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08-24-2009, 05:39 AM   #1
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Behind the Scenes BW to Digital

I think I am floundering in my film commitment. What is the simplest way to get high quality digital from my film rolls. My own scans from negatives have been less than satisfactory. Do I need to go to a photo lab or mail out for processing? What are the local "pharmacy" shops scanning from - I assume they pass the negatives back through again for scanning - and I assume it is likely not the highest quality (e.g. Kodak disk). I don't want to make the dollar commitment to film and then only get average digital scans. Or do I just need to drop C41 black and white and go with traditional bw film. I need a jump start.

08-24-2009, 05:41 AM   #2
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Bump on this one. I have the same question. I'm about to take a two week hiking trip in New England and really only want to shoot film.

Anyone who has a good lab or answer let me know.

Thanks!
08-24-2009, 06:15 AM   #3
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send your stuff to a pro lab
Photo Labs bunch of labs ken likes
i have heard only good things from these guys Richard Photo Lab

or invest in a scanner and do it yoruself
08-24-2009, 06:50 AM   #4
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C41 b&w of course has its own character, different from the silver based b&w films (and each of which... and so on). And each of these is different than digital (and each of which... and so on...)

Consider that in any medium and era, getting the best possible results (however you define them) is expensive and/or time consuming. The expectation that a relatively cheap scanner can produce the best results possible is something one ought to check at the door. A better question is what produces 'good enough' results, whether digital or film.

I find that often, though not always, a CVS drug store scan is good enough for my ordinary purposes. I can clearly see the differences between good and mediocre lenses, for example. But yes, more quality (and size) can be had. Depends on what you need it for.

08-24-2009, 07:36 AM   #5
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I prefer to develop and print myself, then scan the prints I like

At a point in time I had an old Polaroid scanner (Sprint Scan 35+) which worked wonders. Now I just take a photo of the negative.
08-25-2009, 09:13 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
C41 b&w of course has its own character, different from the silver based b&w films (and each of which... and so on). And each of these is different than digital (and each of which... and so on...)

Consider that in any medium and era, getting the best possible results (however you define them) is expensive and/or time consuming. The expectation that a relatively cheap scanner can produce the best results possible is something one ought to check at the door. A better question is what produces 'good enough' results, whether digital or film.

I find that often, though not always, a CVS drug store scan is good enough for my ordinary purposes. I can clearly see the differences between good and mediocre lenses, for example. But yes, more quality (and size) can be had. Depends on what you need it for.
I think Nesster's comments make a lot of sense. If you're looking for first class results, there's no substitute for doing it yourself. Most commercial scanning is butchery, producing images that may look good to the casual observer but chopping off highlight and shadow information necessary for best results, and irreversibly over-sharpening.

You need to develop a feel for what a good image looks like, and spend a lot of time acquiring the technical skills and artistic sense to translate your vision to a finished product. I started doing darkroom in 1973, and began scanning in 1995. I've prduced many thousands of images for publication.

From my perspective, scanning is a simple process that is based on not screwing up the image, rather than attempting to do fancy adjustments in the scanner software. Just capture the full tonal range and all possible detail, and do the real work in Photoshop. Even my Photoshop work is quite simple. My approach is based on techniques involving dodging, burning and tonal corrections I learned through many years of darkroom work, guided by a clear vision of how the image should look.

I have a number of friends who endlessly spend money and time looking for the perfect plugin, when what they really need to do is decide how their images should look and go for it with some basic tools.

The image below was shot on Ilford XP2 with a K 28/3.5. It was scanned on an Epson V700 at 4800ppi, 16 bit grayscale. Photoshop tools used were crop, levels, curves, dodge and burn, image size, smart sharpen, and healing brush. After major editing was done, the file was converted to 24-bit RGB and given a simulated palladium tone using a free plugin (TLR). Curves were tweaked very slightly. The finished file is 20 inches across at 300ppi. Photoshopping time was about 20 minutes.


Last edited by John Poirier; 08-25-2009 at 02:18 PM. Reason: spelling
09-02-2009, 11:33 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
I think Nesster's comments make a lot of sense. If you're looking for first class results, there's no substitute for doing it yourself. Most commercial scanning is butchery, producing images that may look good to the casual observer but chopping off highlight and shadow information necessary for best results, and irreversibly over-sharpening.

You need to develop a feel for what a good image looks like, and spend a lot of time acquiring the technical skills and artistic sense to translate your vision to a finished product. I started doing darkroom in 1973, and began scanning in 1995. I've prduced many thousands of images for publication.

From my perspective, scanning is a simple process that is based on not screwing up the image, rather than attempting to do fancy adjustments in the scanner software. Just capture the full tonal range and all possible detail, and do the real work in Photoshop. Even my Photoshop work is quite simple. My approach is based on techniques involving dodging, burning and tonal corrections I learned through many years of darkroom work, guided by a clear vision of how the image should look.

I have a number of friends who endlessly spend money and time looking for the perfect plugin, when what they really need to do is decide how their images should look and go for it with some basic tools.

The image below was shot on Ilford XP2 with a K 28/3.5. It was scanned on an Epson V700 at 4800ppi, 16 bit grayscale. Photoshop tools used were crop, levels, curves, dodge and burn, image size, smart sharpen, and healing brush. After major editing was done, the file was converted to 24-bit RGB and given a simulated palladium tone using a free plugin (TLR). Curves were tweaked very slightly. The finished file is 20 inches across at 300ppi. Photoshopping time was about 20 minutes.

Beautiful shot
09-03-2009, 01:37 PM   #8
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Here is a link to a pretty high quality lab with some solid experience with b+w. I am sure there are pleny of others.

Praus Productions Inc. [4photolab.com]

09-04-2009, 06:36 AM   #9
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Scanning at the native resolution does give you a huge bitmap, and probably you're not 'throwing away' any information on the film... however, on my 4490 I think I may be hitting the noise floor of the scanner at that resolution. I.e. scanner noise becomes an issue at some point... and is one of the things you get less of with a more expensive model.
09-04-2009, 06:32 PM   #10
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My B&W images default scanned is nowhere a quarter as beautiful as that one just posted... much to learn, so little time (and motivation to sit down when you can shoot instead!)
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