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Thread: General strategy for scanning transparencies

  1. #1
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    General strategy for scanning transparencies

    I use an Epson VM750 to scan my 4x5 transparencies for subsequent processing in Photoshop Elements. I don't use the Silverfast software that came with the scanner.
    As you know, the Epson scanner software provides a number of image adjustments that duplicate those in Photoshop (unsharp mask, curves, levels, etc), as well as an "automatic" exposure adjustment. I have the scanner set to output at TIFF.

    My question is, what is the optimum strategy for handling the image adjustments? Do them all in Photoshop, or try to get the image "close to" correct in the scanner preview, and then do the final tune-ups in Elements? I've been getting reasonably good results from doing a rough levels adjustment in the scanner with sharpening set to low, and then doing the fine adjustments in Photoshop. I'm just wondering if that's the best way to go about it. Naturally, the documentation for the scanner and PSE doesn't provide any guidance on how their respective adjustments interact.

    Thanks for any advice you may have on this.

  2. #2
    trink408's Avatar
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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    From what I've read so far is you want to do most of the adjustments in photoshop, you have more precise control over them that way, and you can use adjustment layers so if you decide you don't like something or want to change something it doesn't mean you have to rescan the trans again.

    I'm sure others will have more information to give, I'm still new at scanning...
    Waiting for the sun...


  3. #3

    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    My experience is that a good transparency profile is required, made with known locked down scanner settings. Changing those settings for individual scans will somewhat negate the accuracy of the color managed workflow.
    Then, when brought into Photoshop and converted to a working space (which you could probably set to occur on the fly in the prefs), more viable editing is likely, and generally with better tools.
    Tyler

  4. #4

    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    The other strategy is to work on a copy of the original scan, rather than working on the original scan. Then it doesn't matter whether you are using adjustment layers or not. One advantage for any extra layer or channel is that they are easily transferred from one PhotoShop document to another, which can make some adjustments easier to duplicate across several images.

    You can easily open an original, then do a Save As to create a new name and new document. Then you are not working on the original. Considering how low cost storage space has become, this is a good working practice.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography

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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    In my humble opinion, it is actually better to get the image as close as possible to the final prodcut at the scan, and do as little as possible in photoshop.

    My reasoning behind this is that photoshop edits are destructive, and I'm fairly certain that changes made at the scan stage are non-destructive.

    As a test, scan an image making only levels or curves adjustments at the scan, and then scan without the adjustments and make the same adjustments in photoshop. If you compare the histograms from both images, the one with the changes applied at the scan will be smooth where the photoshoped one will be spiky due to "gaps" created by the levels/curves adjustment. This will be more apparent if you make drastic levels/curves adjustments, and if you scan in 8-bitt instead of 16.

    That being said, the injustice done your image by a photoshop edit is incredibly slight, and only realy noticable if you make SEVERAL drastic adjustments to your image. Furthermore, Photoshop DOES offer far more precise control than does the epson software, so if you if you're going to stick with the stock epson software, photoshoping may be the way to go.

    However, I suggest you make some scans with silverfast. Outside of dodging/burning and advanced/complex masking features, Silverfast can do everything I use photoshop for, and the interface is fairly easy to learn and simple to use.

    Just my two cents.

  6. #6

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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    I scan from within Photoshop via the Import item in the File menu.

    I set the Epson software for my V700, to produce an Adobe RGB file, 48-bits at 1200dpi. 1200 dpi is enough for me at present because of the sizes I intend to print and it is time-efficient with computer resources.

    I preview the image, click on the auto-correct button, and then open the histogram adjustment and set the output to 8 and 245. Then I move the shadow and the highlight sliders just barely outside the endpoints of the histogram. Click Close to accept the settings. Scan the image...

    When the scan opens in PS, I'll spot it and then start color correcting via Curves using white and black points and a mid-gray point. Sometimes I don't have to do all three, and sometimes a scan needs a bit of warmth or cooling. I'll use Selective Color, Color Balance and Hue-Saturation, if needed.

    Sometimes a slight exposure correction is needed as well.

    After Unsharp Masking, the file is usually all set to go...needless to say, all of the above is done on non-destructive adjustment layers.

    That's the nutshell approach. Silverfast doesn't do anything for me, in fact, I've found it to be very unstable. All you need a scanner to do is get the information in the computer for you, PS can do the rest very elegantly.

  7. #7

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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    In my humble opinion, it is actually better to get the image as close as possible to the final prodcut at the scan
    This really depends on your scanner and the software you use. Obviously any change that can affect hardware settings (like exposure, for example) is best done at scan time but things like curves and possibly colour-balancing will be applied to the image post-scan. In which case the scanner software is merely duplicating what can usually be better handled in PS.

  8. #8
    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    The golden rule is : do nothing in the scanner software, except acquire the image.

    The workflow that gets the best results, starts with ensuring that you have profiled the scanner for the type of film that you are scanning; Wolf Faust sells very good, inexpensive targets that work with software like Monaco EZColor http://targets.coloraid.de/.

    Once you have a profile, turn off the colour management in the scanning software; this will also turn off any adjustments or auto-exposure.

    Simply set the resolution you want to scan at and import the image into Photoshop; then Assign the scanner profile for the film type, then convert the profile to ProPhoto RGB. You should now have a good scan that closely matches the colours in the original transparency.

    Finally, remove dust spots and make any adjustments necessary before saving and/or printing.

  9. #9
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    With consumer scanners, such as the V750, Joanna's advice is generally correct. There are a few exceptions:

    1) Removing color casts while scanning is far less time consuming than doing it in PS.

    2) Small midrange adjusments may sometimes greatly improve the scan.

    Additionally, I strongly recommend using Silverfast Ai if that is the verion that came with your scanner. While it is a nontrivial investment, I also strongly recommend investing in the full version of Photoshop, especially if you are scanning for prints.

    BTW, the workflow when sing a high end scanner is vastly different.

    See my PM for more info.

  10. #10
    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: General strategy for scanning transparencies

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Harris View Post
    1) Removing color casts while scanning is far less time consuming than doing it in PS.

    2) Small midrange adjusments may sometimes greatly improve the scan.
    Hmmm well, at least with the Epson software, mixing the idea of "no adjustments" for the purpose of using a profile with the idea of using any adjustments at all seems to be contradictory. Doesn't the fact that you make alterations to the scan parameters affect the colour balance that the profile is meant to standardise ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Harris View Post
    Additionally, I strongly recommend using Silverfast Ai if that is the verion that came with your scanner.
    I tried Silverfast and found it to be far from user friendly. If you or someone else knows of any really good tutorial I would possibly be interested in giving it another go.

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