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Coolscan sees scratches that don't appear anywhere else


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Hello!
 
I'm trying to lock in a scanning workflow for B/W 35mm and I've had such a love/hate relationship with my Coolscan 5000 and Vuescan.  The detail extracted is second to none, but I'm seeing EVERY flaw as well.  There are hairline surface scratches that explode on the screen from these scans that are nowhere to be found on a mirrorless camera scan or a darkroom print.  
 
Is this just inherent to the scanning physics?  Is it scanning the surface and therefore every film base scratch is seen?  Again, if you backlight the negative, all of these tiny scratches are invisible.  Hence why they don't show up in camera scans or darkroom prints.
 
Any ideas?
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37 minutes ago, yeeper said:
 
Any ideas?

Accept that post processing is an integral part of scanning and learn how to clone out scratches and dust. If you were scanning colour then of course you'd have some software to help remove scratches, but as you'll know it doesn't work with B&W because it reads the grain as dust.

Edited by 250swb
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I don't have the scanner, but I can't be sure, but it sounds like the light source. Do you have a diffusion enlarger in the darkroom? Are you photographing the negatives on a light table? If so, those are generally diffusion light sources, which have non-directed light that tends to cast fewer shadows. Direct light sources (such as you might find in condenser and point source enlargers) cast shadows, which gives you a ton of acutance in the print, so they look sharper, but they also highlight imperfections. It sounds like this might be happening with your film.

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yes, testament to scanner physics, meaning light source and optics. I have an optically identical LS-50 and see the same for every scratch or mark on the negative, compared to the less sensitive. dark room. For me, it is an incentive to produce very clean negatives and a compliment to what Nikon could engineer and manufacture. Scanning however is more of a spin-off for me, relevant output is done in the darkroom. (Side note, not to the extend, but the same happens with a Plustek and 6x6 negatives)

You may want to get a factor 10x loupe and check, where the scratches come from, is this from the camera pressure plate or else?

Hope this helps. 

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

A lot of people still prefer b&w darkroom prints, but scanning works just fine for b&w films...certainly it is easier to get more out of thin negatives with a scanner, as you have infinite contrast, rather than topping out at grade 5, and in general scanning can get more out of "difficult" negatives, as it gives you more or less complete control over the tonal relationships in the scan. This is easy to go overboard with, but used properly, it is possible to get good prints out of negatives that would be nearly unsalvagable in the darkroom. Dust visible on a scan would be visible on prints without proper cleaning. I say this a printer who works with both the darkroom and digital. It is literally my job to do this, and the reality is that with a proper scanner, the right paper, and skill, the vast majority of photographers (let alone the general public) will be unable to tell the difference between a scanned and digitally printed print and a darkroom print. I have worked with the National Museum here as well as the Museum of Photography to produce digital versions of images that cannot otherwise be printed in the darkroom due to size or damaged negatives, and vanishingly few people can spot a difference. If they can, it generally has more to do with a slight mismatch in the color of the bw tone, rather than inherent difference in tonality or detail (barring looking with a loupe).

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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