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02-26-2012, 05:48 PM   #1
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Film workflow - what's yours?

I thought I’d start a thread on film workflow and any tips and tricks you might have. This was a major mental block I had that prevented me even trying film for a long time. After doing some research though I decided I’d give it a try, but when I first told my wife I was buying a film camera she said “What? But then you don’t won’t have it on the computer”.

So, to help demystify it a bit for film newbies I thought I’d share my workflow…

1) Buy C41 film from B&H or ebay, I probably average ~$6 or $7 per roll incl. shipping. I choose C41 film only as I don’t home develop yet, and C41 is by far the cheapest to get developed at a lab.
2) Shoot (the fun bit!)
3) Take the completed film to “Big W” (big chain department store in Australia) and ask for the “develop only” option ($3.95). Ask them to cut and sleeve the negs.
4) Once home, very (!!!) carefully remove a strip at a time and put in the scanner negative holder. Use the rocket blower to remove dust.
5) “Preview scan” the negative on a Plustek 7600 scanner (takes ~10secs per frame). For keepers I do a full scan (takes ~ 4 minutes or so per frame). I always set the film type, crop boarders and review the histogram and adjust if necessary for full scans. I don’t use iSRD (scratch removal) as it makes a mess of it and Aperture does a far better job.
6) Import scans into Aperture, tag pictures with the film type, iso, approximately when shot, and roll number index.
7) Sleeve the scanned negs in an archive sleeve and put a sticker on the sleeve with the roll number. Put that sleeve in a binder.
8) As the scanner is doing the full scan of each keeper, I’m in Aperture touching up any dust or scratches on the imported scans.
9) I then use the photos as I'd use my digital ones (share online, put in photobooks or order individual prints etc)

The main thing I'd like to improve in my workflow is to minimise the amount of dust and scratch removal I'm having to do without compromising on the result.

That’s about it, what’s your workflow? Anything you found that works well (or doesn't!)

02-26-2012, 06:25 PM   #2
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Funny I just got into film myself. My workflow is as follows.

1. C41 film. Recently bought 5 rolls of kodak 200 for 10 bucks at a local photo processing place.
2. Shoot
3. I did not have a dedicated film scanner and I am not designed to spend hours scanning trying get all the dust off the file so I have my film developed and scanned straight to cd. I have used 3 different sources.

The local drugstore, walgreen's, but the scans were pretty low rez,

I then tried a camera chain, Ritz (wolf). They have a low rez and hi rez option. The hi rez option is $15 including developing and I end up with a 13mp jpg. I have gotten some nice pics out of this but the files are a bit noisy. Still much more usable that the drugstore.

I recently tried a photo specialist shop, photoworks. They offer a 17mp Tiff file option for $22 with including developing. Just got them yesterday. Very nice scans. low noise and clean. Weird thing is that they show as 8mp files so I need to asked them about that. I know they don't have a lower rez tiff file option. However this is expensive. The other nice thing about photoworks is they carry all kinds film including the kodak 200 I bought. I shot a roll of proimage 100 which is suppose to be a super fine grain film. Will be interesting seeing what is produces.

I am next going to try a mail order house if it is significantly cheaper.

4. I then import the files into Lightroom. Here I can do a lot, much more than I ever expected with the digital scans. For the record, I love lightroom. It is easy to use and very powerful. I can change the white balance, lower the noise, sharper it, crop it etc... all without a darkroom.

5. Then I either export the file to a jpg for screen viewing, resizing as needed or print it on my printer. Just got a cannon mg6120. The prints have been stunning and I have gotten into printing now.

I have one scan from a print I did on the cannon and it came out pretty good. I used light room to turn it into a B&W. I haven't tried using any of the specialist scanner software.

Anyhow, this workflow is only a month old or so. I sometimes wonder why I am shooting film but I like the cameras I using (I have a pentax film camera but I am mainly using a Olympus om2n as well as a minolta x700). Still digital is much less expensive and I can shoot in much lower light with my k-r. I would love to hear why folks are still using film.
02-26-2012, 06:35 PM   #3
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Shoot the film, put it in the fridge. When I have several I take them upstairs to the darkroom and developed in HC110 and wash them there. Run the shower in the bathroom for a couple of minutes and pull the clothes line out above the tub and hang the negs to dry with the door closed. When dry I cut them up and put them away and make contact sheets in the next darkroom session and then print when or what I want. Black and white prints are made using a 4X5 enlarger.

For colour I take to the lab, and when I get them home I cut the strips and put them away in the sleeves. I always have either negative or E6 films processed only, no cutting and no printing. For C41 I have been doing this for more than a decade prior to having a digital camera or scanner. I only scan what I want to print and will slowly fluid scan most of my MF images. Then into Lightroom and put on a stick and give to my wife who has the printer hooked up to her computer as it is her printer.

Scanner is a Nikon CS8000.
02-26-2012, 07:09 PM   #4
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Iím lazy and hate scanning/photoshoping, so here is mine depending on film type:

135 Colour or B&W slide film:
- Take/send to lab for processing and mounting.
- View on light table or projector.
- Home scan the odd slide with my Pacific prime 7250u scanner.
- Store slides in Kodak trays.

135 Colour or B&W Negative film:
- Take to lab for processing and low res scans.
- File negatives in archive pages in binder.

120 B&W Negative film:
- Take to lab for processing and low res scans.
- File negatives in archive pages in binder.

120 Colour Slide film:
- Take to lab for processing and low res scans.
- File negatives in archive pages in binder.

Note my scanner only does 35mm slides or negatives.

Phil.

02-26-2012, 07:40 PM   #5
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My workflow sounds pretty much like everyone's above, except lately I've just been using low rez drugstore scans. Hopefully this Wednesday I'll be receiving my Epson V500 from FedEx so I can scan my negs myself again. Mainly been sticking to BW and developing/printing in my darkroom set up at a friends house.
02-26-2012, 07:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimmm18 Quote
I recently tried a photo specialist shop, photoworks. They offer a 17mp Tiff file option for $22 with including developing. Just got them yesterday. Very nice scans. low noise and clean. Weird thing is that they show as 8mp files so I need to asked them about that.
I think you (or they?) may be mixing up MB (Mega-bytes) and MP (Mega Pixels). For instance I get 60MB tiffs which are ~14MP from my plustek when I scan at 3600dpi.

QuoteOriginally posted by jimmm18 Quote
I would love to hear why folks are still using film.


Because the result is well worth it don't you think

You get beautiful characterful FF images with a unique look of their own (compared to digital) that hasn't been faked in a filter. Digital files from my K-5 are oh so sharp and oh so clean, but a bit boring and lifeless in comparision. Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon period with film
02-26-2012, 08:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimmm18 Quote
I would love to hear why folks are still using film.
For me, there are so many reasons. But mainly I learned to shoot on film, and I still prefer it. I have two wonderfully operational ME Supers to use. I enjoy the hunt for cheap film bodies and lenses at thrift or antique stores. I have two medium format bodies from the '50s that I can squeeze 35mm into or use the 120 film they were designed for and enjoy the characteristics of their cheap plastic lenses. Also, they have limited aperture and shutter speed selections which make it rather fun and challenging to expose for the subject at hand. And also I work at Rite Aid, so I can get our branded 35mm film for pretty cheap (and I actually enjoy the results of the film most of the time) and develop only for less than $2. It's a cheap and easy option for me when I don't plan on using more professional films.
02-26-2012, 08:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon period with film
I've been in the honeymoon period with film for 10 years!

02-26-2012, 08:42 PM   #9
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I'll leave out the buying film and taking pictures; we all know how to do that, I suspect.

B/W:
(1) Turn on a little air purifier thing in basement bathroom.
(2) Hand develop using XTol or D-19 or Rodinal, fix and rinse.
(3) Hang to dry.
(4) Do some dishes or laundry or something. *
(5) Scan on Epson 4490 using Linux "scanimage" script, get 16 bit PNM files.
(6) Run through Cinepaint for quick level adjustments, save as 8 bit PNG.
(7) Run through GIMP for cropping and final adjustments.
(8) Upload the interesting stuff to flickr or wherever.
(9) Store negatives in sleeves, keep in binders by year.

5-7 sound complicated but I'm a scripting geek and have automated a good bit of it.

Color is a little simpler:
(1) Turn on air purifier.
(2) Hand develop using Unicolor C41 kit (from Freestyle Photo).
(3) Hang to dry.
(4) Dishes/laundry. *
(5) Scan on Epson 4490 using Vuescan, get 16 bit DNG files.
(6) Cropping and adjustments in GIMP-UFRaw.
(7) Upload the keepers.
(8) Store negatives.

* Longstanding deal with the wife. All darkroom time has to be matched with housework time. :-)


--------------------------------------------------------------
Why film?
(1) The routine is somewhat addicting.
(2) I'm totally amazed and delighted every time good negatives come out of the tank. Look, there's pictures on there!
(3) I value the big viewfinders in my film SLRs, and can't afford a "full frame" DSLR.
(4) For me at least, maybe not everybody: I get better compositions when I slow down and think about every shutter activation. I could have the same attitude with digital, but somehow it doesn't work that way.
02-26-2012, 09:26 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sluggo Quote
Why film?
(1) The routine is somewhat addicting.
(2) I'm totally amazed and delighted every time good negatives come out of the tank. Look, there's pictures on there!
(3) I value the big viewfinders in my film SLRs, and can't afford a "full frame" DSLR.
(4) For me at least, maybe not everybody: I get better compositions when I slow down and think about every shutter activation. I could have the same attitude with digital, but somehow it doesn't work that way.
+1 to all of the above.
02-26-2012, 09:46 PM   #11
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Top secret...

To be more forthcoming, I shoot several different films, two different developers (Edwal FG7 and Kodak HC-110), and four different formats, using four distinct processing techniques.

The common factors are:
  • I have all my C41 developed (process only, no print, no scan, no cut) at one of two local pro labs.
  • I do all my B&W processing myself
  • 35mm is initially scanned on the Nikon 5000 ED at 1100 dpi for proofing purposes. 120 is scanned at 600 dpi on the Epson V700 for proofs with 4x5 at 300 dpi.
  • I use poly sleeve sheets for storage and cut the negative strips to fit
  • Using Lightroom, I print a proof sheet that is put in a loose-leaf notebook with the negative sheet
  • Each roll and frame are accessioned into a database (my own design...work in progress)
  • Using Lightroom, I review each frame. I may make virtual copies for some quick PP to post to the Web. (Most of what I post here is based on 1100 dpi proof scans.) The PP may be used as a guide for later higher quality scans.
  • Some frames may be later scanned at higher resolution (4000 dpi for 35mm and 2400 dpi for 120 and 4x5) as full bit-depth TIFF with the scan optimized to the negative.
  • Almost all PP is done in Lightroom 3.x, though I have been known to also use PTLens (lens corrections) and PaintShop Pro (Orton) when there is a need. I have several LR presets that I use as well as a general flow to get what I want from that tool. My LR PP flow for film is distinctly different for scans that for pure digital captures.
Printing is either done on my Canon inkjet or, for important stuff, sent out. While I have the equipment and space to do B&W silver prints from up to 6x7 120 negatives, I don't anticipate doing so in the near future.

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 02-26-2012 at 09:51 PM.
02-26-2012, 10:26 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
I think you (or they?) may be mixing up MB (Mega-bytes) and MP (Mega Pixels). For instance I get 60MB tiffs which are ~14MP from my plustek when I scan at 3600dpi.

The Tiff's are showing as 2048x3099 = 6.32mp, 18,545 kb; the hi-rez jpg's as 3035x4535=13.76 mp, 7.620kb in my Faststone viewer. The place told me they would be 17mp files. Is there something I am missing?
02-26-2012, 10:34 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimmm18 Quote
The Tiff's are showing as 2048x3099 = 6.32mp, 18,545 kb; the hi-rez jpg's as 3035x4535=13.76 mp, 7.620kb in my Faststone viewer. The place told me they would be 17mp files. Is there something I am missing?
Seems like there's something they are missing then, the pixels wide x pixels high = MP. File size equals MB. Mind you, 13.8MP isn't bad.
02-26-2012, 10:51 PM   #14
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1. Buy film
2. Load camera
3. Preset approximate exposure
4. Compose, focus, adjust exposure, trip shutter, wind film.
5. If film advances go to 3 else go to 6.
6. Remove film from camera.
7. Visit developers
8. Ask for development and scanning, no printing.
9. Review results
10 tweak images
11 Print best ones.
12 If another roll exists go to 2 else go to 1.

I generally buy three rolls at a time, and shoot one roll per outing.

The big hangup is, of course, steps 7 through 11.

Let me be clear: I see no need to be particulartly snooty about how the development is done. Neither, I completely believe, do nine out of ten film shooters, even the remaining ones.
02-26-2012, 11:05 PM   #15
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No 13mp is quite good and those are for the jpg and the cheaper scan. just don't know how they are counting pixels on the tiff. I have a roll to develope and may stop by there tomorrow to chat and maybe dropoff the film but 22 bucks is a lot of money. I may go back to Wolf/Ritz.
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