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Best noise reduction program for scanned negatives


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Sincere apologies if this topic has been exhausted ad naseum, but I would really appreciate some guidance on an issue that I have been living with for a while and about which I have henceforth been too lazy to ask.

 

I scan color and B&W negatives using a nikon coolscan 9000 (via Vuescan on my iMac) and edit mostly in Lightroom.

 

I have heard that I shouldn't use the grain reduction feature in Vuescan and I have also heard that the niose reduction features in LR work best on digital files.

 

What is the best program(s) to use for reducing noise and grain from scanned film negatives. My color scans have multiple-colored noise that does not exist on the prints that I get from my developer. Similarly, my B&W scans have additional grain and noise based on the prints I get from my developer (which have much more creamy shadows).

 

Any and all guidance is much appreciated.

 

Thank in advance,

 

Adam

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Have you tried printing your scanned images? Often 'noise' is not an issue when the image is printed.

 

But without knowing how you scan your images the already vast subject becomes even bigger. For instance, if you sharpen at the scanning stage it can exaggerate grain and colour 'noise', it should be done in post processing. Then you will find some films scan better than others, and you can even find that high specification scanners are so precise that they scan a layer of grain rather than the depth of grain in the emulsion, so further exaggerating 'grain'. Additionally the format of the negative can make a difference to perceived noise, a small 35mm negative shows it up, but with a medium format negative it is inconsequential.

 

Steve

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Thanks for your reply, Steve.

 

I have found that some of the noise disappears in the printing process. So good point there.

 

I do not add any sharpening, grain reduction or other adjustments in the scanning process, so that shouldn't be an issue.

 

You might be right how the precision of the scanner could exaserbate the noise. I find that particularly in dimly-lit scenes the scans come out with grain with multi-colored pixels. The scanning itself also seems to take longer.

 

Having said all of this, this is what it is and I would love to find a program that can help neutralize this noise in a way that doesn't meaningfully affect image sharpness or tonality.

 

thanks again,

 

Adam

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I scan with Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED and SilverFast software, no noise problems. I tried Vuescan but didn't liked it too much, but do not recall any noise issue.

The 5000ED provides a noise reduction feature and not sure, if the 9000 has the same feature. Maybe Vuescan doesn't support those features?

 

Besides that, did you tried to use Nik Dfine 2.0

 

Uwe

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Scanned image sharpening and noise reduction is completele different from digital images. But you can do both in ACR.

I would recommend <Schewe and Fraser: Real World Image Sharpening>, which covers the topic exhaustively.

 

Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom (2nd Edition): Bruce Fraser, Jeff Schewe: 9780321637550: Amazon.com: Books

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Adobe Camera Raw. . The raw converter of Photoshop and Lightroom. In Lightroom you can import your TIFFs and have the noisereduction controls, in Photoshop you either have to run your file through Adobe's DNG converter (free software) or open your file "as camera raw" .

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a Nikon 9000. I don't use Vuescan for anything other than scanning, i.e. post processing is done in Photoshop and/or Lightroom. This goes for noise as well.

 

The noise you're seeing might also be grain aliasing which isn't as nice as grain itself.

 

I've been using Lightroom's noise reduction at a low setting, e.g. 10 - 20.

I don't really sharpen scanned negatives but I do sharpen my M9's DNGs.

I do tend to use clarity more with scanned negatives than DNGs.

 

The real solution to film and noise in my opinion is to use a finer grained film. My old Astia slides scan grainless on the Nikon 9000.

Tri-X scans the worst and I'm probably seeing grain aliasing as well.

 

I'm trying the new TMY which is supposed to have tighter grain which should give a nicer scan.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I also use a 9000 and Vuescan. I have ICE turned on but don't use grain reduction. I wasn't even aware of the function actually but will now have to experiment a bit, methinks.

 

In Photoshop, I usually try the Noise Reduction filter on scanned colour negs to address the colour noise added by the scanner (a result of the light source in the Coolscans if I understand it correctly).

 

While this does not remove the noise, it desaturates its colour splotches quite effectively. There are various sliders to find a setting which is good for a particular image. I know this is not what the filter is for but it does work rather well, at least for my taste. I have used this on virtually all my colour negative images in my Flickr. To give an idea, here are two images that had quite a lot of colour noise in the darker areas. It may be necessary to view the larger sizes to see the result.

 

The world of MANGA | Flickr

M6TTL 50 Summilux Asph Portra 400

Large size.

 

A lady with a hat at Europol (and a selfie) | Flickr

M4 50 Summicron III Gold 200

Large size.

 

There's a piece of software called Realgrain which costs $99 but I have not tried it so can't comment on it.

 

One of the reasons I recently began shooting slides again is the lack of grain which I find really nice.

 

Edit: I also use Unsharp Mask on my photos. I set the Amount to something low, usually 8-12, and Radius to a high number, like 55, with Threshold at 1. This gives an effect akin to Clarity but with less drastic effects. I find that it works well on scanned colour negs together with the Noise Reduction filter.

Edited by philipus
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  • 5 weeks later...
I scan color and B&W negatives using a nikon coolscan 9000 (via Vuescan on my iMac) and edit mostly in Lightroom.
I scan color and B&W negatives and slides with a Nikon Coolscan 5000 and Vuescan 9 on a Mac and edit almost exclusively in Adobe Lightroom 5. I use the two-step workflow. Step 1: scan the photos to Vuescan's proprietary raw format (including infrared channel), make sure that focus and crop make sense. Step 2: use Vuescan's batch processing to apply filters, color and exposure corrections to those raw scans and output DNG files that make Lightroom happy.
I have heard that I shouldn't use the grain reduction feature in Vuescan
That's good advice. Vuescan's grain reduction should be switched off by default.
and I have also heard that the niose reduction features in LR work best on digital files.
Scans are digital files. :-) I suppose you mean, LR works better for digital photography than for scans of analog photos.
What is the best program(s) to use for reducing noise and grain from scanned film negatives. My color scans have multiple-colored noise that does not exist on the prints that I get from my developer.
There are different kinds of noise that need different kinds of treatment.

 

The multi-color noise in your scans are most likely single pixels that show up with very bright colors. This is digital noise created by the scanner's sensor. It's exactly the same kind of color noise that you get from a digital camera's sensor.

 

For this kind of noise I use Lightroom: Develop > Detail > Noise Reduction. My settings for "Color" are typically between 3 and 10. The key is to choose this setting as low as possible. I set "Sharpening" and "Luminance" to 0 and zoom my images to 1:1. Then I adjust the "Color" value starting a 0 and increasing it to the lowest value where the odd colored single pixels just disappear.

 

Analog grain is a completely different beast.

Similarly, my B&W scans have additional grain and noise based on the prints I get from my developer (which have much more creamy shadows).
Nikon scanners are known to be a bit harsh on grain, especially on B&W negatives. They are designed to get every little detail from film to file - and they do. :-) I made scans of color slides from the 1930s and 1950s where you can see every little bump in the emulsion.

 

I consider dealing with analog grain as a part of the creative process, very much like making analog prints from negatives. One approach is to live with it. Some people like the grainy look of digitized analog photos. Another approach is to add artifical grain. More grain is sometimes easier on the eye than less grain. In Lightroom you find the option to add grain in Develop > Effects > Grain.

 

Removing grain can be easy or impossible. It all depends on the source material.

 

It's easy for photos taken with bad lenses on good film, because the film's grain is so much smaller than the resolution of the optics. In Lightroom I use Develop > Detail > Noise Reduction. In some cases I crank up "Luminance" to 80 or 100. Combined with high values for "Detail" and "Contrast" the results can be very pleasant.

 

It's almost impossible for photos taken with good lenses on high ISO films. Think of 1940s to 1960s black and white street photography or natural light indoors photography. The grain even shows up on analog print with the softest paper and chemicals.

 

Then there are photos taken with good lenses by a good photographer on excellent low ISO film. They are perfectly sharp, perfectly exposed and have tiny grain. These pictures might benefit from treatment with specialist software or Photoshop plugins.

 

The amount of effort for grain reduction should also depend on the intended output. Personally, I do enjoy pixel peeping on a huge computer monitor. :-) But if the picture is only used on a website or in a digital picture frame, simple luminance noise reduction before downscaling the image is sufficient. For those purposes I only use the export function for sharpening.

 

For high-quality output I spend a little more time with Vuescan and Lightroom. In step 2 of my workflow I process the raw scans in Vuescan with different settings and compare the results. In some cases Vuescan's grain reduction create nice results.

 

Personally, I think of scanners as a special form of a digital camera. They have optics and require proper focussing. They have sensors that create digital noise and require proper exposure. And they create raw data that requires proper processing to create the desired results.

 

Hope this helps!

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