[font color=\'#000000\']First, I've been working almost exclusively with Reala and a scanner for over two years. Every film has its problems; Reala is not particularly scanner friendly, but the fine grain, high acutance, and endless dynamic range keep me hooked.
sure enough, the grainy-shadow scans come from very light negs
Yes, when the whole image is underexposed, the grain will be more pronounced. However, in any properly exposed neg there are going to be low density areas because most scenes have a mix of shadow and brighter areas or a dark subject or whatever. These low density areas will still tend towards graininess.
My own experience with multi-sampling and my Canon FS4000 is that I'm only re-inforcing the noise, not eliminating it. I love Vuescan's long exposure pass feature, but that's the only extra pass I do. I recommend you take a crop of a noisy area of one of your negs, then do several scans of it at various samplings and other settings to find what works best for you.
One setting on the Color tab I commend to your attention is the Color Balance. Try setting this to None while choosing one of the log brightness curves. The image will look wretched when you open it in Photoshop, but play with Levels and Curves to restore it to life. (In particular, in Levels just push the white and black triangles in until they nearly but not quite reach the edges of the histogram.) The problem with automatic adjustments in Vuescan or any other software is that the harsh curves that are often used can lead to exaggerated grain and white or black point clipping.
If you use a PC you might also want to look into Neat Image
. I've just started with this myself, but it seems to do an excellent job of noise removal if you don't use it too aggressively.
As far as formats go, 35mm is good for 11x16 landscapes and can often be stretched to 12x18. Read up on edge sharpening
, if you haven't done so already. Stitching multiple frames is constrained by subject motion and also gets old very quickly, at least for me. Many people like their poster and mural sized prints with microscopic detail, but if you can content yourself with 11x16s you'll save yourself a lot
of money and hassle.
As for metering, it sounds like you are on the right track. You might want to scrounge up John Shaw's Landscape Photography for some excellent tutorials in working with an averaging meter. Still, neg film is very forgiving of exposure because of its large latitude. A good trick is to rate Reala at 80 instead of 100 any time the wind lets you get away with the slower film speed.[/font]