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Thread: Scanning and software settings

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Scanning and software settings

    Hi,
    I was wondering if anyone had any experience with scanning software?
    I'm just starting to experiment with Epson Scan in professional mode and I'm trying to get the best out of it. I've also heard about Silverfast and Vuescan but I'm gonna stick to Epson Scan first and see b4 purchasing anything else.

    Some questions:
    1. Are there any profiles to download for specific films?
    2. How do you approach exposure in relation to scanning?
    ie. Are digitised files from scanners linear in nature, like in cmos/ccd digital capture and if so, do I also try to "scan to the right" so to speak in terms of the histogram then correct in photoshop.
    Or do I try to scan things as close to what I see on the film.
    In trying to do an accurate scan, do you just not play with any exposure settings, leaving everything on '0' or 'defaults.'
    b) How do you 'salvage' slightly underexposed or overexposed films?
    Does scanning to the right (histogram) improve the PP latitude of the digital files?
    3. How much sharpening do you apply? I'm finding I need/can sharpen a fair bit without too much artifacts, moreso than with my digital capture files anyways.
    4. How do you get the sharpest scan?
    I'm using a V700 which has dual scan sensors, one set to focus ~3mm above the glass and one on the glass flatbed. I'm finding the + setting using the film guide area achieving the best results but looking at the film mounted in the guide, I can see the film sag very slightly which leads me to believe I may get better results laying the film flat on the bed.
    5. How do you feel about PP film scans. I'm playing with the files and seemingly 'improving' the results but after I improve things, I feel I'm not staying true to shooting that particular film and have somehow lost some of the film character which is the reason I'm experimenting with film in the first place.
    Nikon FX

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    I will be very interested in any replies to your questions. I'm trying to figure out the best way to scan on an Epson Scanner and in Prof. mode.
    Carmen

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    Constructive Critique of my photos always appreciated

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I use Epson Pro and all I do is select settings that ensure a good file, ie decent DPI and select mono if the photo is a mono one. I then treat the resultant scan exactly the same as a digital photo file (which it is cause scanners have digitised it). I process the file in photoshop with levels, sharpening etc. to try and replicate what the film photo looks like, cause scanners (unless you spend several thousands on a drum scanner) are notoriously inaccurate, and some PP is needed.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Swifty. I have a V700, and on reading your missive (and clm738's), I'm feeling disposed to getting it back out. But I crushed a finger the other day and broke a bone, so now I am trying to avoid handling heavy/bulky things. But... here are some prelim answers...
    1. Not that I could find for the V700.
    2. In part: I leave most scanner settings alone and adjust in CS2.
    3. No sharpening while scanning, I do it in CS2.
    4. In CS2 I use mostly the Smart Sharpen filter and set it fairly low, like 1 pixel and 50%. Sometimes I give it a second go. You have to test for Lens or Gaussian blur. I have also set the negs directly onto the glass to avoid the same sag.
    5. Agree with ricktas on this. The scanner basically scans the luminosity well enough, but you do need a good bit of PP occasionally. I used to do 24-bit scans, but the V700 is capable of 48-bit. I will be trying that next on negatives because the 24-bit (8-bits/channel) seems to clip highlights especially. I think that the 48-bit scans will help salvage slightly over-, under-exposed negs.
    Will keep you posted, but meantime I'll check out what you find out.
    Am...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I then treat the resultant scan exactly the same as a digital photo file (which it is cause scanners have digitised it). I process the file in photoshop with levels, sharpening etc. to try and replicate what the film photo looks like, cause scanners (unless you spend several thousands on a drum scanner) are notoriously inaccurate, and some PP is needed.
    Hi Rick,
    I guess what you're saying is you try to get the most optimum scan (not necessary the most accurate) then you PP to produce the results you want, whether it be an accurate representation of the original film or otherwise.
    That's what I'm trying to decide, do I
    a) adjusting the histograms etc. for the most optimum scan, eg. placing the exposure to the right and scanning at the highest bit rate, leaving sharpening off etc. so to get a file with as much information as possible and hence PP latitude.
    or
    b) adjusting the settings to produce an as accurate scan to the original as possible in the first place.

    My head tells me a) should be what I should do but I get the feeling that I might be 'destroying' some of the film character when I do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Swifty. I have a V700, and on reading your missive (and clm738's), I'm feeling disposed to getting it back out. But I crushed a finger the other day and broke a bone, so now I am trying to avoid handling heavy/bulky things. But... here are some prelim answers...
    1. Not that I could find for the V700.
    2. In part: I leave most scanner settings alone and adjust in CS2.
    3. No sharpening while scanning, I do it in CS2.
    4. In CS2 I use mostly the Smart Sharpen filter and set it fairly low, like 1 pixel and 50%. Sometimes I give it a second go. You have to test for Lens or Gaussian blur. I have also set the negs directly onto the glass to avoid the same sag.
    5. Agree with ricktas on this. The scanner basically scans the luminosity well enough, but you do need a good bit of PP occasionally. I used to do 24-bit scans, but the V700 is capable of 48-bit. I will be trying that next on negatives because the 24-bit (8-bits/channel) seems to clip highlights especially. I think that the 48-bit scans will help salvage slightly over-, under-exposed negs.
    Will keep you posted, but meantime I'll check out what you find out.
    Am...
    Hi Ameerat,
    Sorry bout your finger. The V700 is quite a tank (for a scanner) compared to most other scanners out there. I can't even find a place to put it atm cos I'm out of desk space haha.
    2. So I take it you let the Epson Scan software do an autoexposure on your scans? I've so far found the autoexposure gets it pretty right for most files where the levels are in the middle some where. But when you have an intentionally dark or light exposure, the autoexposure can clip detail (mostly on the highlight end).
    3 &4. I agree, I always uncheck the sharpening whilst scanning.
    For sharpening in photoshop I'm still experimenting at the moment, using combinations of USM at higher and lower pixel radius and different amounts as well high pass filter sharpening.
    I'm also reducing the massive file sizes to something more manageable and I'm trying to figure out whether sharpening before or after (or both) resizing yields the best results.
    5. Agree with you on the bit rate thing but it does slow down the scan though and unfortunately I'm quite impatient.
    Cheers

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    Hi Rick,
    I guess what you're saying is you try to get the most optimum scan (not necessary the most accurate) then you PP to produce the results you want, whether it be an accurate representation of the original film or otherwise.
    That's what I'm trying to decide, do I
    a) adjusting the histograms etc. for the most optimum scan, eg. placing the exposure to the right and scanning at the highest bit rate, leaving sharpening off etc. so to get a file with as much information as possible and hence PP latitude.
    or
    b) adjusting the settings to produce an as accurate scan to the original as possible in the first place.

    My head tells me a) should be what I should do but I get the feeling that I might be 'destroying' some of the film character when I do that.
    Not necessarily, I often process it to bring back the look of the film, leaving the grain intact, etc.

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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    how do you know what dpi to set for old photos?

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    Hi,
    I have the Epson V300 and use the Epson Scan software for scanning both photos and negatives.

    For old photos I scan at 600 dpi, on the assumption that they're mostly 6 x 4 and I may want to print them later at 10 x 8 once processed.

    I can't remember the res I scan at for the negs - but it could be 1500 dpi. Really can't remember.... or was it 3000? I'm working interstate, so can't check.

    I pretty much leave the Epson settings alone, preferring to do any adjustment to the colour and balance in PSE.

    Regards,
    Calx
    Calxoddity
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    Post Processing: Aperture 3 & Photoshop Elements 6

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reaction View Post
    how do you know what dpi to set for old photos?
    Hi Reaction.
    You don't really "know" what to set, but I usually work on 300 dpi for photos (15cmx10cm), new or old. But then if you have lots of detail to record, or you want to enlarge a small area of the photo, set it higher - by trial and er...
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    the reason I ask is once I scan, that becomes the main copy. Old photos degrade, so I wanted to know what res of info there is in a print. Many of my photos in old albums have half stuck to the plastic sleeves.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Reaction,
    (Eek and cringe icon!)
    Then your problem is the condition of the photos. How do you put them on the scanner? Plastic sleeve and all? I'm wondering what else you'll get, like reflections and other stuff.

    There are some threads on this topic, but I'll be brief...
    1) You'll have to determine what your tonal depth is for the photos. Sometimes I find that 8-bits per channel is not enough, though it almost always has been for B/W (for one channel that's a 256 tone greyscale image). If you use say 12- 14- or 16-bits/channel then at worst you'll just get a bigger file size, but potentially you'll get a better tonal gradation.

    2) The DPI setting also depends on what you need to record. I'd suggest start at 300 dpi, then try a 600 and max out at about 1000 for really precious photos. Be prepared for large file sizes. That's for originals that are 6"x4" or 15cm x 10 cm. Scale up or down to suit.

    3) If you have (35mm) negatives or slides to scan, then the same applies about bit-depth, esp if they're colour. But even good B/W negs contain more than 8-bit tonal gradation. Your DPI for 35mm negs/slides should be about 2400-3200.

    All my own personal biases.
    Am.

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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    I don't know yet, still looking at what scanner to buy, and other options. I also have some 35mm negs, and APS negs, can APS even be scanned??

    For bits per channel, dpi, I think pixel peeping they'd all look blurry at 100% anyway, it's hard to say whether you're getting more info. That's my experience with using a scanner on an APS print 5yrs ago, I haven't looked at my old pics, I'd expect them to be more blurry due to age etc? I want to be able to confidently say I've scanned all the detail, and these files can now be my originals.

    I can imagine this scanning will take me years

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    1. Yes, you may have to make up your own carrier.
    2. You're right.

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    Hi reaction, from my limited experience scanning can be tricky and there's a lot of trial and error involved. That's why in the end I just purchased a scanner rather than renting the use of one cos I knew there would be a lot of fiddling around.
    Particularly with scanning film and the trickiness of keeping the film flat as it sits off the glass in the case of a V700 and no way of 'focussing' the sensor.
    I tend to scan at max resolution n bit depth but only cos I do it immediately after each roll. I can imagine it being a pain to archive a whole collection and there will also be a point of diminishing returns as u increase the resolution and bit depth.
    It also appears software makes a massive difference and in my case, epson's own software is definitely not the best.
    So the blurriness u experienced can be any number of things and it's tricky to get every bit of detail out.

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    I've been thinking of buying a nice used dedicated film scanner for a while now but the prices scare me. I was reading the photo trader on the weekend and saw an article about other ways/devices to convert old negs/slides into digital files - so I hauled out the macro lens and the light table and took a few test shots and I have to say I was surprised at how well they turned out. More experimentation is needed but I'm now wondering how much detail I'll lose this way compared to a film scanner...
    The world is an AMAZING place . . .
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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    you get perspective distortion, unless you stand very very far away.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    GlennSan. Use raw to reduce your tone loss, and shoot at highest res. Am.

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    Bumping this because it is an area of interest for me as well.

    I have gone through a couple of scanners to get where I am now. My first was a Canon 8600F which was (for me) unacceptably soft.

    A friend then gave me his Microtek Scanmaker i700 as he upgraded to an Epson v700.

    I've tried a few different things to maximise the quality of my results from the i700. Perhaps the most comprehensive workflow I have documented is here:

    Sampler from a 2400dpi 4x5 scan



    Viewing the image full-size on flicker probably gives the best indication of what was pulled out using the workflow.

    The process involves a few steps - some of them because I am using Silverfast SE, which only scans to 24-bit RGB.

    First I scan after modding the levels using the Silverfast Histogram to truncate the flat ends of the histogram. I use 'medium' USM when scanning.

    Then after imported into photoshop, I convert to 48 bit, then export each channel as a 16 bit greyscale image.

    I run each greyscale through Neat Image to minimise noise - this has the added effect of 'rebuilding' some tonal detail by averaging pixels interpreted as noise and resampling that average back into the image.

    After noise reduction I open each of the processed greyscales in photoshop and run another tone adjustment using the levels tool, slicing off the low end until the blacks are black, and the whites are bright.

    I then run a Smart Sharpen on each of the greyscales, using Lens Blur.

    After that, I recombine the image, copying each greyscale image into its appropriate channel in the RGB image.

    I then run more curves / levels adjustment, colour enhancements, and a manual clone touchup to remove any dust marks I find.

    Finally, I run an appropriate USM on the final image, and resize for output. I may run an additional minor USM on the resulting resize as well, depending on whether it needs it.
    Recently I acquired an Epson v500 and I'm feeling my way around that. I'm experimenting with custom mounting, taping the film directly to non-reflective framing glass to get it perfectly flat, and using tape on the corners of the glass to create 'legs' with adjustable height. Once I have some decent scans from this method I'll post to this thread with the workflow I used.

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    I suppose the question that should be asked is why are you scanning the images?
    Is it for a digital backup
    Is it so you can print in large formats
    Is it so you can display the images on the web

    I have found this site has some great information.

    Cheers
    Matt

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