View Full Version : questions about scanning Polaroid 55 film
I am just starting to work with Polaroid Type 55 film and I'd like to scan in my negatives and then work with them and print them out on my inkjet printer.
I have a few questions about scanning Type 55 film.
1) I know that a number of scanners -- like Epson 4990 and Microtek i800 -- have dedicated 4x5 film holders for scanning. If you use these holders will you be able to scan in the distinctive "edges" of Type 55 film (including "grabber" holes), or do these get cut off from scanning by the holder?
2) And if these do get cut off, as an alternative, could you scan Type 55 using the transparency holder that comes with these scanners, instead of the dedicated film holder?
3) And . . . I've been told that you can not lay negatives directly on the scanner glass as you would a photo or drawing, because a) negatives have to be backlit to scan them, which is what you get when using dedicated film holders and (I think) the transparency holder; and b) you get ghosting and other oddities if you lay negatives directly on scanner glass. . . . But I recently visited a photographer's web site where he said that he scanned his Type 55 negs by laying them on the scanner glass and then covering them with a piece of anti-newton glass. SO, I'm not sure which info is true -- that you can scan negatives laying them directly on scanner glass or that you can't.
I have a 4990 laying around here. The Epson film holders don't work well for Type 55 - you'll have to trim the neg a little bit on the long edge just to fit it into the standard Epson 4x5 holder. Some of the short edge ( the sloppy part you're thinking of ) may show, but not much of it.
As to laying the film on the scanner glass, depending upon how clean the scanner glass is, how dry the air is, etc., you may or may not get Newton's rings. I've been able to do it fine sometimes, and other times not. Cleaning the glass really well seems to help. The neg may also get a little curl. Since you are scanning, you could always be insincere and simply scan the edges separately, make up a nice Photoshop layer with them, and then use those for full effect.
Newton glass has its own downsides, however it may work out fine. To really get it nice, best thing is to get a drum scan if its a nice shot. Also, if you want the edges to look especially nice, try using regular film strength fixer *after* first clearing with the regular clearing bath.
The neg does not fit in the 4x5 holder. I don't want to cut it, because I enjoy the 'frame' of the negative. The neg curves quite a bit when it's placed straight on the glass, as the base is thinner than TMax or TriX, etc. Therefore, in addition to Newton rings, the scan is not sharp enough. I am thinking of mounting it with Kami fluid.
Printing thr "distinctive edge" is a passing fad, forget it and concentrate on making a memorable image.
The Polaroid 55 negative is larger than standard size 4x5" films even if you trim them at the perforations. Jobo recognized this and made reel #2514 for cleaning in a ATL 1000 or similar processor due to its slightly larger size even after trimming. When I scan my 55's, I tape them to the Universal Glass Film Holder that came with my Microtek 1800f and the results work well. Good thing is that I have never had to deal with Newton Rings. Here is an example with all of the fringe:
Jan Van Hove
One relatively easy solution, though not necessairly the best for high resolution scanning, but more than enough for any web-based application, is to do a quick and dirty contact print on 5x7 photo paper and then scan that, then you'll get the edges and all...
It always depends on what you plan to use the scans for...
Just my 2 cents...
If you are using a Microtek i900, 1800f or 2500f then Darr's solution is the best way to go if you want to retain all the polaroid 'identity.' With these machines the optics are above the transparancy darwer and the film is precisely placed at the point of sharpest focus. You can do this on the i800 or the Epson scanners too but you may not be at exactly the right distance from the optics for maximum sharpness (these are not dual bed machines like the first batch) .... having said that I don't believe the tolerances of these machines are so exact tht it will make much difference.
I own the 4990. I found that scanning 5x7 negs with them directly on the glass nearly always resulted in newtonian rings. So I went down to the local framing shop, bought two sheets of opaque plastic that they use for some darned thing or the other. That was a whopping 80 cents each, then I endured their obvious disdain when I told them I wanted identical 4.9" by 6.9" windows cut; no beveling please. That was (gag!) $12.00.
At home, I lined up the windows, trimmed the edges flush and now I put my negs in between those sheets. Not only did the rings disappear, I discovered that my scanner was sharper than I though. The focusing tolerances are apparently tighter than I had been led to believe.
I have given up on scanning any B&W negative. I second the suggestion on making contact prints and scanning them.
However, I have measured actual resolution on my "3200 dpi" scanner and I don't get any improvement in detail above 1200. I can easily get 80 lp/mm to B&W film so if you run the numbers it would have to be a really bad contact print from a really bad negative for it to matter if you scanned direct or not.
I'd never scan a print if I had a large format negative available, you've already lost a lot of the information in the negative when you make the print, then you lose still more when you scan the print. You can lay the Polaroid 55 negative on the ground glass with the 4990. That's how I scan my 8x10 negatives on my 4990 since Epson doesn't provide a film holder for that size. It's been a while since I scanned any 8x10 negatives and I don't remember which is which but putting the emulsion one way (up or down) causes Newton rings, putting them the other way doesn't.
Sorry, I didn't mean lay the negative on the "ground glass," I just meant lay it on the glass. I guess that's what happens when you're posting to a large format group.
Hey Brian - can you recite the special anti-newtonian chant you must do to avoid rings, or is it just because you might have a newtonian ancestor?
4990 - Emulsion side toward glass works best, however I've had some negs that get rings either side, using 8x10 and 5x7. Cleaning DOES help avoid them, but not always. The Polaroid film is thin and sometimes curls a little bit - that actually may help prevent the rings. Making a spacer or taping the neg to a mat with a hole cutout works nicely, however it still won't show the entire edge. The only way to know for sure is to try it.
I only get rings on negs that I really wish I could do a quick scan of for proofing and web purposes. Shots that don't matter always come out great! Not to start an AZO rant or rave, when really printed well, an AZO print seems to show an awesome amount of detail under a 10X loupe, so the contact print approach is not too far fetched if the end result needs to only be a small print. The Microtek setup sounds good. Even though I have a 4990, I wouldn't recommend it when quality matters.
I work exclusively with Polaroid 55 film, and although I prefer traditional darkroom printing of this film, when ever I wanted to make a scan, I simply lay the film on my flat bed scanner, reduced it's light output, and lay a light box over the scanner so the film is back lit. You can reverse the scan to a positive at the scanning stage or later in Photoshop, you'll also need to play with the contrast and brightness at one of these stages to.
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