Six and Scanning

2015-XA2-002-Silverfast-(6)

Silverfast Scan

2015-XA2-002-EpsonScan-006

Epson Scan

EDIT: Read through to the comments for some great suggestions on how to better use the scanning software, especially EpsonScan, and also at the bottom of the post beyond the first gallery are some some examples from my learning curve as I follow those suggestions.

Week six’s photographs are taken with an Olympus XA2, a camera that lives in my pocket. The film is expired Fuji Superia X-TRA 400, probably stored indifferently and most likely dating to about 2004. The back popped open about half way through the roll, damaging a number of shots. This camera had been a trial to light seal – it ended up needed double seals at the door hinge which makes the door a bit tight to close, and I guess the latch did not fully catch this time. I have run quite a few rolls through the camera (see here for posts with this camera) and this has never happened before. I will be more attentive to the catch click when loading the film in the future.

This post shows some experiments with scanning software – if you have a solution for any problem I touch on here, please leave a comment! As I tend to, this is published simultaneously with a post on my blog that has some of the same photos, and others from the same roll. All the ones posted there have been converted to black and white from the Silverfast scans and have come out quite well. More frames and different treatments from this roll will appear on burntembers over the next few days.

I use an Epson V700, which is a pretty fantastic scanner, but I struggle with the software. Initially I used the Silverfast Epson SE that ships with the scanner, but it stopped recognising the scanner consistently, so I started using Epson Scan in Professional Mode instead. I find Epson Scan to be pretty good and quick for some kinds of film, especially black and white. But I have never been very happy with most of the colour scans. I bought a copy of VueScan, but so far have found it even less intuitive than Silverfast and have given up on it. At some point I will give it another try. The Silverfast has the NegaFix software which has presets for various film types that correct colour, and so on. I quite like how it performs, but there are several films that I use for which they don’t have presets, and manipulating another one is not always successful. See here for the list of existing profiles. It is also possible to prepare and save a profile for film you use a lot.

Silverfast

Silverfast

EpsonScan

EpsonScan

In this post I present scans of the same negatives done with Silverfast, using the Fuji Superia 400 preset, but with a +3 f-stop correction for many of the images, and never less than +1.5 f-stops. I don’t know if this is necessary because of the difference between Superia 400 and Superia X-TRA 400, or due to expired film degradation, or because the camera was under-exposing for this roll. The last roll which I also finished this week (new Ilford XP2) was exposed just fine, so I am assuming it is most likely the film, perhaps exacerbated by the preset. In Silverfast you can get it to find the individual frames, but they always need adjusting, and thus each frame needs individual attention. While attending to the framing and rotation as needed, I will often tweak the brightness and other levels through the histogram. I don’t usually do more than that. Looking at these results I should have toned down the saturation just a bit, something I would normally do in post if I were not trying to present the results side by side. Setting frame numbers is a major hassle, and often I get it wrong since it is the very last thing that should be done. While doing that I sometimes notice that some other setting has not been universally applied, or other change is needed. Fixing anything screws up the frame numbers and you have to redo them. A very annoying feature of the software (if there is a switch I can throw to change that, I would love to know)

2015-XA2-002-Silverfast-21

Silverfast

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EpsonScan

 

In Epson Scan I use professional mode and scan in “Film (with Film Holder)” mode but I find that it crops the long edges of the images way too much, which is one reason I have given Silverfast another try. If I set it on “Film (with Film Area Guide)”, which I have done sometimes, then I have to outline each frame individually which takes away most of the speed of scanning which is an attraction of Epson Scan. I scan in 48 bit colour at 2400 dpi with AutoExposure enabled. I will often go into the histogram and tweak levels if the original thumbnails don’t look very good. For this set of scans – the ones of the waves on beach – I also set a “low” “backlight correction” (something I tried to do in-camera with the ISO setting, but which did not work out well enough).

I find that where there is a useable preset in Silverfast Negafix that the colour and contrast and so on is better than I usually get through Epson Scan – the amount of work needed in Lightroom is much reduced. It is slower to set up the scan and has some aggravating habits, but the product is better, for my needs anyway, and probably saves time in the long run. Therefore, Silverfast now that it is talking to the computer and scanner properly again, is going to be my preferred software for most situations.

The images in today’s blog are out of the scanner without post processing, except to get rid of the worst of the dust, cropping out bits beyond film edges, and in the ocean pictures horizon straightening. I don’t use the dust reduction features, or the Digital ICE feature. For one thing, regardless of the film I am using, Silverfast tells me it will not work with black and white film (even when everything is set for some kind of c41 film). When I do get Digital ICE to work, I find it creates havoc with some edges that are not dust.  The other dust removal options in both software packages seem to make a soft mess of some of the dust and hairs, which need to be worked on again. I don’t find it saves me any time, so I just turn off those features and spend more time carefully wiping the scanner surface and blowing the negatives with compressed air to reduce the amount of dust.

Click on any image below to see a larger (and not square) version in the gallery mode.

 

Following from the suggestions in the comments section, and in particular those of Graham Lander and Peter de Graaff (thanks guys!), I have added to this post with some examples of a single image scanned with EpsonScan following their suggestions, and with a Silverfast scan that I had already done (these negatives were still in the scanner which is why I used them). I have also copied and pasted from the comments putting the relevant pieces among the images below to save a lot of scrolling to see what I am referring to.

I have followed Graham’s suggestions for colour scans, including those in the link he provides as well as the followup that he does to that workflow. I then went back and tweaked one colour scan after seeing the results, and reading Peter’s comments about his colour scanning workflow. I found that adjusting the colour in “Image Adjustment” was much more easily done with the thumbnail showing than in the Full Size 1 Frame mode. Not sure why, but it works for me!

I used that same colour negative and treated it as a black and white scanning it as a Colour Negative Film Type, but with 16-bit greyscale. I felt this would be a useful proxy for scanning the B&W CN films that I am liking a lot, such as Ilford XP2.

I must say that this help has been terrifically useful, and that I am now quite satisfied with EpsonScan and suspect it will be my go-to scanning software as it is easier to use than the others, and when handled the rightway, works very well. Thanks everyone for the comments, and if more suggestions for workflow are presented in the comments, I will experiment with them and add to this post if it will be helpful.

Technical on the following images: All are straight from the scanner without modification other than export to a smaller size via Lightroom. They are on the first roll I shot to test a Yashica AF Motor (Yashica 38mm/f2.8 lens) on Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 expired in 2004.  It is from the same batch of film as the rest of this post which came with a camera bag and a bunch of other film (see my roll three for more info on that purchase). There were 7 rolls of this X-TRA 400, all out of the box but in a plastic bag with a handwritten note indicating “Exp July-Aug 2004” from which I infer two boxes of 5 rolls purchased about the same time. Processing was done at my local photo lab.

Silverfast Scan with NegaFix at Fuji Superia 400 and minor EV adjustments

Silverfast Scan with NegaFix at Fuji Superia 400 and minor EV adjustments

The Silverfast scan above was done with NegaFix settings for a similar film profile and manually setting the scan framing. It is slightly over-saturated, but I was happy enough with it to not fiddle with the levels in Silverfast since the saturation could be easily dealt with in Lightroom. I think it might have defaulted to sharpen the image as well, something I turned off in EpsonScan.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScan1-001

EpsonScan, automatic settings without tweaking, cropping not adjusted.

The scan above is done with automatic settings in EpsonScan and no manual adjustments. The frame cropping is what I have been living with for months now, prior to adjustment.

Graham Lander advised in his comment: “There is a setting in epson scan that changes the frame size: Configuration button at bottom, Preview tab, Slide Thumbnail cropping area to the far left.” I found that it needed to go to the far right, and all images below are using that change, which has stuck when refreshed the preview and changed scanning modes. I am hopeful it will still be there tomorrow, but now I know how to change it, it is not the big deal it was before.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScanGL-001

Cropping configuration set to least amount of cropping. And following first part of Graham’s advice to end of the link he provides.

The scan above follows this part of Graham’s advice: “You can get more color and contrast in epson than your results pretty easy. First I do Histogram Adjustment, roughly following this sites advice; http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/tech/scanning.php for black and white and color for just getting the exposure right. ” This is getting the exposure set without worrying about colour.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScanGL-002

First cut, following Graham’s suggestions, colour adjustments done with full sized preview.

The scan above follows the next bit of Graham’s comment: “Next I experiment with the color sliders (mouse over Epson calls it “Image Adjustment.”) I move the saturation all the way up till I get the best whites I can then turn it down to where I like it. ”  I did all of those adjustments in the “Full Size 1 Frame” viewing mode.

I thought it looked OK, but that as really in reference to where it had been after the exposure adjustment, but I soon recognised it was too blue.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScanGL-003

Second cut, following Graham’s advice and then experimenting with Peter’s suggestions.

With the scan above I revisited the colour balance, taking to heart Graham’s closing remark “With a little practice you get a feel for the sliders and its quick.” I also had read and thought about Peter de Graaff’s comments on scanning which follow the next photo.

The colour adjustments above were made by revisiting the “Image Adjustment” sliders, but this time I did them with a thumbnail view and found it much easier to get the colour to something very close to natural as this is a slightly yellow stone. I am very pleased with this result.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScanPDG-001

Scanned with 16 bit greyscale. Following Peter’s suggestions of black and white but not including tone curve or image adjustments.

For the image above and below, I applied Peter de Graaff’s suggested workflow. His comment included: “In professional mode I usually hit the reset button, and set the black and white points myself to ensure no parts of the histogram are cut off. Then I adjust highlights, midtones and blacks, and then tone curve before moving to image adjustments. I do the same in colour. When working in colour, especially with transparency films, it is important to me that the colours are believable and as I remember them. I generally rarely up saturations very much. ”

The scan above took Peter’s advice to the end of adjusting the highlights, midtones and blacks. I was pretty satisfied with the outcome, but decided to try his other methods and the image below is the outcome. I am not practiced with a tone curve adjustment where you move nodes on the curve – in Lightroom I almost always use the sliders.  For me it is a toss-up between these two monochrome versions. I think on a different kind of image with more contrast and tonal range (and in colour too) that I might want to mess with the tone curve a bit.

2015-YAF-001-EpsonScanPDG-002

Following Peter’s suggestions of black and white and including minor tone curve and image adjustments.

So once again, thanks everyone for your help. I have learned a lot by posting about this and getting such great responses. I hope others get some benefit from this discussion too.

 

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20 thoughts on “Six and Scanning

    • Thanks, I am glad if it is useful. Keep in mind that I was trying to scan with least effort, but I necessarily had to put more into the Silverfast which meant more tweaks were made. Black and white film has a fairly limited range of profiles already made for the Negafix software.

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    • Hi Jim – thanks for the comment. Some people swear by VueScan and get great results, I just have not got that proficiency. Silverfast SE 6.6 is the light version bundled with my scanner. It does offer more options than EpsonScan, but is not as good at finding frames so there is no way to avoid handling each scanned image a bit. There is an SE 8x version that bills itself as being much better at finding frames, so perhaps that is no longer an issue.

      I had meant to add (now done in the body of the post) a link to the Negafix profiles that exist, and a note that you can develop your own profiles and save them. That can fill the gap in their list of profiles and could be useful if you have a roll of expired film that needs its own settings, or a whole lot of old stored images that need similar scanning. The Negafix profile list seems to be increasing, but there are several very common films missing from the list, like the Superia X-Tra 400.

      Some people recommend a neutral scan and then I suppose a bunch of work in post. I don’t even know how to get a neutral scan from either of these software, so that would be something to explore. I don’t imagine much difference in manipulating the image in the scan or in post, other than if you have non-destructive editing in post (like with Lightroom) there might be more options left open than via the scanner corrected route. This is probably less of an issue with well exposed new film, and with black and white, but I have not experimented enough, or kept any notes, to really say.

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  1. Reblogged this on burnt embers and commented:

    This is the companion 52Rolls.net post to today’s earlier burntembers post. It includes colour versions of images that appear today in black and white, or will appear in coming days in black and white in this blog. The text concentrates on using different scanning software.

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  2. There is a setting in epson scan that changes the frame size:
    Configuration button at bottom, Preview tab, Slide Thumbnail cropping area to the far left.
    You can get more color and contrast in epson than your results pretty easy. First I do Histogram Adjustment, roughly following this sites advice;
    http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/tech/scanning.php for black and white and color for just getting the exposure right. Next I experiment with the color sliders (mouse over Epson calls it “Image Adjustment.”) I move the saturation all the way up till I get the best whites I can then turn it down to where I like it. With a little practice you get a feel for the sliders and its quick.

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    • Hi Graham – thank you for your very useful comment. One minor no regarding your second paragraph, on my version of EpsonScan, the slider has to go to the far right to get the least amount of cropping.

      I followed the methods in the link you provided, and your followup work with Image Adjustment. The results are MUCH more satisfactory.

      In a little while I will edit my post with versions of an image following your workflow, and other comments with explanations of what I did.

      Thanks for the help!

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  3. I use Silverfast occasionally, but often work in the EponScan. In professional mode I usually hit the reset button, and set the black and white points myself to ensure no parts of the histogram are cut off. Then I adjust highlights, midtones and blacks, and then tone curve before moving to image adjustments. I do the same in colour. When working in colour, especially with transparency films, it is important to me that the colours are believable and as I remember them. I generally rarely up saturations very much. Silverfast allows for multiple exposure scans, and the Epson Digital ICE technology is incorporated into Silverfast within dust removal.

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    • Thank you Peter. This is very useful for me. The black and white workflow seems to work really well. I have used it on a CN image that I scanned as black and white (this would be like scanning the B&W CN films that I seem to be gravitating towards) and it works well, though will take a bit of practice with the sliders.

      In my version of Silverfast, there are separate buttons for dust removal and for Digital Ice technology – perhaps they have been combined in a later version, or maybe I misunderstand your comment and they get combined when doing multiple exposure scans.

      As I said in my response to Graham, I will be editing the post very soon with some examples from Epson Scan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really great to hear about your scanning routine! I use Silverfast 8 (on a Plustek scannner) and Epson Scan (on my V600), and occasionally VueScan. So far, Silverfast seems to give the best results but at the expense of being very slow, and with some quirks that drive me half mad. For example, the preview never seems to have the same color temperature as the actual scan, which makes correcting colors in Silverfast pointless. Also, the fact that you can create your own Negafix profiles (so it can’t be that difficult), but that Silverfast haven’t managed to include one for New Portra 400 (and as you mentioned Superia 400) even after four years is a major dropping of the ball on their part. On the Silverfast forums, people inquire about that quite a bit, but it seems Silverfast is for the most part ignoring the problem – which is another reason I find their software and attitude less than ideal.

    VueScan seems like a good alternative if you can live with its “all-options-are-equally-important” interface, and I really like their approach of buying it once for all scanners you might ever have. If you can settle on a VueScan workflow that seems to be mostly future proof. I wonder if I should try and figure one out and save time later on.

    Finally, Epson Scan seems to me the easiest to use, despite its late 90s looking UI, but I also noticed that it crops way too much on the sides. The colors are sometims off, but I find it quicker to just scan and then do post in Aperture.

    Would love to continue the scanning conversation with other 52rollers, since we all seem to be in the same boat there.

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    • Thanks for the comment Torsten. The link that Graham provided also has workflow for VueScan, so I will be trying that at some point. But all the comments I have received are making the EpsonScan perform much more as I had hoped it would, and without any more work that Silverfast requires.

      Check out the configuration method that Graham gives in his comment above for fixing the EpsonScan cropping issue, but try sliding to the right which is what my version required. It worked fine for me, which is a real plus. Both Graham and Peter provide some useful workflow for getting the colour right too, and the link that Graham provides fills some gaps with screen shots of the EpsonScan control windows (and VueScan’s too).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The difference in software is astonishing! I use Epson scan & haven’t had any complaints about it, although I don’t enjoy scanning color very much since it requires black point & white point fiddling etc.

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    • Hi Amy – I am learning that the majority of difference in software is largely attributable to my own shallow understanding of how to use it, and much less to how the software behaves. In a few minutes I will edit the post with some new results following what people have suggested here in the comments.

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  6. I have edited the post with some examples of the methods others have offered in this comment section. My scans are way better now! Thanks for the help.

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  9. I read this with great interest. I struggle with scanning and haven’t found a good workflow for quality results. I am saving this in my Scanning Bookmarks folder – Thanks for the thoughtful post!

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