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Thread: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2018
    Somewhere between SoCal & Norway

    Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    Hope this is the right sub forum, or the mods can move it if not.

    I'm trying to streamline my workflow, primarily with medium format, but also 5x4, when it comes to black and white and colour negative shoots. Remember when we used to get proof sheets when you'd develop a roll or 10 of film and they'd do a quick contact sheet so you could see at a glance which ones you wanted to further explore and perhaps print? That doesn't seem to happen anymore, or they want $15-20 to scan each roll on top of developing, which adds up quickly when I shoot a few bricks or more on a trip.

    Up to now I've had my son use his DSLR to photograph each frame on a light table, but it takes a lot of time and is unwieldy. The obvious next step to me is to cut the neg strips and put them in clear storage sleeves, then photograph each sleeve as a whole on the light table, possibly with a piece of plexiglass or glass on top to keep it flat. Same with 5x4, 4 shots in each sleeve.

    Before I go there, I wanted to ask what others are doing to create quick, low res proof sheets to review their shots. There may be other ways I haven't considered. I don't currently have a scanner, sold the Cannon 9950F I had when I moved to the US, but still have my VueScan license and could consider picking up a new scanner if that's an easier/better way. Just want to get this set up so that it's quick and effective, and allows me to get an overview of everything from different shoots and help inform me as to which shots are worth following up with an actual high res (optical or digital) print.

    I do not have a darkroom anymore (sold my DeVere 504 colour enlarger when I moved to the USA, along with all the related gear, but did keep my developing kit), nor do I have access to one, otherwise I would consider doing actual proof sheets that way. (As a tangent, does anyone know of labs in the Los Angeles area that allow people to rent time or come in and spend an hour here and there for things like this?)

    Thanks for any suggestions and ideas you can share!
    Last edited by 6x6TLL; 10-Feb-2024 at 17:29.

  2. #2
    Pieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    I use an epson v600 to scan the negs in a storage page. I have to do 3 scans per page the assemble them in photoshop, so it's not exactly the quickest or easiest way to go. I would think shooting the page on a light table/box with a digital camera would be fine if the resolution is OK. I scan my sheets at 600dpi, and that works great to print a contact sheet and for computer viewing. Of course, there's always a contact printer, relatively cheap and easy if you have a darkroom. Especially since you say you shoot a few bricks at a time, so the set-up in the darkroom is worthwhile.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Jersey

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    I have an older Epson 4990 scanner with VueScan. I keep my 120 format negatives and 4x5 negatives in the appropriate PrintFile pages, so I just lay the PrintFile page flat on the glass and scan in VueScan as "8x10 Transparency." Quick one-pass contact sheets, although I import the file into Photoshop Elements to tweak the contrast before printing. I'm sure you can print directly from VueScan if you want to skip the 2nd step. I store everything in 3-ring binders, the PrintFile negative pages next to the scanner contact sheet.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    Easy peasy to do - here is a proof sheet made using the film area guide on an Epson V750...

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Los Angeles

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    FYI, rents darkroom time, 3 hour blocks $50 includes paper, chemicals, etc. located just south of the 10 freeway in downtown LA.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    I scan PrintFile sheets of 35mm, MF, and 4x5 on a flatbed scanner, print each page on cheap glossy paper, then file each print with the appropriate negative page. For 8x10, I just lay the film on the glass, scan, print, and file. Since you still have a Vuescan license, you could pick up an old flatbed scanner for little money. You might, also, think about just snapping a picture with your phone of the negative sheet on a light source.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Northern Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    I get decent results shooting the Print File page on a light box with a digital camera. Then view them on my monitor. I shoot through a 3/16 inch glass pane. It's the least costly option.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    I use the Smart Convert app by on my iPhone, which only costed €9,99.

    It is easy and can be used in the darkroom, simply lay the negative(-s) on a LED light pannel and press the red button,
    The app immediately converts the negative image to a positive, and with the zoom function of the iPhone you can enlarge a detail, works in colour and B&W.
    You can even fill the light pannel with several negatives and make something that looks like a (digital-)contactsheet.

    When the image needs to be saven on a computer (where Photoshop can be involved if needed), then transfer it via Dropbox.

    It's not the scanner quality, ba far, but it's very practical, fast and cheap...

    PS: I am not affiliated with

  9. #9
    Nicholas O. Lindan
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    My experience with digital proofs is that it is a PITA compared to the traditional darkroom method.

    It doesn't take much of a darkroom to make proof sheets: a few trays, a red led Christmas light ... Blacking out a room becomes much easier at night.
    Darkroom Automation / Cleveland Engineering Design, LLC
    f-Stop Timers & Enlarging meters

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    New York

    Re: Digital Proof Sheets for 5x4 and medium format nagative film?

    Having made proofs with both an Epson V750 and a low wattage light hanging from a bathroom ceiling, the Epson is plainly easier and faster. However, the V750's successor, the V850, costs US$1300 plus tax. I don't know much about the V600, but at US$350 the price is more palatable and it sounds like it might be fine for 35mm and medium format proofs.

    Yesterday, in another thread, Andrew O'Neill said of the V600 "We use the V600 for the photo program at the school I teach at (for film and prints). Does an admirable job."
    Last edited by r.e.; 21-Feb-2024 at 12:04.
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