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Thread: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

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    Travelin' on the Mobius strip Chris_Brown's Avatar
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    ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    During the discusion in this thread a point was made that an ICC profiled scanner is of no use when scanning B&W or color negs, that it's only a benefit when scanning color transparencies.

    So now I'm curious. At what point does a photographer apply a color profile to their workflow if they're scanning B&W negs?

    The point I make is that it is incorrect to assign a color profile in Photoshop to a raw scan regardless of the film type. IOW, if someone assigns the color profile Adobe '98 to a scan of a Fujicolor NPS color negative, they are in essence saying that the colorspace of the film+scanner is Adobe '98. I know this isn't correct.

    In another example, a scan of Tri-X which has been assgned the Adobe '98 ICC profile is saying that's the colorspace?

    Any thoughts on this?

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    I dunno if this makes much sense, but I learned to apply the printer's ICC profile to my image... This way, I supposedly see, more exactly, what the printer is going to poop out.


    Shrug...I find with our set-up at school, the custom profiles I made, and converting the image to the paper profile I'm 95% there. (At least, on semi-matte---I haven't tried Matte yet)

    Any thoughts on this process?

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Brown View Post
    The point I make is that it is incorrect to assign a color profile in Photoshop to a raw scan regardless of the film type. IOW, if someone assigns the color profile Adobe '98 to a scan of a Fujicolor NPS color negative, they are in essence saying that the colorspace of the film+scanner is Adobe '98. I know this isn't correct.

    In another example, a scan of Tri-X which has been assgned the Adobe '98 ICC profile is saying that's the colorspace?

    Any thoughts on this?
    Every device in the image processing chain has to have a profile. That's what makes the workflow color managed. So, no, you are not assigning anything to film, but you are characterizing the image that results from the process of capture by assigning it a colorspace.

    A 16-bit image provides 65536 discrete levels of information that can be altered by processing. That's what you would be able to use if you scan as grayscale. If you scan as RGB, you are getting 16 bits per channel, or a 48-bit image with billions of discrete levels of information. And in order to handle all this information, you need to assign it a colorspace so it can be managed properly.

    Even though you will use only a fraction of all that information for printing, you lose some of it with every operation you apply, and the more information you start with, the more you will be left with after all is done. So it makes sense to work in the widest available colorspace and let the color management system handle the translation. That's the purpose of color management.

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    Travelin' on the Mobius strip Chris_Brown's Avatar
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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Marko View Post
    A 16-bit image provides 65536 discrete levels of information that can be altered by processing. That's what you would be able to use if you scan as grayscale. If you scan as RGB, you are getting 16 bits per channel, or a 48-bit image with billions of discrete levels of information. And in order to handle all this information, you need to assign it a colorspace so it can be managed properly.

    Even though you will use only a fraction of all that information for printing, you lose some of it with every operation you apply, and the more information you start with, the more you will be left with after all is done. So it makes sense to work in the widest available colorspace and let the color management system handle the translation. That's the purpose of color management.
    Perhaps you missed my point. I'm aware of what you describe here - a color managed workflow - I've been using it successfully for over ten years. (I'm not bragging, it just means I've had my fair share of problems and conundrums).

    There seems to be a divide between those who profile their scanner and tag all scans with that profile regardless of film type, and those who apply that profile to only scans of transparencies.

    If you don't tag your images (from a scanned film negative) with the scanner profile, what do you tag it with, and why?

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Brown View Post
    Perhaps you missed my point. I'm aware of what you describe here - a color managed workflow - I've been using it successfully for over ten years. (I'm not bragging, it just means I've had my fair share of problems and conundrums).

    There seems to be a divide between those who profile their scanner and tag all scans with that profile regardless of film type, and those who apply that profile to only scans of transparencies.

    If you don't tag your images (from a scanned film negative) with the scanner profile, what do you tag it with, and why?
    Sorry, I had no intention to sound patronizing, but you did not state your level of experience either.

    So let me rephrase my answer in fewer words:

    If you are scanning and processing your images using RGB and if you are doing it in a color-managed environment, then you should naturally assign a profile to all of them.

    The negative gets converted into positive at some stage and then gets imported into the editing application. From the editing application's standpoint, there is no difference between that image and the one that resulted from scanning a transparency.

    This is, of course, just my opinion and I tried my best to explain why I think so. There are obviously different opinions out there and it would be interesting to hear both schools of thought.

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    Travelin' on the Mobius strip Chris_Brown's Avatar
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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    If you are scanning and processing your images using RGB and if you are doing it in a color-managed environment, then you should naturally assign a profile to all of them.
    I agree, but what do you recommend when scanning B&W negs? When do you tag your scans and what do you tag them with?

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Hi Chris,

    By no means am I a scanning expert. In fact, I've only been drum scanning myself for about a year now with a Howtek 4500. And on top of that, I'm using a profile that someone else made for me on his Howtek 4500. I tell you, it's made a huge difference in my scans, but I'd really like to make my own profile. I feel I could learn a ton more about scanning in general, but I simmply haven't spent the money on a target and software yet. Someday soon perhaps.

    Anyway, I wanted to say two things.

    1. If you're shooting with color transparency of a pure black and white subject in neutral lighting, wouldn't you still apply the color profile? I feel that this would still apply to a B&W negative. The fact that you're scanning into an RGB color space almost requires you to scan with a color profile(assuming you're following a color managed workflow), regardless of the fact that the film is B&W. So maybe the correct thing to do would be to create a new profile specifically with the same type of B&W negative film but in the RGB space. Of course I could be way off base due to my limited experience, but it's just a thought.

    2. Have you ever asked your question to Hutch? He's got a reputation of being a scanning guru, so maybe he's got an opinion of this.
    Mike Boden

    www.mikeboden.com
    Instagram: @mikebodenphoto

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Brown View Post
    I agree, but what do you recommend when scanning B&W negs? When do you tag your scans and what do you tag them with?
    Scan them in RGB and treat them just as you would treat color film.

    Like I said in my previous post, it is a matter of simple binary math - if you scan in 16-bit grayscale, you get to work with 2^16 = 65536 discrete levels of information, or shades if you will. Scanning in 16-bit RGB, you effectively get 65536 levels per channel or 2^48 = 65536 x 65536 x 65536 levels of information to work with.

    And if you treat them as RGB, then you also asign an appropriate profile <edit>in the same manner as you would for a color film</edit>.

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    Travelin' on the Mobius strip Chris_Brown's Avatar
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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Boden View Post
    I'm using a profile that someone else made for me on his Howtek 4500. I tell you, it's made a huge difference in my scans, but I'd really like to make my own profile. I feel I could learn a ton more about scanning in general, but I simmply haven't spent the money on a target and software yet. Someday soon perhaps.
    I used HCT 4x5 & 35mm targets with BasICColor Scan to profile my scanner. It took me a several scanning rounds to make sure I was doing things correctly and was getting the results I wanted. The most difficult part was deciding how to set the input parameters of the scanning software.

    If you have the time, money and a big reservoir of inclination, it will get you great results.

    1. If you're shooting with color transparency of a pure black and white subject in neutral lighting, wouldn't you still apply the color profile?
    That is the question I am asking others here.

    I apply my scanner profile to every scan no matter what the film is. IMO, the profile communicates what my scanner "sees" to the rest of the workflow, and it doesn't matter if the film is positive or negative.

    Technically this is just as incorrect as not applying any profile, but I have found that once my images enter a color managed workflow it helps identify areas of good and bad color and tonal gradation.

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    Re: ICC Scanner Profile for B&W Scans

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Brown View Post
    I apply my scanner profile to every scan no matter what the film is. IMO, the profile communicates what my scanner "sees" to the rest of the workflow, and it doesn't matter if the film is positive or negative.

    Technically this is just as incorrect as not applying any profile, but I have found that once my images enter a color managed workflow it helps identify areas of good and bad color and tonal gradation.
    You said it yourself: the purpose of the profile is to communicate to the rest of the workflow what your scanner "sees".

    I don't see why would this be incorrect, as you state in the next paragraph, as long as you always use the same settings?

    All the scanner really sees is a pixel matrix and conveys that information to the software. It does not differentiate between films because it doesn't even know what a film is, if you don't mind a figure of speech.

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