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Scanning B&W negatives

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by CircleOfConfusion, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. CircleOfConfusion

    CircleOfConfusion Well-Known Member

    I've been having a play around scanning my B&W negatives in different ways (as there seems to be much musing on which method is best) and it seems to me that the best way is to scan as a colour positive then invert and adjust in PS till you get what you want.

    for example Image 1 is a crop of a frames of HP5 scanned in the mono negative setting of the scanner, whilst Image 2 was taken using the scanner in colour positive setting (both without any extra scanner software work). Both images desaturated (B&W still comes out colour) and levels adjusted. But the highlights and shadows are lost in the B&W scan whilst the colour one has retained a lot more tone.

    what method does everyone else find best for B&W scanning?
  2. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    You don't say what scanner or software you're using, and that could be significant in a discussion of this sort.

    I'm not too surprised that with the scan set up for a colour positive that you're extracting more from your negative. Transparencies normally have more dynamic range than negatives, and I'd expect most software to recognise this. Have you tried Vuescan?
  3. CircleOfConfusion

    CircleOfConfusion Well-Known Member

    Sorry forgot to put that on the end, I'm using a nikon cool scan V ED, then just making adjustments using Elements.

    I understand the dynamic range issue, but if its there in the negative then I would have thought the scanner would try to pick it up and it just seems backwards that I need to use the colour positive setting. I haven't tried Vuescan yet but I'm considering giving it a go soon as it might save me a lot of fiddling trying to find out whats best myself.

    I'm quite happy with the results I'm getting now just interested what other methods people use in case theres something I'm missing.
  4. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I'm wondering whether your results are what your scanner gives when set to its defaults. Any chance that there's a "Pro" or "Advanced" option hidden in a menu, where you can get at Contrast and Levels settings. There certainly is on my Epson scanner, and from memory this has to be set before anything else. Just a thought...
  5. CircleOfConfusion

    CircleOfConfusion Well-Known Member

    there is a "LCH editor" tab to adjust curves and contrast etc. but I left this in auto for both as I wanted a straight comparison, apart form auto exposure every other feature was turned off (grain reduction etc.) and both were scanned at 14bit (both having the same output file size as the mono is still saved as RGB).

    I probably could do better in the mono setting if I fiddled with the curves and contrast etc. but I don't think I'd bother when the colour positive seems to give a much better starting point.
  6. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Yes, I've found this as well, using both Epson and Minolta film scanners with their native software.
  7. The Circle Of Confusion

    The Circle Of Confusion Well-Known Member

    I've tried scanning mono as colour positive on my Canon 8400 and didn't notice much, if any, difference. What did make a big difference was using Vuescan as it allows me to tweak the black and white level to suit each neg.

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