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Thread: Converting slide film to digital

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    Member shaynej's Avatar
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    Converting slide film to digital

    Hi, does anyone have an opinion on the best method of converting positive film to the digital format? Ie using a scanner or slide duper on the end of a lens.... I've never been satisfied with scanning, as my attempts are often flat or contrasty...cheers

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    Antipod
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    Scanning, definitely scanning. Use a good filmscanner for optimal results, but you most likely will need to rework them postprocessing. This is an old positive scan, made using an HP20 photo scanner. Just to illustrate it is perfectly possible to get somewhat decent results from a scanner... it has none or hardly no postprocessing done to it:


    What film are we talking about?
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

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    Thanks joost... Mainly velvia film that has been pushed 1 stop..

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Shayne.
    This topic can be a CAN of worms!!!

    I think you asked the wrong question. Certainly, you have not told us much about what exactly you are trying to do, nor why you have been dissatisfied
    with your efforts so far.

    Do not discount Jev's helpfulness, but his reply is much deeper than it appears, and you may not be able to fully appreciate the implications.

    For instance: scanners come in 1000s of varieties and twice as many capabilities. You may have begun to find this out. Tell us about
    the resolutions you've used, colour depth, file types you've saved as, etc... In other words, what have you done?

    To this end, I will disagree with Jev to the extent that there is no real answer to your question as stated above.

    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 04-09-2014 at 7:19pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I've found that a digital camera exposure of the film to result in a better image by the end of the process.

    I had some films scanned previously, and not been entirely happy with the final results.
    The that dissatisfaction is a relative thing.
    At the time, they images looked what appeared to be acceptable.

    having acquired the ability to easily reproduce subsequent films(all negs mind you) .. I was much more satisfied with the final results than with the previous scans.

    Of course the two processes can both produce both good and bad results, and it's easier to get good results with a scanner. But the good results from using a carefully executed digital camera setup can be better than the good results from the scanner.

    The other question of note is that of the size of your films? 135, MF, LF???? .. (APS-C! )
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Am, I have a canoscan fs 4000 us, which I haven't used for a long time, because I was never satisfied with the scans, the settings would have been set to max resolution and quality...
    I'm basically wanting to convert my slides to digital format for archiving and display. No one wants to watch slide shows any more..the odd one will be photo shopped.
    The reason for the original question, is that I'm going to hire a scanner for a weekend, however, I wondered whether I should be hiring a duper instead...
    cheers

    - - - Updated - - -

    Arthur, I have mainly 35mm slides and some medium format positives...

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I don't know what other people have done with converting film to digital .. ie. how they've done it, but you should note that if you do capture them with your camera, a closed or sealed setup is required for best results.

    That is, there should be no extraneous light between the font of the lens, and the film being copied.
    Many folks have created home made boxes to seal the camera/lens to film light path.
    A sealed setup ensured the best contrast is captured by the camera. A reliable light is needed behind the film to also allow you good control of exposure(ie. don't rely on natural light).

    I got myself a Nikon bellows contraption(PB-4), which also came with a slide copy attachment(PS-4) to complete the task I wanted to do.
    The beauty of this contraption is that you can do the copying in broad daylight, as there is a bellows attachment on the PS-4, that seals the light path from the lens to the film.

    I shot a test roll of film to try to work out the best way to use the bellows/copy setup and what settings and accessories would work best.

    First thing I found was that with negatives(Kodak Ektar 100) I could find anything up to nearly 3stops of extra detail in either the shadows and highlight.
    (my actual need for all this was not really for my personal film collection .. but for a project I wanted to do of my parents collection of films, mainly consisting of slide films from the late 50's early 60's .. but the suitcase they were stored in was lost!)

    Anyhow, I found the best way to capture the film into a digitized format, was to use various accessories to balance the light coming onto the film, rather than try to recover the raw file capture later in PP.
    I estimate that I could recover about 1.5 Ev of exposure from the raw file itself using my raw processing software without losing any quality, but if I modded the exposure of the film instead, I could regain up to about 3Ev of detail from the film itself.

    I also had some lingering ideas on possibly using a HDR/exposure blending type workflow .. but none of my films needed that type of process, so I used my accessory light modifying method.
    This mainly involved using an ice-cream stick as a dodging tool. I also tried to use one of my graduated filters on hand, but because of the size of scale(film being so small compared to the 82mm filter), it wasn't as easy to use.

    Here are some images of the results:

    1. The actual digital copy of the film as supplied by the processing lab.


    2. Straight up capture(no light modifying) of the negative with D300 on the slide copy attachment:

    (note the strange edges are the edges of the negative .. to have been cropped out)

    3. next image is shot using the 3 stop hard edged grad filter(between the film and light source).

    Note that while the entire image is darker overall, the sky are is more dark compared to the previous image, than is the foreground. Where the foreground is probably 0.5Ev darker, the sky area is more like -1.5Ev darker.
    For me to get the same look in the brighter image as that of the darker image, these are the approximate steps required in PP. But there is detail lost in the clouds in the sky if I use pure PP methods .. whereas they are easily seen in the light modded version of the exposure.

    While it is more work to capture the more balanced exposure due to the fiddling around with various tools to shade the required areas of the film, it all pays off later in both the much reduced PP requirement, plus the bonus of much better quality image.

    if you use Ps for image editing, i guess an exposure blending workflow is an alternate option for you(I use Nikon's CaptureNX2, and this option is not available).

    FWIW: the film images were captured with a Rollei 35 with Kodak Ektar 100 film. The Rollei has a 40mm f/3.5 lens, so for comparative purposes, I also shot the same (film) scenes with my D300 + Tammy 28-75/2.8 @ 28mm .. so I'd have reference images to gauge myself with. The Rollei has a dragging shutter and all images were 'over exposed' even tho I underexposed them all by at least -0.5Ev relative to the D300+28mm reference point.

    Here's the D300 reference image:


    hope that helps.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Shayne. I've had a look at the specs of the FS4000US here and the review.
    It seems a fairly capable machine. There was ONLY ONE THING I found not to my liking, and that was the ONLY USB1.1 interface
    (and who has SCSI these days?). On that count alone, you might find that the process will be slow.

    You can speed things up a bit by scanning at less than max resolution and less than max colour depth. BUT that depends on how good a result you
    want to achieve in your reproductions.

    To decide on what resolution you could go down to, look at some sharp detail in the slide using a powerful magnifier, then try a few different resolution
    scans to decide what you'd need to see (more or less) the same on screen.

    As mentioned above - and this is only to mention it - a camera would do the reproduction of a slide in seconds. But I'm not saying to ditch your scanner
    and use a camera instead.

    And finally, if it's a matter of hiring anything, consider buying one instead. Slide duplicators have only one important quality - that of image reproduction.
    That's all you have to look for, so you can pare away any costs of extra bells and whistles.

    I don't know how much reproduction you have to do, but I suspect that it won't be done in a day, and several days x hire = a fair whack, I'd guess.
    They used to be fairly modestly priced (in the 70s and 80s) I don't know about now.
    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 07-09-2014 at 8:36am.

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    Thankyou Am and Arthur for your time and expertise, you have both been most helpful...Shayne

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    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Yep, the things mentioned are definitely good things to consider, and is currently what I'm doing (once my lens arrives)

    Here's the DigitalRev TV episode where Kai does this and compares it with a local lab
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgOTk4ApEYs

    I tried it with my current lenses and it seems to work well so far - once my macro lens arrives, I'll be able to really know how well it turns out.

    My films are negatives so I just throw them into PP and invert the colours.
    Last edited by bitsnpieces; 08-09-2014 at 12:25am.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitsnpieces View Post
    ...Here's the DigitalRev TV episode where Kai does this and compares it with a local lab
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgOTk4ApEYs ...
    Yep! Definitely get yourself a slide duplicator!!

    The methods shown, though it might get you by in a pinch - might, that is - has the potential to be quite messy and unsatisfactory.
    Film warping, light leaks, and film damage are some potential hazards.

    ...

    Er, and how would I know? (Yes, I have tired it in the past)

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    New Member BillW's Avatar
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    I have thousands of Kodachrome and Agfa 35mm slides taken over 20 years ago. Some show deterioration. These are not art photography. Most are travel pics and people. As stated, people don't gather round projectors anymore. But the memories are valuable to my wife and me, and we will want to share some with others.

    I possibly could justify investing in an Epson or other brand flatbed scanner with slide adapter. These modern scanners use LEDs, USB3 or faster connections and come with all sorts of software.

    I am resolved to doing this lengthy task and would welcome any input and experience/recommendations. Also recommendations for the easiest to use processing software. I am not going to spend $400+ for a dedicated slide/negative scanner, unless I can fluke a secondhand bargain.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Bill. No doubt you have thought of this as a project. It could be potentially BIG!
    There are a few questions I will presume to answer for you.

    1st things 1st:
    1. Forget about bagging a 2nd-hand "bargain". Get something new with good capacity and a reasonable warranty. The last thing you'd want
    in trying to realise a project like this would be something of questionable dependency.

    Then:
    2. Organise your work into a systematic process. I mean like: of your 1000s of slides, which are going to be serious candidates
    for some sort of post-processing, and which are going to be "just digitised photos".

    3. Decide what sort of processing you will do? What sort of resolution/colour depth will be required? How big files will you want?

    That will do, though there are lots of other considerations...

    Ta for listening so far.
    Am.

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