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Thread: Scanning B+W Film

  1. #1
    Andrew Moxom
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    Scanning B+W Film

    I have used the search function on this site and am trying to unravel the plethora of information regarding scanning B+W film and there are so many ways that I am pulling my hair out just to get started!

    First off, I am not new to scanning prints but have limited experience scanning film, and need to get a starting point for scanning pyrocat developed negs that I can work from.

    I have an Epson 750MPro with Silverfast AI, and Vuescan. Both have been great for scanning prints, but I am completely out of my depth in using them on film.

    I have some basic knowledge (enough to be dangerous :-) ). So I have 4x5 negs mounted in the standard film holders (not better scanning holders yet) I have heard both sides on whether to put the film emulsion side up, or emulsion side down, but do not know what is best to be honest. Anyone care to answer that? I want to preserve as much detail as I can for printing (no printer yet) but I scan for being able to print up to 16x20, and will resize files for anything smaller than that.

    As for scanning parameters, I turned off all filtration, all sharpening, anything that could interfere with the image.

    I scan in 16bit grayscale mode at 2400dpi and save to .TIF Would using the multiple pass feature on both SF, and VS be of benefit? Or is this primarily for scanning color work?

    I have heard that scanning in color then filtering all but the green channel is another approach for Pyro or stained negatives? How do I set parameters for that? Or do I just scan in RGB color, and turn the red and blue channels down in photoshop post scan? Apologies for all these questions, but it's something I know I need to learn. Am I offbase with my approach? I appreciate any assistance!

    Andy

  2. #2

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    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    Using the Green channel only, is recommended for those scanners where the Green sensor gives best results, and when you are trying to get the most resolution from the scanner. Many consumer-grade scanners fit that description.

    Multi-sampling is recommended when the scanner gives noise, especially in the dark regions. Again, many consumer-grade scanners fit that description.

    With my Epson 4990, I get the best control and results from the Epson software, not VueScan and not SilverFast.

    In theory, the stained portion of Pyro negatives, has less graininess. Different Pyro stains, are different colors. If the stain is green, then scanning only the Green channel, will get you (more or less) the stained portion of the image. If the stain is brown, then scanning red+green gives orange - which is closest to brown - and will get you a scan of (mostly) the stained portion.

    Also, the stained portion of the negative should demonstrate, in theory, the most "highlight compensation".

  3. #3
    Andrew Moxom
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    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    So Ken, I will try the Epson Scan SW, and set the scan for red and green using all the other parameters I mentioned. Thanks!

  4. #4

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    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    Perhaps you can show us what you discover, as you test the difference between results from the various channels.

  5. #5
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    Hi, make sure to do a test with setting the negative carriers to different heights for sharpest scan. For example with the feet set to 0, +, and with no feet. You can also do a test with emulsion up and down. Compare the resulting files to see what differences you can detect.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  6. #6

    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    Quote Originally Posted by GSX4 View Post
    ...
    ...
    I have heard that scanning in color then filtering all but the green channel is another approach for Pyro or stained negatives? How do I set parameters for that? Or do I just scan in RGB color, and turn the red and blue channels down in photoshop post scan? Apologies for all these questions, but it's something I know I need to learn. Am I offbase with my approach? I appreciate any assistance!

    Andy
    In Silverfast, try this- On the "General" page hit the options button, then the Special tab.
    The channel you select for Color Filter is what will be used for grayscale scans, "Whilte" will be some mix of all channels. There has been some debate on this list about it, possible implying that it does not function with some scanner models, but it works as it should for me and I've used it with several scanners and Silverfast for about ten years.
    Which channel you should select depends on the scanner.
    Tyler

  7. #7
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning B+W Film

    Quote Originally Posted by GSX4 View Post
    I have some basic knowledge (enough to be dangerous :-) ). So I have 4x5 negs mounted in the standard film holders (not better scanning holders yet) I have heard both sides on whether to put the film emulsion side up, or emulsion side down, but do not know what is best to be honest.
    The way to gain more knowledge so as to not be so dangerous ;-) is to scan, and scan, and scan some more. The more you scan the better you get at scanning. Just like everything else.

    The thing about which side is up is interesting. Ideally you'd like the emulsion to be toward the sensor (emulsion down on a flat bed scanner). But it is perhaps more important for the emulsion to be in the exact plane of focus. And if that means you have to turn the film over and scan through the film support it's not such a bad thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by GSX4 View Post
    As for scanning parameters, I turned off all filtration, all sharpening, anything that could interfere with the image.
    The idea of "interfering with the image" is interesting. Depending on the scanner hardware and software, turning off everything may not be the best idea. Some scanner software is really good at what it does. The only way to know what works best with your setup is to try it and see.

    By "try it and see" I mean that you have to make scans, then make prints from those scans, and compare the prints. It is very difficult IMHO to make critical judgments from looking at scan files using just a monitor. Monitor and prints are just too different. But that's been discussed in depth before.

    Quote Originally Posted by GSX4 View Post
    I scan in 16bit grayscale mode at 2400dpi and save to TIF formatted file. Would using the multiple pass feature on both SF, and VS be of benefit? Or is this primarily for scanning color work?
    Multiple pass is generally used for high density range films. B&W films will likely benefit less from this. But... try it and see. Your setup might benefit from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by GSX4 View Post
    I have heard that scanning in color then filtering all but the green channel is another approach for Pyro or stained negatives? How do I set parameters for that? Or do I just scan in RGB color, and turn the red and blue channels down in photoshop post scan? Apologies for all these questions, but it's something I know I need to learn.
    It depends somewhat on the color of the stain. Which depends somewhat on the film and the developer. Most B&W films developed in non-staining developers respond well to scanning using just the green channel. Some film/developer combinations using staining developers also respond well to just the green channel. But some will benefit from scanning in 16 bit RGB and converting to grayscale in Photoshop.

    Again... try it and see. There are no easy answers. To get good at this, you have to do the work. And in scanning that usually means scanning the same negative over and over and over changing one parameter at a time to learn exactly what the parameters mean to your unique setup, so you can figure out how to optimize for your unique setup.

    Bruce Watson

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