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Thread: cheapest way to scan negatives?

  1. #11

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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    I only meant for you to shoot the neg on a lightbox for your quick and dirty proofs. The flatbed without backlight won't work. But these recommended scanners sound like what you really will need if you aren't going to do wet darkroom work. If you are going to do wet darkroom work you could make 8x10 prints and scan them on the reflection flatbed.

  2. #12

    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by twiztedtony View Post
    This looks like the cheepest way here!
    I usually use 5x7 but
    i lke 8x11 because then u can use that foto and edit it without the worry of
    distortion..
    But, as I asked earlier, what is the point of using a white sheet of paper on top when in fact scanners have a white ceiling?! And why would there be a difference between using 5x7 or 8x11?--there's definitely something I'm missing here that is not being explained. What are you talking about?

    As for using a transparency holder with light, is all I need is this device to put over the negative? In that case I may be able to find one like I had for my old HP ScanJet 5370C which included a transparency lightbox thing up to 5x5. Or would this not work with my scanner for some reason (i.e. because it needs to tell your scanner not to light it from under but only use the light above?)

    Am I correct? I just need some help understanding this. And why would two people suggest a white piece of paper when in fact the ceiling is white? What's the point?

  3. #13
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Hi, you are correct in that you don't need the paper if your lid is white inside. I have tried that method and it doesn't work too well. Also putting a lid light source on a scanner not designed for it doesn't work very well.

    In my opinion, taking a digital camera picture of the negative on top of a lightbox or improvised light source such as translucent plexiglass would work fine for proofing. Then you can invert the image in photoshop to view it.

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

  4. #14
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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    The difference is between a photo copier and photo scanner.

    The light in a copier is reflected back onto the scanning head. The light in a scanner is transmitted through the negative or transparency onto the scanning head.

    You need a photo scanner, such as the Epson 4990, in order to properly scan negatives and transparencies into the digital realm.

  5. #15

    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    The difference is between a photo copier and photo scanner.

    The light in a copier is reflected back onto the scanning head. The light in a scanner is transmitted through the negative or transparency onto the scanning head.

    You need a photo scanner, such as the Epson 4990, in order to properly scan negatives and transparencies into the digital realm.
    Thank you for clearing that for my Gem Singer.

    Maybe I should rethink my question. My intent was to ease my learning curve not making my own contact prints, and to save money with those chemicals and paper. Throwing an enlarger in the mix doubles that, not to mention I live in a TINY NYC apartment with my fiance, my bathroom is smaller than most closets. Can't imagine an enlarger is an option.

    If I were to make contact prints, would they be more impressive than anything I could possibly make by scanning with the Epson 4990? Maybe I should consider learning to do contact prints. If I want enlargements I could scan the contacts.

    If you had the option of scanning a negative with an Epson 4990 or making a contact print, which do you feel offers best image quality? Which would you choose?

  6. #16
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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    The quality of a wet contact print and a dry digital print, made from a negative that has been scanned with a high quality photo scanner and edited it in Photoshop, is rapidly equalizing due to tech advancements.

    However, scanning and Photoshop skills require a steep learning curve in order to master them.

    A high quality flat bed scanner, inkjet printer, paper, and ink requires a much larger dollar investment than a simple set up for contact printing (think Edward Weston).

    However, enlarging a print on a photo copier will not give you the same quality as a wet print that was made with an optical enlarger.

  7. #17

    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    The quality of a wet contact print and a dry digital print, made from a negative that has been scanned with a high quality photo scanner and edited it in Photoshop, is rapidly equalizing due to tech advancements.

    However, scanning and Photoshop skills require a steep learning curve in order to master them.

    A high quality flat bed scanner, inkjet printer, paper, and ink requires a much larger dollar investment than a simple set up for contact printing (think Edward Weston).

    However, enlarging a print on a photo copier will not give you the same quality as a wet print that was made with an optical enlarger.
    Making an enlargement on my own may be out of the question, but I could always take the original negative into a shop here in NYC should I take an exceptional photo and want it enlarged.

    I know Photoshop fairly well already (being I shoot digital normally, I'm new to 4x5 film). As for a high quality scan, my question is making a contact print versus the highest possible scan an Epson 4990 could do (not a HQ drum scan).

    Are you considering an Epson 4990 scan high quality? Or would it's capabilities be inferior in IQ/resolution to a contact print?

    Sorry to run in circles, here. I know there are many variables, but we need to keep in mind the limited resources I began the topic about.

  8. #18

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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    I have shot negatives on a light table (or against a light blue sky on a window). This works if you just want to see the image, or post it on a website, and if you set it up carefully you can achieve digital camera quality. Also, I often use my cell phone to pre-view negatives as they hang to dry. In the custom options I set the phone to "negative", then view the negative, which of course yields a positive. Not very useful, but satisfies curiosity.

    4x5 contacts can look rather nice, and are easy as heck to make even in a closet. All you need is a four watt light, three small trays, chemicals and paper. A safelight is also very helpful, but not necessary. When I was in Indonesia recently I set up in a closet under the stairs, made a safelight from a red christmas bulb and a red plastic sandwich box, and cranked out 4x5 contacts for my relatives. It is easiest to have 4x5 paper, as you can adjust time for each shot, but you can lay four on an 8x10 if the exposure is similar, or for proofing.

  9. #19
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    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Your original question was "what is the cheapest way to get negatives into a computer".

    I stand by my answer, an inexpensive flatbed photo scanner, such as a used Epson 4990. However, cheapest isn't necessarily the best way to obtain high quality results.

    I did not say that a scanned negative was as good as, or better than, a contact print. That is a subjective judgement on the part of the individual.

    If you have Photoshop skills, using an Epson 4990 to scan negatives can produce very high quality results. Of course the skill level of the person who scans the negative and prints it digitally has a great deal of influence on the final result.

    If you decide to contact print your 4x5 negatives, the resulting 4x5 prints can be very high in quality. However, making enlargements of those prints with a photo copier can be very disappointing.

    That's the best answer I can offer.

  10. #20

    Re: cheapest way to scan negatives?

    Thank you both for your suggestions. I know a lot goes into this and the answer isn't always straight forward. I appreciate you taking the time to give me your feedback.

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