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Scanning Negatives and Slides

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250 pages

Many photographers have either moved into digital photography exclusively or use both analog and digital media in their work. In either case, there is sure to be an archive of slides and negatives that cannot be directly integrated into the new digital workflow, nor can it be archived in a digital format. Increasingly, photographers are trying to bridge this gap with the use of high-performance film scanners.



In this 2nd edition, you will learn how to achieve the best possible digital image from a negative or a slide, and how to build a workflow to make this process efficient, repeatable, and reliable. The author uses Nikon's film scanners, but all steps can easily be accomplished while using a different scanner. The most common software tools for scanning (SilverFast, VueScan, NikonScan) are not only covered extensively in the book, but trial versions are also provided on a DVD, which also contains other useful tools for image editing, as well as numerous sample scans.


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Scanning Negatives and Slides
nd2 EditionSascha Steinhof

Scanning Negatives
and Slides
Digitizing Your Photographic Archive
nd2 EditionSascha Steinhof, www.sascha-steinhof.de

Editor: Gerhard Rossbach
Copyeditor: Cynthia Anderson
Layout and Type: Stefen Kulpe
Cover Design: Helmut Kraus, www.exclam.de
Translation: Wilfried Bittner (1st Edition)/ Jeremy Cloot (2nd Edition)
Printer: Friesens Corporation, Altona, Canada
Printed in Canada

ISBN: 978-1-933952-30-7

2nd Edition © 2009 Sascha Steinhof
Rocky Nook, Inc.
26 West Mission Street Ste 3
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2432
www.rockynook.com

First published under the title “Digitalisieren von Dias und Negativen”
© dpunkt.verlag GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Steinhof, Sascha, 1975-[Digitalisieren von Dias und Negativen. English]
Scanning negatives and slides : digitizing your photographic archive / Sascha Steinhof. -- 2nd ed. p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-933952-30-7 (alk. paper)
1. Photography--Digital techniques.
2. Scanning systems.
3. Slides (Photography)
4. Photography--Negatives.
I. Title. TR267.S7413 2009 778--dc22
2008054557

Distributed by O’Reilly Media
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472-2432

All product names and services identifed throughout this book are
trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
Tey are used throughout this book in editorial fashion only and for the
beneft of such companies. No such uses, or the use of any trade name, is
intended to convey endorsement or other afliation with the book.
No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be
reproduced or utilized in any form, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without written permission of the copyright owner.V
Contents
Preface 1
1 Introduction 3
1.1 Analog and Digital Workfows ________________________________4
Analog Workfow for Negative Film ____________________________ 4
Analog Workfow for Slide Film _______________________________ 5
Hybrid Workfow: Shooting Analog, Scanning, Digital Processing ____6
Digital Workfow: Shooting and Editing _________________________ 8
1.2 Alternatives to the Film Scanner _____________________________ 10
Megapixel in Comparison: DSLR, Film Scanner, 35 mm Film _______ 10
Digital Single Lens Refex Cameras ____________________________ 12
Flatbed Scanners with Transparency Adapter ___________________ 13
Scanning Prints ___________________________________________ 17
Shooting a Projected Slide with a Digital Camera ________________ 18
Duplicating Slides with DSLR and Slide Copy Attachment _________ 18
Film Processing with Photo CDs _____________________________ 18
Kodak Picture CDs ________________________________________ 18
Fujicolor CD ______________________________________________ 19
Comparison: Photo CDs vs. Manual Scans ______________________ 19
Professional Scanning Services _______________________________ 22
2 Performance Characteristics of Film Scanners 23
2.1 Key Specifcations of a Film Scanner __________________________ 24
2.2 Scanhancer ______________________________________________ 39
2.3 Interfaces: Connection Between Scanner and Computer _________44
2.4 Life After the Purchase _____________________________________46
2.5 Wish List for Future Film Scanners ___________________________ 50
3 Scanning Film 53
3.1 Handling Film ____________________________________________ 54
Curled, Wavy Film _________________________________________ 54
Physically Removing Dust ___________________________________ 55
Inserting Film Correctly ____________________________________ 56
Finding the Emulsion Side ___________________________________ 56
Handling Film Strips _______________________________________ 56
Destroy Originals afer Scan? ________________________________ 57
3.2 Film Types _______________________________________________ 58
Color Negatives ___________________________________________ 58
Color Slides ______________________________________________ 58
Kodachrome Slides_________________________________________60
Black and White Negatives __________________________________60
Te Ideal Film for Scanning _________________________________ 61
Slide Mounts: Glass and Glassless _____________________________ 62
Glass Mounts _____________________________________________ 62
Glassless Mounts __________________________________________ 63VI Contents
4 File Formats 65
4.1 Digital Negatives _________________________________________66
4.2 Color Depth in Image File Formats ___________________________68
4.3 Important Image File Formats in the World of Scanning _________ 70
4.4 The Right Image Size and Resolution _________________________ 77
5 Color Management in Theory and Practice 81
5.1 Why Color Management? ___________________________________ 82
5.2 Basics ___________________________________________________82
5.3 Color Models _____________________________________________84
5.4 Color Spaces _____________________________________________86
5.5 ICC Profles _______________________________________________ 88
5.6 Monitor Calibration in Practice ______________________________ 92
5.7 Generating ICC Scanner Profles _____________________________ 97
6 Scanning Methods 99
6.1 Thumbnail Index – Filmstrip Ofset and Presorting ________ 100
6.2 Preview – Corrections Before the Scan _______________________ 100
6.3 Multi-Sampling/Multi-Exposure ____________________________ 105
7 Scanning Correction Filters in Detail 107
7.1 Dust and Scratch Removal in Software 108
SilverFast SRD ___________________________________________ 108
Si lverFast iSR D ___________________________________________ 110
7.2 Dust and Scratch Removal in Hardware ______________________ 112
Digital ICE ______________________________________________ 112
Silver crystals block infrared detection ________________________ 112
ICE and FARE for Kodachrome-Slides ________________________ 114
ICE and FARE for black and white negatives ____________________115
Infrared Clean – Scratch Removal in VueScan __________________ 116
7.3 Restoring Faded Colors ___________________________________ 117
TMNikon Scan: Digital ROC _________________________________117
VueScan: Restore Fading ____________________________________117
7.4 Grain Equalization _______________________________________ 119
Digital GEM _____________________________________________ 119
VueScan Grain Reduction __________________________________ 119
SilverFast GANE _________________________________________ 121
7.5 Highlight and Shadow Recovery ____________________________ 122
Digital DEE – Correction for Highlights and Shadows ___________ 122
SilverFast AACO – Autoadaptive Contrast Optimization _________ 122
8 Confguring the Scanning Software 123
8.1 Image Orientation _______________________________________ 124
8.2 Image Properties ________________________________________ 127
8.3 Color Balance ___________________________________________ 128
8.4 Unsharp Masking 131
8.5 Curves _________________________________________________ 132
8.6 LCH Editor ______________________________________________ 137
8.7 Analog Gain _____________________________________________ 141
9 Nikon Scan 143
9.1 Installation _____________________________________________ 144
9.2 Look and Feel ___________________________________________ 145Contents VII
9.3 Saving Confgurations ____________________________________ 149
9.4 Preferences _____________________________________________ 152
9.5 Color Management _______________________________________ 156
9.6 Documentation __________________________________________ 159
9.7 Conclusion ______________________________________________ 160
10 VueScan 161
10.1 Purchase and Installation _________________________________ 162
10.2 Look and Feel ___________________________________________ 163
10.3 RAW Data _______________________________________________ 170
10.4 Documentation _________________________________________ 172
10.5 Conclusion _____________________________________________ 172
11 SilverFast 173
11.1 SilverFast SE, Ai, Ai Studio and HDR _________________________ 174
11.2 Look and Feel ___________________________________________ 174
11.3 Set Basic Confguration with Options ________________________ 178
11.4 Image Processing ________________________________________ 181
11.5 RAW Processing with SilverFast HDR 181
11.6 Documentation __________________________________________ 184
11.7 Conclusion ______________________________________________ 184
12 Scan Workfows 187
12.1 Vital Corrections before Scanning __________________________ 188
Level Adjustment: Before or Afer the Scan? ____________________ 189
Drop-outs with 8-Bit ______________________________________ 189
Bigger Reserves with 12-Bit _________________________________ 189
12.2 Nikon Scan Workfow _____________________________________ 190
Scanning Slides Individually and with a Slide Feeder ____________ 190
Nikon Scan: Batch Scanning of Negatives with Filmstrip Adapter __ 191
12.3 SilverFast Workfow 192
Digitizing Black and White Negatives _________________________ 192
12.4 VueS can Workfow _______________________________________ 193
Scanning Single Slides ____________________________________ 193
VueScan: Scanning Negative Strips with the Filmstrip Adapter ____ 194
13 Nikon Capture NX 2 195
13.1 RAW Data Processing Using Capture NX 2 ____________________ 196
Diferences Between Capture and Photoshop & co. ______________ 196
Better than Adobe? _______________________________________ 197
13.2 The User Interface ________________________________________ 198
New Browser ____________________________________________ 198
Dynamic Palettes _________________________________________ 199
13.3 Important Features _______________________________________ 200
Te Crop Tool 200
D-Lighting : Successor to Digital DEE ________________________200
Lost Highlights and Shadows _______________________________ 201
Correcting Slanted Horizons ________________________________ 202
Before and Afer __________________________________________ 202
Selection Tools and Other Similar Functions ___________________ 203
Wedding Photos in RAW format _____________________________ 203
Control Points ___________________________________________ 204VIII Contents
Te Auto Retouche Brush __________________________________ 204
Limited Brush Confguration _______________________________ 204
No Downward Compatibility 204
Correcting Red-eye Efects in NEF Files _______________________ 206
Color Boost______________________________________________ 207
Photo E fe c t s _____________________________________________ 2 07
13.4 U Point T echnology _______________________________________ 208
Control Points Instead of Layers and Masks ____________________ 208
More Control Points = More Precision ________________________ 209
13.5 Grain, Noise, and Unsharp Masking _________________________ 210
An Alternative to GEM ____________________________________ 210
New Filters ______________________________________________ 210
14 Correcting with Photoshop and Photoshop Plug-ins 211
14.1 Dust and Scratch Removal _________________________________ 212
Removing Scratches with the Clone Stamp _____________________ 212
Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush _______________________ 213
Dust & Scratch Removal Plug-in from Polaroid _________________ 214
14.2 Image Corrections _______________________________________ 215
Correcting Perspective Distortion ____________________________ 215
Selectively Correcting Shadows and Highlights _________________ 216
Straightening Horizon _____________________________________ 217
14.3 Photoshop Plug-ins from Applied Science Fiction _____________ 217
Grain Removal with Digital GEM 218
Digital Fill-Flash with SHO _________________________________ 218
Restoring Colors with Digital ROC ___________________________ 219
Plug-in vs. Scanprogramm 219
14.4 Removing Color Casts ____________________________________ 220
14.5 M atch Color _____________________________________________ 222
14.6 Noise Reduction with Noise Ninja 223
14.7 tion with Neat Image __________________________ 224
15 Backup 225
15.1 Saved Does Not Automatically Mean Safe ____________________ 226
15.2 Backup to Hard Disk ______________________________________ 226
Backup to the Same Partition _______________________________ 226
Backup to an Additional Hard Disk __________________________ 226
15.3 Archiving on Removable Media ____________________________ 227
Optical Media: CD, DVD and Blue-ray ________________________ 228
Image Tape ______________________________________________ 228
15.4 Image Management ______________________________________ 229
Setting Up an Image Database – Folder and File Structures _______ 229
Cataloging with IPTC Data _________________________________ 230
Organizing Images with TumbsPlus _________________________ 231
Batch Renaming Files: LupasRename 232
Glossary 233
Resources 235
DVD 236
Index 237
Scanning Correction Filters Overview 2401
Preface
Dear Reader,
Digitizing slides and negatives is still a hot topic, which is why this book is already in its third edition in
Europe and its second in the US. Just about every home has its shoeboxes and slide magazines (and occasionally
more professional repositories) full of analog photographic treasures, just waiting to be rediscovered. Te
advantages of digital image processing are widely accepted these days, and anyone who owns a scanner can
use it to digitize their slides and negatives. Tis book w ill illustrate in detail all established scanning and
image processing techniques, and will help you to quickly achieve great results. Your choice of scan sofware
is just as important as good quality hardware, although the choice of commercial programs currently on
the market is limited to VueScan or SilverFast. In addition to these two specialized programs, most scanner
manufacturers bundle a proprietary sofware package with their scanner products, although these are not
usually particularly powerful or easy to use. Nikon Scan is the exception to the rule.
Just as in the digital photography world, the trend in scanning is moving towards the use of RAW data
formats. RAW fles include the complete, unaltered image data captured by the scanner’s image sensor (at least
in theory), but scanning is a complex subject and has plenty of its own idiosyncracies. Please take the time to
view the DVD included with this book, as it includes many high-resolution sample scans created using flm
and fatbed scanners from all the major manufacturers, and clearly illustrates the diferences in scan quality
that can be produced. I would like to thank all the readers who have provided me with feedback so far. You
can contact me any time through the www.slidescan.info website, and I am looking forward to reading all
your new comments and suggestions.
Sascha Steinhof Bangkok, January 2009
6 × 6 original negative Enlarged crop
Darkrooms are passé: the rise of digital image processing has made fumbling around with chemical baths a thing of the past. Modern
technology helps to make even 50-year-old negatives usable.
Picture: Siegfried Gromotka, um 19602
Manual correction RAW scan
The rather fat RAW scan is just the frst step. The fnal image is developed by stretching the
levels curve and by correcting the tonal curves. 3
Introduction
For some time now, the digital revolution has included
photography; the presence of conventional cameras in photo shops
is dwindling. Unjustly so, because photographers who want to
continue to work with flm can also enjoy all the advantages of
digital image processing by using a high-quality scanner.
Owners of an archive of slides or negatives can also beneft from
digitizing their existing collection. Despite the omnipresence
of digital photography, there are still good reasons to shoot on
flm. Tis chapter will compare the various working methods.
1
Contents
Analog and Digital Workfows
Alternatives to the Film Scanner4 1 Introduction
u For negative f lm, the processing lab is 1.1 Analog and Digital Workf ows
the key factor that determines the result
of the printed images. A nalog W orkf ow for Negative Film
ver years, or even decades, many photographers accumulate box es Of lled with countless negatives (although more professional stor age
containers are available, too). T e classic workf ow for negative f lm is
as follows:
r Exposure – although this is not as critical as with slide f lm
r Developing and printing
r Proper archiving
However, there are some drawbacks to working with negative f lm:
r Negatives age and fade over time
r Negatives scratch easily
r Each trip to the lab causes new scratches, and wear and tear on the
negatives
r It can be dif cult to locate a particular image within a large archive
r Customized image processing is possible only in one’s own
darkroom
T e lab work is crucial to the f nal result. But many photographers
neith er do their own processing nor do they deal with professional
labs. T ere fore, it is questionable whether the printed image meets their
expec tations. Even if the lab does a good job, there is still some latitude
for variations.
T e default settings of one-hour labs are generally suitable for typical
snapshots from a holiday on the beach. It is a dif erent story for photos
taken in nonstandard lighting conditions. High-key, low-key, or sunset
pictures of en do not work well with the lab’s default settings. Standard
lab settings are adjusted for an average gray value, which can ruin the
intended mood and render the prints unusable. Even when reordering a
print from the same photo lab, the result is rarely identical to an earlier
print. Only in a custom darkroom can all the parameters be controlled
Images: Nikon, Fuji1.1 Analog and Digital Workfows 5
to create the desired image. To make a long story short, only with a per- u The untreated negative shows
sonal darkroom can one beneft from all advantages of negative flm. inverted colors: on flm, the white
signboard is black.
Analog Workfow for Slide Film
Te typical workfow for slide flm difers from negative flm in a few
important points. It looks roughly like this:
r Accurate exposure is necessary; slide flm is not forgiving
r Filmstrips are cut and framed
r Te framed slides are flled into slide trays
r Te images can now be projected or viewed on a light tablet u After inverting the colors, the
signboard becomes white, but there is
Tis conventional practice has disadvantages: still the orange masking.
r Slides age and fade
r Slides get scratches, although they are less delicate than negatives
r For frequent slide shows, duplicates are needed because slides fade
easily in the intense light of the projector; this is especially a concern
for Kodachrome slides
r It is time-consuming to fnd a particular slide in a large collection
r Rearranging a slide show takes a lot of efort; to run more than one
slide show simultaneously, duplicates are needed u When converting to positive, the color
r It is almost impossible to post-process slides characteristics of the flms need to be
considered.
Te biggest problem with slides is that they can hardly be
post-processed. Poor exposure or a color cast can only be corrected with great
difculty. On the other hand, an underappreciated advantage is that the
lab can do very little wrong during the processing of slides. Te result
is pretty close to what the camera produced. Tis tight control over the
created image is a signifcant reason why ambitious photographers
prefer slide flm to negative flm.6 1 Introduction
Hybrid W orkf ow: Shooting Analog, Scanning, Digital
Processing
In recent years computer technology has advanced dramatically. Today,
a standard PC actually delivers what the computer manufacturers
promised more than 10 years ago: high-quality digital image processing.
For those who still shoot on f lm, the question remains how to best get
the slides and negatives into the computer.
A standard PC and a f lm scanner are all the hardware needed to
achieve this, and the investment is manageable. T e key to good quality
scans is in the skill of the user. Satisfying results can only be achieved
with extensive study of the matter.
Of course a quick scan is possible, but the results generally will be of
poor quality. Photographers who spend a lot of ef ort to take quality
pictures with f lm cameras will be unable to avoid familiarizing themselves
with the subject of scanning. Only then will they be able to transfer the
quality of their f lm-based images to the digital world.
Just like the skill of taking pictures, the skill of scanning f lm needs to
be acquired f rst, in order to get good results. Suf cient time for
acquiring this skill should be allowed.
T is mix ed w o rkf ow – shooting analog, scanning, digital processing
– is also called hybrid photography. It of ers all the advantages of digital
image processing:
r “ Digital negatives” don’t age, scratch, or fade
r A well-maintained image database can retrieve images in a matter of
seconds
r Digital images are easy to edit
r Digites are easily turned into slide shows or galleries
r Digital images are easily sent over the Internet
r Digites don’t need to be touched up by the photo lab; the
photographer has almost full control over the f nal image
s The f lm processing lab has no margin r It is possible to make lossless backup copies of the images
for variation: with slide f lm, the result
from the lab is exactly what the camera
produced.
Images: Nikon, Fuji1.1 Analog and Digital Workf ows 7
However, there are a few disadvantages:
r Scanning is time-consuming and fairly complex
r T e image information of the f lm cannot be read without loss;
unavoidably, there are losses in the transfer from analog to digital
r Scratches, dust, and other blemishes cannot always be removed from
the f lm automatically during the scan (post-processing is a solution
here)
r Not all types of f lm are equally suitable for scanning
To sum up, there are many good reasons for digitizing your f lm
material, so don’t put it of much longer. T e latest high-grade f lm scanners
do a f ne job of extracting the image information from the f lm material.
Unlike with an analog workf ow, all relevant parameters for image
quality can be def ned on the computer. When ordering prints from a lab,
using digital images leads to signif cantly better results than working
from negatives. In addition, there are no more annoying scratches and
f ngerprints, which usually further damages the negative with every trip
to the lab.
In the early days of digital photography, when digicams were as
expensive as picture quality was poor, there were many photo enthusiasts
who propagated hybrid photography as the best solution for
qualityconscious people. Since then, however, much has happened in the world
of photography and there are only a few who still shoot pictures on
oldfashioned f lm. We are living in a fast world, and nobody has the time
to scan f lmrolls all evening. Due to this, everybody has a digital camera
and hybrid photography is only important for archiving purposes.
s Home users can explore digital image
processing with a desktop f lm scanner.
Images: Nikon, Fuji, HP8 1 Introduction
Digital Workfow: Shooting and Editing
Purely digital workfow requires that images be generated and processed
digitally. Technically this is desirable because it eliminates the
potentially degrading analog to digital conversion between image and image fle.
However, for practical photography, there are a few limitations:
r Tere is still no common standard for a “digital negative”
r Existing equipment for analog SLR camera systems can only be used
with certain restrictions
r High-resolution digital cameras with a full format sensor are
signifcantly more expensive than analog cameras, although prices keep
dropping (in addition, there are fewer analog cameras available)
Still, the advantages are undeniable and have led to the unstoppable
success of digital photography:
r Digital images can be edited directly on the computer
r Subsequent quality-degrading steps of Analog/Digital (A/D)
conversions of the picture are eliminated
r No more burning flm – memory cards are much less expensive in the
long run
r Te picture can be checked immediately afer it has been taken – good
cameras have a built-in histogram display for checking the exposure
An ofen-underappreciated beneft of the hybrid workfow over the
digital workfow is having a tangible piece of flm. In addition to the
digital image fle, there is always the analog backup. As long as there is
u Digital cameras no longer capture no cross-platform standard for fle formats and storage media, this is
the image on flm, but through either a a major advantage over the purely digital workfow. With technology
CMOS or CCD sensor chip (here Nikon constantly progressing, digital images must be periodically transferred
D2H). Sooner or later, this technology will onto diferent backup media. Neglecting this step can cause the data
completely replace 35mm flm. to become unreadable or completely lost. As an example, in the early
nineties home computers had foppy disks, then came CD-ROMs, and
now we have DVDs, external hard disks, and USB (Universal Serial Bus)
thumb drives. A current computer system can no longer read the types
of media that were common in the mid-eighties.
Analog images must merely be stored dry and free of dust; no other
measures are needed. However, if you store both a slide tray and a DVD
with image fles in the attic and 30 years later someone fnds them, the
chances are low that the image fles on the DVD can still be used –
provided that the DVD can still be read at all. Te slides, on the other hand,
will be slightly faded, but with recognizable images.
Te digital photography boom has raised the level of image quality
and availability to a level unimaginable to most amateurs in the old,
analog photography world. Te price for this ease of use is ofen paid
with fawed or faulty data storage, and there is still no digital storage
u From the digital camera or scanner method that is as robust as conventional camera flm. In 2008, for
exdirectly to the lab: now most photo labs ample, lost pictures taken over 70 years ago by the legendary Magnum
ofer a digital printing service. photographer Robert Capa turned up largely unharmed afer decades
Image: Nikon
Image: Fuji1.1 Analog and Digital Workf ows 9
of storage in a suitcase. Digital images would certainly not have been u A digital workf ow allows lossless
able to survive that long without being professionally archived. T ere transfer of images from camera to PC.
are services that of er to expose your digital pictures on slide f lm for
archiving purposes. But to be completely on the safe side, neither analog
nor digital photography is useful anyway. For maximum durability, you s The digitizing of archive material is
should do as in Egypt: carve your information in a solid piece of stone of ever-increasing importance (Image:
and bury this in a protected place in your garden. Siegfried Gromotka, around 1960). 10 1 Introduction
u Nikon D300: 12.3 megapixels u The quality of the lens essentially
and continuous shooting of six determines the efective resolution, both for
frames per second. flm and digital cameras.
1.2 Alternatives to the Film Scanner
Scanning flmstrips with a flm scanner is time-consuming and has a
steep learning curve. Because not everybody has the time, knowledge,
or hardware needed, let’s discuss the possible alternatives.
Megapixel in Comparison:
DSLR, Film Scanner, 35 mm Film
Quite ofen, only the nominal resolution is considered when comparing
DSLR, flm scanner, and 35mm flm. According to this criterion alone,
analog cameras would come out on top. However, it is not that simple.
For a DSLR, the sensor and the lens determine the resolution of the fnal
image. Tis limiting factor is always the weakest link in the camera-lens
combination: if you mount an inferior lens on an excellent DSLR, the
sensor cannot utilize its maximum resolution.
It‘s all about the lens
Only high-grade lenses have enough quality reserves for a good
DSLR. Te resolution of current 35mm DSLRs is between 6 and 16 MP.
Lens aberrations are very noticeable with DSLRs. Unlike an image from
an analog camera, the digital image is usually examined at maximum
size on the computer monitor. To notice such aberrations on a 35mm
slide, it would take a high-power loupe. Scanning flm is a more
complex issue. Here the image is generated in two steps: frst, the subject is
shot on 35mm flm, and then this image is scanned. Terefore, we have
to look not only at the quality of the material to be scanned, but also
at whether the scanner is capable of capturing the image adequately.
For the resolution of the flm – let’s say 35mm flm – the combination
of flm and lens is crucial. A hig h-quality, fne-grain 35mm flm has a
Image: Nikon
Image: Nikon1.2 Alternatives to the Film Scanner 11
resolution corresponding to 40–60 MP. Standard flm has a substantially The nominal resolution of a scanner
lower resolution, which corresponds to around 20–30 MP; but even that is often the single most important
resolution can be achieved only with high-quality lenses. Simple lenses purchase criterion for the layman.
achieve a resolution of approximately 10 MP; only high-grade lenses For this reason, manufacturers
(eswill surpass 20 MP. Te popular amateur zoom lenses are typically infe- pecially those of lower quality
scanrior to the optical performance of comparable prime lenses. More than ners) tend to advertise their products
likely, the majority of amateur pictures have a resolution of less than 20 using improbably high resolutions.
MP. Plustek, for example, advertises
resolutions of up to 7200 dpi which
are rarely actually achieved. Further-Efective Scan Resolution is Crucial
more, a resolution of more than
Te efective resolution of a flm scanner is potentially a bottleneck that 4000 dpi is not actually necessary for
can limit the resolution of the image. Currently most high-quality flm most practical purposes.
Artifcialscanners have a resolution of 4000 dots per inch (DPI or dpi), which ly high resolutions also lead to
uncorresponds to around 20 MP. If you choose a flm scanner that not only necessary use of additional storage
promises this resolution on paper, but can also scan it optically, then loss resources.
in image resolution will not be noticed.
Tere are already 35mm flm scanners with 7200 dpi, which
corresponds to a resolution of 70 MP. To fully utilize this dpi, the slide or
negative has to be of excellent quality, which means a fne-grain flm
exposed with a very sharp lens. Te same is true for the scanner. It not
only has to have a high-resolution sensor but also excellent optics.
I am not aware of any current desktop flm scanner that in actual use
resolves more than 4000 dpi. For most source material, a resolution of
2900 dpi would be sufcient. Also, keep in mind that fle sizes get very
large with increasing resolution, especially with medium and large
format scans. With fle sizes of over 200 megabytes (MB), image processing
will be very difcult on a regular home PC. When choosing the suitable
scan resolution, the entire workfow has to be considered.
Meanwhile, professional DSLRs have approached the nominal
resolution of far less expensive analog cameras. For example, the Canon
EOS 1Ds Mark II is ftted with a full-frame sensor which has a nominal
resolution of 16.7 MP. According to the tests in www.dpreview.com, the
actual resolution is only 2800 lines horizontally and 2400 lines vertically.
Tus, the high nominal resolution translates into an actual, measured
resolution of only 6.7 MP. A similar ratio between nominal and measured
resolution applies to all models of digital cameras.
6 MP Easily Beats 20 MP
When comparing image quality between scanned analog images and
digital images, it is not sufcient to only consider nominal resolutions.
Te degree of quality loss that occurs during flm scanning depends on
various factors such as scan density and flm fatness. But keep in mind
that there is always a loss when converting analog to digital. Due to this,
even a 6 MP DSLR is superior to a 4000 dpi (20 MP) scan in most cases,
despite the nominally lower resolution.12 1 Introduction
r Looking just at the numbers for the
near future, flm scanners will nominally
remain far superior to amateur DSLRs
– such as the Nikon D70 or D70s.
Digital Single Lens Refex Cameras
Some years ago there was an ongoing battle among photographers as to
whether analog or digital cameras would be the best choice for superior
quality. According to current sales fgures, this battle has been won by
digital cameras, but the technology still has some limitations.
Digital cameras are without discussion the best for product shots and
other technical pictures. For portraits, it is a complete diferent story.
On the one hand, the skin tones of the digital image are rarely as
expected; on the other hand, the faithful and accurate digital reproduction
is not always fattering to the subject, since even the slightest skin
imperfection will be precisely recorded. Terefore, in the area of portrait
photography, many professionals still prefer flm for its very particular,
slightly grainy appearance.
Te other weak point of digital photography is the always touchy
subject of data backup. In the hybrid workfow, there is always the
original flmstrip to go back to, but with digital photography all will be lost
should the computer crash one day. It remains to be seen how
“futureproof ” digital images will be.
A 50-year-old negative can still be processed today without any
problem. Tis may in the future not be the case for all of today’s popular fle
formats. Image fles without backup can be quickly and permanently
lost in a computer crash, while slides and negatives have shown more
robustness over the last decade.
And last but not least, there is one crucial reason why even the latest
u The sensor of a DSLR does not refect digital camera will never be able to replace a scanner. It has no go-back
light the same way as flm (here Nikon button; you cannot use it for pictures of your own childhood or
anyD2H). For this reason, the TTL metering thing else that happened in the past. Due to this, you will sooner or
of older fash units does not work on later need to make use of a scanner. Digital cameras are great, but not of
modern digital cameras.(Image: Nikon) much use when you are digitizing your analog archives. 1.2 Alternatives to the Film Scanner 13
l The Epson Perfection V700 is not
quite as good as a flm scanner, but it is
clearly better than a traditional fatbed
scanner. For medium format, it is a viable
alternative.
Flatbed Scanners with Transparency Adapters
Flatbed scanners have developed enormously over the last few years.
Tey were originally developed for scanning documents. But, fatbed
scanners have achieved a resolution which is unnecessary for scanning
documents alone. Tere are many models with transparency units that
allow the scanning of flm. At present, this technology remains inferior
to specialized flm scanners.
However, fatbed scanners are faster than flm scanners, an advantage
not to be underestimated. Tough fatbed scanners advertise resolutions
of up to 4800 dpi, tests show that this is incorrect. Flatbed scanners that
boast a nominal resolution of 4800 dpi can actually only capture 1700
dpi from a transparency. At that resolution, a 35mm slide can only be
enlarged up to 5" × 7" at 300 dpi. Also, the color and contrast do not
come close to what you can expect from a good quality flm scanner.
Please compare the scanned fles on the DVD accompanying this book.
For scanning medium- and large-format flm, the maximum
resolution is not so critical, since the flm size is several times larger than
35mm flm. Average fatbed scanners have a glass stage for holding the
originals. However, this glass plate reduces the optical performance of
the scanner. In a dedicated flm scanner, there is no glass between sensor
and medium. Tis is the reason that, for the foreseeable future,
conventional desktop fatbed scanners will not match the performance of
dedicated flm scanners. Epson tried to improve the unsatisfactory
performance of fatbed scanners with a new design approach. Te
Perfection V700 has a separate lens for scanning flm. It achieves an efective
resolution of 1920 × 1770 dpi and a maximum density (Dmax) of 3.4,
which is just below a good flm scanner.
Even the best fatbed scanners cannot achieve the quality you can
obtain using a specially designed flm scanner, but they are more fexible
when it comes to the sizes and formats of originals that can be scanned.
If you only want to scan negatives and slides, you are better of using a
flm scanner, whereas fatbed is better if you need to scan varying
formats. Ideally, you should have both types for use in diferent situations.
Images: Epson14 1 Introduction
Nikon Coolscan 5000: The dedicated flmscanner points out details very clearly and
produces consistently vivid colors.1.2 Alternatives to the Film Scanner 15
Epson V750 Pro: At frst glance, this fatbed scan appears to be of good quality, but a direct comparison to the
Nikon (left side) shows a lack of sharpness and less accurate color reproduction. 16 1 Introduction
Scan of a 4" × 6"-print: Leaves barely show details.
Scan of the corresponding negative: Even the subtle grain of the leaves is visible.

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