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Scanning Glass Negatives

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  #1  
Old 02-12-2007, 05:59 AM
Inspeqtor Inspeqtor is offline
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Scanning Glass Negatives

I am brand new to this forum. I am a member at Photoshop Elements Techniques forum and posted a question there, and was told this forum may be a better place to ask this question.

I have had several boxes of glass negatives for over 30 years, and never did anything with them. I have had a scanner for 5-6 years and never once thought of scanning them until recently. These glass negatives were from my wife's great uncle, he took them I believe back in the 20's and 30's. I have some 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 plus others 4 x 5. (I think I have others somewhere that are 5 x 7) These are still in the original boxes!
Some of the negatives are in good shape, and others the emulsion is starting to peal away from the glass. Others there is mildew damage (I think that is what it is)

I have a couple of questions on scanning these. My scanner is not the newest on the block (HP Scanjet 5300c) but it should do fine I would think.
What is the best format to save these in. Here are the options I have for saving:

*.bmp Bitmap File
*.gif GIF Bitmap File
*.jpg JPEG Bitmap File
*.fpx Flash Pix Bitmap File
*.pcx PCX Bitmap File
*.png PNG Bitmap File
*.tif TIFF Bitmap File
*.tif TIFF Compressed File
*.pdf PDF File
*.wmf Windows Metafile

I am thinking the first TIFF format, but I don't really know for sure.

As for Resolution, I THINK my scanners highest resolution is 150dpi

Also, I have not looked at these in years, so I have not recently seen any wording which would tell me for sure which is up or down. Do I scan with the emulsion facing up or down?

I do not want to do anything to damage these, so any dirt or dust I will gently blow off, perhaps take a tissue gently to the surface as I do not want to add any more scratches.

I figure I can use Elements to invert the scan from a negative to a positive ( I am using Photoshop Elements version 5).

Any other help tips would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 02-12-2007, 08:02 AM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Hi, In order to get the best results you may need to upgrade your scanner. I scan quite a few glass plate negs and have found that 2300 to 3200 dpi 16 bit greyscale produces the best results. While scanning and then inverting is an option it is better to use the transparency function of your scanner.
Any of the negs which show emulsion seperation from the glass should be packed off to a conservator for restoration before scanning if at all possible.
Scan with the base down. TIFF is the current recommended format for storage. I would suggest storing the original scan, unretouched or manipulated as your "Use Neutral" file, then a restored version for print or other output.
I believe you will find that 150 dpi simply will not provide you with a very good image, unless web or AV output is all you plan on doing. Good luck Tom
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:41 AM
Inspeqtor Inspeqtor is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Thank you Tom for your reply. I had wondered if a new scanner would benefit me.

Quote:
While scanning and then inverting is an option it is better to use the transparency function of your scanner.
My scanner does not have this feature, sad to say.

What scanner would you recommend? I am sure i will get a wide range of ideas here on that one from different folk. Also, you mentioned sending my glass negatives off to be restored. I had no idea that could be done. Where do you recommend, and what is the cost?

Last edited by Inspeqtor; 02-12-2007 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 02-12-2007, 11:05 AM
alain754 alain754 is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Hi, I did a lot of scanning glass negatives, and always store the result in Tiff file.
Your scanner is 1200 dpi, so you can enlarge your prints about 4 times if you print at 300 dpi. But you definitely need a scanner which allows transparency scan. I suggest the Epson 4990, or the Epson V750 (newer but a little more expensive). The 4990 is really excellent performance for the price.
And I agree with Tom, 16 bit grey scale @ 3200 dpi is best. You'll convert to 8 bits later (or if the file is really too large, you can scan in 8 bits if you make the good adjustments in the scaning software itself).
Also agree with Tom regarding negs peeling the emulsion.... be very careful !

With the Epson 4990, emulsin side is up.

Hope this helps, good luck !
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Old 02-12-2007, 11:47 AM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Depending on your budget, either the 4990 , v700 or v750 epsons would be a good choice. All have an excellent reputation and are reliable. If the budget is a bit lean the epson 4490 at around $199.00 would be a good choice.
You will have to do a bit of experimenting with scanning resolution as anything over 3200 tends to just pick up grain and , at least in my experience, adds little to the over all quality. Especially when dealing with older negatives. Depending where you are a good place to find a conservator would be to check with a local museum or in the yellow pages. Good luck Tom
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Old 02-12-2007, 01:57 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

inspeqtor, welcome to RP.

you might also have a look around in this and other forums. at least one or two of our members would probably recommend not scanning at all, but to shoot with a camera. you can find those threads with a search here on RP.

as for file type to save in, .tiff, bmp, psd, and .pcx shld all give you very good results. do NOT save in .jpg, not for the archival one at least. i also seem to recall that whereas .gif isnt a 'lossy' type on copies, i do seem to remember that the initial copy wont be quite as good. this is the old compuserve, made for network display, type format and was made to make it faster loading on networks. .png i'm not sure about. still havent studied that one much. and i would not use windows media formats or flash types. these may also degrade the images somewhat...but on those i'm not real certain either.

basically, you're safe with .bmp or .tiff, for sure. and i would think .psd would be fine also, since that is a proprietary format for photoshop. and i also know that some of the united states geo services use .pcx for global mapping purposes, so that shld fine also. i also know of one game company that used .pcx for high resolution work as well and combined their graphics with geo mapping service images in .pcx.

myself, i normally use .tiff. it's tried and true and one of the oldest formats around.
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:09 PM
Inspeqtor Inspeqtor is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Thank you everyone for the very warm welcome I have received here on this forum! That is uncommon in many forums. The PET forum I also belong to is also a very friendly place.

I think I am leaning towards the Epson 4490 mostly for budget reasons. Will it scan glass negatives ok? I really don't 'need' a 35mm film scanner, as I have the Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV, however, I do want to scan those glass negatives and the Konica Minolta will not do that!
Guess I may have to sell the Konica Minolta!
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Old 02-13-2007, 11:19 PM
Inspeqtor Inspeqtor is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Yesterday I went 'Window Shopping' for scanners. Staples had an Epson 4490 in stock; but in looking it over, I noticed the glass opening in the lid (for added lighting I think) was only about 3 inches wide. Not near wide enough to scan the glass negatives I have. They did not have a 4990 in stock for me to compare. I did see an HP that the glass opening on the lid was full size, but I did not want to get an HP. I can't really afford the 4990 now. Is there anyone on this forum that has a 4490 or 4990 and could tell me if my suspicions are correct? Does the 4990 have a glass opening in the lid that is full size? Sorry I do not know the technical terms here.

Thank you for any help you can give me.
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Old 02-13-2007, 11:48 PM
ziblets ziblets is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Hi Charles, The Epson website has detailed information on the models and this is what it says for the transparency unit specs:

4490: 2.7" x 9.3" Transparency Adapter built-in lid, 12 35mm negative, 4 35mm slide, 1 2-1/4", 6x12cm or 120/220 (medium format) capacity

4990: 8" x 10" Transparency Adapter built-in lid with four film holders: 35mm slides (8 frames), 35mm film strips (24 frames), medium format strips 2-1/4", 120/220mm, 6x12cm (3-6 frames) and 4" x 5" film (2 frames); 8" x 10" film area guide

I use an older model Epson that has film and slide holders. The software somehow knows when I am using them and will automatically select the proper image area.

I hope this was helpful. (I am new around here.) Ziblets
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Old 02-14-2007, 12:32 AM
Inspeqtor Inspeqtor is offline
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Re: Scanning Glass Negatives

Thank you ziblets! That is what I needed to know. I had been looking at the Epson website, but I did not know for sure what to look for. It looks like I need to save up for the 4990 to be able to scan the glass negatives, or downgrade to a cheaper and less quality HP.... ggrrrrrrrr
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