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Author Topic: Scanning Kodachrome  (Read 38254 times)
PSA DC-9-30
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« on: July 08, 2007, 08:35:13 AM »
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I've been digging out 15+ years' worth of Kodachome (and some Ektachrome and Elite Chrome) slides, and I have been scanning a few on my Epson Perfection 4180 Flatbed scanner. It's not a high-end scanner, but it's far from a cheap piece of garbage either. Anyway, I know scanner resolutions is a whole other topic, but I've been scanning at 3200 dpi or higher. From what I've seen so far, the images look fine for on-screen viewing, and should be OK for making small prints (probably no larger than 5x7). I had one printed out at around 8x 12 and it looked grainy and not in the sharpest focus, despite a bit of unsharp mask applied in CS2.

I discussed the results with a couple people at my local camera store / lab and they said that Kodachrome is difficult to scan even in the best drum scanners and one will typically lose about 30% of the resolution from the original. They also told me that scanners have trouble capturing the different layers in a Kodachrome slide. The lab does offer 8- and 16- bit scanning on a Kodak Creo iQsmart3 Scanner. It's not cheap though--for a 3600 x 5600 scan (i.e., suitable for a 12 x 18" print at 300 dpi), the lab charges $26; for a 16 bit scan at that size, the price is $40. Obviously, I'm not going to have this done for every last one of my slides, just the very best ones that I think might have potential to sell, or to serve as prints to hang on my walls.

The questions are then:

1. For making large, very high quality prints, what is the best option for scanning Kodachrome--how does this Kodak scanner mentioned above rate? Should I be looking at a drum scanner instead?

2. Is 16- bit (vs 8- bit) going to be worth the money for my favorite scans?

3. What is the largest size I can realistically hope to make from a scanned Kodachrome slide? I was recently at the Fred Herzog exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his original Kodachromes looked incredible in gliclee print form and some were quite large--maybe 24x36"!

4. Where do you get your Kodachrome scanned?

5. For slides that will not end up as large prints, I will continue to scan on my Epson. Assuming I'm using 3200+ dpi and saving as .tif with no compression, is there anything else I can do to improve quality??

Thanks for your help.

Kevin
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 08:39:28 AM by PSA DC-9-30 » Logged

Chris_Brown
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2007, 09:36:32 AM »
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Isn't is great to see old Kodachrome slides? The archival quality makes me wonder if all my backup drives and DVDs are really more efficient for long term storage.  

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1. For making large, very high quality prints, what is the best option for scanning Kodachrome--how does this Kodak scanner mentioned above rate? Should I be looking at a drum scanner instead?
Many people will say they get best results from their flatbed, but in side-by-side comparisons of a properly tuned flatbed scan to a properly tuned drum scan, even the most cynical skeptics will say the drum scan is better in every regard.

The current crop of drum scanners on the market have a top resolution of 8000 samples per inch (which becomes pixels per inch in PS) for all film formats. Over the years, I've used a UMax, Microtek, Epson, Imacon and finally settled on a Howtek (now under the name Aztek). The difference in the quality of the results will surprise you.

However, most people don't want to learn to operate a drum scanner. Mastering film mounting, mastering the software, keeping the unit clean and lubricated and buying supplies (overlays, fluids, tape, cleaners) tend to put people off.

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2. Is 16- bit (vs 8- bit) going to be worth the money for my favorite scans?
Only if you plan to heavily edit the file in PS. If you correctly scan the image with accurate endpoints, grayscale gamma and color gamut then 8-bit scans will suffice.

If you send out for scans, be sure to tell them you don't want any post processing done. This will help assure that you get the best scan for your money. Most scanner operators will tweak a scan before they send it out.

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3. What is the largest size I can realistically hope to make from a scanned Kodachrome slide? I was recently at the Fred Herzog exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his original Kodachromes looked incredible in gliclee print form and some were quite large--maybe 24x36"!
An 8000 dpi scan of a 35mm slide gives you approximately 8000 ppi across the short edge of the film. When converted to 300 ppi, the resulting image is 26"x39". If you want to go larger, you'll need to interpolate and sharpen accordingly.

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4. Where do you get your Kodachrome scanned?
With my Howtek.

I'll also point out that once you familiarize yourself with a drum scannner, the payoff is efficiency. You would be able to scan more pieces of film per day than you every could with a flatbed or Imacon. This is because mulitple pieces of film can be mounted onto a single drum. When I had the volume, I'd scan 30 slides per drum, three drums per 8-hour day. This included setting the scan parameters and copying the files to workstations, but not rotating, cropping or spotting.

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5. For slides that will not end up as large prints, I will continue to scan on my Epson. Assuming I'm using 3200+ dpi and saving as .tif with no compression, is there anything else I can do to improve quality??
Master the software to maximize results. Knowledgeable operation of your scanner is the only way to get the best results. This means knowing what to set endpoints at, what to set the gray balance at, where to set your histogram gamma midpoints at, and having your scanner profiled for a good color workflow.

Good luck!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2007, 10:16:44 AM »
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Flatbed scanners are not usually ideal for film scanning unless they have a dedicated film scanning attachment. Even then you may be better off using a dedicated film scanner, for example - a Nikon Coolscan 5000. The software you use also matters. Silverfast Studio Ai 6 is the best on the market for film scanning. With a good desktop film scanner and good software you should be able to produce very acceptable high resolution scans from Kodachrome slides. I've done it.

The only real issue with Kodachrome is the use of Digital Ice. Digital Ice is a piece of automated retouching software for eliminating crud from slides. I have Kodachromes that are 50 years old, full of crud, and eventhough it is not supposed to work, Digital Ice (packaged with my Minolta ScanElite 5400 - unfortunately discontinued, an excellent scanner) did "de-crud" the slides very nicely. Because the colour fades over time, colour balance can be restored easily at the scanning stage using Silverfast, or in Photoshop afterward using the grey balance or white balance controls in Curves.

You should not need a drum scanner to do this work unless you need more than 4000 dpi, you should get very good results from a good desktop film scanner and software, and the investment may be worthwhile if you plan to do a large number of these scans. If you do it yourself you also have complete control over the whole process.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2007, 11:04:40 AM »
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I use a Nikon 8000 film scanner with great results using Silverfast which has a Kodachome setting. I also made a Kodachrome profile for the scanner with a target I purchased through B&H which I think is still available. The combination of Silverfast and the Kodachrome profile gives me that nice Kodachrome glow.
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2007, 01:31:36 PM »
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The questions are then:

1. For making large, very high quality prints, what is the best option for scanning Kodachrome--how does this Kodak scanner mentioned above rate? Should I be looking at a drum scanner instead?

2. Is 16- bit (vs 8- bit) going to be worth the money for my favorite scans?

3. What is the largest size I can realistically hope to make from a scanned Kodachrome slide? I was recently at the Fred Herzog exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his original Kodachromes looked incredible in gliclee print form and some were quite large--maybe 24x36"!

4. Where do you get your Kodachrome scanned?

5. For slides that will not end up as large prints, I will continue to scan on my Epson. Assuming I'm using 3200+ dpi and saving as .tif with no compression, is there anything else I can do to improve quality??

Thanks for your help.

Kevin
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127116\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

1) Realistically drum scans still provide the best image quality. But a desktop scanner such as a Nikon Coolscan comes pretty close. I guess your best approach is to purchase a scan from each using the same slide.

2) If they screw up the exposure, or you want to do contrast masking and/or HDR, then yes. Otherwise, no.

3) Easily A4. A3 prints look good, assuming KR64, and a desk top scanner should do that, but you might want to post-process to remove the graininess.

4) I scanned mine at home with a Minolta 5400. The main problem is profiling Kodachrome. I could not find a Q60 slide. But someone indicates that B&H sold them? The Minolta is no longer made so is not worth considering. The Nikon Coolscan range is excellent, and provides for automatic dust removal (does this work with Kodachrome?), grain removal, and correction for fade.

Another alternative is to use a DSLR to copy the slide. Place the slide on a light box, in an otherwise dark room, and photograph the slide, preferably with a macro lens. A 10MP camera easily provides enough detail for an A4 enlargment. The advantage of this is the simplicity and cheapness if you have the equipment to hand.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2007, 03:05:42 PM »
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I'll throw this out here and see if it works. Been experimenting with perceptual curves combined with profile processing assigning 1.8 gamma profiles to high contrast saturated images using shadow/highlite tonal sliders in advanced layer blend mode to reduce percieved grainyness.

Produce a flat looking scan by setting absolute 5,5,5 black instead to around 30,30,30 or just lighten the black until you actually see a difference between the blackest black and an overall lightening of the entire image. Then once in PS apply a global contrast USM setting of around 20 Amount and a maxed out Radius and adjust depending on how flat the image looks combined with resolution.

Epson's editing tools aren't that great used in a gamma encoded environment. PS is much better, but you have to start out with a somewhat flat looking image.

Just a suggestion based on trial and error. Not sure if it'll work, but I do get beefier looking scans with less noise and grain from my 35mm negatives scanning in 16bit.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 03:07:14 PM by tlooknbill » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2007, 05:05:25 PM »
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Much of this stuff is covered in my two articles below:

Near Digital Quality[a href=\"http://</a>http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/silverfast-scanning.shtml\" target=\"_blank\"]Silverfast

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2007, 06:49:54 PM »
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4) I scanned mine at home with a Minolta 5400. The main problem is profiling Kodachrome. I could not find a Q60 slide. But someone indicates that B&H sold them? The Minolta is no longer made so is not worth considering. The Nikon Coolscan range is excellent, and provides for automatic dust removal (does this work with Kodachrome?), grain removal, and correction for fade.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127143\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I could be wrong, but I don't believe much purpose is served calibrating the scanner with a Q60 slide if the slides to be scanned have been subjected to fading.

I'm very impressed with the capabilities of my Dimage Scan 5400 II, which, as Mark mentioned, seems to be able to remove scratches through use of ICE with Kodachromes, something that other scanners, such as my Nikon 8000 cannot do without producing artifacts such as double edges.

I haven't been keeping up with developments in scanner technology but I wonder if there's now anything even better than the KM 5400 II at a similar affordable price.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2007, 07:15:04 PM »
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Hi Ray,

I don't think the actual condition of the slides alters the basic arguments for calibrating and profiling the scanner, because once one corrects the images say in Silverfast before scanning, one wants the scan to begin a consistent colour-managed workflow. This site is of particular interest:

Hutchcolor

Like you, I'm basically very pleased with the Minolta 5400, so I haven't been looking around either. Sadly though, as you know, Minolta has abandoned this business so these models are no longer available. There's good post-capture software around for clean-up, so I think the key things to focus on for any one buying a new film scanner is the same old stuff: optical quality, maximum optical resolution and dynamic range. The rest can be handled with 3rd party software.

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray
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« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2007, 09:04:24 PM »
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Hi Ray,

I don't think the actual condition of the slides alters the basic arguments for calibrating and profiling the scanner, because once one corrects the images say in Silverfast before scanning, one wants the scan to begin a consistent colour-managed workflow. This site is of particular interest:

Hutchcolor


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127188\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Mark,
I can't quite grasp what's going on here. I thought that the purpose of the target was to calibrate the scanner to a certain color scheme as one might calibrate one's camera by making hue and saturation ajustments in ACR in relation to a GM color chart. Having made such adjustments for a particular model of camera, and even a specific copy of that model of camera, such calibration is not effective for another model of camera and perhaps not even effective for another copy of the same model which has its own peculiarities.

On my uncalibrated 5400, I can make any color adjustments I think are appropriate, either in Silverfast or Vuescan, and the result I see in the preview before scanning is very, very close to what I see when I later open the scan in Photoshop and compare with the preview still on the screen.

As far as I understand, my scanner is very consistent in its uncalibrated state, but would not be ideal for scanning recently taken slides.

The Hutchcolor site you refer to makes no mention of benefits for faded slides. The examples relate mostly to underexposed slides.
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2007, 09:40:47 PM »
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Ray, best is for you to read chapter 4 of Andrew Rodney's "Color Management for Photographers" where he explains the purposes and process for profiling a scanner. Once your own scanner is calibrated and profiled to an IT8 or some such target (useful only for positives, not negatives) it is colour-managed and should give predictable results whether you scan under-exposed or faded positives that you have adjusted with scanner software. For negatives the best we have is Silverfast's Negafix, which is a work-around to profiling.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2007, 12:10:32 AM »
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Ray, best is for you to read chapter 4 of Andrew Rodney's "Color Management for Photographers" where he explains the purposes and process for profiling a scanner. Once your own scanner is calibrated and profiled to an IT8 or some such target (useful only for positives, not negatives) it is colour-managed and should give predictable results whether you scan under-exposed or faded positives that you have adjusted with scanner software. For negatives the best we have is Silverfast's Negafix, which is a work-around to profiling.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127205\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mark,
I don't seem to have a problem scanning old slides. I can't remember the exact color so I make whatever adjustments look credible. Here's a 43 year old Kodachrome of a couple of Tibetan refugee monks who'd fled from the Chinese into Nepal in the late 50's and were settled in a refugee camp at Trisuli near Kathmandu ..... scanned a year or so ago on an uncalibrated Dimage 5400 II.

[attachment=2779:attachment]
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2007, 06:57:59 AM »
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Hi Ray,

Good image with believable colours. Can't argue with what works. It's obvious your set-up is delivering what you need without further ado, and in those circumstances of course one leaves well enough alone. However, this did not HAVE to be the case. There is no guarantee that every scanner will do likewise - in fact there is a guarantee that not every scanner will - hence the general case for colour management solutions.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2007, 07:09:59 AM »
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Mark
Will Silverfast SE work as well? Or do I need to upgrade to Ai6?
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2007, 07:39:47 AM »
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Kenneth,

Check here:

Silverfast comparison

and see whether SE has sufficient features for your requirements. I think one of the most fundamental differences between the two is that SE does not provide for 16-bit processing (what they call 48 bit which is 3*16 for R,G,, so your files would be 8-bit depth and would therefore lack the advantages of 16 bit-depth.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2007, 08:57:00 AM »
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Hi Ray,

Good image with believable colours. Can't argue with what works. It's obvious your set-up is delivering what you need without further ado, and in those circumstances of course one leaves well enough alone. However, this did not HAVE to be the case. There is no guarantee that every scanner will do likewise - in fact there is a guarantee that not every scanner will - hence the general case for colour management solutions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127240\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you, Mark, but we haven't got to the nub of the issue, and that is; how the heck can a calibration routine take into account an inconsistent fading process that will vary according to humidity, temperature, and exposure to ultra violet?

It would be possible, I imagine, to create a computer program that could analyse any Kodachrome slide and determine that the fading was a result of a certain ageing process. However, can such a program make allowances for uneven ageing due to extreme and uneven conditions. If it can, is such a program a part of the IT8 calibration process. I doubt it.
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2007, 11:02:35 AM »
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Ray, the nub of the issue is that profiling does not depend on the quality of the image you are processing (whether it is faded, off-colour or whatever). It depends on the numbers in the patches of the standard target (IT8 or Hutchcolor) which are there to compare the colour values of each patch in the target with the values your scanner produces for each of those patches, and based on that the profiling software characterises the color reproduction behaviour of your scanner. That information is used for deriving consistent interpretation of colour values between the image file, the scanner, the monitor and the printer, which is one of the basic purposes of a colour-managed workflow. This is also discussed in "Real World Color Management" Second Edition Chapter 3.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2007, 09:28:15 PM »
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Ray, the nub of the issue is that profiling does not depend on the quality of the image you are processing (whether it is faded, off-colour or whatever). It depends on the numbers in the patches of the standard target (IT8 or Hutchcolor) which are there to compare the colour values of each patch in the target with the values your scanner produces for each of those patches, and based on that the profiling software characterises the color reproduction behaviour of your scanner. That information is used for deriving consistent interpretation of colour values between the image file, the scanner, the monitor and the printer, which is one of the basic purposes of a colour-managed workflow. This is also discussed in "Real World Color Management" Second Edition Chapter 3.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127280\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mark,
It would seem to me that that's the nub of the issue if one is trying to get a perfect color match between output and a recently shot scene, (eg. a Dulux color chart, a fashion show, an advertisement for make-up etc.), but hardly seems relevant when the colors on the slide are miles out due to fading.

I've seen 'before/after' IT8 calibration comparisons on the net. The differences are noticeable but definitely subtle. Far more important than IT8 calibration in these circumstances, it appears to me, is a scan preview that consistently and accurately matches the shades and hues of the scanned output. Is IT8 calibration necessary for this match between preview and scan, whatever the colors may be? If it is, then I guess I'm just lucky that my scanner is close enough in its uncalibrated state.

I still use Vuescan as well as SilverFast. It was the latest upgrade of Vuescan that allowed me to use my Minolta 5400 II on my Win XP 64 bit system. The upgrade included a generic driver that fortunately works with XP64. SilverFast includes no such driver.

One has to tell Vuescan where the monitor profile is and specify the 'working space' profile one is using; ProPhoto RGB in my case. Before using the program for the first time, Vuescan goes through some calibration routine which appears to have nothing to do with IT8 calibration. Just what this calibration does, I don't know, but the results are very satisfactory.
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2007, 09:44:47 PM »
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Thanks for the advice folks. Much of this discussion is more advanced than my current level. I didn't even know about calibrating scanners; guess I'll have to start looking into it. (If anyone has any links they know of, that would be helpful)

Kodachrome is/was indeed a wonderful film. Any opinions on whether the gamut of RGB or CMYK is better suited to it?
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2007, 09:52:28 PM »
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Mark,
It would seem to me that that's the nub of the issue if one is trying to get a perfect color match between output and a recently shot scene, (eg. a Dulux color chart, a fashion show, an advertisement for make-up etc.), but hardly seems relevant when the colors on the slide are miles out due to fading.

I've seen 'before/after' IT8 calibration comparisons on the net. The differences are noticeable but definitely subtle. Far more important than IT8 calibration in these circumstances, it appears to me, is a scan preview that consistently and accurately matches the shades and hues of the scanned output. Is IT8 calibration necessary for this match between preview and scan, whatever the colors may be? If it is, then I guess I'm just lucky that my scanner is close enough in its uncalibrated state.

I still use Vuescan as well as SilverFast. It was the latest upgrade of Vuescan that allowed me to use my Minolta 5400 II on my Win XP 64 bit system. The upgrade included a generic driver that fortunately works with XP64. SilverFast includes no such driver.

One has to tell Vuescan where the monitor profile is and specify the 'working space' profile one is using; ProPhoto RGB in my case. Before using the program for the first time, Vuescan goes through some calibration routine which appears to have nothing to do with IT8 calibration. Just what this calibration does, I don't know, but the results are very satisfactory.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=127362\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray - if the colours of the slide are miles out and you are using Vuescan or Silverfast to bring them back, you are depending on the monitor preview to tell you when they look right as you make adjustments to the data governing the preview file. And then you will be depending on the scanner to reproduce those numbers in the scanned vesion of the file. Generally speaking, if either the monitor or the scanner are not characterized and profiled it is more than likely that the output of the one would not resemble the output of the other and therefore you wouldn't get the apperance of the file numbers you intended for the corrective adjustments to that faded, off-colour slide.

It would seem to me that the good behaviour you are getting from your combination of Vuescan and the scanner is either good fortune, or perhaps Vuescan is doing something with the scanner under the hood which produces this happy outcome. I can't profess to know why you are so fortunate, because I haven't used your set-up or done that particular work. Perhaps others could help here.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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