View Full Version : Drum scans of neg film vs. transparency
What's peoples experience of getting drum scans done of neg sheet film (4x5 and 8x10) as opposed to tranny film (which I know enough about for my purposes)
significant differences? problems?
Tim, it depends greatly on who the operator is and how the machine is set up. You cannot get a profile for a neg so someone who cannot adjust the settings of the scanner to suit the neg will have problems. Some people I use tell me they 'open up' the iris for negs as the narrow drum scanner lightsource can easily hit grain and make a horrible mess. I good compromise is to find some with an Imacon 848
I regularly scan 4x5 negatives, both color and B&W. It is not significantly difficult. It does take some knowledge and experience, but what doesn't?
I would add to Julian's comments that it also depends somewhat on the scanner software. I've never used any of the Heidelberg scanners, but what I've read and what I've heard is that Heidelberg didn't spend a lot of effort on negatives. They apparently felt that the market was positives only. If this is indeed true, then Linocolor might not be the best choice for scanning negatives.
There are two major benefits of drum scanning. First PMTs provide both sharper images and greater dynamic range than CCDs. PMTs can find with ease detail in the shadows that you can't print in the darkroom, and that is quite difficult to pull out with CCDs. Second, drum scanning lets you oil mount, which many argue is just as important as PMTs.
To answer your specific questions: There aren't any major problems drum scanning a normal negative. There are differences in quality between a drum scan and a flatbed scan. Are these advantages significant to you? Depends on your image, and what you intend to do with it. If you are making a 4x enlargement for a 16x20, for example, you might want to keep it simple and stick with a flatbed. If you are going for that 12x enlargement to cover your wall, and you've already put in the track lighting and the Solux bulbs, you might want the extra quality you can get from a drum scan.
I only shoot color negs and I scan them myself. Scanning negs vrs trans is a little different but not hard. I believe there are some real advantages to negative film, such as a more natural color gamut, much more exposure latitude, less demanding on the scanner because of a much lower D max, lower costs, lower environmental sensitivity, etc.
Drum scanners have some real advantages, the biggest of which is PMT's which offer greater dynamic range (more of an issue with transparencies than negs), and the possibility of analog USM, which can be more natural than digital USM, though poorly applied USM is ugly regardless of how it is done. Also, drum scanners, due to the way they work, offer higher resolutions. Wet mounting can provide significant advantages in noise reduction, increased saturation, and a little higher optical resolution in the form of detail contrast.
Now for debunking:
• You should apply USM to your file after you have scaled it to the final output size, not during the scan unless the scan is a single use scan done to the final size (like for a single magazine ad).
• It is not true that you can only oil mount on drum scanners. Many people oil mount or gel mount on flat beds or film scanners.
• There is a range of quality in drum scanners from good to bad. Just because it spins does not mean it is good (design, optics, OA build quality, electronics, software, flexibility).
• Just because is uses CCDs does not mean it is an inferior scanner.
• The skill and care of the operator has more to do with the quality of the scan than anything else.
well tim, it sounds easy but the reality is more complicated.
as a graphic designer i work a lot with colour separators, the usual firm i contract has a 250,000$ heidelberg space station type scanner (3900S i think) and are probably the best seperators in spain (i.e. they know about colour) so you think it would easy, mount up the neg and off you go. not so.
as hogarth commented the software for negs for these machines has not been well developed (sic.), the heidelberg rep here told us that there were flatbeds that handle negs better than the 3900!, so the bottom line is that you have to learn a lot or you have to find someone who has really developed a good colour management workflow from negs. the secret is in the operator, but you are going to have to know the ropes too if you want to control things a bit.
i got some good help on this link
and have started to get more deepley involved since then. let us know when you find out more please!
Just to reinforce, what Mark Muse said is 100% correct. Especially about the scan operator being the most important part. Blindly insisting on a drum scan just because it spins is silly.
This may or may not help, but a few years ago, my company sent myself and one of our scanner operators to a two week class on Crosfield drums, which we own two of. I was there as a representative of our photo department to learn everything about how to provide the scanner operators with the best possible NEGATIVE for reproduction. The first few days everything we worked on was a tranny or reflective material. When I started asking questions about negatives I was told that you probably want to use one of our CCD scanners for negatives, the drums don't work well for them. That was nice to hear especially after we had just spent 120k on upgrades to our scanners to deal with negatives better. Sales guy didn't talk to the tech guy. We soon switched to CCD scanners then to digital cameras. Now I literally sit next to 2 Crosfield units that have been turned off for almost a year, we can't give them away!
We were able to produce decent negative scans with the drums, but it was way easier and similar quality with ccd. If your handing anything off to another person to scan, a tranny or reflective material provides them with an accurate proof. A negative in a strangers hand can end up with a sky the color they thought it should be. There are ways around this, but it's something that can happen.
Well, if I had a truck to hand, I'd come and pick up at least one Matea... :-)
But this is interesting.
I use a Umax Powerlook III for scanning (mainly 8x10 these days) LF trannys and ocassiaonlly B&W negs. While a little old it does seem to have a fairly decent dmax for a flatbed. Combined with vuescan and the sharpening filters mentioned elsewhere, I mainly use it for printing up to 11x14 and ocassionally 24" wide at a maximum. Certainly up to about 24 inch I can see very little difference with anything I got printed from a lab in the past. Mostly these are working prints or portfolio prints, or done for clients such as architects mainly as reference works etc.
If I am doing anything bigger, or, if you like, a step up in quality (limited edition series etc) then I have tended to get my trannys drum scanned and take it from there (and up to about 16x20 (maybe even 20x24) I can rarely see a real difference in practical terms working from an 8x10 tranny - sure if you look closely and so on but if they are behind glass on a wall, not really).
I've also used an Epson 1680 with simialr results.
Now, in terms of 8x10 colour print film, what are we talkign about in terms of high quality flatbeds? (yes an imacon would be nice, but at 8x10 you're stuck I think...) I'm guessing a largish step above these - something like the linoscan sapphires or whatever?
The creo2 is nice Tim. You can get a wet mounting station with a spare platten. About 12k euros http://www.creo.com/global/products/scanning_systems/color_scanners/iqsmart/iqsmart2/default
I have an Imacon Flex Tight Precision that I've been using to scan color negs and transparencies with equal ease every day. Neg scans look just as good--if not better than ct. This is a workhorse scanner with absolutely no problems in over 5 years of heavy use. I have no connection to Imacon.
but it won't scan 8x10 eh Al...? :-(
which is what I really need
i am using a scanmate 5000 drum scanner with colorquartet software. i use it often, what means every second day with 4x5" , 2,5 x 7" and 35mm cromes and negs (color). negs work easy and very good if you once have understood the software. the quality is great, with cromes too. so i use now negs whenever the fotosituation requires it or makes the shooting more easy. and since i am mounting with drumfluid instead of oil the wet mounting works very fast also,- and i dont have to clean the films afterward ( take care: if your drum is not made from 100% acrylic- material this tip wont work- it will destroy the drum! ).
Hey Mark M., how do you oil or gel mount on a flatbed? What do you clean them with after? Always ended up using my reflective scans instead as I've never been happy with the neg scans from either of the two local shops I send stuff out to.
Matthew - There are several liquids you could use (I even know of one guy in Europe who uses lighter fluid!), but only two I would recommend: Mineral Oil, available in pint bottles from drug stores, which cleans up with Kodak film cleaner (be sure to use with LOTS of ventilation); or a scanner mounting gel called Kami, which you clean up by wiping the excess off with a cotton pad and the rest evaporates. Kami is a European product that I am looking for a source for myself.
If you are using a film scanner you will need a glass to glass sandwich type of carrier which you might have to modify some what. If you are using a flatbed you will have to get some sheets of clear mylar, cut them to a size larger than your trans, tape one edge of the mylar to the glass, add a few drops of mineral oil to each side of your trans, put it under the mylar and tape the oposite edge. Now get a soft rubber roller and start working the oil out to the edges. You might have to add tape to the two remaining edges. Air bubbles will show! Good Luck
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