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Does scanning defeat the purpose of using certain film stocks and lenses?
Old 03-17-2018   #1
bert26
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Does scanning defeat the purpose of using certain film stocks and lenses?

If I'm scanning my negatives flat in Vuescan and making adjustments in post, what's the point of choosing one film stock over another? After scanning HP5, TriX, or Delta 3200 in Vuescan, they look exactly the same except the 3200 has more grain. A contrasty lens doesn't make a scan more contrasty; the scan has no contrast because again, it is scanned flat and looks like ****.

My adjustments in LR are very minimal. I set the whites, blacks, shadows, highlights, and contrast and call it good. This process normally doesn't take any longer than five minutes. But sometimes I look at these images and wonder if this is actually how they're intended to look. How can anyone differentiate between film stocks when they all look exactly the same after being scanned?

And for the record, I'm using a Plustek 8200i and shooting with an M6 + 35 v3 Summicron + 50 collapsable Summicron.

Here are some screenshots of my Vuescan settings:
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Old 03-17-2018   #2
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Most old-timers are going to say that film must be wet printed to look its best, and that is true. It is more costly, in work & money to move from just developing your own film to a full darkroom set up. Scanning a well-done darkroom print is best, if you need the best to show online.

However, if you are doing photography for a hobby and wish to limit the costs, developing, scanning, and ink-jet printing is a viable, though compromised, plan. I use this system and am perfectly happy with the final prints.

Someone else will post advice to help you with software settings, I am limited in that area.
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Old 03-17-2018   #3
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I have Plustek 8200i/Vuescan for color and it works good for it. For bw it is so so.
I prefer Epson V500 and its software for bw. Shows difference between Foma and Delta well.
To see difference between lenses I recommend to get Jupiter-12 аnd Jupiter-3, not Leica lens.
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Old 03-17-2018   #4
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Or you can do what I do and build a set of defaults that match wet prints from the original film stock as closely as possible. I shoot Portra because I like its look, one that’s impossible to replicate using a digital camera - so to destroy that uniqueness by arbitrary tone, colour, contrast changes seems rather pointless...

Scans are never going to replicate wet printing, whether your film’s B&W or colour, but, then again, even wet printing gives different results as there are so many variables and choices during picture taking, developing and printing. So, my aim when scanning is not some mythical end result but something Portra-like. What I do ensure is to always scan in the same way and apply my defaults, so my scanning process is 100% consistent, to give me what I consider to be as accurate scans as I’m able to achieve.

Afterwards, I may tweak to taste, but do so knowing that such changes are purely arbitrary.
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Old 03-17-2018   #5
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1. Don't use 7200dpi res. You will only get bloated files. I think 3600dpi is the real resolution.
2. I always turn on Auto Level, and it fixes 90% of the colour abnormality.
3. My PlusTek 7200 tends to give low contrast scans as well, because it tries not to give up highlights. You can drag the triangle to the left on the histogram when a frame is previewed to give up those highlights to enhance the contrast. Or just edit the scanned image afterwards in other software.
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Old 03-17-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichC View Post
Or you can do what I do and build a set of defaults that match wet prints from the original film stock as closely as possible. I shoot Portra because I like its look, one that’s impossible to replicate using a digital camera - so to destroy that uniqueness by arbitrary tone, colour, contrast changes seems rather pointless...

Scans are never going to replicate wet printing, whether your film’s B&W or colour, but, then again, even wet printing gives different results as there are so many variables and choices during picture taking, developing and printing. So, my aim when scanning is not some mythical end result but something Portra-like. What I do ensure is to always scan in the same way and apply my defaults, so my scanning process is 100% consistent, to give me what I consider to be as accurate scans as I’m able to achieve.

Afterwards, I may tweak to taste, but do so knowing that such changes are purely arbitrary.
Thanks Rich. Care to share your default for Tri-X?
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Old 03-17-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
1. Don't use 7200dpi res. You will only get bloated files. I think 3600dpi is the real resolution.
2. I always turn on Auto Level, and it fixes 90% of the colour abnormality.
3. My PlusTek 7200 tends to give low contrast scans as well, because it tries not to give up highlights. You can drag the triangle to the left on the histogram when a frame is previewed to give up those highlights to enhance the contrast. Or just edit the scanned image afterwards in other software.
Thanks, I'll give that a try!
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Old 03-17-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
Most old-timers are going to say that film must be wet printed to look its best, and that is true. It is more costly, in work & money to move from just developing your own film to a full darkroom set up. Scanning a well-done darkroom print is best, if you need the best to show online.

However, if you are doing photography for a hobby and wish to limit the costs, developing, scanning, and ink-jet printing is a viable, though compromised, plan. I use this system and am perfectly happy with the final prints.

Someone else will post advice to help you with software settings, I am limited in that area.
I wish I had the time/money for a darkroom. I barely even have time to take pictures these days.
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Old 03-17-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bert26 View Post
If I'm scanning my negatives flat in Vuescan and making adjustments in post, what's the point of choosing one film stock over another? After scanning HP5, TriX, or Delta 3200 in Vuescan, they look exactly the same except the 3200 has more grain. A contrasty lens doesn't make a scan more contrasty; the scan has no contrast because again, it is scanned flat and looks like ****. ...
The hybrid fim/digital approach does removed, or at least massively reduce, the tonal differences between various film/developer combinations. Differences in resolution and grain are still present. With lenses, contrast differences are largely moot, but differences in bokeh, resolution, distortion, and some other optical characteristics are still a factor.

Personally, I don't feel that the hybrid method for B&W is inferior to a purely photochemical method or to pure B&W. It is just delivers somewhat different results. I have many decades of experience doing wet printing. I was a regular darkroom user for over 30 years beginning in the very early '60s. I'm now purely digital for new work, but have done a lot of scanning and printing both my earlier work and the work of the art photographer that I work for.

For art, any process is fine as long as you get the results you envisioned when shooting. For commercial work, I wouldn't even think of using film these days. With color, digital capture and printing wins, hands down and going away. If you just like working with old cameras then you're stuck with shooting film. Scanning and printing digitally is the only practical solution for color and, for most people, B&W as well.
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Old 03-17-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
1. Don't use 7200dpi res. You will only get bloated files. I think 3600dpi is the real resolution.
According to filmscanner.info, the maximum actual resolution of the PlusTek 8200i is 3250, and in order to achieve it you must scan at 7200. If you scan at less than 7200, you will get less than 3250.
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Old 03-17-2018   #11
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The spectral response of each film stock is different, if you would shoot the same scene with different films you would see the difference even in the scan and after contrast adjustments. Thats why you have so many different film stocks in software like DXO for b&w, they emulate the spectral response of each film. But yes, like Dwig said, the influence of the film stock for the end result gets less important when you work hybrid. I work hybrid too these days, but have always in mind to go back to the darkroom some day and print the best photos in the good old way.

BTW, i have the Plustek too and scan normally with 3600dpi, at least for ISO 4OO films I couldn't really differ between a 7200dpi and a 3600dpi scan, the problem is that the 7200 setting gives you 3 times bigger files with maybe only a slight difference compared to 3600dpi.

Here's what Plustek said in regards to the settings: http://plustek.com/plustekdoc/How%20...%20scanner.pdf

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Old 03-17-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bert26 View Post
"...... After scanning HP5, TriX, or Delta 3200 in Vuescan, they look exactly the same except the 3200 has more grain......

How can anyone differentiate between film stocks when they all look exactly the same after being scanned?
Your experience is a valid data point, but I would caution against making a generalization out of it, personally.

I am using a Nikon Coolscan 9000 with Silverfast Archive Suite scanning and processing software, and different film stocks, and lenses, will show the same distinct characteristics they showed in a purely analog workflow, wet printing, etc. Different films don’t look the same IOW, they look just as different as they should look.

If the negatives from different filmstocks are different, which people usually more or less agree is the case, then a perfect scan will show the same differences. The transfer function should be 1:1, and the scanning workflow should not be editorializing or homogenizing.

If scanning results from disparate filmstocks are being homogenized down to “looking the same” regardless of the film stock, there’s a problem in the workflow somewhere. Or, let’s just say, could be better.

Not saying it doesn’t involve a lot of work.
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Old 03-17-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
According to filmscanner.info, the maximum actual resolution of the PlusTek 8200i is 3250, and in order to achieve it you must scan at 7200. If you scan at less than 7200, you will get less than 3250.
I like how it is done with 8200i and Vuescan. I scan at 7200 and Vuescan resize it to 3200 or less before image is saved.
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Old 03-17-2018   #14
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This is where scanners like Pakons are so good. They have film specific profiles so different films do look different.
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Old 03-17-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cloetta View Post
Your experience is a valid data point, but I would caution against making a generalization out of it, personally.

I am using a Nikon Coolscan 9000 with Silverfast Archive Suite scanning and processing software, and different film stocks, and lenses, will show the same distinct characteristics they showed in a purely analog workflow, wet printing, etc. Different films don’t look the same IOW, they look just as different as they should look.

If the negatives from different filmstocks are different, which people usually more or less agree is the case, then a perfect scan will show the same differences. The transfer function should be 1:1, and the scanning workflow should not be editorializing or homogenizing.

If scanning results from disparate filmstocks are being homogenized down to “looking the same” regardless of the film stock, there’s a problem in the workflow somewhere. Or, let’s just say, could be better.

Not saying it doesn’t involve a lot of work.
Are you doing most of your work within the scanning software or in post? I have Silverfast SE, but had no luck with it when I was trying it out about a year ago. The Tri-X preset underexposed my images and I wasn't too happy with the HP5 preset either. Perhaps it would be wise to go ahead and use those presets and THEN alter in post?

I've always been told that it is bad form to adjust curves or make other changes in scanning software.

To be honest I got the best results using the auto settings with the Epson software, but when the software stopped automatically advancing frames I ditched my ****ty v300 or whatever it was. The resolution was garbage but at least the grain/contrast/sharpness all looked on point.

Any chance you'd be willing to share your workflow? Or will it differ since I'm using SE instead of AI? Would it be worth it to upgrade to AI?
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Old 03-17-2018   #16
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Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
Most old-timers are going to say that film must be wet printed to look its best, and that is true.
It depends on how skilled you are at wet printing. It is an art that takes a good deal of experience to do really well. I have seen this with the students I interact with. The prints they make in the darkroom are nowhere near as good as the inkjet prints they make from the negatives they scan and adjust in Lightroom.
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Old 03-17-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
It depends on how skilled you are at wet printing. It is an art that takes a good deal of experience to do really well. I have seen this with the students I interact with. The prints they make in the darkroom are nowhere near as good as the inkjet prints they make from the negatives they scan and adjust in Lightroom.
I am a very basic wet printer, and have not done it in a while. But I was amazed as to how much more detail was in some negatives I scanned and printed, compared to the wet prints of the same negatives I did years ago.
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Old 03-17-2018   #18
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My experience is the Tri-X and HP5+ are very similar after being scanned. But, it is easy to see the difference between FP4+ and HP5+ for example, or HP5+ and Delta 400. I could see a difference between Delta 400 and TMax 400, but more in the spectral response that anything else (I prefer TMax400). Foma films have (in general) a weaker antihalation layer which is obvious to see in high contrast areas.

As for developers, the aim of developing for scanning is to get a negative that is medium contrast, as contrast can be added but not removed. You are not trying to get a negative that's easy to print - they are different.

But saying all that, if you can't see the difference then just shoot the cheapest film you can find. And scan the Plustek at 3600 not 7200.
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Old 03-17-2018   #19
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I printed in my wet darkroom for about 10 years and thought I was reasonably good. I have scanned film and printed digitally for the last 16 years.

My scanning workflow has only one objective. That is to capture in a digital file as much information on the film as possible. That means my output from the scan is flat and lifeless. So no conclusions can be drawn from that.

I take that flat lifeless scan file and adjust it to how I want the final output to look. And that is the same regardless of the film or lens originally used.

So basically, other than the slightly larger grain from higher speed films, any differences in film or lens is neutralized in the post processing.
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Old 03-17-2018   #20
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At normal print sizes there isn't much difference between a wet print and a scan/print. The scan might look sharper even since you can manipulate that (you can do unsharp masking in the darkroom too, but it is a pain. Where do you think the name comes from? Lol)

At bigger sizes though, the wet print will start to shine, but only if you know what you are doing. That means being technically proficient and quite honestly very few people achieve that. People think they do but it is a case of you don't know that you don't know kind of thing. There is more detail in a black and white neg than your scanner can extract. In the case of cheaper scanners it is more an impression than a copy. Scanners also don't resolve grain. The "grain" you think you see is just the difference in the pixel values.


To the OP- if you want to keep the "look" of a film you might try using the various profiles that Hamrick put in Vuescan under the color tab. For color they aren't so great, but for black and white there is quite a choice under the TMax category. You can choose a contrast level that fits your film. If you play with it you may find you like different settings for different films. Maybe that will help you a bit.
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Old 03-17-2018   #21
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I certainly can tell the difference between the films I use that I scan. But I will say the difference is surely less noticeable than when wet printing.
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Old 03-17-2018   #22
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It isn't totally related to scanning I'd venture to say. There are so many, many variables! Are you developing your own films? What developer you choose to develop them in, and how you develop them (lots of agitation or a little, developer choices, push or pull, etc), how you exposed the film to begin with.....all of these will give noticeably different looks even using the same film. Just switching from a red to a yellow to a green filter will give big differences in your images. Even the available light will make a huge difference in your prints..... but before you even get to the question of wet printing vs inkjet (and w/ that goes whether you decide to print on fiber paper or not, glossy or matte, lith print, selenium or platinum toner, etc), there's a lot of different things that will determine how your shots look.

Keep in mind that scanners accentuate grain, but even w/ that, what you get on a scan depends on the negative. It will only give what you have captured on the film stock. I'm not sure what problem you're experiencing. Even when I sent my film out to be developed I saw big differences between say Delta 100 and Tri-X, and those differences carried over to the scanned images. When I went to developing my own film and printing in a darkroom I discovered ways to get exactly what I wanted, and believe me, there were many, many ways to change the image before or after the film was developed.

I once shot a test roll of Tri-X at 400, 200 and 100, then developed it normally in D76. All of the shots looked good, but they all looked different too. The tonal range was totally different, and if I had used Rodinal (at 1:25, 1:50, or 1:100) as a developer, who knows what I would have got?
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Old 03-17-2018   #23
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I’m surprised by some of the answers. The short answer to the OP’s question is ‘No’ isn’t it? I scanned black and white Ilford FP4 negatives on my Epson V700 with Epson software and got what I wanted with minimal effort and it looked like FP4 and the lens character came through as well. I’ve used the Nikon Coolscan 500 with VueScan and haven’t been quite as happy but need to learn more about that software.
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Old 03-18-2018   #24
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I think a lot depends on the lens in the enlarger too but there are so many variables to wet and dry that there's no "pure" answer. Best to stick to slides and match them to the lens and send the film back to the maker's for processing...

Regards, David

PS Some of you may remember a certain make of slide film that was matched to a certain make and model of lens...
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Old 03-18-2018   #25
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The OP point is something I was thinking about since a long time!
I think you can scan the various film and see the differences among them. But the point IMO is that you always need to post process the scan to get the final result you need.

For sure you'll notice a different in the grain let's say from a Delta 100 and a Delta 3200 or an HP5 pushed to 1600 (just going to extreme to explain my view) but for what concerns contrast and other variable you do not need to change film, you can work on it in post processing.

In this sense the selection of a certain combo film/developer and lens to achieve your desired look becomes less important.

I personally like to use Delta 100/400 (sometimes XP2s) because I find I can scan them easily and later work on the files more or less as I was used to do in the darkroom, a little bit here, something more there...

Just my own opinion,

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Old 03-18-2018   #26
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If one steps back broadly and looks at the total universe of photo viewers they will realize that any difference in films and lenses is noticed by a minuscule portion, typically those who are more interested in cameras, film and lenses rather than photographs. The overwhelming majority of viewers are only interested in the message communicated by the photo.
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Old 03-18-2018   #27
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The first image is a scan of a wet print (on ADOX MCC 110).

The second image is a scan of the negative (Tmax400-2).

The scan of the negative looks sharper, although the print is very sharp. I like however the tonality of the print (wich is a split grade print).

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Old 03-18-2018   #28
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If one steps back broadly and looks at the total universe of photo viewers they will realize that any difference in films and lenses is noticed by a minuscule portion, typically those who are more interested in cameras, film and lenses rather than photographs. The overwhelming majority of viewers are only interested in the message communicated by the photo.
The overwhelming majority of viewers are only interested in catphotos and selfies I prefer those who still care about the medium and choose the camera, lens and film (sensor) they think its best to achieve a speficic result.

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Old 03-18-2018   #29
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Scanning does not inherently defeat the characteristics of film stock and lenses.

Scanning can not increase the information content of a negative or transparency. But scanning technique and post-production workflows can underutilze the information content. A low-contrast (flat) rendering of a high-contrast negative/transparency is easily rendered as a high-contrast digital image.

A flat,low-contrast analog image will be, at best, a flat, low-contrast digital image.

The issue is - how does one produce the best possible model for a digital model of the negative.transparency?

Have you tried making 16 bit per channel Vuescan raw DNG files or Vuescan raw (without IR cleaning and film curves) files? These always retain all the information recorded by the scanner.

RFF member Tim Gray summarized Vuescan raw output options here.

He wrote:

"[i]1) TIFF - normal RGB data, corrected gamma, all other Vuescan post processing baked into the file
2) TIFF/DNG - same as above as a DNG
3) Raw - normal RGB data, gamma 1 (most of the time), IR cleaning and film curve optional
4) Raw/DNG - same as above as a DNG.

Select 1 or 3 if you want to use your files in most image editors. Select 2 or 4 if you want to use your DNG in LR or ACR.

Select 1 or 2 if you don't want to mess with linear gamma files and are ok with the basic conversion Vuescan does (inverting, film curves, etc.). Select 3 or 4 if you want a linear gamma file and want to do everything.

I did find out that if you save a scan as an 8 bit Raw, it is gamma 2.2. Otherwise it is gamma 1./I]"

With all of the data you can render the digital image to meet your needs. The NIK Collection (pre-DxO) provides numerous B&W and color film simulation profiles. This is just one option. LR and PS have all the tolls you need as well.
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Old 03-18-2018   #30
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The overwhelming majority of viewers are only interested in catphotos and selfies
We must go to different galleries, read different publications, and buy different photo books.

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I prefer those who still care about the medium and choose the camera, lens and film (sensor) they think its best to achieve a speficic result.
Certainly to each their own. I was simply referring to the overall category of viewers of photos.
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Old 03-18-2018   #31
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We must go to different galleries, read different publications, and buy different photo books.
Don't think so, these are also my favourite activities, next to take photos of course, but you can't ignore Facebook and Instagram and all the other social media platforms and the prefered type of photos they look at in millions. Thats simply a fact, sad but true. With the result that for example my favourite and also the biggest phtobookstore here in BCN had to close 2 years ago.

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Old 03-18-2018   #32
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The first image is a scan of a wet print (on ADOX MCC 110).

The second image is a scan of the negative (Tmax400-2).

The scan of the negative looks sharper, although the print is very sharp. I like however the tonality of the print (wich is a split grade print).

Erik.
You have added another layer to the process by scanning a wet print.
Enlarger -> print -> scan -> image

vs

Scan -> image

Better comparison would be to compare a wet print directly to a print from a scan.

Either way, both look great.
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Old 03-18-2018   #33
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Better comparison would be to compare a wet print directly to a print from a scan.
As I only make wet prints on gelatine/silver (FB) paper, I've never made a print of a scan. I use film because I want to make gelatine/silver prints. Well made gelatine/silver prints last longer AFAIK. It is not possible to make gelatine/silver prints from digital files AFAIK.

Erik.
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Old 03-18-2018   #34
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I think that there are obvious differences that we are ignoring. For example there are situations where I know that I will get a usable negative using Delta 3200 where I haven't got a chance using Pan F 50.

But beyond those obvious differences, I personally think I see what I expect to see whether I am looking at one of my wet prints (very basic at my current skill level) or an inkjet print from a scan. I do believe that I see differences between films and between developing techniques and chemicals.

For me this is fine and I don't worry about it too much. But I think that this topic is similar to the question about differences between certain prime lenses or between certain films. Without doing blind testing I don't think anyone can know for sure whether they actually recognize a real difference or are just seeing something they have come to expect.

Some people have a better tuned eye and seem to be more capable of picking things out during blind testing but I think that the majority of us just see what we expect. If we are using TriX we expect it to look a certain way and...voila...it does!

If you have done testing yourself and find that you can't consistently see any difference in scans of various film then I don't think that is a bad thing. Just pick a film that is easy to develop and scan, and then stick with it. Focus your efforts on the processing of your scan rather than worry about which film you are using.

I suspect the same holds true for lenses up to a point. Older lenses are reputed to be sharp but low contrast. Since contrast can so easily be manipulated in post (dry or wet) I think those differences are less important. However there are also differences related to distortions or sharpness across the field that are not as easy to manipulate. In those cases you may find that a certain lens just doesn't work for your type of photography.

Finally, I think some of these issues become more important the larger the print becomes. This has already been mentioned but a picture that looks good at snapshot size can get dramatically worse as it is enlarged. At this point even someone who is typically more interested in content than technical issues quickly recognizes the differences.
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Old 03-18-2018   #35
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If I'm scanning my negatives flat in Vuescan and making adjustments in post, what's the point of choosing one film stock over another? After scanning HP5, TriX, or Delta 3200 in Vuescan, they look exactly the same except the 3200 has more grain. A contrasty lens doesn't make a scan more contrasty; the scan has no contrast because again, it is scanned flat and looks like ****.

My adjustments in LR are very minimal. I set the whites, blacks, shadows, highlights, and contrast and call it good. This process normally doesn't take any longer than five minutes. But sometimes I look at these images and wonder if this is actually how they're intended to look. How can anyone differentiate between film stocks when they all look exactly the same after being scanned?

...
(bolded) I don't know how a film negative is "intended to look" ... My photographs look the way I intend them to look when I'm done rendering them, which with a film image just as much with a digital image means what I have in mind rather than any specific "look" derivative of film/chemicals/processing methodology.

I can certainly see differences in how films process and render. I take those into account when I make my negatives, and from that my raw scans, and choose them accordingly. But how they're intended to look, well, that's a matter of what I choose to make them look like.

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Old 03-18-2018   #36
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Solution for me is to pass on scanning film, for various reasons. Everything I capture with film gets the works in the darkroom. If I need digital, I use one of my trusty Canon DSLR cameras, RAW capture and process with ACR in Photoshop.
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Old 03-18-2018   #37
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................ but you can't ignore Facebook and Instagram and all the other social media platforms and the prefered type of photos they look at in millions. Thats simply a fact, sad but true. ................
OK, I simply do not look at photos on any of the social media platforms. Reason being is that I find the photography overall to be substandard.

But I do see thousands of very good photos every day. From the photos in my newspaper, to the National Geographic I flipped through this morning while on the throne, all the the photos I saw on CNN.com, hundreds of photos of products and meals just in the grocery store, the billboards along the road, and that list goes on and on. Do these not count as photos? BTW, never once did I ever think of what lens or film or digital. Only the message in the photo.

I suspect that you too are surrounded constantly by photos but do not realize they are such unless they are in some photographic specific environment.
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Old 03-18-2018   #38
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Gosh Bob, I sure agree with your post.

However, there are some fine photography and art pages on Facebook. A person has to look for them, then like the page to see their art as they post.

Here is one titled, “Contemporary Art.”. Beautiful photographs from posing, lighting, composition, costumes. Some show a little nudity so if that bothers you, well don’t let it as it’s about people photography as beauty/art. Enjoy.

https://www.facebook.com/Contemporar...9445103922006/

Your first sentence does have a lot of truth to it.
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Old 03-18-2018   #39
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Print on Adox MC110, then scanned.

Erik.

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Old 03-18-2018   #40
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If you let the scanner control the output then everything will look the same. If you don't want that then do it manually: turn off all the scanner auto controls.
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