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stlsailor 02-20-2010 05:06 PM

Camera Scan of Negative
 
I have a number of negatives (mostly color, some B&W) on which I'd like to do a camera scan. On the surface it would seem like I could do the scan into a RAW file, take it into Elements, and then do an Inverse. I seem to recall reading somewhere (but I don't recall where) that you don't get a good image that way, however.

Does anyone have any advice on processing camera scans in Elements, or in other software? I'd just try it and see, but I want to make sure the process will work well before I buy the macro lens and light table.

(I also have a number of old slides to scan).

Dale

mistermonday 02-20-2010 10:45 PM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Dale, you would get much better results using a dedicated Slide & Negative scanner. You can pick one up for probably less than you will spend on a decent macro lens. The resolution is typically 2400 to 4000 dpi. Dedicated scanners (not flatbed scanners with transparency adapters) have a higher dynamic range than flatbeds. You won't need to worry about lens distortion which you will get to some extent with a camera. Very importantly, the software that comes with neg/slide scanners makes all the color conversions in the case of negatives. Negatives have an orange based emulsion and making the conversion is more than just inverting the image. As slide and neg photography is dwindling rapidly, you can get some real deals on previously enjoyed scanners.
Regards, Murray

stlsailor 02-21-2010 02:04 PM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Murray,

Thanks for your comments. I started out thinking in that direction. Here is the thought process I've had up to this point. I don't yet have the equipment to have done either a camera scan or dedicated scan, so any different thoughts are welcome.

First, time investment. I understand even a dedicated scanner is slow, and I don't want to be scanning for the next 20 years. Or, what is more likely, I'd rather have images, at a slightly lower quality, if necessary, than not to have images at all. Advantage: camera scan.

Second, image quality. The people at the DAM forum seem fairly adamant that camera scans have now reached the point of having as good a quality, if not better, than dedicated scans. Others seem to disagree. Advantage: ??

Third, financial investment. It appears that a used dedicated scanner would cost about the same as a good 60mm or 100mm macro lens, as you said. The macro lens would also be usable for macro work and double as a portrait lens. Advantage: camera scan.

Fourth, dedicated time. Others could help with the dedicated scans. The camera scans I'd have to do myself. The only saving grace is they supposedly go very fast. Advantage: dedicated scan.

Fifth, sustainability. The Nikon Coolscan V's I see on eBay show Windows XP as the latest OS supported. It's a lot of money to pay for something that is rapidly working its way toward obsolescence, especially given that current models are not being produced. Advantage: camera scan.

Sixth, software. Dedicated scanners have the advantage of color conversion software and digital ICE. They also have downsides--digital ICE takes longer to scan, and thus requires a case-by-case decision on how much to use it, as well as software obsolescence. For a camera scan you avoid the obsolescence, but you have deal with the conversions. Perhaps you could automate color correction via Inverse and the application of a filter? Dust issues would have to handled manually I'd think. Advantage: probably dedicated scan, though not completely clear.

As I said, I've not bought equipment to do either yet, so counterpoints are welcome, and I'll be eager to read them.

Negative and slide photography is dwindling rapidly, but the stockpiles of old slides and negatives aren't, so I'm surprised the scanner market has tailed off so quickly.

Dale

mistermonday 02-21-2010 06:10 PM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Dale,
Quote:

First, time investment. I understand even a dedicated scanner is slow, and I don't want to be scanning for the next 20 years. Or, what is more likely, I'd rather have images, at a slightly lower quality, if necessary, than not to have images at all. Advantage: camera scan.
If I recall correctly, my Coolscan V did a full resolution scan 24 Megapixels (16bit and a 144MB file) in under 40 secs. Less time if you use lower resolution. Double that time if you use ICE. I doubt that you will be much faster (if at all) going through the setup for a camera scan.

Quote:

Second, image quality. The people at the DAM forum seem fairly adamant that camera scans have now reached the point of having as good a quality, if not better, than dedicated scans. Others seem to disagree. Advantage: ??
There is no way a camera photo thru the lense will equal the quality of a scan through the transparency / negative. Also note that older slides and negatives are likely warped. Dedicated scanners have special guides. These scanners optcially handle the films not being flat.

Quote:

Fifth, sustainability. The Nikon Coolscan V's I see on eBay show Windows XP as the latest OS supported. It's a lot of money to pay for something that is rapidly working its way toward obsolescence, especially given that current models are not being produced. Advantage: camera scan.
Your negatives and slides are deteriorating as time progresses. If they are older than 10 yrs now you will discover the emulsion has already degraded - shifted colors (weaker on one of the colors), the orange film on negatives has faded causing uncorrected scans to have a blue cast, pinholes in the negatives particularly if stored in the old Kodak orange or yellow sleeves. Bottom line is you really need to scan all that stuff, double or triple backup the old scans and get on with life. You will find after scanning that you no longer need the scanner and you can resell it.

Quote:

Sixth, software. Dedicated scanners have the advantage of color conversion software and digital ICE. They also have downsides--digital ICE takes longer to scan, and thus requires a case-by-case decision on how much to use it, as well as software obsolescence. For a camera scan you avoid the obsolescence, but you have deal with the conversions. Perhaps you could automate color correction via Inverse and the application of a filter? Dust issues would have to handled manually I'd think. Advantage: probably dedicated scan, though not completely clear.
Color correction is more difficult than you may anticipate. Nikon s/w comes with proprietary software modules that specifically deal with the color shifts that occur in aging film. No matter how you have stored the film, there will be a considerable amount of tiny dust particles or pinholes in the emulsion. The extra 40 sec scan will save you a gazillion hours using the clone stamp or healing brush. Alternately you can clean the film before you scan BUT you need to no what you are doing or you will wreck what is left.


Quote:

Negative and slide photography is dwindling rapidly, but the stockpiles of old slides and negatives aren't, so I'm surprised the scanner market has tailed off so quickly.
Film media continues to deteriorate and unless people are into professional archive in nitrogen atmosphere, they digitize the film and then move on. That's probably why you see so many scanners available.

Good luck with your project.
Regards, Murray

stlsailor 02-21-2010 10:03 PM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Murray,

Thanks for taking the time. You make some good points that are causing me to rethink the plan.

First, is the Coolscan V the scanner you'd recommend? I currently see one on eBay (I'm not sure what a good price should be) as well as a Coolscan IV, a Super Coolscan 8000 and a Coolscan LS-10e.

Second, 40 seconds is not too bad unless you have to manually feed it every 40 seconds. But I'd assume the recommended scanner has a feeder that would work fairly well?

Third, are there any significant differences between how the scanner handles slides and negatives?

Quote:

There is no way a camera photo thru the lense will equal the quality of a scan through the transparency / negative. Also note that older slides and negatives are likely warped. Dedicated scanners have special guides. These scanners optcially handle the films not being flat.
I know the negatives are warped. Some of the slides could be. Some of the slides are glass mounted with a crop mount. Can the scanner handle those, or do I need to remount?

Quote:

Bottom line is you really need to scan all that stuff, double or triple backup the old scans and get on with life. You will find after scanning that you no longer need the scanner and you can resell it.
I hadn't thought about that. With that approach the cost is reduced and I'll have an XP machine around long enough to do that if I don't wait too long.

Quote:

Color correction is more difficult than you may anticipate. Nikon s/w comes with proprietary software modules that specifically deal with the color shifts that occur in aging film. No matter how you have stored the film, there will be a considerable amount of tiny dust particles or pinholes in the emulsion. The extra 40 sec scan will save you a gazillion hours using the clone stamp or healing brush. Alternately you can clean the film before you scan BUT you need to no what you are doing or you will wreck what is left.
Hmmm. I'd anticipated the process of camera scanning to go very quickly -- I was going to tape the plastic frames from my sheet scanner onto a light table and once the setup was in place, simply replace slides and click. However the point you mentioned earlier about warped negatives, and the extra time involved in editing makes a dedicated scanner look much more attractive.

Anything I need to think about before putting in a bid on a scanner? (which I well may after reading your points).

Finally, I've seen some scanners on eBay. Do you have any other recommendation as to source?

I appreciate your comments!

Dale

mistermonday 02-21-2010 10:54 PM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Dale,
Quote:

First, is the Coolscan V the scanner you'd recommend? I currently see one on eBay (I'm not sure what a good price should be) as well as a Coolscan IV, a Super Coolscan 8000 and a Coolscan LS-10e.
How many slides / negs do you have in all to scan and are they all 35mm or are they large format? The Coolscan V will only scan 35mm. I believe its bigger brother, the 8000 will handle the larger format. It has been a few years since I kept track of the latest models. You could do some research by checking websites of Nikon, Canon, Minolta. These were all top of the market scanners.

Quote:

First, is the Coolscan V the scanner you'd recommend? I currently see one on eBay (I'm not sure what a good price should be) as well as a Coolscan IV, a Super Coolscan 8000 and a Coolscan LS-10e.
Third, are there any significant differences between how the scanner handles slides and negatives?
I think the 10e is a pretty old model. I used the IV and V, currently using V. I think the resolution on the IV was lower and less sophisticated S/W. The V does an excellent job.
There is a separate quick swapable handler for 35mm film strips / unmounted slides and another for 35mm mounted slides. The former has a plastic holder that holds a film strip of up to 6 frames (most 35mm strips only have 4 frames). The scanner can the whole strip but one frame at a time. Nikon also made a automatic feeder to do entire rolls of film or 100 frames, but that's probably not useful unless you are scanning thousands of them.
The 2nd insertable carrier accepts std mounted slides 35mm cardboard or plastic. You insert the mounted slides one at a time - insert scan and remove.
I don't think the slide handler will accept non standard mounts. You might need to remove the film and place it in the film handler. There were a number of handlers and adapters available at the time. I am not sure what is avail now.

Quote:

I hadn't thought about that. With that approach the cost is reduced and I'll have an XP machine around long enough to do that if I don't wait too long.
While the Nikon S/W was written for XP, I would be surprised if it did not run under Windows 7. you could verify that by checking Nikon's web site or their user forums.

Quote:

Hmmm. I'd anticipated the process of camera scanning to go very quickly -- I was going to tape the plastic frames from my sheet scanner onto a light table and once the setup was in place, simply replace slides and click. However the point you mentioned earlier about warped negatives, and the extra time involved in editing makes a dedicated scanner look much more attractive.
Anything I need to think about before putting in a bid on a scanner? (which I well may after reading your points).
Finally, I've seen some scanners on eBay. Do you have any other recommendation as to source?
Remember you are only dealing with film which is 1" x 1.5 ". If your camera axis is not 100% perpendicular, your image could be in part out of focus.
Make sure the scanner has all the adapters and handlers that were supplied with it when new. Make sure the S/W CD is also included. Download latest drivers from the manufacturer.
In addition to online auctions like Ebay, you might also try visiting a professional Photo store if like in a major city. Many sell used lenses and often have used equipment to sell. You might find some really good deals.

Reagrds, Murray

Richard_Lynch 02-22-2010 08:20 AM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
"Color correction is more difficult than you may anticipate." I do agree that it would not likely be:

Quote:

Perhaps you could automate color correction via Inverse and the application of a filter?
But there are some relatively easy processes you can use to fix color in a few steps with Levels and Color Balance. Some software may attempt to automate the process and it can be pretty good for MOST images. Manual adjustment will likely be a bit better.

As far as scanning, you need to know more about actual samples (SPI) as opposed to projected output dpi/ppi or whatever misnomer is used in marketing. I can make a 60GB scan from a scanner that stinks, and the scan will stink too. I have not done this type of thing in a few years, and I am not sure what products are out there, but compare the sampling resolutions, and per image scan time. It is, as someone suggested, not just the incident of the scan, but the setup and any automation (e.g., auto-indexing).

For what it is worth....

stlsailor 02-22-2010 08:45 AM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Murray,

Quote:

How many slides / negs do you have in all to scan and are they all 35mm or are they large format?
About 4,000 slides and 6,000 frames of negatives. All are 35mm as I recall. Maybe fifty slides or so are glass-mounted.

Quote:

You could do some research by checking websites of Nikon, Canon, Minolta.
That helps. What I've read so far has not talked about anything but Nikon, though if I can pick up one of those, there's no reason not to get it.

Quote:

my Coolscan V did a full resolution scan 24 Megapixels (16bit and a 144MB file) in under 40 secs
Was that just the scan time, or did it include set-up time? Put another way, how much time per image goes into setting scanning options, previewing, determining whether to use ICE, etc.?


Dale

stlsailor 02-22-2010 09:05 AM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Richard,

Quote:

Some software may attempt to automate the process and it can be pretty good for MOST images. Manual adjustment will likely be a bit better.
The point you made caused me to think that I will edit each picture, anyway, so there is not a lot of time to be saved through auto adjustments in software like PS or PSE if I were to do a camera scan.

What I've read so far on scanner software, however, seems to say that it is worthwhile to let it make adjustments, especially in dust removal, but not limited to that. Would you agree with that, or not?

Quote:

It is, as someone suggested, not just the incident of the scan, but the setup and any automation (e.g., auto-indexing).
What does auto-indexing refer to?

Dale

mistermonday 02-22-2010 09:07 AM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Richard,

Quote:

But there are some relatively easy processes you can use to fix color in a few steps with Levels and Color Balance. Some software may attempt to automate the process and it can be pretty good for MOST images. Manual adjustment will likely be a bit better.
Yes, I definitely agree. In fact I used to turn off the auto balancing for certain films and when I had time, would go back and process each scan with manual adjustments. Now with Adobe Camera Raw able to import TIFF files, it makes the process go more quickly. However, for those who do not wish to edit every image, certain auto adjustments tend to do a great job of color balancing. Nikon and Kodak have particularly good ones for corrctingthe blue cast caused by degradation of the orange base on negative film.

Quote:

As far as scanning, you need to know more about actual samples (SPI) as opposed to projected output dpi/ppi or whatever misnomer is used in marketing. I can make a 60GB scan from a scanner that stinks, and the scan will stink too. I have not done this type of thing in a few years, and I am not sure what products are out there, but compare the sampling resolutions, and per image scan time. It is, as someone suggested, not just the incident of the scan, but the setup and any automation (e.g., auto-indexing).
I also agree on your quality comment. Large does not mean good. I found the solid state diode sensors on the Coolscan to produce far better results than scanners with florescent light sources. Mechanics are also critical. And dynamic range is very important. If the scanner does not do a good job of picking up shadow detail (that is where many get a failing grade) then you have a lot more pp trying to fix the image.
My comments were aimed at comparing a camera solution vs a good quality dedicated film / neg scanner. This brings up one more thought for Dale.
There are commercial services that offer scanning services geared for high volume. It has been awhile since I checked but they tended to offer acceptable quality scans at affordable prices. This may be something for Dale to check out.
Regards, Murray

mistermonday 02-22-2010 09:15 AM

Re: Camera Scan of Negative
 
Dale,

Quote:

Was that just the scan time, or did it include set-up time? Put another way, how much time per image goes into setting scanning options, previewing, determining whether to use ICE, etc.?
The time was from when you click the scan button until the scan is complete and appears on your monitor within the Nikon app or within PS if you have chosen to import it directly.
I never adjust the scan frame on an individula basis. I establish a window frame which is just larger than the slide. Any black border which is capture I crop in PS before saving the file or leave it and crop when I go back to PP the image. Same with the negative strips. All four or 6 frames get captured with some of the outside border.

Regards, Murray


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