when you use a proper scanner, but getting the colours right when photographing colour negatives is problematic.

Last edited by LaHo; 01-08-2016 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Addition
01-08-2016, 12:57 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by doroth2 Quote
Where should I look for the link for scanning services?
I'm lazy and lack the skill, patience, and equipment to scan my own slides and negatives. I've used this scanning service: ScanCafe - Photo Scanning, Negative Scanning, Slide Scanning, Video Transfer, Photo Restoration. The results are acceptable to me. They do offer the ability to review the scans online and accept/reject the ones you want.
01-09-2016, 10:29 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
I'm not aware of a way to utilize a reflective scanner for film. One approach for a digital camera is to modify a slide copier of the film days kind of setup to hold your negative film. Or something like this Side Copy Adapter as a starting point to make your own setup. Getting the camera lens orthogonal to the film surface is important because of the shallow DOF.

I'm sure 6BQ5 can give you some good pointers on this process. But I found in addition to alignment, a good macro lens, extension tubes or bellows, a diffused daylight color temperature light source (for slides) and holding the negative flat all help get the job done.
If you already have a macro lens then your rig is 80% complete. Just get a film/slide copier tube without a lens element inside of it and get some adapter rings. The adapter rings will not only allow attaching the tube to the lens but they will also help with getting the right distance between the lens and the film. Alternatively, you can use a bellows like @LaHo does. I use one with my D-FA 100mm lens.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/107-film-processing-scanning-darkroom/304...ning-film.html

If you don't have a macro lens then this is the perfect reason to get one! Macro lenses also work great for portraits, walk-around, etc. I recommend getting a macro lens in a focal length that isn't covered by another prime in your collection. Be aware that a longer focal length will require a longer working distance between the lens and film.

You will also need a light source. @LaHo uses a flash. If that seems too fancy for you then get a LED light table and stand it up on its side. I ripped apart an old monitor. Monitors have a very uniform light source behind their screen.

With all that you can start snapping away. I recommend shooting everything in raw format. You will want as much clean, uncompressed data as you can get. JPG will reduce your color depth from 14-bit to 8-bit and your data will be compressed with loss.

Processing the images is generally very simple. You perform the same general steps as you would in a darkroom but now you do it digitally.

1) Mirror the image to get the proper left/right orientation. You don't want text in the photo to read backwards!

2) Invert your colors.

3) Adjust your composition by cropping, rotating, etc.

4) Now the fun begins. Adjust white balance by clicking on what you think ought to be gray in the image. Find a sidewalk in the shade. Look for a strip of asphalt. Maybe someone's shoes has a grey strip in it. Shaded skin like under the neck or the back of the hand is also "grey".

5) Perform an "Auto-Levels" the individual R, G, and B channels. This is when the picture really comes to life!

Now you can do your usual editing except understand that everything is in reverse. If you want to brighten the picture you lower your exposure or brightness value. This is because the adjustment is done on the original image which is a negative - not a positive! I think contrast and saturation are the only two adjustments that work as before.

The two biggest challenges will be picking the wrong grey point for white balance and dust particles. If you pick the wrong grey point then the colors in your image will look wrong. You will fight the histogram and bend the color editor until it hurts both you and your software. Just pick another point and re-run the Auto-Levels function. Dust will show up as little white spots on your final image. The dust blocked the light and made a black spot in your photographed image. Inverting the color will turn the black spot into a white spot. You can easily heal this with the right software. It's a no-brainer if you use something like Photoshop.

I ran through a few thousand negatives like this. Yes, it takes time but I'm in no rush. I got to relive old memories and that has value to it. Not every image was processed. A stinker image back then is a stinker image today in most cases. I also created a preset that is applied during import that inverts the colors and runs an Auto-Level function on the as-shot white balance. It's not perfect but the default starting point here is enough for me to judge if an image is worth processing further or if I should move on.

16 to 18 MP is perfect resolution for camera-scanning 35mm film. Going beyond that doesn't add much value. You're just photographing film grain at that point.

Hopefully that offers some insight.
01-10-2016, 06:16 PM   #15
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Great info 6BQ5!
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