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

  1. #41

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

    A negative is not yet anything in and of itself, unless you make the bizarre choice to exhibit backlit original negatives. It is only a step along the way to a final... something. Attempting to determine loss from that neg is a path requiring much more careful criteria. I'd think you have to decide what you want your final manifestation to be then study the best route to get there from the neg... it's called mastering your craft. Every option entails some kind of potential compromise I suppose, and you want a result that moves beyond calling attention to them. Many of the most beautiful processes we have throw something away during progress toward final.
    The post I put up some years back showing those comparisons was done for very specific reasons, none of them to make judgment unless on very strict and stated criteria. They have often been used for unintended purposes and many have criticized them based on their own agendas, but I hope they have been useful occasionally, they are losing relevance as technology progresses. But Paul is right, their relevance in this thread is minimal, without comparing to a "better" scan, or something that represents the unadulterated quality of the neg... and how can we do that without scanning it? The only peripheral relevance is that amongst the processes shown, scanned or not, there is loss amongst them all on paper, for what that's worth.

  2. #42
    tgtaylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area

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

    Quote Originally Posted by paulr View Post
    Well, the first example shows a direct comparison between a negative scan and a contact print on silver paper. The difference there is enormous. The scan pulls much more detail and tonal information than the contact printing process.

    And no, this tells you nothing about what the scan didn't recover. But it's a good comparison with what's traditionally been the best way to recover information from the negative. I don't know how you'd know what you're missing, besides comparing with ... a better scan.

    The first example is stated to be simply a "film scan" and not the output onto paper as is other examples are. A film scan is simply an enormous file of zeros and ones stored on a computer disk and would prove to be extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to compare with the actual negative which is a physical entity that you can hold up to the light, put on a light table, and analyze it with a loop or microscope. You can't do that with the scan of the negative. You have to first output it to some medium - paper or screen - to analyze it. Does the first example show "... much more detail and tonal information..." than the negative? You can't answer that without viewing the actual negative itself and not a scan of it outputted to another medium.

    What the examples do show is that the scan of the negative outputted to the analogue medium (the contact print) is superior to those digitally outputted. Does the scan of the contact print show "... much more detail and tonal information..." than those digitally outputted? You bet it does and the articles author clearly affirms that it does.

    Finally, a "scan" of an object (in this case a negative) cannot, be definition, be "better" than the original object itself. At it's best, a scan can only capture that what is there and nothing else. If it does, then you can be assured that it is artifact and not present on the original.


  3. #43
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

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

    There's actually one way in which a succession of better scans can be definitive. You need a series of scans (at least two), using equipment or methods that demonstrably differ in resolution, dynamic range, and gamut. If you get to a point where two of the scans show no difference in recoverable image information, you can assume that for all practical purposes you got everything ... unless mining more of the film structure and noise (grain, etc.) is for some reason important to you.

  4. #44

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

    the only point in this any more is to make insure the thread contains enough info for later reference from beginning to end. There is no conclusion to draw or further convincing possible. I think we're done?

  5. #45

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Findingmyway4ever View Post
    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 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?
    Too much!

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