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Thread: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

  1. #1

    Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    I'm posting here because I got lambasted over on APUG for bringing up "digital" methods.

    I'm shooting a 365 project with a wide range of formats. If you were creating such a project would you rather scan the negative or scan an optical print? End goal is a blurb text of all 365 images plus maybe some out takes (since I loaded my M6 wrong and developed a whole blank roll) 😾😹

    I'm trying to gather some opinions before I waste my time.

  2. #2

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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    For me, since I no longer have a darkroom, it would be scanning negs. Some people would scan prints, but since digital is your ultimate objective, not a print, I'd skip steps and get there directly. Additional intermediate generations always make things worse, not better.

  3. #3

    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    I guess the issue I'm running into is with smaller formats and the fact that I don't have a scanner that can handle 4x5. 35mm slides on the Epson V600 look horrendous

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    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    There's so much loss fine detail and in shadow information when scanning a print that I would only do it if there were a specific need. It's certainly faster and easier to scan a print.

    I find that consumer scanners like my old Epson 4870 can do a great job with black and white 4x5 negatives for printing up to at least 16x20. For much larger prints or for transparencies you'd really want a better scanner.

    For scans that are meant for digital printing, I used an improvised wet-mount setup, with shims to find the scanner's true focal plane. Between cleaning the neg and setting all this up, it took a good 30 minutes to do a scan. A real high end scanner (with a real scanner operator) might be faster.

  5. #5
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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    If printing materials and/or darkroom manipulation are part of the look, scan a print. If you're just looking for a simple quality grayscale image, scan the negative.

    You'll probably want something like a V700 or V750 for 4x5. A nikon film strip scanner for the 35mm would be a step up from the epson for small stuff.

  6. #6
    hacker extraordinaire
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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    I always prefer to scan prints. Scanning negatives, at least with smaller formats, mutilates the grain. When creating prints intended for reproduction via scanning, it can help to print to a somewhat lower contrast...slightly grey highlights and slightly grey shadows.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
    --A=B by Petkovšek et. al.

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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    Scanning a piece of film is always superior to scanning a print. A blurb book is small, the quality isn't that great and so you don't really need all the quality you would get from a great scan. I would say do whatever is easiest for you. When you want it make larger prints of a few of them, get a good scan....

    And no, scanning smaller negs does not "mutilate the grain". If that's happening to you get a better scanner, or set the apertures more correctly.

    Lenny
    EigerStudios
    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

  8. #8

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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    I think you should do what it takes to make the blurb book printed-out and in your hands... most effectively reproduce a print you hold in comparison.

    Even Ansel Adams printed flatter for reproduction, because the printing process required a flatter print so that the halftone camera operator could hold the highlight dots.

    If that means printing a flatter print, and photographing or scanning the print, great. But it's probably easier these days to do a negative scan and make adjustments in software.

    I have seen artifacts of grain from scanning. As Lenny points out... They are not necessarily going to happen. They occasionally happen when the settings are wrong. If you get a strong case of reticulation, check that you don't have Digital ICE enabled.

  9. #9

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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    A couple of factors here - quality of the scanner, size of the negative. In general, scanning from the neg is the better way to go, but there are some times when scanning from the print has an advantage. If a mediocre scanner and 35mm film, it may be that scanning the print gives a better answer. OTOH, a good drum scan on 6x6 neg will blow the doors off a print.

    Scanning from a print can also ease some seriously damaged negs, scratched or dusty.

  10. #10
    multi format
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    Re: Creating Digital Text: Scans of Negatives vs Scans of Optical Prints

    do whatever is easiest, and sont forget to have a good time. sometimes its easy to let the smallstuff
    get in the way. if it was me .. id scan the film because there is always more information and nuance in a film scan
    but thats just me, ive gotten used to the workflow ( hate that word ).

    not sure iif a 4870 is in the budget but its worth the few hundres dollars they cost used.

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