# Thread: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

1. ## How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

I haven't studied this one much, but given one has a top flight scan of a well exposed neg, how much of that neg gets taken away from the scanning/processing of it into a file? In other words, say we look at the neg on light table...how much of the color/tones/shadows/information/etc. gets lost in the scanning process "and" does the scan actually make the neg look more "digitized" and not as "realistic" as the neg does?

2. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

It's part Quantitative and part Qualitative. Not just a one-sided coin.

Some say that enlarging is a destructive step - so they make contact prints. They're right to an extent. The question is, how big is that extent ?

Some will opine that there is no substitute for an analog image - just as some will say that no recording can capture the sound of a musical instrument. Ultimately, they are right, but Life is rarely ultimate

For the rest of us, the advantages of digitization and the subsequent adjustments that it affords, outweigh the minimal loss incurred.

3. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

Every process, analog or digital, is going to remove some of negative's information. But photo paper or inkjet can only reproduce a fraction of what is in the negative anyway so it's a moot point. The question is how to best distribute the tones that you can retain, most people can't do that well.

4. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

There's so much information in a negative that loosing a little of it in the digital or optical printing process is hardly noticeable.

The larger the negative, the more information it contains, and it can be enlarged, either by scanning or enlarging optically, to a much larger size.

Some people are skilled at determining whether a negative has been printed optically or digitally when examining a mounted print. Unless it was done badly, I cannot tell the difference.

5. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

Originally Posted by Frank Petronio
Every process, analog or digital, is going to remove some of negative's information. But photo paper or inkjet can only reproduce a fraction of what is in the negative anyway so it's a moot point. The question is how to best distribute the tones that you can retain, most people can't do that well.
Frank why do i always find myself agreeing with you , Ditto what he said (i just wish i had said it first) . Cheers Gary

6. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

Steals its soul.

7. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

My experience tell me it goes both ways. Some high frequency detail can be lost though that is usually only apparent with more than 3-4X enlargement.

On the other hand, digital editing can be much more precise than analog editing (basically waving a hand or a piece of card stock under the enlarger) and can provide much greater control of the distribution of tones.

Not "take away", but digital scanning is sensibly "different" than enlarging and better in some ways.

bob

8. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

Nothing is taken away from the negative, not by darkroom printing and not by scanning.

In both cases, something else is created from the negative. No reproduction is perfect, and if it was, you'd be right back where you started with a small negative with silver (or dyes) on film base.

It only makes sense to compare real uses and real final results, discussing abstractly only turns it into a game of defining what "information", "colors", "tones", "detail" etc. means. If you are not scanning, what do you would you do instead? Darkroom prints, projected slides, or is "looking on the light table" the final intended use?

9. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

It doesn't matter.

Are wesupposed to look at the print or the negative? Look at prints. If the prints are what you intended, then they are good. If they are not, keep trying and experimenting until they are. Sorta what Fred Picker and Paul Strand said.

10. ## Re: How much does the scan take away from the Negative?

A scan cannot cover the complete color gamut, only a small portion. Film covers the complete color gamut and more, therefore the use of Skylight 1A, Skylight 1B and Haze filters.

Other than that scans cannot reproduce the resolution of the film grain molecules.

So if color and resolution are not important to you, then scanning is the way to go.

Steve

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