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Thread: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

  1. #1
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    Hi Folks
    Couple of questions and observations.

    We are seeing a lot of historical film ( 70's,80's and 90's) trans and negative coming to us for scanning and print, which is in very , very poor shape with dust embedded deeply within. High resolution scans are revealing a nightmare .
    As well in my City the two best E6 labs stopped operation within two years of each other and the remaining labs quite frankly are shoddy at best. E6 film loaded with crap from the replenished lines.

    Is this becoming obvious in your area? Are you presoaking and washing film before scanning? if so are there worries about damaging old emulsion ?
    Are you charging for this service or simply dustbusting the crap away.

    This seems to be a more common problem, but I am worried about taking on the responsibility of washing historical film, that may be create a lawsuit .
    Today I am scanning and printing for a Museum show and the images are iconic and basically I have decided to dustbust rather than immerse the originals in any solution.

    Noise reduction is not an option at least for me, as I have not seen a way for PS to handle this properly, and I suspect the dirt is embedded in the emulsion.???

    I view this as a very ongoing problem and any thoughts or maybe some conservators would like to jump in and describe any safe methods of cleaning embedded dirt before hi rez scans.

  2. #2
    Just waiting to be developed..
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    Re: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    Hi Bob,

    Ive been in the same situation a number of times when we drum scan old film. This week even.
    The problem in rewashing as you said is the possibility of causing more damage.
    If the client will sign a release then we will do it. But here is the caveat, E-6 and C-41 are easy because the E-6 final rinse and C-41 stabilizer are still available.
    Older film like E-4, C-22....would be harder to rewash, the final rinse steps used formaldehyde and that not an easy thing to reformulate.
    I dont think photo flo is a good solution but if the client says its ok, then i would test one.

    99% of the time we just scan it and manually clean it up. Its a lot safer but takes time.
    If we do have to rewash, we will charge for it. If you are drum scanning, mineral oil has sometimes worked better then Kami on old film.
    Its much thicker and this is what they used in the 80's-90's (some still use it today). It may help to encapsulate some of the dust so it doesn't show up as bad in the scan.

    Im in NYC and the lab i use, LTI runs a very clean D&D E-6 and C-41 lines. Never had a problem with dust at all.
    I know this is not the case in other areas of the US and thats very sad.

    How are you cleaning the film before scanning? What fluid and wipe are you using?

    Best,
    ian
    -Ian Mazursky
    www.ianmazursky.com Travel, Landscape, Portraits and my 12x20 diary
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  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    Hi Ian

    I have just obtained an ICG Drum scanner which we did a lot of tests on. We are moving our company lock stock and barrel on Sept 1 , therefore I will set it up at the new space rather than move twice. I am not sure what cleaning fluids and mounting material the current owner uses.
    I have seen this problem rearing its head more lately and dust busting is ok, but when you have to spend more than an hour at it , I lose patience and feel there must be a better way.
    If its my film from our Jobo's I am pretty confident its clean as we only use oneshot for colour and black and white and they go into clean sleeves immediately.
    It is all the foreign film that comes to us from shops maybe not using one shot or keeping clean lines .
    I prefer not to clean or touch the film other than a slight dusting with air before scanning, but some of the film I have seen lately has been horrendous.
    I think we are going to put a disclaimer on this service as I can only see it getting worse.

    Bob

  4. #4

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    Re: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    In a thread I started a few months ago I asked who are the best labs in the USA and received quite a few recommendations. My wife prints for several artists and has been having a hard time finding a lab to recommend. The results after sending film to some of the recommended labs haven't been encouraging. A big problem seems to be embedded dust, most likely from failure to clean dryer air filters. We're not looking for cheap; we're looking for good. Cheap ends up costing more when the customer has to pay for an hour or more of retouching time to fix the lab's processing errors. Cheap's OK if you do your own retouching and your time is worth nothing.

  5. #5
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    Jim
    I have ran high quality E6,C41 labs in my past, you are right the main culprit is lazy technicians, not filtering or cleaning up the scum which attaches itself on the lift cycle coming out of the chems.
    I think that due to the rapid decline of film , specifically E6 transparancy, the best operators have decided that it is easier to close their E6 lines than keep them open and almost impossible to keep in control. These big refremas need film going through them and a very high level of quality control to give quality film to photographers.
    Without the volume it is not realistic to expect the quality levels we us to see 10 years ago.
    I am sure there are some lines that are properly maintained in NA by good operators but the numbers will definately shrink, specifically in the E6market.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
    In a thread I started a few months ago I asked who are the best labs in the USA and received quite a few recommendations. My wife prints for several artists and has been having a hard time finding a lab to recommend. The results after sending film to some of the recommended labs haven't been encouraging. A big problem seems to be embedded dust, most likely from failure to clean dryer air filters. We're not looking for cheap; we're looking for good. Cheap ends up costing more when the customer has to pay for an hour or more of retouching time to fix the lab's processing errors. Cheap's OK if you do your own retouching and your time is worth nothing.

  6. #6
    Eric Nelson
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    Re: 2009 Commercial Film Processing and Scanning Issues

    I called Kodak Professional a week ago with this very same problem. The slides I was scanning didn't warrant a drum scan so I was just using a dedicated film scanner that doesn't have Digital Ice. It was ugly. Tons of dust and scratches.
    Kodak recommended only wiping with a scanner wipe (or some such) with 98% isopropyl. They said running the film through Final Rinse after washing wasn't necessary, if I were to rewash, just Photo-Flo. From the quantity of dust I was seeing I knew isopropyl wasn't going to cut it.

    I also checked with a friend who used to run an excellent D&D for his stock repro company and he recommended isopropyl as well or if I really needed to rewash to use just Photo-Flo. I went the Photo-Flo route, soaking the film first in 90-ish° water, then into photoflo where I rubbed them gently 'tween the fingers, then rinsed and then into a clean photoflo bath before hanging to dry.

    I know the look you're getting quite well now and old slides, heck film in general just seems to collect dust. Sometimes they've been in slide trays, or slide pages and it seems neither is very good at keeping out dust. Even film in PrintFile neg pages are not impervious. At least the rewash did cut down on a lot of dust I was seeing. One slide had "sweated" for lack of a better term and that definitely needed rewashing.

    Now, I didn't go through these images and examine all of them super carefully before, but after washing, I did find a few very small spots of bright blue in a couple shadow areas of one image. These were my own ancient E6 slides (late 70's) so if I did that via washing, so be it. But for someone else's historical images, well I thought I should mention that. It may have been there before I rewashed...or not. It's easy enough to clean up in Pshop.

    I had to do a client job with equally dirty slides (if not more so), and I charged for my time to clean them up in Pshop. I didn't want to take the chance. In that respect one makes more $ from dirty originals which helps pay for the carpal tunnel treatment later. Asking the client if washing is an option would be my next choice as long as they sign off on it.
    In any event, it's no panacea as you can see from this 100% view of one of the washed 35mm slides.. http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z...Picture2-2.jpg

    Eric




    Quote Originally Posted by bob carnie View Post
    Hi Folks
    Couple of questions and observations.

    We are seeing a lot of historical film ( 70's,80's and 90's) trans and negative coming to us for scanning and print, which is in very , very poor shape with dust embedded deeply within. High resolution scans are revealing a nightmare .
    As well in my City the two best E6 labs stopped operation within two years of each other and the remaining labs quite frankly are shoddy at best. E6 film loaded with crap from the replenished lines.

    Is this becoming obvious in your area? Are you presoaking and washing film before scanning? if so are there worries about damaging old emulsion ?
    Are you charging for this service or simply dustbusting the crap away.

    This seems to be a more common problem, but I am worried about taking on the responsibility of washing historical film, that may be create a lawsuit .
    Today I am scanning and printing for a Museum show and the images are iconic and basically I have decided to dustbust rather than immerse the originals in any solution.

    Noise reduction is not an option at least for me, as I have not seen a way for PS to handle this properly, and I suspect the dirt is embedded in the emulsion.???

    I view this as a very ongoing problem and any thoughts or maybe some conservators would like to jump in and describe any safe methods of cleaning embedded dirt before hi rez scans.

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