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Thread: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

  1. #11

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    I downloaded Filmlab Desktop for a trial period, and it works surprising well. The newest version allows for the user to select one of several options to adjust for the scanner's backlight.

    So, I scanned and imported a color negative I took at Castle Crags State Park in northern California a couple of summers ago into the software. After some Photoshop post processing, I ended up with the following. I'm not going to be so glib as to call it art; but, it's not that bad. Note that the same image in Photoshop looks a lot better than what we see below. It's unlikely I could have some up with this image without using some sort of color negative convertor.

    I would call this a win for FilmLab.

    One negative about FilmLab; it exports in the sRGB workspace. Are you kidding me??? That's hard to believe.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails CastleCragsRockCropped.jpg  
    Last edited by neil poulsen; 11-Mar-2022 at 06:35.

  2. #12

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    I’d suggest you also download the trial version on Capture One. I can’t put the why into words, but I like the way it renders colors better than Photoshop. There are a lot of videos on how to get started.

  3. #13
    Niels
    Join Date
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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post


    It appears that FilmLab is a stand-alone product that converts scanned color negatives. Is this a decent product? It's a bit expensive: $249 per forever license. (But, worth it to me, if it works well.)
    I downloaded the unlimited 2 weeks trial version, and liked it so much that I got their forever license. You write $249, but as of writing this their website says $199.
    I got mine on a 20% off sale last year, don't remember if it was some Black Friday thing or if it was a coupon I got when the 2 week trial expired - always worth waiting a little after a trial period, sometimes the developers hope to nudge you into a buying decision with an offer.
    I am happy I bought it, but as my work method is to accumulate scans for processing, I think that "renting" the software for one or two months a year would have been equally economical and less committing - who knows what is available in 2-3 years from now?

    I do film photography partly because I already spend too much time behind computer screens. Fiddling with curves and layers is NOT my idea of fun. FilmLab has layout that you will quickly understand if you are familiar with darkroom work and as such the learning curve is very flat. There are things I'd like to see improved, and it is possible that things can be done better in one of the advanced photo editors, but over all I am happy with it as it is.
    ----
    Niels

  4. #14

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by nitroplait View Post
    I downloaded the unlimited 2 weeks trial version, and liked it so much that I got their forever license. You write $249, but as of writing this their website says $199. . .
    Yeah, I liked it as well.

    Still unanswered questions. For example, I will probably only use Kodak Portra, or less likely, Kodak Ektar film. So, what's the best scanning methodology? I scanned the the Castle Crags using no auto features. Just a straight scan. But, might I get a better image scanning in some other way, or pre-adjusting the image using the Scan Software in some way, or using Silver Fast, which I have, or . . .

    Have you tried Negative Lab Pro? If so, how does that software compare with FilmLab? And, I think that we can expect FilmLab to improve over time. Like rendering an image in Adobe RGB '98, vs sRGB. Boy, was that a let-down.

    Hmm. Apple, Studio . . .

  5. #15

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by j.e.simmons View Post
    I’d suggest you also download the trial version on Capture One. I can’t put the why into words, but I like the way it renders colors better than Photoshop. There are a lot of videos on how to get started.
    I indeed have Capture One on my system, the latest version that High Sierra will permit me to load. I use it to convert images from a P45+. Capture One CH (Cultural Heritage) has a negative convertor plugin that works with CO. So, that sounds quite interesting. But, it's limited to CH users; so, I'm trying to find out more about that.

    Huge learning curve, so I end up stumbling through CO getting to a final image. I have two hours training available to me from Digital Transitions and should take advantage of it. Wondering where I can get something more comprehensive? (San Francisco, or Seattle?) I've looked at the videos, and they're good. But, there's nothing like attending a class where one can have questions answered, etc. That's how I learned Photoshop, by attending a college course over a term, with assignments, etc.

  6. #16

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    The good old days of a permanent license are fast disappearing.
    I moved from Photoshop/Lightroom to Capture One a little over a year ago. I'd been considering the change for some time. I don't have a problem with Photoshop as software, but I increasingly felt like there was a question about who owned my computer, me or Adobe. I was offered a permanent Capture One license for US$50 in conjunction with the purchase of a new monitor, which cinched the deal. However, Capture One's pricing makes a subscription more attractive than a permanent license if one wants annual updates. Update every couple of years? That's financially unattractive too. Three days ago, Capture One said that it's releasing Capture One for iPad this summer. No announcement on cost to users, but I expect that this will also be structured to push current permanent license holders to subscription.

    I think we're at a point where developers offer permanent licenses as a way to build a client base, with the intention of making permanent licenses unattractive as soon as possible.

  7. #17

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    . . . I think we're at a point where developers offer permanent licenses as a way to build a client base, with the intention of making permanent licenses unattractive as soon as possible.
    One nice thing about it are the continued updates.

    I currently still use Creative Suite IV. It gives me all the fundamentals; but, there are some features on more recent versions that would be nice to have.

  8. #18

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Gimp takes a little learning, but it works.

  9. #19

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    One thing to be aware of with Capture One is that its annual subscription cost is significantly higher than the cost of Adobe's US$10/month Photoshop/Lightroom subscription. I think that this is one reason why people are at pains to argue that Capture One is "better" than Photoshop. Capture One's higher cost has to be justified somehow. Having transferred from Adobe to Capture One a little over a year ago, I'm not sold on this argument. I just got fed up with Adobe's aggressive presence on my computer, was offered an extremely attractive price, as part of a monitor purchase, on a permanent Capture One license, and figured that I'd try out the competition. I think that Capture One is good, but I'm not bowled over by it; and when it comes to metadata and cataloguing, it's not in the same league as Bridge. I use Photo Mechanic as an image database, so the latter isn't a significant issue for me.

  10. #20

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    Re: Software for Converting Scanned Color Negatives

    Adobe supports the latest 3 Mac operating systems. This means that the latest version of Creative Cloud, and Photoshop Elements need at least Mojave. You can still download an older Cloud version to run on older Macs, but you obviously won't get any of the newer features. It kinda defeats the point of having a yearly subscription service when you can't get the latest updates.

    Photoshop Elements doesn't need a subscription, and is not too expensive. The trick is finding a version that will work on your Mac. I have Photoshop Elements 2020, and it does support High Sierra, but it may be hard to find that version in 2022.

    I've been doing some experimenting with digital camera scanning of medium format negatives using multiple shots of small sections of the negative, and then stitching them together. This will work for large format too, and give you a very high resolution image.

    Photoshop Elements has a very nice image stitching feature built in. You can also do the negative to positive conversion in Elements as well. It may not be as easy as a dedicated neg pos conversion software, but it is very powerful software if you take the time to figure out how to do it. Once you get the technique down it becomes very easy to do the conversion quickly.

    The latest version of Gimp is another good choice, as others have suggested. Gimp is also free, so it's hard to complain about that. Gimp is also a very powerful tool, and it's not that difficult to do neg pos conversion, but it does require some self education. Some of the downsides to Gimp are that it doesn't have image stitching built in, and it doesn't support adjustment layers, or layer masks, whereas Elements does. Gimp does have layers and loads of adjustment features, however, but if you're addicted to Photoshop style layer masks and adjustment layers, then you might not be as comfortable with Gimp.

    Another free option is Krita. It works on both Mac and Windows. It was created more as a painting program, but it does have a lot of Photoshop like features, including something similar to adjustment layers in Photoshop. I haven't used it enough to form an opinion, but it's nice to have options.

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