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Thread: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

  1. #1

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    Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    I've been taking large format pictures for about two months now, using a DIY 4X5. At this point, I've shot and scanned 80 sheets or so, still very much on the steep slope of the learning curve.

    A persistent issue has been focus a little softer than I'd like. I think my skills are getting better, but it still seems no matter how well I think I've nailed the focus, the scanned negative is still kind of soft. The other day, I took a picture including a road sign with text near the limit of what I can resolve with my loupe (11x). I focused carefully until I could see the smallest line of text. On a light table, using the same loupe, the text was as clear on the negative as what I saw on the GG.

    Scanned on an Epson V700 with stock film holders, Epson software, 3200 dpi 16 bit grayscale, and the results were like this (100% crop):



    Again, on the negative all the text on the road signs is readable—on the scan, only the largest text is. Therefore, I assume I'm getting the focus right in camera, and this is an issue with the scanner.

    Unfortunately, the scanner isn't mine, so I don't have the ability to do maintenance, repair, or purchase aftermarket film holders. My question is, if I purchase a scanner in the future, say a V850, and use aftermarket holders, can I expect significantly better results? Or is this par for the course with prosumer scanners?

    Second question: I'm seeing dust and lint fibers on the image, some white, some black. Which are from dust/lint on the negative, and which are from dust/lint on or in the scanner? I know I can do a better job keeping dust out of my film holders and off the negatives when developing, but I'd like to know how much of this is a scanner issue.

    Any advice is much appreciated, as is patience with my beginner questions.
    David
    Comments and critique always welcome.

  2. #2

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    It’s likely the film is not at the exact plane of focus, and it is probably bowed in the stock Epson holder. But even accounting for that I don’t expect you will get a real 3200ppi out of the scanner., or a V850 if you were to buy one. But it should be good for 6x enlargements.

    When looking at the positive scan the black dust was from when you took the picture and the white is from the scanning step, or crud from development.

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    I suggest reading and following Ken Lee Scanning Tips.

    Ken makes the most sense to me and he posts famtastic images here.

  4. #4

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    Thanks, Larry and Tin Can--exactly what I was looking for. Ken Lee's scanning tips look great, and I'll try that today. On the plus side, I typically have fewer black dust spots and lint than white to correct, so perhaps I'm doing okay keeping stuff out of my film holders.
    David
    Comments and critique always welcome.

  5. #5

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    New scans look much better, thanks to Ken's tips. Plus, scanning at 2400 dpi means less thumb-twidling waiting for scan to finish. Only problem: now I've got 20 or 30 'decent' negatives I need to re-scan.
    Thanks again for the advice.
    David
    Comments and critique always welcome.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    Quote Originally Posted by DDrake View Post
    Only problem: now I've got 20 or 30 'decent' negatives I need to re-scan.
    What? Did you think you could get good at scanning without doing the work and making mistakes? Hehehe.

    The more mistakes you make, the better you get.

    If it makes you feel better, I've got some negatives I've scanned dozens (that's plural) of times trying to nail them. Anyone can make an acceptable drum scan, just like anyone can make an acceptable darkroom print. But it takes work, attention to detail, and a certain vision to be able to make excellent scans. Or darkroom prints. Or just about anything.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    fwiw, I scan all negs (35 up to 8x10) on my v700, with a piece of AN glass. Film goes emulsion down, and AN glass on top. As well as taming newton rings, it helps keeps negs flat. Downside, is two more planes for dust to cling to.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

  8. #8

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred L View Post
    fwiw, I scan all negs (35 up to 8x10) on my v700, with a piece of AN glass. Film goes emulsion down, and AN glass on top. As well as taming newton rings, it helps keeps negs flat. Downside, is two more planes for dust to cling to.
    It looks that you are always using the low resolution lens, as the high resolution lens is only used when a holder is detected. The high resolution lens may deliver more Image Quality, in special for 35mm and MF film this can be important.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    Assume nothing, perhaps he wants a certain effect. or not

    Sorry, I was just reading more on Pictorialism which I am interested in and last image I looked at was The Onion Field, Mersea Island, Essex (1890) Artist: George Davison

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    It looks that you are always using the low resolution lens, as the high resolution lens is only used when a holder is detected. The high resolution lens may deliver more Image Quality, in special for 35mm and MF film this can be important.

  10. #10

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    Re: Need help troubleshooting scanned negative IQ

    For the Epsons I also strongly recommend ditching the film holder that has the clear static electricity/dust magnet panel and picking up one of the older through hole 2 sheet holders from your favorite used goods reseller. That change alone made a world of difference in my results.

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