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Film Scanning - what are you using to scan your 35 negatives... ?


Nachtmsk

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Hi,

What are some good at-home options for scanning 35mm film?  Years back I used  Nikon Coolscan for my 35mm film. These days I have been using an adapter for my Nikon D850 with a 55 macro lens to scan my 35 negs by taking a picture of them. It works ok, but the scans do tend to be a little on the high contrast side.

I've been reading some reviews on B&H about Epson scanners for 35 and 120 film and they have been getting pretty good reviews.  It looks like a third party app (Vuescan) is needed if you use a Mac, which I do but I have used Vuescan before and it works fairly well.

So my question - what are you using to scan your 35 (and 120 if possible) negs these days?  I'd like to put my M6 to good use and shoot some more film!

 

Thanks
Mike

 

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Since I only scan limited amounts of film, mostly 35 and 120 shot years ago, I've found that an Epson V600 and Vuescan will get the job done for what I need.  Yes, it's time consuming and the flatbed takes quite a bit of space but I only get it out occasionally when needed.  If I were to start shooting a lot of film, I'd be looking for something more dedicated to the task.  Something like the Plustek 8200 if only for 35mm.

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47 minutes ago, Nachtmsk said:

It works ok, but the scans do tend to be a little on the high contrast side.

 

 

You can adjust the contrast in ACR before making the image into a TIFF. But if you can't control the contrast enough perhaps it's the light source at fault? 

I scan with a Nikon Z7 with a 60mm micro lens and mounted on a copy stand. The light source is a Kaiser PlanoLite pad and I either use home made negative holders with ANR glass or proprietary holders. With this setup I can get far better (and faster) scans in 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, or 6x12 than with any medium format scanner I've had in the past. So I don't see why your Nikon D850 shouldn't be able to do the same. Epson flatbed scanners are good scanners generally speaking for medium format, but not very good at all for 35mm compared with a camera scan.

Edited by 250swb
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7 minutes ago, 250swb said:

You can adjust the contrast in ACR before making the image into a TIFF. But if you can't control the contrast enough perhaps it's the light source at fault? 

I scan with a Nikon Z7 with a 60mm micro lens and mounted on a copy stand. The light source is a Kaiser PlanoLite pad and I either use home made negative holders with ANR glass or proprietary holders. With this setup I can get far better (and faster) scans in 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, or 6x12 than with any medium format scanner I've had in the past. So I don't see why your Nikon D850 shouldn't be able to do the same. Epson flatbed scanners are good scanners generally speaking for medium format, but not very good at all for 35mm compared with a camera scan.

I'm using an LED light pad light source. I don't recall the name offhand.  It was something I bought my son a few years back for him to light himself on videos. It has adjustable color temp and is quite bright. For the most part it works pretty well on negs and chrome. But I have seen some old Tri-X negs I have come out very contrasty; Back in the day I was able to get some really nice prints from these same negs. Maybe I'm just comparing apples and oranges in wanting my negative scans to be as good as my old hand made prints. Thanks for the reply.

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Epson V850 - but only do B&W. I typically load & shoot short rolls - 20 exp. Can scan a roll with one click using Epson Scan, faster than doing a contact sheet, and results are fine for computer viewing, etc. I still use an enlarger and wet prints for an exceptional shot. (Often my short rolls are just to test a camera.)

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Just now, TomB_tx said:

Epson V850 - but only do B&W. I typically load & shoot short rolls - 20 exp. Can scan a roll with one click using Epson Scan, faster than doing a contact sheet, and results are fine for computer viewing, etc. I still use an enlarger and wet prints for an exceptional shot. (Often my short rolls are just to test a camera.)

Thanks - Mostly I do scan B&W negs and also some B&W Slides (Scala)

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How do you invert? Are you sure the contrast issue isn’t coming from there?

I just did the opposite, moving away from an Epson v850 to camera scanning. It is such an improvement. In terms of contrast, I did not notice any difference… I have not scanned any negative that I printed. 
 

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Over the years I have scanned my 35mm negatives with several different Epson flatbeds, a Plustek 8100 and a Leitz BEEON setup using a Fuji X-T20 and a Schneider Componon enlarging lens. These days I am using a VALOI easy35 with the X-T20 and a Nikon 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor. 

For someone starting from scratch who already owns a digital camera and a macro lans that will focus to 1:1 the easy35 is an all-in-one solution, replacing the camera support, negative holder and light source of a typical digital camera scanning setup. With the clever arrangement for holding the negative flat and the optional duster I am getting the sharpest overall and cleanest scans of all the approaches I have used. 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Aryel said:

How do you invert? Are you sure the contrast issue isn’t coming from there?

I just did the opposite, moving away from an Epson v850 to camera scanning. It is such an improvement. In terms of contrast, I did not notice any difference… I have not scanned any negative that I printed. 
 

The 850 has a function built in to invert the neg in camera. Maybe that's my problem.

How do you invert? I could try to invert it in Photoshop (I don't use Lightroom as so many do, never liked it)

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Leica SL2-S and Apo-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm + ELPRO, which gives 1:1 with 35mm negatives. Mounted on a tripod over a Kaiser Slimlite Piano, and an Essential Film Holder. I invert in Lightroom (tried Negative Lab Pro, but didn't like its black box approach). 

I don't shoot 120, but for 4x5 I use the 24-90SL zoom at 90mm, which fills the sensor with the negative.

Inverting manually in Lightroom is slow, and wouldn't work for a large number of images, but I quite enjoy the process: watching a good image emerge from a scanned negative as you work on it is analogous to watching a print emerge from a white sheet of paper in the darkroom. 

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I am 99% sure this is the problem. I suggest to try to shoot raw, import in photoshop and invert from there at first. This should tell you straight away whether this was the issue. 

For black and white I either go directly in affinity photo (similar to photoshop) or use film lab (putting everything to 0) then continue in affinity. 

Edited by Aryel
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17 minutes ago, Nachtmsk said:

The 850 has a function built in to invert the neg in camera. Maybe that's my problem.

How do you invert? I could try to invert it in Photoshop (I don't use Lightroom as so many do, never liked it)

This was my starting point, though I have evolved from his Photoshop method into my Lightroom method. 

Edited by LocalHero1953
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I use a Nikon D850, converted in Lightroom with Negative Lab Pro plug in. If anything, there's too little contrast to begin with. I end up doing lots of post, i.e. mostly using the lasso to create masks and layers to adjust specific areas. I definitely would not use in camera conversion unless you are able to specify it to convert with a linear gamma and no clipping of highlights. 

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41 minutes ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Inverting manually in Lightroom is slow

I use my camera for film scanning (digitizing, rather). When there's a bit of unexposed film available, I use this to set the white balance of the camera. This nicely subtracts the orange goo from the negative and with a simple inversion in the post processing software I start with a fairly good compromise.

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13 minutes ago, pop said:

I use my camera for film scanning (digitizing, rather). When there's a bit of unexposed film available, I use this to set the white balance of the camera. This nicely subtracts the orange goo from the negative and with a simple inversion in the post processing software I start with a fairly good compromise.

Ditto. FWIW, my method with raw files is:

  • Set the white balance from the orange unexposed film.
  • Crop and straighten each image to no more than the exposed frame.
  • Invert using the tone curve.
  • Go through RGB curves individually to set 'black' and 'white points'. (I wish Adobe would automate this, or at least do it with a single click, as with Black and White points).
  • Export as a TIFF. This means that you can then make all the adjustments with sliders and curves that 'go the right way'. (Trying to edit the inverted original raw file is a recipe for confusion).
  • Delete the original raw file (I still have the negative as a back up).
  • Edit the TIFF file as if it was a 'normal' digital image.

My most common colour adjustment is to the cyan hue and saturation sliders, to turn skies and blue jeans to the correct colour. 
And my most common (but certainly not invariable) tone curve adjustment is a simple low curve, darkening shadows and increasing contrast in highlights.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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1 hour ago, Nachtmsk said:

The 850 has a function built in to invert the neg in camera. Maybe that's my problem.

How do you invert? I could try to invert it in Photoshop (I don't use Lightroom as so many do, never liked it)

I think that may well be the problem. Whether using a dedicated film scanner or a camera the best workflow is to make a copy of the negative that has no highlight or shadow clipping, so it can look boring and flat, and the final image is created by editing in Lightroom or Photoshop. If your camera can't do that efficiently you have a problem. To invert the image there is 'Negative Lab Pro' for use as a plugin for Lightroom, or for Photoshop 'Negmaster' or the more old school 'ColorPerfect' which is what I use. 

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I wouldn’t leave the D850 to determine the outcome especially if it’s producing an inverted jpeg as the ‘scan’,  you’re getting someone else’s idea of how the image should render.

Scan as a raw file as your starting point and work on it from there.  
 

I don’t see any reason why you should consider an Epson flatbed scanner for 35mm film scanning as a better option.  Your D850 with a 60mm micro-Nikkor and ES-2 should produce superior files from 35mm originals compared  to an Epson flatbed.

 

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Hello,

my experience: Search a good used scanner from the golden age of these machines (End of last century). Maybe, you have to use a dedicated old computer.

I'm using a Linotype-Hell Topaz II (1998) since 15 years without problems and and with great results. It works with a old PowerMac G3 via SCSI and delivers the scans directly to my LAN. The software used is the fantastic Linocolor 6.04.

I bought it for the good price (799 €) in 2008.

Best,

Jens

Edited by jensthoes
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