View Full Version : Suggestions for Learning Film Scanning?
Hello! I would appreciate suggestions for resources on learning to scan LF negatives. Currently, I am residing overseas where English is not the primary language, so a local course is not an option.
About 1 1/2 years agom, I purchased a used Microtek ScanMaker 5900, and then I purchased Adobe Elements 2 with "The Hidden Power of PhotoShop Elements 2" added on to give additional flexibility, such as curves, etc. The auto levels, contrast, and color controls usually yield adequate to good results for me at present. I just finished Adams "The Print" and it is apparent that a "fine print" is obviously much better than an adequate print, and better/different than a good print. I'd like to use the tools I have to learn on, and to decide what I need, before purchasing a new scanner.
1) The ScanMaker has a transparency adapter, but no tranny - the transparencies are placed on the glass within a plastic guide frame to keep it on the appropriate location on the glass. Any suggestions about resources that describe how to make scans to the best ability that the scanner can deliver and to test the scanner to ensure that mechanically it is working to its best ability?
2) ScanMaker Suite is an easy to use program, requiring me to input the photographic medium, color mode, and desired resolution. Would a third party software improve the scans the scanner can produce?
Thank you and best regards.
there has been a huge amount on this list about scanning very recently. Do some searches and/or look in the archives or topics under digital and you will find plenty.
If you go to www.scantips.com you'll find Wayne Fulton's web site, which contains a lot of information in one place. If you're like me and prefer reading print rather than a computer screen you can order his book "A Few Scanning Tips" from that web site. Don't let the title fool you, it's not just "a few tips," it's a 200 page book. My copy of the book is about five years old so all of the equipment information is way out of date. He may have updated it but even if he hasn't it doesn't really matter, the equipment has changed but the principles remain the same.
Hello! Thank you for the information. I've checked out the past postings and they have been very helpful. I appreciated Mr. Gittings post about scanner checks. The www.scantips site should prove informative.
One things I am curious about, do I need something additional to mechanically make good scans with the ScanMaker? Currently, the transparencies simply lie on the glass (emulsion side down) as the transparency adapter shines from above.
I know that black/white points, color control, constrast, control can be controlled in the scanner or the image editing software. The pros/cons of each have been addressed in this forum in the past. Does third party scanning software offer better control of these variables as compmared to the ScanMaker software, or does third party software allow a better raw file to be obtained even before any image manipulation is performed? Thank you and best regards.
The actual scan uses an exposure time which is set within the scanning software. Its not usually called exposure time but comes under black and white points. That means that they must be set in the scan software and not by post scanning software such as PS. Its just like making a camera exposure on film really. If you over or underexpose it, then you get blocked highlights or shadows. The same applies to scanning film so its important to get the scan exposure correct. Silverfast makes this easy once you get to grips with its peculiar(to me at least) interface. Usually using auto exposure on a scanner will base its exposure on the thinnest and thickest parts of the neg or tranny. To be able to do that, you have to first prescan the film so that the scan software has something to work with. Then using auto exposure will give a reasonable result. But just like making an in camera exposure, we know that using auto or averaging metering doesn't always give the exposure we really want. Again, silverfast makes it quite easy to tinker with the output curve from the scan but this could also be achieved with post scan software such as PS. The most important thing is to get those black and white points set in the scan software so that you don't lose film detail in the scan.
The last couple of View Camera magazine issues have great articles on scanning by Michael MutmansKy and Ted Harris (who are frequent contributers here as well), two of the most knowledgeable guys that I know. They also offer workshops.
For myself, while I am largely self taught by doing about 1500 scans over the last few years, I have managed to go from a complete idiot to a beta tester for Silverfast in a relatively short period of time by doing allot of comparison testing and picking up tidbits from expert friends and postings here.
Kirk, thanks for the kind words.
Michael, the one book we recommend in or workshops is "Real World Scanning and Halftones" by David Blatner, et. al. ... make sure you get the third edition. This is the only book I know of that focuses on the scanning process as opposed to post scanning digital processing of the film.
A caveat, you will not get results tht come close to what is possible, even with 'consumer' scanners from the 5900 which is at the bottom of the entry level scanner pile. It just won't perfrom anywhere near those in the $300 range (new) let alone the higher priced spreads ... that said it will allow you to learn.
Feel free to contact me offline if you have any more specific questions. Additionally, I could give you some more local resources if I knew where you were but you have no email listed.
Hello! Thank you all for the excellent suggestions and guidance. Best regards.
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