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Author Topic: macro lens vs film scanners for digitizing transparencies  (Read 15122 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2012, 01:47:16 PM »
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Hi!

I made a Quick and Dirty experiment with a 100 Macro lens on a light box compared to my Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro at 3200 PPI.

Results are here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr//images/Articles/ScannerVSRepro/index.html

I guess that the repro is not optimal, it was quick and dirty. Both focusing and framing is difficult. The camera I used does not have live view. I used autofocus on this shot.

Best regards
Erik






I have a large amount of 120 (mostly 6x6cm) and 135 (36x24mm) transparancies in a family archive that I want to be able to digitize with high quality. I am myself not too familiar with digitizing, and looking around it seems to be a bit of a hassle and/or very expensive to get better than mediocre quality. I can do with some hassle, but have a limited budget.

There seems to be three options: 1) flatbad scanner 2) dedicated filmscanner 3) digital camera with macro lens.

According to my research flatbed scanners have poor dynamic range and hugely overestimate their resolution, 2300 ppi is what a good scanner (epson v750, 700) can do in practice despite 6400 ppi claimed resolution. It is the cheapest and quite efficient solution, but I think I want better quality, both in resolution and DR.

Concerning resolution I'd like to sample also grain so large prints get analog look with visible grain up close. It seems about 4000 ppi is what is needed for this goal (?).

Dedicated film scanners are plentiful for 36x24mm, but very few exists for 120 film. Reflecta MF5000 is one of the few, which gives about 3050 effective ppi and a bit better dynamic range than the best flatbeds. The discontinued Nikon Coolscan 9000 still seems to be king among "affordable" scanners, but still much more expensive than the Reflecta. Better DR still and 3900 effective ppi.

The Nikon Coolscan seems to provide the quality I desire but is a bit too expensive and hard to find (6500 is a price I have seen), with some compromise the Reflecta MF5000 (1600) may do as well.

Finally, there is the option to take a photo of the transparency using a sharp macro lens. I would use a 21 megapixel 5Dmk2 with 1:1 macro lens which would in theory yield about 3900 ppi (stitching or lower res required for 6x6, would probably do lower res for casual digitizing and stitch when digitizing for a print). This option was the hardest to find information about, so I don't know what quality to expect. In theory dynamic range would be great, HDR also possible (as is with some scanners), and if it is possible to focus and get a sharp shot, resolution would be good too. No automatic infrared dust detection though, but I think/hope I can live with that.

Has someone experience with these methods and recommendations? I'm especially interested in the macro lens method since I have not been able to find any information of what quality one can expect from that compared to scanners.

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torger
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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2012, 06:37:12 AM »
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Hi!

I made a Quick and Dirty experiment with a 100 Macro lens on a light box compared to my Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro at 3200 PPI.

Results are here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr//images/Articles/ScannerVSRepro/index.html

I guess that the repro is not optimal, it was quick and dirty. Both focusing and framing is difficult. The camera I used does not have live view. I used autofocus on this shot.

Best regards
Erik

Thanks! The results looks promising I think. I have now ordered a good quality macro lens so I will be able to test myself. My idea for a "high end" digitalization would be to use a small-pixel APS-C camera at 1:1 macro distance and do HDR + stitching to cover dynamic range and image area. Medium format / 35mm digital cameras generally have a bit large pixels so ppi at 1:1 macro does not get that high. Ideally I'd like to "outresolve" the film. It seems like in the 3200 ppi scan you provide that there still is even more detail to extract from the film.

The quick way would be to zoom out and take one snap of the whole transparency, but I don't expect "high end" results from that (for medium format I guess it will be less good than a flatbed scan, for 36x24mm it will probably be better), and if one is going to do manual cleanup retouching the HDR and stitch part will not be what takes most time. Possibly I can do 36x24mm transparencies without stitching using a 5Dmk2 (pixel density about 4000 ppi), but HDR seems necessary to capture the deep shadows with adequate quality.

The ideal result from my perspective would be that with some work it is possible to through this relatively inexpensive method achieve quality comparable to the best scans, so when I decide "now I want to make a high quality digitalization and print of this medium format transparency" I can do it right away myself. How easy/difficult it is to get sharp focus and high resolving power over the image area will be the critical aspect. I'll report back but it may be some time because I have some unsolved issues yet - primarily how to mount the film. I currently plan to use a light-table as light source, and Hugin for mosaic stitching, and possibly HDR (not too familiar with how HDR in Hugin works though, so I don't know if it is adequate).
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 06:48:49 AM by torger » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2012, 07:12:12 AM »
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Hi,

Just for your information, the sample I had was from a Velvia 67 slide used for an earlier test. And I made a very QD setup, camera on tripod, lighbox on floor, used the glassless holder from the scanner as holder and shielded excess light with cardboard.

Best regards
Erik


Thanks! The results looks promising I think. I have now ordered a good quality macro lens so I will be able to test myself. My idea for a "high end" digitalization would be to use a small-pixel APS-C camera at 1:1 macro distance and do HDR + stitching to cover dynamic range and image area. Medium format / 35mm digital cameras generally have a bit large pixels so ppi at 1:1 macro does not get that high. Ideally I'd like to "outresolve" the film. It seems like in the 3200 ppi scan you provide that there still is even more detail to extract from the film.

The quick way would be to zoom out and take one snap of the whole transparency, but I don't expect "high end" results from that (for medium format I guess it will be less good than a flatbed scan, for 36x24mm it will probably be better), and if one is going to do manual cleanup retouching the HDR and stitch part will not be what takes most time. Possibly I can do 36x24mm transparencies without stitching using a 5Dmk2 (pixel density about 4000 ppi), but HDR seems necessary to capture the deep shadows with adequate quality.

The ideal result from my perspective would be that with some work it is possible to through this relatively inexpensive method achieve quality comparable to the best scans, so when I decide "now I want to make a high quality digitalization and print of this medium format transparency" I can do it right away myself. How easy/difficult it is to get sharp focus and high resolving power over the image area will be the critical aspect. I'll report back but it may be some time because I have some unsolved issues yet - primarily how to mount the film. I currently plan to use a light-table as light source, and Hugin for mosaic stitching, and possibly HDR (not too familiar with how HDR in Hugin works though, so I don't know if it is adequate).
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mediumcool
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« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2012, 07:22:06 AM »
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Hi!

I made a Quick and Dirty experiment with a 100 Macro lens on a light box compared to my Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro at 3200 PPI.
Results are here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr//images/Articles/ScannerVSRepro/index.html

Best regards
Erik


The links loop for me, Erik.  Huh
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ced
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« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2012, 09:01:59 AM »
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Erik the link is faulty for the echophoto...
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2012, 09:59:37 AM »
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Hi!

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr//images/Articles/ScannerVSRepro/20120101-DSC01513.jpg

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr//images/Articles/ScannerVSRepro/20120101-TT_Velvia_01_2.jpg

Sorry that the index.html file is broken. Fix it tonight!

Best regards
Erik


Erik the link is faulty for the echophoto...
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2012, 11:31:32 AM »
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Fixed!

BR Erik

The links loop for me, Erik.  Huh
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mediumcool
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« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2012, 02:22:49 PM »
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Fixed!

BR Erik

Now non-loopy, but my broadband account has hit the 12GB limit, and has been slowed. Waiting, waiting
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2012, 10:28:16 AM »
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I have something to add to this topic  Wink
Here is same shot scanned with 9000ED and shot with 90TS-E on 5DMII/2 frame stitched, 1 shot. No HDR.
Resolutions are shown on the screen shots.

Then, here is 100% crop from 5DMII and 2x downsizing from 9000ED

This king of blurriness appears all around the Nikon frame. But when it's sharp - it's sharper than Canon. I do a lot of 120 and 4x5 reshootings with setup stated above and quite convinced, that you can achieve same quality with it as Nikon offers. Better - only drum.
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degrub
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2012, 10:41:01 AM »
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Just curious, since the Nikon scanners have a notorious shallow DOF, is the film flat in the CS9000 ? Have you tried wet mounting ?
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mediumcool
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« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2012, 10:50:53 AM »
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I have something to add to this topic  Wink
Here is same shot scanned with 9000ED and shot with 90TS-E on 5DMII/2 frame stitched, 1 shot. No HDR.
Resolutions are shown on the screen shots.

Then, here is 100% crop from 5DMII and 2x downsizing from 9000ED

This king of blurriness appears all around the Nikon frame. But when it's sharp - it's sharper than Canon. I do a lot of 120 and 4x5 reshootings with setup stated above and quite convinced, that you can achieve same quality with it as Nikon offers. Better - only drum.

Am in awe of anyone who uses a camera for duping, but how long does it take? If personal, matters not a lot. If professional
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2012, 11:02:35 AM »
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Hi,

Scanning is slow and duping is fast if you have a decent setup.

Best regards
Erik


Am in awe of anyone who uses a camera for duping, but how long does it take? If personal, matters not a lot. If professional
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mediumcool
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« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2012, 11:19:00 AM »
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Hi,

Scanning is slow and duping is fast if you have a decent setup.

Best regards
Erik

Including stitching?
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torger
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« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2012, 12:14:10 PM »
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I have done some macro lens experiments this weekend. As I've said earlier, my personal goal is not so much a more efficient way to scan, but to be able to digitize to get film transparencies into my digital workflow for fine art prints. Highest quality is thus of key importance.

I started off with a 24x36mm transparency. I decided quite quickly that 5Dmk2 resolution corresponding to ~3900 ppi at maximum mangnification (1:1) was a bit on the low side for prints that is enlarged so much that the film grain becomes visible. To get the analog look requires significant outresolving of the film, I changed to a Canon 7D, corresponding to 6000 ppi, although a bit softer pixels due to pushing the lens resolving power. I just for fun tested with a 2x teleconverter to get 12000 ppi, but I could not see any significant advantage.

Focusing is a challenge. The film is never perfectly flat (I did not wet mount it though), but I don't think the focal plane is perfectly flat either, even if this lens (a new Sigma 150mm/2.Cool is specifically designed towards having a flat focus plane. I could adjust precisely with a leveling head screws, but pulling one corner into focus would put another out of focus, so one have to settle with a compromise, all parts of the picture being somewhat in focus, but not perfect focus peaking over the whole surface. But this is at f/2.8. I tried lots of apertures to find the best DOF vs sharpness/diffraction compromise, and f/8 was the best. Slight diffraction onset (a little less microcontrast than for f/5.6 or f/4), but then enough DOF to bring the whole surface in focus. At f/8 getting the film in focus is not too hard. With perfectly mounted film f/5.6 would probably be the best choice.

Since one looks only at a 22x15 mm area at a time with the APS-C camera (stiching required!), I'm not too worried about film flatness for larger transparencies, at f/8 it only needs to be within 0.3mm oin that area, if you just verify and possibly readjust when moving the slide for the next area.

I did stiching in Hugin and it works well, so resolution-wise I think this works.

I was planning to post examples and stuff, but I got stuck in an unexpected area. Dark parts of transparencies are dense but still contain detail which means that some dynamic compression in post is often interesting, meaning that the capture must be made at a high dynamic range, which at least not a 7D or 5Dmk2 is up to -- shadows get too noisy when pushed for me to be satisfied. I only want to see film grain in the digitized picture, not camera noise. I knew this from earlier experiments, so I was going to do HDR.

When I do digital photography I always do my HDR manually, blend in a bright sky etc, rather than using HDR software, so I'm new to this. I tried many different HDR software (including what is builtin in Hugin of course), but not a single one produces satisfactory results. The problem is that the HDR programs does not properly understand digital camera exposures so they blend in blown highlights from the bright exposures instead of ignoring them, thus reducing the highlight quality (improving shadow quality works though, shadow noise problem disappears). The worst software reduce highlight quality by much, the better by less but all noticably and unacceptable to me. I was surprised that HDR software has not come farther in merging exposures, but I guess it is because HDR software is rarely used just for quality improvement, they are designed for "cool effects", not for fine art printmakers.

Without solving the HDR problem this method will not produce dynamic range compared to the better film scanners. Concerning resolution I think it is competetive, with APS-C camera probably better than 4000 ppi 135 film scanners, and most certainly better than 3200 ppi medium format film scanners. I have not made that side by side comparison yet though, I'm not really up for it until the HDR showstopper is solved somehow.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 12:20:32 PM by torger » Logged
Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2012, 01:27:45 PM »
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There is a thread along these same lines over at the Large Format Forum.
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=84769
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Kirk

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2012, 02:16:42 PM »
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Hi,

I just tried SNS-HDR based on recommendations from these fora, certainly worth a try!

Best regards
Erik



I have done some macro lens experiments this weekend. As I've said earlier, my personal goal is not so much a more efficient way to scan, but to be able to digitize to get film transparencies into my digital workflow for fine art prints. Highest quality is thus of key importance.

I started off with a 24x36mm transparency. I decided quite quickly that 5Dmk2 resolution corresponding to ~3900 ppi at maximum mangnification (1:1) was a bit on the low side for prints that is enlarged so much that the film grain becomes visible. To get the analog look requires significant outresolving of the film, I changed to a Canon 7D, corresponding to 6000 ppi, although a bit softer pixels due to pushing the lens resolving power. I just for fun tested with a 2x teleconverter to get 12000 ppi, but I could not see any significant advantage.

Focusing is a challenge. The film is never perfectly flat (I did not wet mount it though), but I don't think the focal plane is perfectly flat either, even if this lens (a new Sigma 150mm/2.Cool is specifically designed towards having a flat focus plane. I could adjust precisely with a leveling head screws, but pulling one corner into focus would put another out of focus, so one have to settle with a compromise, all parts of the picture being somewhat in focus, but not perfect focus peaking over the whole surface. But this is at f/2.8. I tried lots of apertures to find the best DOF vs sharpness/diffraction compromise, and f/8 was the best. Slight diffraction onset (a little less microcontrast than for f/5.6 or f/4), but then enough DOF to bring the whole surface in focus. At f/8 getting the film in focus is not too hard. With perfectly mounted film f/5.6 would probably be the best choice.

Since one looks only at a 22x15 mm area at a time with the APS-C camera (stiching required!), I'm not too worried about film flatness for larger transparencies, at f/8 it only needs to be within 0.3mm oin that area, if you just verify and possibly readjust when moving the slide for the next area.

I did stiching in Hugin and it works well, so resolution-wise I think this works.

I was planning to post examples and stuff, but I got stuck in an unexpected area. Dark parts of transparencies are dense but still contain detail which means that some dynamic compression in post is often interesting, meaning that the capture must be made at a high dynamic range, which at least not a 7D or 5Dmk2 is up to -- shadows get too noisy when pushed for me to be satisfied. I only want to see film grain in the digitized picture, not camera noise. I knew this from earlier experiments, so I was going to do HDR.

When I do digital photography I always do my HDR manually, blend in a bright sky etc, rather than using HDR software, so I'm new to this. I tried many different HDR software (including what is builtin in Hugin of course), but not a single one produces satisfactory results. The problem is that the HDR programs does not properly understand digital camera exposures so they blend in blown highlights from the bright exposures instead of ignoring them, thus reducing the highlight quality (improving shadow quality works though, shadow noise problem disappears). The worst software reduce highlight quality by much, the better by less but all noticably and unacceptable to me. I was surprised that HDR software has not come farther in merging exposures, but I guess it is because HDR software is rarely used just for quality improvement, they are designed for "cool effects", not for fine art printmakers.

Without solving the HDR problem this method will not produce dynamic range compared to the better film scanners. Concerning resolution I think it is competetive, with APS-C camera probably better than 4000 ppi 135 film scanners, and most certainly better than 3200 ppi medium format film scanners. I have not made that side by side comparison yet though, I'm not really up for it until the HDR showstopper is solved somehow.
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torger
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« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2012, 04:18:42 PM »
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Hi,

I just tried SNS-HDR based on recommendations from these fora, certainly worth a try!

It is one of the softwares I tried, it was one of the better but I still got reduction in highlight quality, and it was not too obvious if the "neutral" mode was really neutral. But I'm new to HDR software as said, I need to mess around a bit, it was harder to do this "simple" HDR operation than I thought.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2012, 04:47:42 PM »
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Look at the HDR sample on the LFF thread.
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Kirk

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LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)
torger
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« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2012, 05:10:46 PM »
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it was harder to do this "simple" HDR operation than I thought.

The difference here from normal HDR work is that I do not want any different look at all from a normal single exposure, just completely noise free shadows. I have realized that HDR software is generally not designed to give that result. Some HDR softwares are great at providing "natural" look of a HDR bracketed scene, but that is not the same. I want zero compression, zero tone mapping, just zero noise in a ETTR-exposed 16 bit tiff file.

I've managed some HDR software to keep the highlight quality, but not being able to get a neutral result yet, there's always something. Picturenaut has been closest for me, but I get some strange problem with color there.

I would try Lujik's Zero Noise, which does seem to be what I need, but it seems to have expired.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2012, 05:52:47 PM »
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It is one of the softwares I tried, it was one of the better but I still got reduction in highlight quality, and it was not too obvious if the "neutral" mode was really neutral. But I'm new to HDR software as said, I need to mess around a bit, it was harder to do this "simple" HDR operation than I thought.

Hi,

SNS-HDR is not an HDR creator, but a tonemapper (granted though, the best for that purpose). The Neutral preset just gives the exposure blended result that's assembled from the individual exposures, before any tonemapping but after exposure fusion/merging. You need something that behaves like Guillermo's "Zero Noise" application to do a Raw (linear gamma) exposure merging before gamma pre-compensation and tonemapping.

Picturenaut could assist in the HDR merging process, which will produce an HDR file and it'll tell you how many stops of range the resulting file covers. You could feed that file in SNS-HDR for the inevitable tonemapping to Low DR media, but I'm not sure if the extra steps of first producing an HDR intermediate file really are necessary (or even beneficial).

Cheers,
Bart
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