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chassis
8-Feb-2017, 18:27
Hello all

Just entered the C-41 world and am pretty happy about it. I would like to go through a tutorial on color negative scanning. What are some good ones online? Anything similar to Mr. Ken Lee's site? Thanks for any suggestions.

Specifically I am scanning Portra 400 in 4x5, so if that topic is addressed, all the better.

hoffy
8-Feb-2017, 20:38
Hmmmm, I have always struggled with Colour scanning! I'm going to follow this thread with interest (sorry, I haven't given you an answer).

mijosc
9-Feb-2017, 17:34
I've also struggled with getting decent color from C41 scans. The following are a few of my thoughts on the subject. They represent my opinions and experience and may not necessarily reflect your own experience or preferences. I'd love to hear what others are doing as well.

I've found that Silverfast works better than Vuescan in terms of getting reasonable color straight out of the scanner. The built-in profiles in the newer versions of Silverfast are reasonable decent.

I've also tried the ColorPerfect plugin for Photoshop. I've found that it often works well, but does cost about $70 and isn't a silver bullet. There is a trial version with watermarks if you want to try it out. The interface is truely terrible.
http://www.colorperfect.com/colorneg.html?lang=en

Finally, I've had some very good luck with the following tutorial. It requires a fair bit of manual work, and wouldn't be great for large batches of images. I generally reserve this for the trickiest images.
http://4nalog.blogspot.com/2015/09/working-with-c41-linear-flat-scans.html

mijosc
9-Feb-2017, 17:36
Also, I saw this the other day which is a similar technique to the third option I mentioned.

https://petapixel.com/2017/02/01/edit-color-film-negatives-photoshop/

1erCru
10-Mar-2017, 17:49
I bit the bullet and upgraded to Silverfast AI Studio 8. I received a copy of Silverfast SE Plus with my Epson V850. For color negative scanning I was pleased but not completely satisfied. I read up on AI studio and saw that it offered auto IT8 color calibration which SE Plus did not have. I also received an Xrite 4x5 calibration slide with the v850. The upgrade was $70.

I upgraded to AI Studio, calibrated and everything looks better. I'm satisfied. You can also edit the Negafix profiles in AI Studio. This could all be done by hand but I be worried about efficiency and consistency. It feels like a color calibrated profile system will save hundreds of hours of second guessing. I'd just buy the software. I'd rather focus on taking pictures and printing.

Christopher Barrett
10-Mar-2017, 21:01
I also use Silverfast with a v850 and have been impressed with it, even compared to my drum scanner. I thought, though, that you can only calibrate for positives, not negs, right?

-CB

asf
11-Mar-2017, 04:20
Yes, calibration is for positives


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

1erCru
11-Mar-2017, 09:38
If that's true then the results I was getting from AI Studio were better as a result of 48 bit scans and or improved negafix profiles. I used the same setting for SE Plus and AI Studio and the latter was better. Can't think of any other feature added by AI Studio that would have made a difference.

Peter De Smidt
11-Mar-2017, 09:57
Right. There's no IT8 calibration for negatives.

Bruce Watson
11-Mar-2017, 16:04
I would like to go through a tutorial on color negative scanning. What are some good ones online?

I've never seen a good one. Sorry.


Specifically I am scanning Portra 400 in 4x5, so if that topic is addressed, all the better.

Color negative film is a different beast from B&W negative and color positive. The latter two respond well to setting the density range for the entire film (that is, finding the overall black and white points), and scanning for everything that's between them.

Color negative film doesn't really like that. It wants the three colors to be treated separately. That is, each "layer" gets a separate black and white point from the other layers. This is impossible to do with most non-drum scanners, but easy to do with most drum scanners. It's just standard procedure for setting up the logamp parameters on a drum scanner. When actuated, it lets the drum scanner apply each channel's logamp's full digital range to just the space between the black and white points. That is, it spreads it's 12 bits (or whatever) over just the density range that carries the recorded visual information. All the bits used for valuable image data, none for empty shadows or empty specular highlights (deciding where to set the black and white points are part of the drum scanner's art; you get better at it the more you scan because the more you scan the more you understand how the settings translate into image quality in the final print).

On top of this is that orange color correction mask. That's a complex beast, it requires some interesting software to make the most of it. If what you do is just strip it off and throw it away, it's no wonder that your colors come up looking weird -- you've thrown out the corrections and left what needs to be corrected. Note that the mask isn't a contrast mask -- it's about color correction.

That mask is what makes negative film give you more accurate colors than transparency film does. Most people have a hard time with that concept -- that color negatives give higher color accuracy than WYSIWYG transparencies. I'll leave it to the interested parties to research that on their own -- I'm merely pointing you toward the right path.

So... where does that leave you? If you're going to work with negatives (and I highly encourage this; I personally stopped using tranny film in the early 1980s) you need a scanner and software that's negative friendly. It's out there, but you have to look for it.

Then, once you have that, you have to be willing to learn it. And I'm afraid that most of this is going to be trail and error -- scanning one piece of film over and over, varying one thing at a time and evaluating the results. It's a serious PITA, but climbing learning curves are like that. Sadly, the tutorials you'd like to help you up these particular learning curves seem to be absent. Not enough broad appeal I suppose. IDK.

Still, learning scanning (even drum scanning) isn't any more difficult than learning how to use movements with a view camera. If you can do one, you can do the other.

Bruce Watson
11-Mar-2017, 16:18
Right. There's no IT8 calibration for negatives.

Yes. The problem is that the density range of positives falls in a sufficiently narrow range that a single test target can be used to give you more or less a satisfactory calibration. Tranny film has to work this way; its original design purpose was for the tranny to be projected (remember all those slide projectors with the round trays?). That's not going to work well unless the resulting film after processing has a convincing black and something close to a convincing white. No one wants to see gray mush projected on a screen.

Color negative film on the other hand typically gives you a huge range of densities. I've got a few sheets that show less than one stop between the most dense and the least dense. First time I scanned one I "stretched it out" without thinking about it too much and was shocked to see it in photoshop -- contrast city!

As you can imagine, something that can vary from a density range of, say, 0.3 all the way to, say, 3.6 is going to be impossible to calibrate. It makes you ask the question -- what exactly am I trying to calibrate?

And I'm not even getting into color. That just makes even more complex. So... no calibration for color negative scanning.

Oren Grad
11-Mar-2017, 16:36
Color negative film is a different beast from B&W negative and color positive. The latter two respond well to setting the density range for the entire film (that is, finding the overall black and white points), and scanning for everything that's between them.

Color negative film doesn't really like that. It wants the three colors to be treated separately. That is, each "layer" gets a separate black and white point from the other layers. This is impossible to do with most non-drum scanners...

Not sure I fully get this. Apologies if I butcher this as it's been a while since I last played with it and I don't have SilverFast open at the moment - it won't boot unless it sees the scanner turned on - but my recollection is that in the NegaFix widget I can reset the clipping points for each channel separately and at both ends, outside the range of histogram "bins" that have non-zero counts, so as to retain full information. This works fine for B&W with its single channel, but leaves me with an unbalanced color scan that's difficult to correct without vastly time-consuming meandering around the huge space of possible combinations of adjustments on the three channels.

I suspect I'm missing, or misunderstanding, something important, either about what the scanner and software are doing, about how to systematically and efficiently find my way through the correction space, or both.

devb
11-Mar-2017, 18:12
I like Alex Burke's guide to scanning negatives on an Epson V700:

http://www.alexburkephoto.com/blog/2013/06/02/scanning-and-editing-color-negative-film

Peter De Smidt
12-Mar-2017, 08:30
Oren,

I don't use Silverfast, but you might try the following: Do your normal setting of the end points for the channel with the widest range. Now adjust the other channels by the same amount instead of setting the end points of those channels to just before clipping.

Oren Grad
12-Mar-2017, 11:11
Oren,

I don't use Silverfast, but you might try the following: Do your normal setting of the end points for the channel with the widest range. Now adjust the other channels by the same amount instead of setting the end points of those channels to just before clipping.

Thanks, Peter. I've generally been leaving more room on both ends of all channels rather than setting any of them just before clipping - will try as you suggest and see what that does.

bob carnie
12-Mar-2017, 12:01
Oren,

I don't use Silverfast, but you might try the following: Do your normal setting of the end points for the channel with the widest range. Now adjust the other channels by the same amount instead of setting the end points of those channels to just before clipping.

This is a good method to get close.

LotusEsp
14-Mar-2017, 06:38
you need a scanner and software that's negative friendly. It's out there, but you have to look for it.


care to elaborate?

1erCru
14-Mar-2017, 17:07
Ditto

hoffy
14-Mar-2017, 17:10
I like Alex Burke's guide to scanning negatives on an Epson V700:

http://www.alexburkephoto.com/blog/2013/06/02/scanning-and-editing-color-negative-film

Wow, that actually answers the question the OP raised above. Thanks. I just had a quick skim read, but I will give his tutorial a try the next time I scan some negative film

Cheers

Sasquatchian
15-Mar-2017, 01:12
Having scanned color negs with a variety of hardware and software combinations, I can say without hesitation that they both make a huge impact on your final scan quality. And if you're using inferior hardware AND crappy software, well, it's just a big waste of your time.

The absolute best color (and black and white) neg scanning software I've ever used is Trident for the Howtek drum scanners. There is nothing else I've found that comes close, but it's not an intuitive path until and unless you have a complete understanding the digital imaging principles, the most basic of which are how to properly set your highlight and shadow points.

The Alex Burke tutorial is filled with misinformation starting with his settings of using a non color managed gamma 1.8 choice and his final scan is just mediocre in quality. I'd say you'd be worse off following his advice that trying to figure it out on your own.

One of the dirty little secrets of neg scanning is that you actually can use pretty much any good color transparency scanner profile as a point of reference when scanning color negs, assuming, of course, your software will let you use one in neg scanning mode. Since you're always working visually anyway, it's very important to use a well calibrated and profiled monitor and that you scanning software actually uses the monitor profile to display (notice that Alex has this option unchecked). You generally start with an auto ranging command that finds and sets the white and black points to neutral automatically. There is often a clipping control available as well, and you need to be able to override the auto neutral results when you know you want a color cast in the highlights or the shadows.

When you're working on a color neg scan AND you have both a monitor profile and an input profile in the display path, you can then use that input profile as the source for your conversion to your working space and you will have a fully color managed color neg workflow. If your scanning software allows you to convert to working space on the fly you can use that feature. On Trident, that feature is broken, so I always just embed the scanner profile and convert in Photoshop, which is both faster and gives me the option to choose whatever is the most appropriate working space for a particular image.

It took me years to get really good at scanning color negs, and that was with the best hardware and software out there. You need to have patience and really understand all of the control options available in whatever software package you're using. Good luck.

devb
15-Mar-2017, 18:18
I still recommend Alex Burke's tutorial to the OP as they have stated that they are new to C-41 and maybe aren't ready to be concerned with "a non color managed gamma 1.8 choice" and presumably don't have a drum scanner sitting on their desk. I admire Burke's photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexburke/) and the tutorial certainly helped me improve my scans.

Sasquatchian
15-Mar-2017, 19:03
devb - it's even more confusing if you follow his steps because he presents his images in Adobe RGB, not the standard sRGB web space. And yes, color management is even more important for scanning color negs than transparencies because you're relying so much on what you see in the scanning software. If you're not seeing what you think you are, it'll only confuse you down the road, or at the very least, lead to unpredictable results. And, of course, his posted example with its layer masks, did have clipped highlights in it. Oh well.

devb
16-Mar-2017, 11:41
Technical deficiencies aside, it's still a good introduction to the adjustments available in Epson Scan and some things to pay attention to. With any luck OP won't just follow the directions exactly every time without changing anything :)

chassis
16-Mar-2017, 18:25
Good info and discussion, thanks for all the comments. I can see the benefit of using a color checker for color negative work. One take away for me is that there is un-needed information in the film mask. Getting rid of it without clipping can be a challenge. Then comes the question of the colors themselves, after the mask has been dealt with, and clipping avoided.

Sasquatchian
16-Mar-2017, 23:00
A color checker can be of some help, but more so if you've got a scene where the checker would actually appear to be neutral, which most "scenic" scenes are not. It still gets back to the scanner operator's facility in digital imaging basics - really understanding the purpose of setting black and white points and importantly, to know when and how to deviate from neutral. Once you understand basic color correction and understand how to interpret pixel values, you don't really need the color checker anymore. My first response here was answering whether hardware/software combinations mattered, and they do indeed, but I'm more interested in helping people understand the basics of imaging, which aren't all that basic sometimes. The best books for really understanding the nuts and bolts - and once you understand them you'll be able to extract the most out of ANY software you happen to be stuck with - have always been the ones by Margulis. The single best thing I've read in 22+ years of this digital imaging crap is his book The Canyon Conundrum, Photoshop Lab Space. More "aha" moments and lightbulbs going off in the first few chapters than in all the other books combined, but this is a book only for those looking for excellence in what they do. It will challenge you and make you think, but you'll be far better off for it. The early Real World Ps books were good back in the day, helping to understand HOW Ps works - how the tools work and how things interact, but successive versions got less and less useful, often with as much as eighty percent carryover from the previous version.

Peter De Smidt
17-Mar-2017, 11:10
I agree about Margulis, especially the LAB book. I spent a few years doing interior retouching and color matching for Gulfstream Aerospace, and Dan's book was a huge help.

Pere Casals
17-Mar-2017, 12:50
I bit the bullet and upgraded to Silverfast AI Studio 8. I received a copy of Silverfast SE Plus with my Epson V850. For color negative scanning I was pleased but not completely satisfied. I read up on AI studio and saw that it offered auto IT8 color calibration which SE Plus did not have. I also received an Xrite 4x5 calibration slide with the v850. The upgrade was $70.

I upgraded to AI Studio, calibrated and everything looks better. I'm satisfied. You can also edit the Negafix profiles in AI Studio. This could all be done by hand but I be worried about efficiency and consistency. It feels like a color calibrated profile system will save hundreds of hours of second guessing. I'd just buy the software. I'd rather focus on taking pictures and printing.

I found no difference after calibrating V850, I think it comes sRGB well calibrated. As illumination is LED it then won't change over time, IMHO for this reason now they don't include calibration targets, with V750 it was included, but it was cold cathode.

JaZ99
18-Mar-2017, 03:01
A while ago I did a comparison of different targets and scanners. Only two data points, but it seems that cold cathode is better than cheap LED.

https://sites.google.com/site/negfix/metamerism

Peter De Smidt
18-Mar-2017, 08:20
Yeah, leds are not a panacea.

SergeyT
22-Mar-2017, 10:06
This is what I have learned over the years of scanning color negatives on a variety of hardware from high-end drum scanners to high-end flatbeds to Coolscan

* There is no one button click solution as each frame requires its own interpretation (or in some cases more than one)
* Scanners "see" color negatives just as humans do on a light table, the rest is done by the algorithms embedded into the scanners software. The algorithms work better for some images than for others but they are almost never perfect(regardless of names)
* Beside the difference in optical resolution and flare induced issues it is often possible to obtain "equally" good results from a color negative scanned on any scanner suitable for scanning film
* On a drum scanner - always wet-mount your film. Not so important with CCD scanners with no-glass carriers or with ANR glass.
* It is important to have the scanner properly calibrated and profiled (using transparency targets)
* Scan as a positive
-- Use the correct input color profile
-- Set the output color space as either LAB (if your scanner software supports it) or Prophoto RGB
-- Disable all auto-enhancememts or corrections in the scanner software
-- Carefully set the endpoints so there is absolutely no clipping in any of the channels (use probes or eye-dropper tool)
-- Sharpening off
-- Max optical
-- Always output to 16-bit TIF files (I have never tried 8-bit for color negs due to amount of data manipulation required in after scanning phase)
* Bring a copy of the scanned image into Photoshop
-- Invert
-- If in LAB place 3 adjustment Curve layers on top of the base layer, one for each L, a and b channels.
--- Use L for fine-tuning the luminosity range (endpoints) as well as initial contrast.
--- Use a and b to color balance the image

-- If in RGB place 4 adjustment Curve layers. One for Dark point one for White point, one for Contrast, one for Color balance
--- Use individual R, B and G channels on the Dark point and White point layers to fine tune their values. Having "Show clipping" checked helps to do that.
--- Adjust the tone curve on the "Contrast" layer to bring the tones close to where they should be. Don't worry if they are not perfect yet
--- Use individual R, B and G channels on the "Color balance" layer to color balance the image. Use eye-dropper to check the neutrality of neutral tones.

At this point the image should look close to good (or very good)
-- Use as many other adjustment layers of different types as needed to fine tune the image
-- Save the image as a PSD file
-- Make a copy
-- Flatten (from here you can make a copy of the image in RGB and try applying Auto-color to see how far the white balance is from where Photoshop thinks it should be)
-- Crop
-- Resize
-- Sharpen for output
-- Print or publish

As your vision and editing skills and tools evolve you can always re-interpret the image without the necessity to scan it ever again.

SergeyT

Peter De Smidt
22-Mar-2017, 11:01
Terrific write up, Sergey!

chassis
22-Mar-2017, 12:22
SergeyT, this is excellent! Thank you!

Regarding the scanner color space, do you have any recommendations or experience for the Epson V-series (for example V750) and Epson Scan software? I looked at the settings and did some searching, and it is not obvious how to use this setting. Thanks again.

sanking
22-Mar-2017, 12:46
SergeyT, this is excellent! Thank you!

Regarding the scanner color space, do you have any recommendations or experience for the Epson V-series (for example V750) and Epson Scan software? I looked at the settings and did some searching, and it is not obvious how to use this setting. Thanks again.


With the V750 first make sure you have chosen Professional Mode. Then, click on Configuration at the bottom of the page. This will take you to a new dialog box where one of the selections is Color. Click on Color Synch and this gives you some selection of gama as well as source and target color settings.

Sandy

1erCru
23-Mar-2017, 11:10
I tired scanning some 4x5 negatives as positive. Major struggle color correcting the images. Could t get them anywhere close to what the scanners interpolation could do. Guess I'd better practice some more..

asf
23-Mar-2017, 11:26
Color Perfect is meant to be good for negs scanned as positives but I've not been able to get good results from it.

Playing with Silverfast has worked better for me (although it's always been a frustrating program).

I like Vuescan for b/w


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

chassis
23-Mar-2017, 14:50
Today I scanned some Ektar in 120 size. Followed the general steps listed above, which is to scan as positive, invert, trim unused portions of the histogram (channel by channel), then additional smaller adjustments to the client's and my liking. Results were good in the client's eyes. Film was exposed with strobe at box speed.

ventdesable
31-Mar-2017, 15:33
I've never seen a good one. Sorry.



Color negative film is a different beast from B&W negative and color positive. The latter two respond well to setting the density range for the entire film (that is, finding the overall black and white points), and scanning for everything that's between them.

Color negative film doesn't really like that. It wants the three colors to be treated separately. That is, each "layer" gets a separate black and white point from the other layers. This is impossible to do with most non-drum scanners, but easy to do with most drum scanners. It's just standard procedure for setting up the logamp parameters on a drum scanner. When actuated, it lets the drum scanner apply each channel's logamp's full digital range to just the space between the black and white points. That is, it spreads it's 12 bits (or whatever) over just the density range that carries the recorded visual information. All the bits used for valuable image data, none for empty shadows or empty specular highlights (deciding where to set the black and white points are part of the drum scanner's art; you get better at it the more you scan because the more you scan the more you understand how the settings translate into image quality in the final print).

On top of this is that orange color correction mask. That's a complex beast, it requires some interesting software to make the most of it. If what you do is just strip it off and throw it away, it's no wonder that your colors come up looking weird -- you've thrown out the corrections and left what needs to be corrected. Note that the mask isn't a contrast mask -- it's about color correction.

That mask is what makes negative film give you more accurate colors than transparency film does. Most people have a hard time with that concept -- that color negatives give higher color accuracy than WYSIWYG transparencies. I'll leave it to the interested parties to research that on their own -- I'm merely pointing you toward the right path.

So... where does that leave you? If you're going to work with negatives (and I highly encourage this; I personally stopped using tranny film in the early 1980s) you need a scanner and software that's negative friendly. It's out there, but you have to look for it.

Then, once you have that, you have to be willing to learn it. And I'm afraid that most of this is going to be trail and error -- scanning one piece of film over and over, varying one thing at a time and evaluating the results. It's a serious PITA, but climbing learning curves are like that. Sadly, the tutorials you'd like to help you up these particular learning curves seem to be absent. Not enough broad appeal I suppose. IDK.

Still, learning scanning (even drum scanning) isn't any more difficult than learning how to use movements with a view camera. If you can do one, you can do the other.

Hello Bruce,

It is not the first time that you give that lecture, and I find it interesting. But - because there is always a "But" - you do not give a lot more. You even say that we have to work it down. I can understand it. If you are given the recipe in the nest...

My understanding of your saying is that

First, we have to get all the information but only the information. Go in each channel wich it not always possible for two main reasons one human : one need to see what happens when fixing black & white points on each channel without inducing color balance shift and there come the need of experience. One technical : ccd scanners do not work like drum scanners : they do not have a beam splitter with RG&B filters so the color separation is more efficient.

Second, we have to get rid of the orange mask. You say that this mask is a color, not contrast mask. So I understand that we need to go in the Lab mode to "neutralize" - read pull the color back to the center point.

My question is, simple. Did I get what you meant ?

You say that throwing the orange mask away is "you've thrown out the corrections". But if I neutralize it, do I "throw it away" ?

Thanks for your answer.

Jérôme

stawastawa
11-Apr-2017, 10:36
greetings all, I have been playing with old ektachrome and thought I would share some playing around I did a week or so ago. Here are variations of two images:

the MP navigator for the canon scanner doesn't have too many options and I havn't been able to figure out vuescan. So I have been using my sony nex to 'scan'. I played with exposure, seems that blowing out the blue channel is easy and not so good (super yellow cast).

I then did variations of: slider adjustments, WB (which maxs out at 50k), RGB channel trimming in Lightroom vs Photoshop. When using the advanced auto trim in PS the clipping value is important - (negs without heavy scratches are also important).

feel free to comment here or at flickr where you can see the images larger.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3950/33164955383_18f7e4238a_n.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/SwF4Mz) https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2825/33820165552_62899a29e2_n.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/TwzbWC)
How do you scan Ektachrome developed in c41 (https://flic.kr/p/SwF4Mz)

How do you scan a toillette - Ektachrome 6116 (https://flic.kr/p/TwzbWC)

Rich14
11-Apr-2017, 19:22
This is the first I've seen of this thread. Wish I had seen it earlier. Scanning color negative material is an important skill/art, especially with the availability of new Kodak Ektra films, which are the best I have ever experienced. I hope my comments can add to the process.

As I was reading through the early posts about which software to use, my brain was preparing my reply, of which the main theme was "just get the image into Photoshop, pretty much unclipped and in 16 bits, then do everything there."

I've been a professional drum scanner operator for a long time and have used just about every machine and program available. For my purposes, Silverfast on Howtek machines has been the best, but even that leaves so much to be desired. There was one recommendation for Trident for the D4000. Yes it had all the controls, but was primitive. Silverfast is far better. But none is as good as Photoshop.

Photoshop can accomplish every edit that can be imagined on a digital file. There is nothing in any other program, including scanning software that is beyond Photoshop's capability. Other programs simply combine manipulations or actions which are otherwise routine, but tedious Photoshop moves. And the Adobe user interface is light years better than any other piece of software. Hence the advice to get the scan into photoshop with all its bits intact and work there.

Then I came to SergeyT's advice with which I completely agree. However, there are some important steps left out. I'll use his work flow and add my own parts. At the end, I'll describe my experiences with using a Nikon D800e as the scanner. Sergey's advice in italics:


* There is no one button click solution as each frame requires its own interpretation (or in some cases more than one)
* Scanners "see" color negatives just as humans do on a light table, the rest is done by the algorithms embedded into the scanners software. The algorithms work better for some images than for others but they are almost never perfect(regardless of names)
* Beside the difference in optical resolution and flare induced issues it is often possible to obtain "equally" good results from a color negative scanned on any scanner suitable for scanning film
* On a drum scanner - always wet-mount your film. Not so important with CCD scanners with no-glass carriers or with ANR glass.
* It is important to have the scanner properly calibrated and profiled (using transparency targets)
* Scan as a positive

Of course this brings the scan in as a negative image with its orange mask. You must capture enough of the "full strength" orange band outside the image area (unexposed film) in the framing of the scan to allow you to obtain an eyedropper sample. The orange mask is just that - a mask. It's not an overlay. It exists mostly in the lower midtones and shadows, but not in the highlights. If you try to remove it by "color balancing" it away - a global adjustment (as described in Sergey's steps) or by applying a corrective complementary color - also a global adjustment, you will be adding unwanted color to the highlights. The mask removal must be accomplished by applying the correction only where the mask exists. See below.

-- Use the correct input color profile
-- Set the output color space as either LAB (if your scanner software supports it) or Prophoto RGB
-- Disable all auto-enhancememts or corrections in the scanner software
-- Carefully set the endpoints so there is absolutely no clipping in any of the channels (use probes or eye-dropper tool)
-- Sharpening off
-- Max optical
-- Always output to 16-bit TIF files (I have never tried 8-bit for color negs due to amount of data manipulation required in after scanning phase)
* Bring a copy of the scanned image into Photoshop

Sergey's next step is to invert. Don't do that yet. Instead, use the eye dropper tool to sample the mask color where it is strongest - outside the image area.

-- Invert

Add a layer above the image and fill it with the sampled mask color. Set the layer Mode to Divide. The effect of the mask will be removed.

From this point, you will be working, "by the seat of your pants" to color correct the image. There are many ways to yank the settings around and Sergey describes them well enough. There are other methods as well. Trust me, it can be done to rival the richness of color positive material. But you can't do it "alone." Your eye and brain will go crazy trying to maintain color constancy and you will be all over the place. You must use an on screen color reference to keep your color sense anchored.

Get this image http://www.inkjetcarts.us/support/assets/PDI_Target-DCPHiRes.jpg or any similar color reference image (search for PDI Test Image) and keep it visible while you're color correcting. Glance back and forth between your scan and the reference frequently. Take a break frequently, look away from the screen for a few seconds, then look back at the reference before looking at your scan. If there are people in your image, look at the 4 kids at the bottom of the image a lot. If you have a lot of people images, there are lots of other reference images available that will be a big help.



-- If in LAB place 3 adjustment Curve layers on top of the base layer, one for each L, a and b channels.
--- Use L for fine-tuning the luminosity range (endpoints) as well as initial contrast.
--- Use a and b to color balance the image

-- If in RGB place 4 adjustment Curve layers. One for Dark point one for White point, one for Contrast, one for Color balance
--- Use individual R, B and G channels on the Dark point and White point layers to fine tune their values. Having "Show clipping" checked helps to do that.
--- Adjust the tone curve on the "Contrast" layer to bring the tones close to where they should be. Don't worry if they are not perfect yet
--- Use individual R, B and G channels on the "Color balance" layer to color balance the image. Use eye-dropper to check the neutrality of neutral tones.

At this point the image should look close to good (or very good)
-- Use as many other adjustment layers of different types as needed to fine tune the image
-- Save the image as a PSD file
-- Make a copy
-- Flatten (from here you can make a copy of the image in RGB and try applying Auto-color to see how far the white balance is from where Photoshop thinks it should be)
-- Crop
-- Resize
-- Sharpen for output
-- Print or publish

Lately I've been "scanning" with a Nikon D800e DSLR, using an AF Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 D. The light source is a cheap 9" x 12" LED "light table" to which I run a custom white balance in the camera.

I scan 35mm at "same size." I scan medium format and 4x5 by acquiring four overlapping quadrants and stitching them in Photoshop. The results in every respect have been superior to anything I have ever been able to capture on any drum scanner. And it takes only seconds per scan vs 15 minutes for 35 mm drum scans and an hour for 4x5. To say nothing of the mounting time and cleanup on the drum. This topic is related, but a little afield of the main topic of scanning color negatives. However, the main point is that the raw captures are brought into Photoshop via Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) which makes color negative correction a breeze compared to any other software.

Rich

Peter De Smidt
11-Apr-2017, 21:10
Great post, Rich!

DolphinDan
12-Apr-2017, 11:49
Hi Rich,

Thanks for a very informative post on scanning color negatives. 1 question (well maybe 2):

What 9x12 LED Light Table are you using? And which light table would you recommend (assuming 1 or 2 brands are better than the rest) getting for scanning film?

Namaste
Daniel

Rich14
12-Apr-2017, 16:56
Dan,

Here's what I'm using:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EBA8ZX8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Rich

DolphinDan
12-Apr-2017, 17:05
Thanks Rich.

Daniel

SergeyT
17-Apr-2017, 17:51
Great addition Rich.
I use DSLR as my light meter and keep the "measurement" JPEGs as a color reference that helps me to quickly color-correct my scans.

aluncrockford
17-May-2017, 10:39
I came across this very simple action and it works for me,

https://www.iamthejeff.com/post/32/the-best-way-to-color-correct-c-41-negative-film-scans

I scan as a positive open the file and use the action, for me its quick and easy, and once you have the base correction you can tweak to your hearts content

hoffy
17-May-2017, 18:37
Well, I never...... If it works as advertised, that should be a nice easy way to get images online ready (at least).

But, it's not perfect. One of the displayed images has a green cast on the grey's and another is a bit odd on the green grass, but it seems like a very quick starting point (which is where I tend to have most drama's).

Regardless, thanks for posting it!

1erCru
29-May-2017, 21:53
is there any point in scanning at 600DPI? Silverfast has a typesetter ( 600 ) DPI setting and I wasn't sure if this setting just spits out a bunch of interpolated data.

Pere Casals
30-May-2017, 04:33
is there any point in scanning at 600DPI? Silverfast has a typesetter ( 600 ) DPI setting and I wasn't sure if this setting just spits out a bunch of interpolated data.

It is binned data, not interpolated.

It can make sense, of course. A 4x5 negative at 600 dpi will deliver a 2400x3000 image, same than a 4k tv can show, and 4x what a Full HD TV has.

If negative is 8x10... imagine...

Just scan and see

Corran
30-May-2017, 21:31
https://www.iamthejeff.com/post/32/the-best-way-to-color-correct-c-41-negative-film-scans

Out of curiosity I tried this. Tonight I found some old color negatives from years ago and put them on the scanner. The automatic process made the shadows green and emaciated. With a bit of tweaking with Photoshop's "Auto" commands it became acceptable. However, using the basic raw scan and a simple inversion + the same "Auto" commands plus a tiny tweak with curves did the same thing. There's a slight difference in the highlights, with the auto process having a bit of a yellow tinge I think. Here's my results:

http://www.garrisaudiovisual.com/photosharing/c41-auto-process-test.jpg

It's true that the blue channel can be rough with color negs, due to the orange mask, but Photoshop's "Auto" commands can generally sort it out. However, one thing to note is the "Auto Color" clip settings. In Photoshop's Curves or Levels dialog box, click "options" and you will see on the bottom the options pertaining to clip percentage. I set the shadows to clip a bit and the highlights to clip a tiny amount. You can tweak this to however you want. Sometimes I keep the highlight clippage at 0. Here's what that box looks like:

http://www.garrisaudiovisual.com/photosharing/photoshopoptionsc41.jpg

You can change this whenever you want. You might want to clip more on certain negatives. I do more tweaking though with curves once getting the colors in the ballpark. But don't discount the auto commands - they work very well for color neg. Honestly this reminds me that I need to try some different things in that dialog box to see if I can get even closer to good results without fuss.

Personally I struggle most with color neg film that is outdated. Some fog and color crossover and suddenly the negative is a mess.

chassis
31-May-2017, 14:13
Bryan,

Interesting, thanks for posting. Do you mind sharing the technical information (film size and emulsion, scanner type, scanner software)? My recent work with Portra 400 and Ektar 100 in 120 and 4x5 have taught me that the sensitivity needs to be nearly fully used, of an Epson V7xx with Epson Scan. Ken Lee's black and white scanning tutorial addresses this, with global "value" settings. With color negative, this needs to be done for each color channel. Also, I find that the gamma needs to be tweaked to get as much information out of the shadows as possible, for each color channel. I have scanned negatives and experienced clipped shadows, when the histogram on Epson Scan suggested all of the information has been captured. When I lowered the input sensitivity slider to nearly zero, all shadow detail was retained without clipping.

The result of using nearly the entire 0-255 input spectrum for each channel means in postprocessing all colors are fully represented in their histograms, with room to spare on both sides of the histogram.

Corran
31-May-2017, 14:29
Bryan,

Interesting, thanks for posting. Do you mind sharing the technical information (film size and emulsion, scanner type, scanner software)?

4x5 Fuji Pro 160S. Scanned with my Cezanne scanner and ColorGenius 2.0 software.

I have used various Epson scanners though. I don't like the EpsonScan software personally. You have to wrench it around a lot to get better scans from my experience. But most of the scanner softwares out there have their own quirks and foibles. I know a lot of people swear by VueScan but I hated it. I tried to teach a non-techie friend of mine how to use it and she couldn't grasp even the basic functions. That one seems to be written by a guy well versed in "technical" computing and likes a lot of direct control and numbers. Silverfast in another option that I've used with other scanners and it works pretty well. The best software I've ever used though was Nikon's scanner software with my old LS-8000. Really fine bit of software that made the best color negative scans IMO, and phenomenal with chromes. I wish I could hack it to work with other scanners.

In terms of your Ektar and Portra scans, are you happy with the colors and tone? Is there something you don't feel like you are getting with the scans? I looked back through and found some of your recent C-41 posts and had a look. Color negative film is inherently up to interpretation in terms of color and such so my opinion doesn't much matter, but I was just wondering if you had some specific thoughts on your own scanning.

Pali K
31-May-2017, 17:11
When I first started scanning, I couldn't get good color balance for negatives to save my life. I tried Epson Scan, Vuescan, and Silverfast and all produced images that never felt right. Now I can pretty much use any software and end up with very comparable scans that make me very happy with the end result. I am definitely spoiled with drum scans that make the inversion prpocess much easier but I do occasionally scan with Epson V700 and they do turn out great. The key is to train your eye and brain to know where to start and where to stop for consistent color scanning that meets your personal taste for colors.

I do get asked about my process frequently and have started writing a quick article on my scanning workflow using Epson. I will also compare how the same process produces even better results with a drum scan. I will post a link to it soon and hopefully it will give you some tips on other things you can try.

Pali

chassis
31-May-2017, 19:48
Bryan, thanks for the details on your workflow. I like the results I am getting, and have learned to get more of the information out of the film, and into the scan. This means setting the input sensitivity and gamma correctly, in my workflow.

I agree color balance and saturation is pretty subjective. At the moment I like saturated colors and strive for realism and believability. Realistic and believable have different meanings to different people. In the autumn this year I will have more chances to work with earth tones, and it will be interesting to see how the film responds, and how the colors come through in the scan and postprocessed image.

Pali K
31-May-2017, 20:53
http://www.analogfilm.camera/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Final-CP-Epson-Scan008-1600px.jpg

Just posted a quick guide on how I scanned and converted this image using Epson v700 and ColorPerfect. Hope this is helpful.
Link: http://www.analogfilm.camera/2017/05/31/scanning-color-negatives-using-epson-scanner-and-colorperfect-plugin/

Regards,

Pali

Corran
31-May-2017, 21:05
Bravo Pali!

This thread reminded me that I've shot through all my Portra 160 in medium format, and I just booked a flight to AZ so...off to B&H I guess :).

Pali K
1-Jun-2017, 04:16
Thank you Bryan!

I am so jealous that you are headed to AZ again :) I miss it so much and hope to get back there again. Not only did I have a fantastic time there on my vacation in AZ, the vast landscape there is a photographic heaven. Have a great trip and I look forward to your photos from there.

Pali

chassis
1-Jun-2017, 19:18
Pali, thanks for the writeup, it is thorough and clear.

Below is my latest image. It is a fairly straight or literal color interpretation with a low-ish key tone. The lighting was low and mostly non-directional in mid-evening. The direction of view is looking south, and west is to camera right. Film is Portra 400 in 4x5, exposed at box speed and processed normal C-41. Scanned on an Epson V750 with Epson Scan.

Using Ken Lee's tutorial as a baseline (thanks Ken!), I find that avoiding clipping requires that a wider range of input than the basic histogram alone. I adjust the input black and white points (per channel) so that the Tone Curve Viewer shows input for as much of the abscissa as possible. The explanation my not be 100% clear, I apologize.

In postprocessing using Levels, I adjust the black and white points (per channel) to the edges of the histograms. My workflow to this point is fairly constant and doesn't change for film format, film type or exposure. I have used this workflow with Portra 400 and Ektar in both 120 and 4x5. I recently acquired some Portra 160 in 4x5 and will see how the workflow handles this film.

From this point, it is subjective. I adjust gamma per channel, if needed or wanted. In Levels for overall Value, I adjust black and white points, and gamma per taste. Then a light unsharp mask, resize and export.

http://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/img/s12/v174/p2351837813-4.jpg (http://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/p46190493/e8c2e3275)

chassis
27-Aug-2017, 19:17
Out of curiosity, what is the workflow or theory behind minilab and similar scanners, for color correction related to the orange mask? For example the Noritsu LS-600 or LS-1100?

stawastawa
28-Aug-2017, 08:00
Good question!
Out of curiosity, what is the workflow or theory behind minilab and similar scanners, for color correction related to the orange mask? For example the Noritsu LS-600 or LS-1100?

EH21
28-Aug-2017, 22:25
I've been struggling with finding a fast way to get good color from my color negative scans as well. I have been using my Rolleiflex 6008AF with rodenstock APO rodagon enlarging lenses and my Hasselblad/Imacon multishot digital back to capture the negatives and I think this works decently well for detail and speed, however getting color has been difficult. Normally I use the Color neg plugin, but that's hardly intuitive and sometimes works and sometimes not. I did spend some time shooting the orange mask and then inverting this in photoshop and printing out a page filled with the blue color onto transparency film. I then place the blue film between the light source and the negative (but out of the DOF envelope) this way seems to help some for when I am manually working the color in photoshop but somehow the color neg software seems to get to the same result either way. My theory is that when scanning if I can get the orange out of the capture part then I will have more even data on the different R G B channels. I think this could be similar with a flatbed scanner but haven't tried it. But I am still kind of amazed at how well the photolab machines the fuji frontiers and noritsu can magically get the colors.... anyone know how those softwares work?

online
25-Sep-2017, 03:50
Dan's book was a huge help - agree with this.

jim10219
26-Sep-2017, 06:30
http://www.addicted2light.com/2014/03/31/how-to-get-the-right-colors-from-negat

That's pretty much what I do. At first, it was pretty hard. A lot of the confusion comes from any backlight or blocking mask that comes through in the scan, so I recommend cropping the image first to get rid of all of that. But once you get used to it, you can spot it in the histogram, and it's not hard to figure out where to set everything. I also use the curves tool to invert my file, saving me a step. Basically you just flip direction of the slope. One of the things I've noticed about inverting C41 film is it's usually a bad idea to rely on presets. Each photo is different, and they all benefit from some personalized tweaking.

If you want, start off using the levels tool instead of the curves tool. The levels tool is a bit easier to use and can often give you fairly decent results in short time, even if you're a beginner. And once you get the hang of that, the curves tool won't be nearly as hard because the same basic principles will transfer over, you just have added options at your disposal now.

Steven Ruttenberg
21-Oct-2017, 22:02
I like Alex Burke's guide to scanning negatives on an Epson V700:

http://www.alexburkephoto.com/blog/2013/06/02/scanning-and-editing-color-negative-film

I agree with this. My question is on scan resolution so not omly to make small print from file butvlarge one as well. If toblittle, even sharpest picture willlook like crap when displayed. I dont want to have 5 scans that are different resolutions to print different size images. Adjustme may not always be ssme or one to one.

Steven Ruttenberg
21-Oct-2017, 22:15
Having scanned color negs with a variety of hardware and software combinations, I can say without hesitation that they both make a huge impact on your final scan quality. And if you're using inferior hardware AND crappy software, well, it's just a big waste of your time.

The absolute best color (and black and white) neg scanning software I've ever used is Trident for the Howtek drum scanners. There is nothing else I've found that comes close, but it's not an intuitive path until and unless you have a complete understanding the digital imaging principles, the most basic of which are how to properly set your highlight and shadow points.

The Alex Burke tutorial is filled with misinformation starting with his settings of using a non color managed gamma 1.8 choice and his final scan is just mediocre in quality. I'd say you'd be worse off following his advice that trying to figure it out on your own.

One of the dirty little secrets of neg scanning is that you actually can use pretty much any good color transparency scanner profile as a point of reference when scanning color negs, assuming, of course, your software will let you use one in neg scanning mode. Since you're always working visually anyway, it's very important to use a well calibrated and profiled monitor and that you scanning software actually uses the monitor profile to display (notice that Alex has this option unchecked). You generally start with an auto ranging command that finds and sets the white and black points to neutral automatically. There is often a clipping control available as well, and you need to be able to override the auto neutral results when you know you want a color cast in the highlights or the shadows.

When you're working on a color neg scan AND you have both a monitor profile and an input profile in the display path, you can then use that input profile as the source for your conversion to your working space and you will have a fully color managed color neg workflow. If your scanning software allows you to convert to working space on the fly you can use that feature. On Trident, that feature is broken, so I always just embed the scanner profile and convert in Photoshop, which is both faster and gives me the option to choose whatever is the most appropriate working space for a particular image.

It took me years to get really good at scanning color negs, and that was with the best hardware and software out there. You need to have patience and really understand all of the control options available in whatever software package you're using. Good luck.

I will disagree. I have seen his work and it by far outstrips most everything I have seen. Plus as I read thru this thread it is apparent there are as many opinions as there are...The point is, to find what works for you. Saying,y picture is color perfect or correct with landscapes and many other images is silly. Product photography is a different case.

I prefer to have my image represent my vision, whether b/w or color, not what someone else considers to be technically correct. A technically correct landscape for example is emotionless, void of feeling and presence however some may like that and there is nothing wrong with that.

I find that people who say so and so doesnt know what they are doing are no better than those they criticize.

Unless doing commercial work, photography is an art form and it is the artist who needs to be happy with their work. Same it is for scanning. There of course is a right way so to speak and a wrong way, but if what you or some one else does works, then so be it