How to properly digitalize positives?
Old 07-01-2011   #1
efix
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How to properly digitalize positives?

I don't know if this is the right forum to ask this question, but I hope I can find an answer here. Sorry also for not having the patience to scroll through a dozen pages of topics -- in case the answer can be found somewhere here, I'd appreciate a pointer.

Anyhow, here's my problem.
I recently (re-)developed a passion for shooting film, but this passion only goes so far as to expose it and then have it developed and somehow digitalized. For the latter, I recently acquired an Epson V330 scanner, Epson's low budged photo scanner, as my budget is rather tigh at the moment and I couldn't afford the higher models (V500 or V700).

First, I scanned a roll of HP5+, which turned out okay, considering the price tag of the scanner. Sharpness and contrast were low, but running the files through Lightroom would make them usable for my means (i.e. showing on a PC display and resizing to 1000 pixels for web use).

Then, I wanted to scan a roll of recently exposed Provia 100, and I was seriously underwhelmed. Held against a natural or artificial light source, the slides were simply brilliant, conveying rich colours and tonality. The scanner, though, failed to reproduce anything of that brilliance. Contrast was frighteningly low, and in the darker shades there was as good as no tonality left. Colours were also off, but this could be solved in post-processing.

For illustration, here's an example. First the file as it came from the scanner (using Epson Scan with custom settings), then the Version edited in Lightroom.





As you can see in the original file, the shadows show mainly noise and as good as no tonal differentiation. I had to play A LOT with the curves in Lightroom to get the result in the edited version. Holding the slide against a bright light source would reveal such great tonality and such vivid colours that I'm afraid I just can't live with the results the scanner delivered.

I assume the light source of the scanner simply isn't bright enough to properly illuminate the slide. Would upgrading to a higher model eventually solve the problem, or should transparency film generally not be digitalized with a scanner? What are my options? Mind that I don't have studio equipment, so I can't just illuminate the slide with a big flash and photograph it with a DSLR + macro lens.

Is there a cost-efficient solution to digitalizing slide film in a way that its richness in colour and tonality can be properly reproduced, or will I have to live with what a common flatbed scanner can deliver? Because it seriously spoils the fun about shooting slide film if you can't enjoy your slides in their full splendour afterwards (except of course using a projector and a screen)!

Any help, suggestions, pointers etc. would be greatly appreciated!

P.S.: For comparison, here's a scan of an HP5+ exposure which I'm rather satisfied with, considering the V330's price tag:

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Old 07-01-2011   #2
Ronald M
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The scan is underexposed. Never use automatic.

The underexposure did work well for the window.
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Old 07-01-2011   #3
efix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
The scan is underexposed. Never use automatic.

The underexposure did work well for the window.
That's what I though at first. But the frame itself was underexposed to begin with. I did use manual settings in Epson Scan, but increasing the Gamma would only increase shadow noise and not bringt me the tonality I could see in the positive when holding it against the light.

Thanks for your comment.
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Old 07-01-2011   #4
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Heads up -- I rechecked my settings and found that indeed amplifying the gain on the scanner some more would yield slightly better exposed scans. The shadow tonality is still far from what I can see in the original positive, but I think I can live with the results now. It seems that positives all the more than negatives need very careful and individual tweaking of the scanner's settings in order to yield acceptable results. I can live with that considering the scanner's price tag.

Here's the above shot once more, and another one from that roll, both processed in Lightroom.





Now off to scanning the rest of that roll of HP5+, and tomorrow I'll continue the roll of Provia :-)
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Old 07-01-2011   #5
Jamie123
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I'm afraid that's a limitation of your scanner you'll have to live with. These flatbeds just aren't very good at scanning slides. The light source is just too weak to shine enough light through a properly exposed slide.
You can either start slightly overexposing your slides (they will have less 'punch' on the light table but the scanner will do a better job) or you can get a scanner with an adjustable light source like the dedicated Nikon film scanners. Or you can just shoot neg film instead.
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Old 07-02-2011   #6
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Jamie, thanks for your tips! A more expensive scanner is out of the question, but maybe I'll just try overexposing. Otherwise I'll live with what I can get out of the scans right now, and I know I always have the original positives.

How much would you overexpose? Would 1/3 stop be enough?
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Old 07-02-2011   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by efix View Post
Jamie, thanks for your tips! A more expensive scanner is out of the question, but maybe I'll just try overexposing. Otherwise I'll live with what I can get out of the scans right now, and I know I always have the original positives.

How much would you overexpose? Would 1/3 stop be enough?
I should've clarryfied that I think overesposing is the worst of all the options. Firstly, with contrasty subjects you'll blow out the highlights very easily. And secondly, an overexposed slide is just no fun to look at.
I'd say either live with what you can get out of the scans or switch to negative film.
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Old 07-02-2011   #8
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If a DSLR is available, you could try digitizing with that. You may just get better results. Not that I've tried this myself but I've seen some very impressive examples on this forum.
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Old 07-04-2011   #9
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Jamie123 -- thanks again! I will make do with what I can get from the scanner. The rest of the roll of Provia 100 turned out quite nicely after I set the parameters for each picture individually. Quite time consuming, but worth the effort. Also, I find slide film much more interesting than negative film :-)

batterytypehah! -- No, no DSLR available. The scanner will have to suffice :-)
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flipped?
Old 07-04-2011   #10
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flipped?

Quote:
Originally Posted by efix View Post
Heads up -- I rechecked my settings and found that indeed amplifying the gain on the scanner some more would yield slightly better exposed scans. The shadow tonality is still far from what I can see in the original positive, but I think I can live with the results now. It seems that positives all the more than negatives need very careful and individual tweaking of the scanner's settings in order to yield acceptable results. I can live with that considering the scanner's price tag.

Here's the above shot once more, and another one from that roll, both processed in Lightroom.





Now off to scanning the rest of that roll of HP5+, and tomorrow I'll continue the roll of Provia :-)

just curious where the flip of the picture with the adorable child sitting in a high chair occurred? It does matter which side is down, right?
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Old 07-04-2011   #11
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You will never get really good results from scanning 135 format positives on a flatbed scanner. Even the dedicated film scanners struggle. Positive film has a dmax upto around 4.0 which is simply too dense for a flatbed to scan through without showing a LOT of noise. The electronics are not nearly good enough. They claim high dmax values which might be true but being able to scan through is not the same as being able to scan without noise. This is why drum scans are so much better, they use a photo multiplier which is virtually noise free and adjustable sample dot size (called aperture) to maximise output quality.
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Old 07-04-2011   #12
StuartR
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All scanners have trouble with dense slides, even the very best. I scan professionally, and I still have to do a lot of work to get good slide scans...and I use a scanner that retails for 20,000 USD. A low-end Epson is not going to give you the dynamic range you need to capture the whole slide, so you will need to make choices -- block up the shadows or have noisy flat images. If you really want to enjoy your slides, I would sincerely recommend that you get a slide projector.
The DSLR option is also quite good. If you don't have one, you can try the M8 and a lens with a higher magnification factor -- the 75/2 is great for this, as would be the 90/4 Macro. Just put the slide on a light box, set the tripod up and photograph it. Crop it in photoshop. You will not get 1:1 on an M, but you would still get a nicely usable image for the web, along with better colors.
Here is an example:

Obviously if I cropped these and sized them, they would be larger and more suitable for sharing on the web...
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Old 07-05-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HLing View Post
just curious where the flip of the picture with the adorable child sitting in a high chair occurred? It does matter which side is down, right?
Haha, yes :-) The first time round it seems I had put the film strip in the holder upside-down, maybe that also had to do with the bad result.
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Old 07-05-2011   #14
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Thanks guys -- maybe I'll try photographing them. At the moment, my longest lens is a 50, I'm not sure if that'll work. But I could mount it on the E-P1, that would give me a bit higher magnification.
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Old 07-05-2011   #15
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Photographing on a light box you would need a macro lens to fill the frame and a tripod etc. May work for web images hand held but not much good if you want to use result for digital printing.

one of the following would make life easy. The have a lens in them which turns your standard camera lens into a macro lens.

http://www.srb-griturn.com/slide-copier-1575-p.asp

There are a few other makes, some have film strip holders. Note some are optimised for small sensors and some for full format sensors, you need to check which one is suited for your particular camera/lens combo.


[edit] found the link to a site selling aps-c or full format slide copier.
http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk/slide_...ng/100_0c.html
[/edit]

Last edited by tlitody : 07-05-2011 at 13:22.
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Old 07-06-2011   #16
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tlitody -- thanks for the info, these look awesome! Well, I just got the scanner, so I'm gonna use it for a while. But these are definitely an option to consider!
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Old 07-26-2011   #17
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Wow. I just realised that by simply holding the slides against the light and photographing them with my Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR p&s compact in macro mode, I get better results than with the V330!

The scanner is definitely best suited for scanning b&w negatives. Alright. So, since scanning slides with this scanner has been rather frustrating lately, I am considering two alternatives.

1) Reflecta CrystalScan 7200 + SilverFast software. Has a good reputation, reported to be good with slides and b&w negative film. Price tag: ~ 250 €.

2) A slide projector with monitor, photograph the pictures off the monitor with my E-P1 + 20/1.7. Price tag: ~ 100 €. But I fear this still won't give me the quality I'm looking for.

Any thoughts?
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Old 08-02-2011   #18
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I have now got the Plustec OpticFilm 7400, which is a 7200 dpi dedicated film scanner. It came with SilverFast SE 6. Much better than the Epson, both in terms of sharpness and dynamics, although this one tends to posterize gentle colour gradations.

But since I don't want to invest in a DSLR system ... :-)

UPDATE: You absolutely NEED to use SilverFast's "Multi Exposure" to get good results with this scanner. Don't know why, but with a single scan the colours get heavily posterized and the file lacks in overall defintion. Using Multi Exposure, which takes two differently exposed scans (if I understood correctly) not only yields much better colours, but also better dynamics. So, here's to scanning those 30 frames again ... here go my evenings ...
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Last edited by efix : 08-03-2011 at 05:13.
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Old 08-02-2011   #19
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Relatively happy with my Minolta Dimage Dual Scan III, it was only 120eur used but will carry me over until i can afford better.
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