Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camera)

Minolta scanners, scanner support and replacement choices
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bakubo
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Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camera)

Unread postby bakubo » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:39 pm

Over the last 3 months I have been scanning a bunch more of my old 35mm slides and negatives using my Minolta Dimage Scan Elite film scanner and Vuescan scanning software. It produces a 10mp image. From 1998 until a few months ago I had little by little scanned about 3500 slides/negatives. During the last 3 months of concentrated effort I have scanned an additional 6000+. I expect to do a few more over the coming weeks so the total from when I first started in about 1998 will be about 10,000. If you don't have a lot of experience scanning film (nothing like scanning prints) then you probably don't really know how much work it is to do the scan and then do all the preparation of the resulting file. The second part that is the preparation of the scan file is mostly left to be done. Out of the close to 10,000 scans I have done over the years I have only prepared about 1600.

In my experience the order of satisfying scans are, best to worst:

1. B&W negatives
2. Color slides
3. Color negatives

The most satisfying scans are of B&W negatives. You don't get the benefit of the automatic dust/scratch fixer that uses the infrared channel with B&W film though so they are a lot of work to fix up, but you don't have to be concerned about color. Getting very good color from a scan, especially a color negative scan, is difficult. Also, with B&W negatives you usually don't get the muddy/ugly/blotchy shadow areas that you often get with color negatives. Kodachrome slide scans are worse than scans of E-6 (Fujichrome, Ektachrome) and you can't use the infrared channel to get automatic fixing of dust/scratches. Color negatives are the worst. The dark areas are often muddy/ugly/blotchy and the whole image is grainier, but not good looking sharp grain like with B&W negatives. It is a blotchy, ugly grain with color negatives. The film base color (depending on film it is various shades of orange or pink) makes getting good color a real chore. Even when selecting the proper film type in Vuescan the result is not usually as good as with color slide scans. And even color slide scans often don't have color that is as good as the actual slide. By the way, I have a few C-41 B&W negatives (Ilford XP2) and they also don't scan so great. No color issues, but the grain is like the color negatives and the shadows are muddy/blotchy.

Back during the late 1990s there were people on the internet claiming that color negative film scanned much better than color slide film. I don't recall all that was claimed, but I think it had to do with lower Dmax or something like that. I suppose that is what you get when you listen to the internet "experts" who think they know the theory without having real experience. :) I started shooting more color print film then because I expected that I would want to scan it later. I sure regret that.

B&W negatives:
Kodak Plus-X ASA 125
Kodak Tri-X ASA 400
Fuji Neopan 400 ASA 400
Ilford XP2 ASA 400 (C-41 process)

Color slides:
Kodachrome II ASA 25
Kodachrome X ASA 64
Kodachrome 25 ASA 25
Kodachrome 64 ASA 64
Kodachrome 200 ASA 200
Ektachrome X ASA 64
Ektachrome Elite 100 ASA 100
Ektachrome Elite 400 ASA 400
Fuji Velvia ASA 50
Fujichrome 100 ASA 100
Fujichrome 400 ASA 400
Fujichrome Sensia 100 ASA 100
Fujichrome Sensia 400 ASA 400
GAF 500 ASA 500 (I used only one roll of this for some indoor photos during Christmas 1974)

Color negatives:
various Kodak and Fuji films ranging from ASA 80 to 400

Okay, after all of the above I will finally get to my main point. :) The quality of the raw files from the 10mp tiny sensor in my Canon S95 are so much better in every way. Although some may say the dynamic range is less, maybe a lot less, than color negative film I have found that in practical terms it is much better. As long as you are scanning to convert the analog film to a digital file then the result, in my experience, is less usable dynamic range than what I can get by shooting in raw with a tiny sensor digital. I can shoot for the highlights and bring up the shadows with the digital and still get better results than scanning color negatives. The color is also so much better it isn't even worth comparing. The noise/grain is also so much better it isn't worth comparing. The S95 at ISO 1600 or 3200 is probably better than scanning ASA 100 color negative film. Actually, even jpegs are better too. Another actually: my old 5mp Minolta D7i is better. I would much rather have a 5mp jpeg from the D7i than a 10mp scan of a color negative (also a color slide). Oh, the 10mp file from the scanner probably has no more than 5mp of real, useful data in it for most color negative scans since they are pretty noisy/grainy. The Scan Elite is a pretty good film scanner (cost me $1000 several years ago) and Vuescan gets even more out of it. I always scan using multi-sampling to reduce noise a bit more. A different scanner in some cases might be marginally better, but not much. It is just the limitations of converting analog film to digital.

This post isn't meant as a complaint. It is just meant to remind us how much better digital is than 35mm film converted to digital. Not just a bit better, a whole lot better. Even a digicam is so much better. (Of course, a digicam's handling isn't anywhere near as good as a Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 7 and you have little control of dof, but those aren't the things I am talking about.)

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2014!
Last edited by bakubo on Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Birma » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:05 am

Happy New Year Henry !

An interesting overview. It all sounds a painful proces. :/
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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby peterottaway » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:04 am

I must congratulate you in sticking to the task far long than I did. I gave up about 3 years ago and now only fire up the monster ( more correctly the Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 II ) when I am absolutely compelled to.

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:16 pm

Yeah Henry, funny thing it must be the period of the year to get nostalgic or something, we ‘rediscovered’ some slide boxes (Dad’s) just recently and are in the process of going through them to see if we can save as many as we can, quite a few have been attacked by fungus, some are almost blank while some others have ugly fungus spots and dashes, and some are almost undamaged.
We are running out of family members (down to one) who knows who the more obscure people are in most of the really old photos (b&w prints as well) so it’s a matter of urgency now to scan them and make notations for future family generations.
I have been trying a little slide scanner thingy (DigItech XC4881 http://idealshop.com.au/p/digitech_xc48 ... lm_scanner ) and it seems to do an ok job, I would have written it off as a bit of a gimmick myself but it’s quite surprising, it generates a large TIF file (optional) so it’s probably as good as it gets with any method I guess considering the bar has already been lowered by the encroaching fungus on the slides.
I also have a V500 Epson film scanner which is much slower to use and also subject to attracting dust to the glass bed and the negatives/positives in their holders before you even close the lid, that one drives me crazy, it does a good job too (MF mainly as there is no other option) but really frustrating to use managing the airborne dust.
The main problem with the little scanning gadget is the software is a bit flakey and limited, maybe there is a more upmarket version that would do the trick.
I don’t envy your job of doing thousands of slides and negatives in your collection Henry.
I agree with your assessment that digitizing a negative or a positive is not exactly a replication of the original, the smoothness seems to suffer, or the gradients, or is it the default contrast in the system, I remember the last time I dabbled I found if I reduced the contrast in the scan process the result was much better when I compared a digital scan/print with a print done with the regular enlarger and wet processing (back when I did them that way).
Greg

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:02 am

I have found a new way (better?) to scan my films. I purchased on ebay a kind of adapter that attaches to the lens and slide in it the film. Actually you are just shooting your slide/negative/B&W in a macro position, making almost a 1:1 shot. The toughest part is to fix the adapter to get a 1:1 (I used several filter rings, i.e. taking out the glass). thus using those slim rings as extension rings.
Result: I'm getting 24 MP RAW files (well, almost 24).
Then I process them as TIFF files, trying to fix everything, and then, after finishing save separately as jpeg files (keeping in a safe place the TIFF files).
It's much quicker than scanning them.
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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:00 pm

Greg, fixing fungus, etc. will be a huge job. Even much smaller things such as a scratch on the film can be tough if it goes through any detail. If it is just in the sky or something then it is easy.

There are lots of inexpensive devices these days that can be used to scan film, but they are not nearly as good as a dedicated film scanner. They will get you a digital file though that will be adequate for many uses. I have the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900 and as far as film scanners go it is quite good. I had 2 other scanners previous to this one. I use Vuescan with it which can produce better results than the Minolta software. I have been using Vuescan software since 1998 when it was beta 0.7 version and it was a command line program so I am very familiar with it. Of course, it isn't a command line program anymore. Not the best gui interface, but it wrings the best results out of the scanners and has tons of options (can be very confusing if you are a scanning newbie though :lol: )

Here is info and a review of the Scan Elite:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DSE/DSEA.HTM

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:10 pm

Greg, I would be interested in seeing the results you get from that device you have. Are you only scanning slides or also negatives?

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:24 pm

Dr. Harout wrote:I have found a new way (better?) to scan my films. I purchased on ebay a kind of adapter that attaches to the lens and slide in it the film. Actually you are just shooting your slide/negative/B&W in a macro position, making almost a 1:1 shot. The toughest part is to fix the adapter to get a 1:1 (I used several filter rings, i.e. taking out the glass). thus using those slim rings as extension rings.
Result: I'm getting 24 MP RAW files (well, almost 24).
Then I process them as TIFF files, trying to fix everything, and then, after finishing save separately as jpeg files (keeping in a safe place the TIFF files).
It's much quicker than scanning them.


Doc, I would be interested in seeing the results you get from that device. I can see a few issues with it compared to a dedicated film scanner though. The light source is a big one. Does it have one or do you just point it at a light source? Trying to get good, even, consistent light of the proper color could be a problem if it doesn't have its own, good light source. Also, even though your camera is 24mp the result of photographing the slide/negative will probably only give you a few mp of real data. The rest of the 24mp will be of no use. There is no automatic dust/scratch cleaning. I can imagine that doing it that way would be a bit faster, but the actual scanning time when using a dedicated film scanner is the trivial part. The preparation for scanning (getting everything together, examining them with a 10x loupe on a lightbox, trying to determine whether I already have scanned this image years ago, selecting, cleaning, taking negatives out of the plastic pages, inserting in the holder, scanning, and then taking out of the holder, putting the strip back in the page, etc.) is what takes so much time.

I use Vuescan to create RGBI 64-bit raw scan files. The result is a 10mp raw file (4000x2688 pixels) that is about 84mb uncompressed. I did a bunch of scans before I realized that I had forgotten to select the compress raw option. With raw file compression the file sizes are generally 50-60mb. I have about 400gb of raw scan files right now. Someday, little by little, I will run Vuescan again using the raw file as input and create an output tiff file. Then use PS to work on, clean up, etc. and finally import it into LR. This is something that will take years, but can be done without access to the slides/negatives or scanner -- I can do it anywhere. It is a lot of work and is not interesting to do at all. I have done that for about 1600 of the files so far and have imported them into LR. I have close to 10,000 raw scan files and I doubt if I will ever prepare all of them, but whenever I have nothing to do I can do a few more. It is unusual for us to spend a few months in Texas where I have all my slides/negatives stored and the film scanner along with an old WinXP laptop that accepts my SCSI PCMCIA card, so this has been a fantastic opportunity to finally get around to doing more scanning.

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:00 pm

I looked through Image Data Lightbox (which was bundled with a100 & a700). All I can say that contrast is much better with direct shooting vs scanning. But anyway I'll make a comparison shot and post here (have to remember that though).
As for light, I use the simplest way... LCD light of my monitor.
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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:01 pm

Oh, and you don't need to use a tripod, just switch off the SSS.
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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:51 pm

Dr. Harout wrote:I looked through Image Data Lightbox (which was bundled with a100 & a700). All I can say that contrast is much better with direct shooting vs scanning. But anyway I'll make a comparison shot and post here (have to remember that though).
As for light, I use the simplest way... LCD light of my monitor.


Thanks for that info. How do you fix the color since the color negatives have a strong orangish or pinkish base color (different for each film type and even different generations of the same film type)?

The contrast problem you mention is a function of the scanning software you used or the settings you used. Vuescan is high quality scanning software. I just use it to get a good quality file with a good histogram and color as good as possible from the earlier scan file I made and then do the rest in PS.

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:06 pm

The Minolta scanner seems to get a good review by everyone Henry, pity it’s not available anymore though. The range and selection of models seems to be falling away now too, I guess if they aren’t selling why make them.
I’ve got an idea, when you visit OZ next time put the scanner in your jiffy bag and show me how it works…hahaha
Greg
Ps Ah you want to see the el-magnifico widget’s results, hmm it’s not connected to my computer it’s on a Vista 32bit PC in another room which isn’t connected to my computers or the internet…luckily the install disk has a 64bit install option so moving the widget over to my computer shouldn’t be a vast problem.
Okydoky here we are
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woops that’s not one... what’s the deal with hot chicks playing NFL anyway?

Ok this is definitely one or a couple, from the early to middle fifties more or less straight from the scanner with a little shadow lift…but not much. They were taken on some sort of 35mm rangefinder, maybe a Voightlander, Dad did own one of those.
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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:01 pm

Greg Beetham wrote:The Minolta scanner seems to get a good review by everyone Henry, pity it’s not available anymore though. The range and selection of models seems to be falling away now too, I guess if they aren’t selling why make them.
I’ve got an idea, when you visit OZ next time put the scanner in your jiffy bag and show me how it works…hahaha


Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s Minolta, Nikon, Canon, and others made dedicated film scanners. Before the Scan Elite (10mp with Digital ICE) I had a Minolta Scan Dual (8mb and no Digital ICE). There were several places to read reviews which I did before selecting. I guess you can buy some of those excellent scanners used on ebay, but many are no longer made. I just did a search and found some of them mentioned here:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/scanrex.htm

Here is some info that might help with your scanning:

http://www.scantips.com/

Here is a scanner email list I used to be on:

http://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]/maillist.html

Here is some info about grain aliasing:

http://www.photoscientia.co.uk/Grain.htm

More scanner reviews:

http://www.filmscanner.info/en/FilmscannerTestberichte.html

The Scan Elite uses a SCSI interface. I have a PCI SCSI card and a PCMCIA SCSI card. I keep a 2002 WinXP laptop that accepts the PCMCIA card just so I can continue using the scanner. Newer scanners use USB 2.0.

Greg Beetham wrote:Ok this is definitely one or a couple, from the early to middle fifties more or less straight from the scanner with a little shadow lift…but not much. They were taken on some sort of 35mm rangefinder, maybe a Voightlander, Dad did own one of those.


Thanks for posting. Cool old photos! Those will take a lot of work to fix up, but it looks like most of the fungus is in the skies so that is easy. What resolution does the scanner produce? How well does it work with color negatives?

As I said, the most satisfying results I usually get are with B&W negatives. The easiest to scan though are color slides by a very wide margin. Dealing with strips of negatives is a real pain in the butt. Some are curled a bit so hard to get properly lined up in the holder and also even if you want to scan only one you have to load all of the frames in the strip. Selecting film to scan using the loupe and lightbox is much easier with slides than negatives too.

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:52 pm

Greg, by the way, that babe with her hiney hanging out at the football game probably wouldn't want to be at Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday for the football game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. It is very cold there now and expected to still be very cold on Sunday. :lol:

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Re: Scanning Torture (or Learning to Love Your Digital Camer

Unread postby bakubo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:04 pm

Dr. Harout wrote:I have found a new way (better?) to scan my films. I purchased on ebay a kind of adapter that attaches to the lens and slide in it the film. Actually you are just shooting your slide/negative/B&W in a macro position, making almost a 1:1 shot. The toughest part is to fix the adapter to get a 1:1 (I used several filter rings, i.e. taking out the glass). thus using those slim rings as extension rings.
Result: I'm getting 24 MP RAW files (well, almost 24).
Then I process them as TIFF files, trying to fix everything, and then, after finishing save separately as jpeg files (keeping in a safe place the TIFF files).
It's much quicker than scanning them.


Doc, is this what you got?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BOWER-Slide-Copier-Duplicat-or-FOR-58mm-Camera-Lens-/131048988454

How well does it work with color negatives? Vuescan and other scanning software handles the pesky orange or pink film base and gets you reasonably close (usually) to the proper colors. Have you been pretty successful using PS?

For those who don't know and are interested, here is some info about the color negative base film color:

Why do negatives need an orange mask?

http://photo.net/learn/orange-negative-mask


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