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Thread: Scan old Prints or negatives?

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    Scan old Prints or negatives?

    I have a ton of film photos from our honeymoon to Europe (way back in 1994) that I would like to fix up with a little bit of processing.

    I only have an Epson Rx650 scanner, which scans prints ok but apparently also scans negatives which I was thinking of doing (if I can find the negatives).

    Can anyone suggest the best way of doing this (size, dpi, settings?) if I a) scan the prints or b) scan the negatives?

    I assume that scanning the negatives may give me a better end result but I can't for the life of me work out how a physical film negative will end up on my computer screen as a colour image - is there some other software that I will need other than PS CS4?

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    Wayne shoots while Di chats!
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    Michelle.

    I am not sure the full details about your scanner, but we have a Canon scanner that we have previously scanned negatives with, although it was about 10 years ago. I believed we used an early version of Photoshop elements to do this. The software should have a setting that needs to be selected indicating that a negative is being scanned. Our scanner has a negative holder which fits over a piece of glass on the underside of the lid.

    With regards the dpi the key things to consider are the size of the image and what size you wish to print the photos. Therefore for example an 8 x 10 photo can be scanned at 400 dpi and still look OK printed to 8 x 10, but a 4 x 6 will need a higher dpi, probably closer to 800 to allow it to be printed at 8 x 10. A negative which is smaller again probably needs to be scanned at a quite high dpi, maybe as high as 3200, otherwise you may see the dots in the photo, especially if enlargements are printed.

    With regards to scanning photos we have found this works quite well, with more important photos scanned at a higher dpi in case we want to print out enlargements at some stage.

    The two downsides with large dpi's are that it takes longer to scan and the files are larger, but if the photos are important to you these are minor considerations.

    Hope this helps and have fun processing your memories.

    Wayne & Di
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    Thanks Di (lol or Wayne?) The scanner is about four years old now I think and has something similar for the negative holder (its in the bottom of the cupboard somewhere). I'm glad to hear that this may be successful, I think I took 1000 or so photos while we were there (which is nothing now but at the time it was alot of rolls of film!).

    Mind you, the best thing would just be to go back and shoot it all over again with the knowledge I have gained over the last 16 years but that ain't gonna happen in the near future.

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    I've just got one of those scanners from Target (gives a resolution of 5184*3360) and it scans nicely - I think I've blown one image up to aroubnd 8*10 with no problems but I wouldn't go any higher than that cause noise starts to creep in then. My only issue with it is that there's very little control over brightness and exposure in scanner.

    I think the best thing to do is just have a muck around with it - you could try scanning at different resolutions, maybe print a couple out on A4 in grayscale just to check the noise level and resolution and go from there. As long as the film is clean you shouldn't have any problems. The only thing I can suggest is if you're scanning medium format film (ie. 120) close all the other programs on your computer as those scans have the potential to be equivalent to a 100MP digital image...

    If you like, check out my flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/exzact - there're a heap of 35mm film scans on there from originals in true and chromogenic black and white, c-41 colour...

    There's also a program called Vuescan which a lot of members of the I Shoot Film group on Flickr use and is supposed to be really good, the only thing is make sure your scanner is compatible with it before you download/buy it.
    Last edited by geck; 28-01-2011 at 11:41am.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Hi Michelle (via edit)
    Warning: Generalisation follows! For 35mm slides and negs I have found that 2400 to 3200 dpi does a pretty good job. For 6x4" photos, start at about 300 dpi. And for portions of either thereof, increase some.

    Photos or negs/slides? Photos have a more limited dynamic range (DR) than transparencies, where negatives usually exceed that of slides. Where possible I have scanned negs. (1 day I might again.)

    Scan at 8-bit per RGB channel, or higher? For photos I have found 8-bit to be (usually more than) sufficient to get the whole DR of the print. Admittedly, I have also just scanned negs the same, though many scanners will do higher, usually quoted as 16-bits per RGB channel, or just multiplied out to 48-bit. (Note that this choice also depends on how good the light source in the scanner is, though this is often a moot question.)

    Storing the results: If you're scanning at 8-bit/channel save original scans in some lossless format, like tiffs. Only save to jpegs when you have done your PP. If your originals are in 16-bit then you will likely not use jpegs at all.

    What size resulting files? To get an example of this, use the likes of Photoshop and create a New file with the properties you want. For example, scanning a 35mm neg in 8-bit RGB, enter the values:
    35 mm, 24 mm, 8 bit, RGB.

    Below is a grab of two such screens, the 2nd being for a 16-bit file.

    Storage space: you will need some for a biggish project.

    Good luck. Am.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ameerat42; 28-01-2011 at 1:38pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Thanks for the advice geck and Am! I am going to try scanning some of the prints this weekend...really want to have a go at the negatives and see how that works, but the 'good' photos are in albums and the negatives are somewhere in a very large duffel bag that requires a forklift to carry it I do have decent storage space, but will keep that in mind and not go too scan crazy! Will post some results when i get them

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    Id scan the negatives to start with. Not sure what program you have with the scnner but the one I have creates a seperate file for each frame rather than having to crop them, which saves a fair bit of time.
    If you find that any negatives are damaged you can scan the prints separately
    1DIII, 5DII, 15mm fish, 24mm ts-e, 35L,135L,200L,400L,mpe-65mm
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    Member Jane11's Avatar
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    Fabian what software program do you use for you scanner

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