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

2 ¼” format negatives scanned

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Old 08-23-2002, 11:30 AM
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lawrence lawrence is offline
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Question 2 ¼” format negatives scanned

I had my 2 ¼” format negatives scanned by a store, that uses “Kodak’s software” to burn up to a maximum of 40 scans per CD.
I asked about the quality of the scan machine, and was assured it was a professional scanner set up and approved by Kodak. At a maximum of 40 scans per CD.
I did the math: 600MB divided by 40 pictures =15MB per file, I figured that should be quite the resolution, deserving of my professional negatives.
(Which happen to be my wedding pictures).

When I received the CDs, I was rather disappointed to find 40 JPEG images ranging in sizes of 150kB to 300kB. When opened in PS, they have a resolution of 444 ppi at 2.25 *2.25.
I thought the scanned negative would give me the best resolution.

Is this the best one can get out 2 ¼ “ negatives?
The store manager tells me that he could rescan at a higher resolution, but does not suggest doing so, since this would actually make the final print-out worse.

Would it be better to have a picture developed from the negative the old fashion way, and then scan the photograph in to get better resolution?

How have you dealt with negatives?


Please help
Lawrence
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Old 08-23-2002, 01:15 PM
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Hi Lawrence,

First off, Welcome to RetouchPRO!

I'm not an expert by any means, but what you were told by the manager does not sound right to me! I typically scan my 35mm negatives at 2800 dpi. (If I had one of the newer film scanners, I'd be scanning them at 4000dpi!) And I typically print files at 300dpi. (Some people print at 240dpi and are very happy with the results.) This means that with my current scanner, I can print a nice crisp image a little larger than 8x12" from a 35mm slide or negative. Here's the math to support that:

A typical 35mm slide is roughly 1"x1.5". Using the shorter side (because the math is easier), if I scan 1" at 2800dpi, I get an image that is 2800 pixels wide. If I were to check the image size in Photoshop, the top section called "Pixel Dimensions" would show 2800x4200 pixels. The bottom section of the dialog box (Document Size) would show 1"x1.5" for width and height and 2800dpi for resolution. If I were to uncheck the box labeled "Resample Image", then change the resolution to 300dpi (which is what I use to print), then the document size in inches would change to 9.33x14". This is the maximum size I can print without losing quality.

Now, let's take a look at your case. You have a negative which is 2.25"x2.25". If the store doesn't have a dedicated film scanner, then they probably have a flatbed with a transparency lid. I have an Epson 2450 sitting on my desk which is exactly that. It will scan up to 2400dpi (optical resolution). So, if I were to scan your negatives at the maximum resolution, I would get an image with a pixel dimension of 5400x5400. (2.25"x2400dpi=5400 pixels.) If I wanted to print that image at 300dpi, it would be 18"x18"! (5400 pixels / 300dpi = 18".)

Now, it is true (from everything that I've read) that printing something at more than 300dpi does not give you a better image and perhaps that's what the store manager is talking about. But, he doesn't seem to understand the bigger picture. When scanning, dpi is meaningless without also knowing what the total pixel dimensions are - because it is the total pixel dimensions divided by the dpi that gives you the print size. And the scans that he has given you are useless (IMO), since you have 444dpi x 2.25"=999 pixels for a total dimension, which when divided by 300dpi gives you a maximum print size of 3.33"!!

I would take the CDs back and demand higher resolution scans - depending on what you want your final print size to be. It sounds like you'll need to explain the relationship between scanned dpi, total pixel dimensions and final print size to the manager. For example, if you want a 10" print, you'll need:
10" (print size) x 300dpi (print resolution) = 3000 pixels (pixel dimension)
and
3000 pixels / 2.25" (size of negative) = 1333 dpi (scanning resolution)

In any case, I would not have prints made and then scan the prints. You will lose some information in that process since you'll be scanning a "second generation" image. Whenever possible, I scan negatives if they exist. It is absolutely possible to get good scans from your negatives!

Hope this helps and I haven't made it too complicated for you.

Jeanie
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Old 08-23-2002, 03:11 PM
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Lawrence

Go somewhere else, the place you went doesn't know what they are doing.

Kodak makes a full line of scanners, and they have been around for years, you have no idea how old the equipment is, or how well trained the operator. Negatives in particular require a good operator, since the color is a subjective thing with negatives, unlike a transparency.

400dpi is only adequate if you are going to print at actual size (2.25 x X). And JPEG is totaly inadequate for any professional use because it uses lossy compression.

For my own 6x4.5 film I scan on a flat bed at 1000dpi for proofs, and use a Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro at resolutions up to 3800 dpi depending on the final print size I'm going for.

Places like West Coast Imaging recommend scanning to 300Mb for medium format film (these are drum scans) so you can resize later to any resolution needed.

I'm not sure where you are located, but Holland Photo is a big mail order service that has scanning capabilities that inclued Scitex Eversmart scanning and Nikon 8000 scans at reasonable prices. I've never used them, but they have been around for years.

The place I used before getting a film scanner was Alpha CD in Menlo Park CA. They do Kodak PhotoCD Pro scans (6 levels) for $15.00 each and their work is very good quality (the De Young museum uses them to digitize their catalog photos).
Photo CD Pro has a max size of 4096 x 6144 so that should cover most printing up to 16 x 20.

Medium format film coupled with the right scan is truely superior to any results from 35mm. You have chosen a good way to go, but one that is a little more complicated because it is the less common choice. Good luck.

--tks
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Old 08-23-2002, 04:42 PM
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Addendum to a disjointed reply

Writing a long reply and having multiple long interruptions does bad things to continuity and logic...

Jeanie did a wonderful job of explaining the relationship of scan resolution and potential print size, and I think I gave you some alternatives in my first post, but I never really answered the part about negatives...

The good things about negatives: They capture a much wider dynamic range than transparencies (7 f-stops versus 4) which means that there is potentially more information in highlight and shadow regions of the picture.

Also, for a given film speed they can have less grain than a transparency. This is further enhanced by going to medium format, where the grain is even smaller in relation to the whole picture. This leads to other pluses of medium format, such as better color rendition.

The Bad: The orange film base. This is a huge problem, since getting back to the original scene is not as simple as inverting the colors of the negative. Most often the scanner has software to compensate for this, but unlike a transparency, there is no "original" color balance to compare to, so more is left to the skill of the scanner operator. This can be good or bad depending on the skill and eye of the operator.

You may also run in to problems getting 21/4 film scanned because most scanners that handle it are geared toward professionals and are less common than 35mm only scanning as a commercial service. Still there are plenty of places that should be able to handle your needs.

BTW. Welcome to RetouchPro
--tks
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Old 08-23-2002, 04:45 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Kodak has at least two different CD programs, PhotoCD and PictureCD. Each of these has resolution options, with PhotoCD being the better of the two. They might have other programs, but this is a common cause of confusion.
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Old 08-23-2002, 09:59 PM
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lawrence lawrence is offline
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Thumbs down Thank you all

This has all been very helpful.
Thank you so very much for your lengthy and in-depth reply. This is a great forum and I am here to stay!


Can anybody recommend a scanner that is capable of scanning 2 1/4 formats?
Jeaniesa, you are using an Epson 2450, are you happy with it?

Lawrence

Last edited by lawrence; 08-23-2002 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 08-23-2002, 10:46 PM
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Hi Lawrence. Welcome aboard. I'm not sure what kind of scanner you're looking for, but I have an inexpensive flatbed that will scan at 1200 SPI (optical resolution). It's an Acer 1240UT, and it has a lid for scanning negs and transparencies up to 5 X 7. I guess I've had it for almost a year now, and I'm a happy camper with it even though a dedicated film scanner would be preferable. I did buy Vuescan software ($40.00) for it, since it does a better job than the software that came with it. My scanner doesn't get heavy use, but I've scanned quite a few negs up to 4 X 5.

Ed
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Old 08-23-2002, 11:52 PM
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Lawrence,

You asked how I liked my 2450 - I love it!! I'm supposed to write a review of it (for RetouchPRO), but so far haven't found the time I need to do that. I've used it mostly for prints, since that's what 99% of my customers have. But, I've used it a fair amount for some of my own transparencies - all but one were 35mm. In all of the reviews I read before I bought it (and I read a lot of them!) there seemed to be some concern that the scanned images were "soft" as compared to a dedicated film scanner (usually compared to one of the Nikon Coolscans). However, I haven't had an issue with that. Then again, I'm not pushing the limit on the size prints I'm trying to make either.

I also have a Minolta Scan Elite film scanner, and to tell you the truth, I prefer the Epson because the Minolta seems to really accentuate the grain in the film. That said, the Epson does not have as great a Dmax, so for my really dark slides, I'm better off with the Minolta.

The Epson does not have a film holder specifically for 2 1/4" negatives. (It has holders for 35mm negative strips, 4x5 film and 120/220 film. It's possible that the 120/220 holder may work for your negatives, but I'm not sure. In some reviews I read, it seemed that some people had rigged up some home-made film holders, so I'm sure you could figure something out. You might even be able to place them flat on the glass, but one review indicated that the "sweet spot" of focus was about the distance of a slide holder off the glass (which the film holders also provide.)

In terms of whether this scanner would be a good one for you to purchase, I think you need to look at how much money you have to spend as well as what your goal is for the end product after scanning your slides. You will get more information out of your negatives by using a dedicated film scanner (I think the Nikon 8000 Coolscan will take the 2 1/4 format), but that will set you back at least $2500. (At that price, I think you could get professional drum scans of your 40 negatives and still come out ahead.) If your negatives don't have a lot of contrast or shadow detail that you're hoping to pull out, then the 2450 might be a good choice. It also depends on how critical your eye is whether you're going to be happy with a "prosumer" flatbed scanner.

I'll look up some of the 2450 review links that I found helpful, but want to post this before the lightning outside knocks me off with a power glitch (or worse.)

Jeanie
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Old 08-24-2002, 12:07 AM
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Reviews:

http://www.virtualtraveller.org/epson2450.htm - I think these is where I started and there are a few other links at the end of the review. One in particular that I found interesting was by Norman Koren.

Hope this helps,
Jeanie
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Old 08-24-2002, 10:29 PM
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Lawrence, as Jeanie pointed out the best scanner for you depends on a lot of factors.

Dedicated film scanners have several advages over flat bed scanners for negatives or transparencies. First they usually have a much higher Dmax, which means that they can get more detail from the shadow areas of a transparency, or the highlight of a negative. They also have (in general) higher dpi resolutions than flat beds. In my experience even at the same dpi film scanners look better than flatbed scanners, probably because they have fewer elements in their optical path.

The disadvantages of film scanners are lack of flexibility (you can only do film, and only in the sizes that fit), cost and speed. If you need to scan reflective materials you are out of luck with a film scanner. In general film scanners cost more than flatbeds, and in particular only the high-end film scanners will handle 21/4" film (Oh, Jeanie, 120 and 21/4 are all the same as far as film width goes and they start with the same package of film, and it is the camera that determines the length of the film exposed; 4.5cm, 6cm, 7cm 9cm etc 220 is a longer roll with no backing paper). The speed is a factor with the add-on software to deal with the grain problem Jenie mentioned. GEM works quite well at dealing with grain, but at the cost fo double or triple the scan time. The Polaroid scanner didn't need this because it had a diffuse light source, unlike most of the other film scanners that use either diode (point source) or flourescent lamps (line source) which tend to accentuate grain.

I use a Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro which can handle up to 6 x 9 film. Anything larger than that will probably do fine from my flatbed (Microtek Artixscan 1100).

For reviews of several film scanners check out Image-resouce

I'm not sure of anyplace that does as comprehensive a job with flat bed scanners.

--tks
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