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Author Topic: Best films for scanning?  (Read 7166 times)
Bevan.Burns
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« on: October 09, 2007, 01:04:11 PM »
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Hey all, just looking for some recomendations for the best films to shoot when you know that you'll be scanning the final output. Mainly interested in 4x5 films, but I'll be shooting some MF too. Which films stand up the best in terms of sharpness, grain and particularly colour? Does shooting transparencies versus negatives make a difference?
Thanks,
Bevan
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Diapositivo
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2007, 02:07:33 PM »
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I have only a limited experience with scanning (only Astia so far) but can tell you this: the "Root Mean Square Granularity" (aka RMS granularity) for Astia 100F (RAP100F) is 7 and is the lowest I have ever seen on any technical paper.

(Velvia 50 has a RMSG of 8 and until introduction of the NEW Astia 100F had the lowest value on the market. Old Astia had 10. Ektachrome 64 had 12).

That means lower noise on the slide and therefore less noise on the scans (the noise you see on the scan is actually a scanning artifact (s.c. "grain aliasing") and it is not on the slide, but the lower the noise on film, and the higher the scanning resolution, the lower the grain aliasing on the output).

The resolution of Velvia remains higher (80 lp/mm @ 30% for Velvia and 65 for Astia) but RMS granularity should be more important if you plan to scan (especially considering that you are going to produce LF slides so you would not bother about having a resolution that your LF lenses would probably not reach, 80 lp would be exceptional for a LF lens).

Color rendition is to my eyes less saturated and less bluish-greenish than Velvia. It reminds me certain Agfa films of the past. On the whole it appeals to me for its "moderation" and "exactitude" in rendering tones. No super-saturation as in Velvia, but no surprises either ;-)

Obviously as far as color rendition is concerned we are on the absolute subjective, there are only two producers left (Kodak and Fuji) but they both produce several kinds of slides, so to say the obvious, only your experiments will be meaningful to you and YMMV.

A big plus of Astia is the very high immunity to the reciprocity defect, it abides the reciprocity law up to a minute of exposition according to Fuji. I have made several slides with expositions of 8 or 16 seconds and noticed no color shift and no loss of sensitivity. Truly outstanding (if you take nocturn pictures).

I scan with a Nikon coolscan LS 5000 ED, and by using 16x multisampling obtain a file which is not just pretty clean, but that can be cleaned with NeatImage to a very high level. I have found my scans are acceptable to Alamy (the only agency to which I have proposed images so far), Alamy may not be most renowed agency for quality in town (they are making an effort to raise quality though) still they sell pictures which are printed professionally or industrially so I think I can say you can obtain good quality scans from Astia also without having recourse to professional scanning. I would scan also MF and LF at maximum resolution if I were you, to reduce grain aliasing.

With Astia I have only noticed a certain lack of saturation on light yellows objects.

As far as I can read on the internet, color negatives are less easy to scan and the result tends to be more noisy. In theory they can reach a higher resolution (Kodak VR 100 resolves 100 lp/mm, equivalent to 5080 ppi according to a certain document I will link below) but in practice they are less preferred by many if the final output is scanning. Probably they have higher RMS granularity also but I have no figures on that.

I hope you receive more meaningful answers from people who actually scanned different kind of slide films and negative films though.

Cheers
Fabrizio

The document is "Film Grain, Resolution and Fundamental Film Particles" by Tim Vitale, 2007, you should easily find it on the Internet (I have it saved on my hard disk, it is downloadable as a PDF).
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Diapositivo
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2007, 07:21:57 PM »
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I have just read this interesting article on the web, following a quote from another thread:

http://www.dannyburk.com/drum_scanning_col...gative_film.htm

It discusses the merits of scanning negative color film instead of transparencies.

In any case who writes is an experienced drum scan operator, drum scans can better handle the noise.

Fabrizio
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pfigen
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2007, 01:11:06 AM »
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I suggest that you do some testing to see what YOU like and not just rely on what someone else says. Every film has it's own character and you may like one over the other. Having drum scanned almost every type of film out there and many which are not available any more, I would say not to worry so much but just get out and shoot. Fine grain is not the be all and end all. Ektachrome GX, Fuji Velvia 50, and Provia are MY favorites for color pos. Tri-X, Plus-X, T-Max100, Ektapan are great black and white films. It takes special skill to scan color negs. They are grainier and less sharp than transparencies, but have huge latitude. Portra 160 and 400 NC are what I would start with.

Sharp, fine grained films like Kodachrome, Velvia, Provia and T-Max100 can all see visible benefit from scanning above 4000 ppi if the scanner can actually give optical resolution there. Many claim to, but don't actually deliver. The scanner will need to have a 3 micron aperture to return 8000 ppi. That pretty much means either ICG or Howtek/Aztek and perhaps later modified Optronics Colorgetters.
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Scott_Eaton
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 07:46:47 PM »
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Quote
Every film has it's own character and you may like one over the other.

What that means technically is all film lies to a varying extent, and for many photographers it amounts to a random number generator. The inability to accuratley quantify the exact differences between different film types is what aggravates me the most when it comes to debating with small format photographers who are still insistant on using film.

Quote
Having drum scanned almost every type of film out there and many which are not available any more, I would say not to worry so much but just get out and shoot.
Bad advice. Shooting print film and sending it to a lab running a drum gives you at best a 50/50 chance of getting color within the same ball park as shooting chromes. In most circumstances your $500 desktop scanner has better print film profiles than a $50,000 drum. A commercial lab running a drum has no idea what color is supposed to be with a color neg unless they happen to get lucky and find a white value in the scene while many of your cheaper desktop scanners have algorithms written into them that can make a good quess.

I've set up several commercial scanning workflows, along with profiling a few for color print films - which was hard to ay the least. Contrary to the 'try them all because all film is wonderful' myth, there are distinct technical reasons to only bother with a couple of conventional films for scanning purposes. The link posted above is technically poorly written with amatuer examples and bad conclusions. Print film is a lousy medium for landscape work unless the subject matter is under extremely high contrast or adverse lighting. If I'm shooting a wedding, I'll use NPS 160 or Kodak NC 160. Print film otherwise compresses tonal ranges which can be desireable for portraiture, but 'dumbs down' color gradients and long tonal ranges, which is ugly for other applications.

Fuji Astia 100F should be the reference for anybody desiring a 100 speed, fine grain, high performance color film for scanning. Print films like Reala, Kodak NC 160, and Fuji's pro 160 counterparts have more lattitude, but they lack the density range of slide films like Astia, and density range is the only remaining nuance that film has to compete with digital - period. I've also yet to see any range of scanner that doesn't perform superbly with Astia, while color print film is hit and miss depending on the accuracy of the built in profiles. Some scanners do pretty good with professional print films, while other are horrid. None are what I would call 'superb' with print film and all require some degree of tweaking.

Things get more complicated when more speed is desired, and this is where a switch to print film is justified. Kodak I believe makes the only 400 speed pro print film in sheet film format. Fuji Pro 400 (NPH) is exceptional in roll format, although again it's a material that happiest with portraiture and only mediocre at anything else.

For B&W, stick to shooting color film and desaturating, 4x5 size or otherwise. 20 years ago I'd pull out Tri-X and a jug of Rodinal, but not today.
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pfigen
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2007, 01:08:34 AM »
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Talk about bad advice - desaturating color film to get good black and white - that's a good one. What planet are you on? My advice was spot on. Try different films to see what you like. I've been referring primarily to E-6 and K-14 process, but black and white neg as well. Each film DOES have it's own character and each photographer needs to shoot enough of each type of film to figure out for THEMSELVES what film fits their style and needs best. The finest grained film often do not make the best images. That's why I don't like Astia nearly as much as the much grainier but ballsier Velvia, or even Kodachrome in 35mm, which totally rocks if you know how to deal with it both in exposure and especially in scanning. I don't choose my films on the ease or lack thereof for scanning. I choose films based on how they fulfill my personal vision. I have a high end drum scanner (well, actually two of them) and can scan with equal easy virtually any film, color or black and white, pos or neg. It ain't rocket science. It's drum scanning.

"I've set up several commercial scanning workflows, along with profiling a few for color print films - which was hard to ay the least"

Not really sure what you're talking about here. Profiliing color neg, or profiling the scanning of prints from color neg? There are huge differences in requirements for a print lab auto scanning a roll of C-41 and a custom lab drum scanning one at a time. While it's true that you don't have a visual reference when scanning color negs, there was none for analog printing either, and somehow we all got good prints. Any good operator worth his salt can get good color from whatever C-41 is thrown at him. It's not that hard as long as you've got good software and know how to use it. The old timers often say scanning color negs can't be done, but they're wrong. It's more difficult than trannies, but not that much more.

"Print films like Reala, Kodak NC 160, and Fuji's pro 160 counterparts have more lattitude, but they lack the density range of slide films like Astia, and density range is the only remaining nuance that film has to compete with digital - period. "

Whaat? Lack the density range? What are you talking about. Color negs have a LONGER TONAL RANGE but don't lack the density range. Why do you think you have to set your endpoints - to set the DENSITY range. Almost all good digital camera have a greater tonal range than color transparency film but fall a bit short of color or black and white neg. You normally see that in real world photos that have two to three more stops of shadow detail that you can extract without seeing any excess noise or other visible artifacts.
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