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Input/Output/Workflow Scanning, printing, color management, and discussing best practices for control and repeatability

RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

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  #1  
Old 06-17-2010, 02:33 PM
stlsailor stlsailor is offline
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RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

I just got a Nikon 5000 ED film scanner with SF-210 slide feeder and am experimenting with how it works and setting up an efficient workflow.

1. Instructions say don't use the feeder for slides with labels. Many of mine have the old orange dot labels for putting them in the tray properly. If these are stuck on securely, are they really likely to cause a serious problem?

2. I don't have Vuescan yet, but I understand it allows you to (a) use color profiles, and (b) scan to a RAW format. I shoot RAW in my DSLR, but is there really any advantage to scanning in RAW?

3. I've read to clean the slides with compressed air, a brush, and/or an antistatic cloth. I'm a little concerned about whether the canned air might contain chemicals that would harm the slide.

4. Here's my starting point for general settings, recognizing that the type of film and specific batch make a difference. If others work for you, I'd like to know. Generally do you find it better to spend the time adjusting the scan settings, or to photoshop it later?
  • a. 4000 dpi for archival purpose
  • b. 16-bit
  • c. sRGB
  • d. TIFF
  • e. ICE – on (Normal)
  • f. Multi-sampling 1x
  • g. Unsharp mask disabled
  • h. DEE enabled; default value = 50
  • i. ROC enabled; default value = 5
  • j. GEM disabled by setting to 0
  • k. Scan Image Enhancer Enabled
  • l. Analog Gain = default settings
Thanks
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:05 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

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1. Instructions say don't use the feeder for slides with labels. Many of mine have the old orange dot labels for putting them in the tray properly. If these are stuck on securely, are they really likely to cause a serious problem?
It gets pretty warm inside the scanner. That has a tendency to make labels un-stick. That could mean they get stuck and gum up your scanner. You can try leaving them on but examine carefully after you scan a couple to see if they stay on just as well as when they went in.

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2. I don't have Vuescan yet, but I understand it allows you to (a) use color profiles, and (b) scan to a RAW format. I shoot RAW in my DSLR, but is there really any advantage to scanning in RAW?
Saving in RAW format would be the best way to go BUT be very careful. the NEF format is particular to every Nikon camera and scanner. That's why Photoshop has to update Camera RAW each time a new model camera is introduced. You may find that while the scanner outputs a nice NEF file, that Photoshop may not be able to open it. Try generating one and see if PS or whatever s/w you have can open it. A few few years ago Nikon tried to make it difficult for other s/w vendors to open scanner NEFs because Nikon would prefer you to use its own s/w.

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3. I've read to clean the slides with compressed air, a brush, and/or an antistatic cloth. I'm a little concerned about whether the canned air might contain chemicals that would harm the slide.
Those cans of Dust Off contain tetrafluoroethane. Its nasty to breath. But worse if you tilt it at the wrong angle or you spray too much or too close, you get a nice freeze burn on your film and you leave a nasty white residue. There is a vague warning to that effect on the can. In addition to all that there is not enough pressure coming out of those cans to effectively remove the dust and cardboard particles off the slides and negs. Save you money and avoid the damage.
Old film has delicate emulsion. If you abrase it, you can often remove it. Antistatic cloths are not bad but you need to be gentle to avoid creating scratches that you can't see but the scanner sure can.
A air compressor set to about 80 PSI with a pencil type nozzle is the most effective technique I have found.

Quote:
4. Here's my starting point for general settings, recognizing that the type of film and specific batch make a difference. If others work for you, I'd like to know. Generally do you find it better to spend the time adjusting the scan settings, or to photoshop it later?
a. 4000 dpi for archival purpose
b. 16-bit
c. sRGB
d. TIFF
e. ICE – on (Normal)
f. Multi-sampling 1x
g. Unsharp mask disabled
h. DEE enabled; default value = 50
i. ROC enabled; default value = 5
j. GEM disabled by setting to 0
k. Scan Image Enhancer Enabled
l. Analog Gain = default settings
My 100K feet philosophy is "Don't let the scanner do anything for you (except ICE) Turn off all Auto settings - no auto level, no auto color, no decreen, etc. Not all film ages and deteriorates the same way. ROC and DEE and GEM all have defined algorithms. Sometimes they are bang on, often they are way off. This may be your last chance to scan these slides / negs. Your best bet would be to get the best raw scan right off the scan and process it later in PS. Because once the scanner s/w has screwed up you file you don't get another chance unless you rescan it.
Similarly, sRGB is the smallest gamut color space. Good for web and not much else. Once imported into PS the color has been degraded - lost.
Bottom line is get the most native data out of the scanner (preferably in NEF format if PS will read it) or save the native data in TIFF (compressed or uncompressed lossless). Make all the edits in PS afterward.

S/W such as PS and 3rd party apps evolve tremendously over time. I am amazed at what I could do today compared to what I could do 5 yrs ago. I am amazed that what I thought was a good edit 5 years ago is now so inferior to the results I can now achieve. For this reason I have never regretted scanning and archiving raw scanner data.

Regards, Murray
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  #3  
Old 06-17-2010, 10:48 PM
stlsailor stlsailor is offline
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Re: RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

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A air compressor set to about 80 PSI with a pencil type nozzle is the most effective technique I have found.
What type of air compressor do you use? I have a large unit in the garage, and I'd get more dust there than I'd get rid of. On the other hand, I'd like to find a small inexpensive one that is usable in the house for this.

Quote:
Similarly, sRGB is the smallest gamut color space. Good for web and not much else. Once imported into PS the color has been degraded - lost.
The facts about color spaces seem very difficult to determine. I've read what you said a number of other places and it makes sense. On the other hand, http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/adobe-rgb.htm makes a case that this is correct in theory, but in practice it adds no benefits and easily leads to problems. I've wrestled with knowing how to figure out which view is correct.

Quote:
Your best bet would be to get the best raw scan right off the scan and process it later in PS.
That leads to three questions.

  • I had a slide where the background was very dark. Using DEE seemed to capture more detail in the shadows than I was able to retrieve from scanning without DEE, then editing. Is that normal, or an anomaly?
  • I see the point about processing later in PS. However one of the arguments for using a scanner over doing a camera scan was that the algorithms in the software save you a lot of time over a manual cleanup. Still, I do expect to do some PS work (actually PSE though it has the drawback of limited editing in 16-bit mode. I may begin to use Lightroom).
  • The Restoral of Color function seems to work much better than I have yet figured out how to do with PS/PSE. Any suggestions on the best steps to restore faded color accurately in PS/PSE?
Quote:
You may find that while the scanner outputs a nice NEF file, that Photoshop may not be able to open it.
For my DSLR I keep CR2 files as the offline archive, which is probably overkill, because, as you mention, they may not be readable in a few years. I convert them to DNG files as the working copy. I suppose that could be done here. But, do you get that much additional information in scanner RAW over simply scanning into a TIFF?

Thanks for your comments.
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:45 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

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What type of air compressor do you use? I have a large unit in the garage, and I'd get more dust there than I'd get rid of. On the other hand, I'd like to find a small inexpensive one that is usable in the house for this
I use a Porter Cable pancake compressor that I purchased from Home Depot. It has that pancake shaped tank which has a ~ 5 gallon capacity I believe. What's nice about it is it has two regulators - one for input to the tank and the other for output where you dial the pressure anywhere from 0-150 psi. The output pressure is not at all critical. I find anywhere in the 60-90 range is great to blast stuff off the film. The unit is fairly compact and just sits under my work surface. I would recommend buying a moisture filter which attached to the hose and keeps the air output free of moisture and any dust in cade you are working in a very dusty atmosphere. If you have a compressor you are likely familar with teh pencil type nozzle with the squeeze trigger. They are a standard accessory in the air tools section.
There is also anoth option for air that works quite nicely and is less expensive. A small 5 gallon shop vac generates incredible air pressure when you attach the hose to the exhaust as most shop vacs are designed to do. If you go this route, you want to buy the HEPA cartridge filter which filters out particles in the micron area so you have totally clean air. In that case you don't even need the vacuum cleaner dust bag.

Quote:
The facts about color spaces seem very difficult to determine. I've read what you said a number of other places and it makes sense. On the other hand, http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/adobe-rgb.htm makes a case that this is correct in theory, but in practice it adds no benefits and easily leads to problems. I've wrestled with knowing how to figure out which view is correct
When you take a RAW photo with your camera, the RAW file contains native data off the camera's image sensor and it is not in any color space. When you process the image in Adobe Camera RAW, PS maps that raw data into a color space. The same is true for scanners. Unfortunately some color spaces like sRGB and CMYK have more narrow gamuts compared to Adobe RGB and ProPhoto. Consider the following analogy. You have some universal basic currency that consists of pennies, nickels, and dimes. You decide to convert that into Elbonian currency which only uses nickels and dimes. So you melt down 5 pennies into a nickel and you have only nickels and dimes.
At some point in the future you decide to go back to US or UK or wherever. When you go to convert your money, you have only nickels and dimes. You have no pennies and when you go to make your first purchase you will need to pay up to the next nickel. OK, probably not the best analogy but it's half past midnight. If you need to map your images / scans into a color space for permanent archiving, then you should choose a broader color space and not sRGB or CMYK.

Quote:
That leads to three questions.
I had a slide where the background was very dark. Using DEE seemed to capture more detail in the shadows than I was able to retrieve from scanning without DEE, then editing. Is that normal, or an anomaly?
I see the point about processing later in PS. However one of the arguments for using a scanner over doing a camera scan was that the algorithms in the software save you a lot of time over a manual cleanup. Still, I do expect to do some PS work (actually PSE though it has the drawback of limited editing in 16-bit mode. I may begin to use Lightroom).
The Restoral of Color function seems to work much better than I have yet figured out how to do with PS/PSE. Any suggestions on the best steps to restore faded color accurately in PS/PSE?
I assumed you had PS. PSE is very limited. PS has all the tools needed to make the necessary correction. For example Shadow / Highlight Adjust is equivalent to DEE. There are also a number of other PS tools to do the same thing. As I pointed out, ROC, GEM, DEE often do a great job but other times the result looks ugly. Software can only make an educated guess on what your image looks like and how it should look. There is no substitute for your eyes and brain.

Quote:
For my DSLR I keep CR2 files as the offline archive, which is probably overkill, because, as you mention, they may not be readable in a few years. I convert them to DNG files as the working copy. I suppose that could be done here. But, do you get that much additional information in scanner RAW over simply scanning into a TIFF?
Keeping a CR2 or NEF or any of the RAW files is not overkill. RAW files are your equivalent to digital negatives. They represent physical voltage and color measurements from the camera or scanner's sensor. Programs like PS and Capture One take those raw readings and construct the image file to which they also assign color space, bit depth, sharpenss, contrast, and more.
When you convert thhe RAW files to DNG, PS is just taking that RAW data and encapsulating it into another envelope which has an open standard like jpg so any program that supports DNG will be able to open it.
As for TIFF, that is just another file format. RAW data coming from the scanner can be saved as a TIFF and should be used instead of jpg because TIFF is lossless and TIFFs can be opened by Adobe Camera RAW.

Regards, Murray
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:39 PM
stlsailor stlsailor is offline
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Re: RAW film scans, settings, slides with labels

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Consider the following analogy.
The theory is sensible. The arguments I’ve heard on the other side are:
  • Adobe RGB does indeed have a larger range of colors, but screens, printers, web browsers, and most printing labs can’t show it.
  • If you forget convert back to sRGB for applications that don’t use it, you get very dull, flat colors. That’s more work and is error-prone.
At least, that’s the argument as I understand it. Whether it’s true is what I’m trying to determine.

Here’s one thought. As you said, it could make sense to archive in the broadest possible color-space--who knows what capabilities will be there in the future. Then convert the working image to sRGB as part of the ingestion process. The downside? If you ever wanted to use Adobe RGB you’d have to completely re-edit. Thoughts?

Quote:
PSE is very limited. PS has all the tools needed to make the necessary correction. For example Shadow / Highlight Adjust is equivalent to DEE. There are also a number of other PS tools to do the same thing.
After more googling, I found that the Levels Adjustment Layer in PSE does a fairly good job of restoring the color—with a little practice as good as ROC in all cases and better in some. I prefer to edit in ACR, but PSE ACR doesn’t seem to have the tools to restore color. Maybe Lightroom’s ACR would?

Have you used the ROC plug-in on PS? Does it work well, or is it unnecessary?

I’ve considered switching to PS but I haven’t yet concluded that the main advantage (16-bit editing) is worth the price.


Quote:
Keeping a CR2 or NEF or any of the RAW files is not overkill… When you convert thhe RAW files to DNG, PS is just taking that RAW data and encapsulating it into another envelope which has an open standard like jpg so any program that supports DNG will be able to open it.
The reason I said it may be overkill is that when I create a DNG file, as you said the RAW data is still present in the DNG. So, if I’ve backed up the DNG, do I really need the RAW file any longer? Probably not, I’d think, but then I’m reluctant to give up the RAW file even if it is in the DNG.

I tried saving a NEF from the scanner, then opening it in ACR, then doing color restoral in PSE, then saving as a TIFF. That worked well.

Dale
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