If you can get it right (and it's worth persevering) there is nothing in the colour world that will touch C41 negative film for the complete picture.”
(N.B. This is just an opinion. Please don't turn this thread into a film vs digital debate – join one of the many threads elsewhere discussing this issue).
Why home scan? So that the pro lab doesn't over expose your images losing your shadows and burning out your highlights.
The following isn't intended to imply in any way that I'm an expert on scanning. I've been doing it for about a week! There is surprisingly little on the net on the subject of colour negative scanning and I hope that posts following in this thread will only provide further tips to successful scanning with further insights into the software mentioned.
This is what I've gleaned so far from here Better colour neg scanning with VueScan. | Urban Motion
here Flickr: Discussing VueScan lock exposure tutorial in I Shoot Film
here C F Systems Innovations in Sight and Sound - Photoshop plug-ins page
and here VueScan User's Guide
There are two essentials for good colour neg scanning:
1)well exposed negs (use an incident meter if possible).
2)Well developed negs (find out when lab changes chemicals).
I'm using the Epson V700, Vuescan Pro, ColorPerfect and Photoshop. If you have a different scanner vuescan may look slightly different but I'm sure all the information here will hold.
The overview of the process is this: Vuescan gets all the information from the negative which is passed to Photoshop still in negative form. We would convert to a positive in Photoshop but it isn't very good at it so we convert to a positive with the Photoshop plug-in ColorPerfect.
Vuescan Pro and the Linear Scan
For best results we need all the info from the negative, and we achieve that by a few steps in pre-scanning. ColorPerfect likes a “linear” scan. I'm not sure what one of those is but it seems it needs Gamma at “1” with no processing of the RAW data from the scanner prior to going into ColorPerfect. To facilitate this we set up Vuescan Pro so that it doesn't clip any info and doesn't apply any curves and we won't do any white balancing. I also read that ColorPerfect likes Adobe RGB so we'll have that as our output colour profile.
There is an excellent article here Creating linear scans / VueScan Professional - ColorNeg - Your RAW converter for negative scans which you should read. I haven't tried the colour brightness stuff at the bottom yet but you should see if it makes a difference to your scans especially if you have an old scanner.
Initial Vuescan Set up for linear scan
Switch the scanner on then open Vuescan Pro.
The tabs along the top of Vuescan are:
1) INPUT TAB
fig 1.jpg 43.32KB 1862 downloads
The important bits here are
48 bits per pixel (ColorPerfect likes this)
Preview res your choice
Scan resolution is your choice but high res means bigger files.
Rotation and Mirror is related to the orientation of the preview/scan.
I don't know what multipage or skew are.
Auto save/auto print/auto repeat and scan from preview can be left as NONE as they relate to preview, I think, and just take up cache memory.
I'm not sure what number of samples is but it possibly helps reduce noise in dark areas of the negative.
AT THIS STAGE ONLY CHECK THE MULTIEXPOSURE BOX. Your scanner will probably do a couple of scans later in the scanning stage one at a higher intensity to bring out the detail in the dark bits of the negative.
2) CROP TAB
FIG 2.jpg 102.87KB 1848 downloads
Crop size max to see all your frames
Multi crop off to allow us to concentrate on our “Reference Frame” to profile the film
Border and buffer off to stop any automation of cropping
Preview area max to give you a good overall image of all frames
3) FILTER TAB
FIG 3.jpg 87.71KB 1836 downloads
All off for speed
4) COLOR TAB
fig 4.jpg 199.36KB 1861 downloads
Color balance none (because ColourPerfect likes it this way)
Curve low and Curve High This relates to an S curve of the levels/contrast curve. I've zeroed these as I believe ColorPerfect wants the info as untouched as possible. I must admit I don't know if it's better to do this. I think Julian Thompson leaves his at the default value of 0.25 and 0.75 respectively. See which you prefer.
BRIGHTNESS 1 (leaving this at “1” gives us our Linear Scan. I think “brightness” is vuescan's “Gamma”) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
BRIGHTNESS RED/GREEN/BLUE if you have an older scanner read the bottom of this page ( Creating linear scans / VueScan Professional - ColorNeg - Your RAW converter for negative scans )
Also very important is leaving the NEGATIVE VENDOR AS GENERIC.
OUTPUT COLOUR SPACE Adobe RGB (because the writers of ColourPerfect say it likes it) but Julian Thompson recommends ProPhoto RGB so see which you prefer.
Raw Output With “scan” means that the TIFF is produced during the scan. Select this if you don't want processes such as ICE to be active. Raw Output With “save” means that the processes such as ICE can be completed before the TIFF is saved manually (by going to FILE>SAVE).
5) OUTPUT TAB
fig 5.jpg 146.92KB 1845 downloads
Here we can stipulate to where the file is saved.
If RAW FILE alone is selected you get a TIFF negative outputted. Don't tick both RAW FILE and RAW DNG format which results in a negative dng file out putted. The dng file would be opened by Camera RAW before going into photoshop so it wouldn't be a linear scan anymore.
At this stage we can goto FILE and save all these settings (SAVE OPTIONS) with an easy to recognize name like “Scanning for idiots”. We can “load” it when we come to start scanning next time.