Best way to make digital contact sheets from film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by richard_golonka, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. I want to save my darkroom paper, and not spend a lot. I want it to be fast and give me a contact sheet I can zoom in on the screen a bit or print as big as a 12x17.

    I don't have a digital camera and I don't have a flatbed.

    I have a nikon coolscan, but it takes too long. I will be using the contact sheet to choose which frames to work up, share, scan and maybe print. I shoot negs, slides and black and white.

    What process has worked best for you?
  2. I think there are programs that will put a bunch of pictures together to print as one. If they are in PDF form, I believe Acrobat reader will do it.

    I mostly don't use Photoshop, but I would expect that it could do it.
  3. Hmm, yes.

    But I’m referring to the process of quickly and easily getting contact sheet sized scans into 1 digital image. I don’t have a lot of time or spend fiddling with scanning.

    On my coolscan it will take an hour and I have to sit there.

    I assume I could just lay them directly on the glass of a flat bed and scan them as one large format negative? Or would those files be too large and crash my computer.

    Or do flatbeds not focus unless I use the holder?

    Is there a larger than 8x10 flatbed that will be fine for contact sheets?

    Should I just get a Pakon and do it that way?

    Are there old flatbeds for cheap that will be just fine for small images?

    I have so many false starts with gear and process, trying to avoid another one.

    I like contact sheets as objects as well and would like a decent sized digital file of of all 36 frames that I could then print at 12x17 if I wanted
  4. OK, I missed the question.

    Yes older flatbeds are available for low prices.

    I have an Epson 3200 which I got for a very low price. Not quite up to the Vxx standard, but does well for what I need.
    (I don't believe in flatbeds for scanning 35mm at full resolution. Probably fine for contact sheets, though.)

    Scanning software usually lets you choose resolution below (and sometimes above) the hardware resolution.

    I usually scan at full resolution, but for contact sheets that probably isn't necessary.

    I have scanned 8x10 prints at high resolution, which does take some time, but you can go away and
    leave it to do its thing.

    Some flatbeds don't backlight the full scan area, so transparencies can't be as big as opaque objects.

    11x17 flatbeds are only slightly harder to find, and the older ones not much more expensive.

    There is a nearby used computer supply store, which usually has a good supply of scanners and printers.

    Otherwise, there are stores like Goodwill, which also have a good supply.

    Most you can find the software online, if it doesn't come with the scanner, but it might be
    good to check before buying.

  5. Hmmm

    Does anyone know if a flatbed, even if older, that was designed for film scanning and could scan at minimum an 8x10 area?

    I don’t need the highest quality. But should at least be designed to invert negatives. 120 holders would be nice too just in case I dabble in MF in the future
  6. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    An Epson V800 might do it.

    "The V800 also supports non-standard film formats up to 8x10 inch when placed directly on the scanner glass."

    I guess that thinks of 8x10 as "non-standard" film. Perhaps 8x10 sags too much to have film holders be of any use. Laying the film strips on the surface may be okay for a contact sheet. My contact sheets were never works of art.
  7. Heidelberg "Topaz". Huge, still expensive and quite a PITA to operate. - Most likely it will provide lower resolution the further you go from the center line. - We had one at work I only tried doing one slide on it and didn't have my socks knocked off. - D-max was not enough for a rescue scan maybe OK for a proper exposed frame.
    In doubt scoop up some minilab tech but I think there is no free lunch in hybrid workflows and there must be a reason why everybody shoots digital or digicam-"scans", these days.
  8. My understanding of the V800, not actually having one, is that it has two lenses, and maybe two sensors. (Or maybe moves the lens). One scans the full width and focuses on the glass surface. (Good for prints, or negatives on the glass.) The other doesn't scan full width, and focuses slightly above the glass, for negatives or slides in holders, but also at higher resolution.

    That would explain the 8x10 negatives on the glass.

    I don't know about the width of the light source.

    I think the ones I remember with a light source that isn't full width are HP, but I might have forgotten by now.
    I will have to get out my Epson 3200 again, as I am not sure about its light.

    Making a light source uniform over the full area isn't so easy.

    It could be interesting, as I have a lot of negatives in ClearFile pages, that I never tried scanning.

    Years ago, I did contact prints of some, but not all that many.

  9. I, too, have a Nikon Coolscan - the Coolscan V (LS-50). I cut my negatives in strips of 6 (starting from the end of the roll moving forward so any singles or pair of negatives will have the leader attached for easier scanning), then scan at 300 dpi with only autofocus enables. I save the resulting scans as medium jpeg files. Each roll is saved in a separate subdirectory. The subdirectory names relates to the roll identification; the scans are named for the frame number These scans become my digital contact sheets. Because the scans are at only 300 DPI with minimal processing, they are relatively quick.

    So far, this routine has served me well
  10. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Let me see if I have this right. The man wants to lay 36 frames on the scanner surface all at once, scan that and then print that scan so he has 36 frames showing on one 8x10 sheet of paper. That is a contact sheet.
  11. .

    That is not the way I read the original post. The OP wanted to scan his negatives, but he also wrote:

    "Zoom in on the screen" implies he wishes to view the "contact sheet" on his computer. He finished his post by asking, "What process works best for you?" I replied with the process that works best for me and allows him to zoom in on the screen and print the individual frames. Not perfect, but it does work with his current equipment; no additional expenditures are required. He also wanted "fast", but fast is a relative term. My low resolution scans on a Coolscan are certainly faster than full resolution 14-bit scans.
  12. the reason I said I want to be able to zoom in a bit is that I dont want the quality to max out at literally the size of the frame on the scan. It would be nice if the scan could be done quickly with 36 frames all at once and then if I wanted to I could zoom in to double or triple the size and still see it fine for evaluation purposes of focus and framing, but likely not more than that. This would also allow me to print the contact sheet in a larger than an 8x10 contact sheet if I wanted.

    I also want to be able to zoom in on the screen just in case I don't really want to print that particular sheet. I dont print them all.

    I like printing my contact sheets when I go on a photo day with friends or something like that, when I have multiple rolls. The series of contact sheets in that situation documents a meaningful event, and in this case I would like to print them as the few keeper frames I do get dont represent the event. But otherwise, for rolls that I shoot slowly over the course of the month, I would probably not print them. But I want to keep the same process for both. Do something, press one button, walk away, come back sometime later and its done. Flat bed is one way. Another way is a scanner that will do a full roll all at once and then its an easy process to select all in windows and say, "print contact sheet".

    It doesnt really matter how long it takes the flatbed to scan as long as I dont have to sit there and change the strips like I do with the coolscan.

    Thank you for your input, but I am looking for a one click method that will be just fine for contact sheets and would rather not use the coolscan. I have been doing that for a while now and would prefer another method.

    Are there any sleeper hits from circa 2005 that i could consider?
    What about hte microtek scanmaker 9800 xl? This one comes with the lighted lid and film holders if I wanted to scan individual frames even. Is still expensive though, but huge.
    Microtek ScanMaker 9800XL Flatbed Scanner NICE + LIGHTLID 35 + 1 USB + FREE USPS | eBay

    or an epson 4990?

    I have had a browse here

    Surely there was a scanner that can be had now for less than 200 dollars that will do what I need. I can make anything work on any computer. And I have old computers here running xp and older versions of windows. That is not an issue.


  13. Hi Richard,

    Sorry my method does not work for you. I sincerely wish you the best of luck finding one that does.
  14. If You will settle for 100dpi contact sheet at 12x16" size Nikon View NX-i will do the job as soon as You have done scanning. So no zooming on screen and prints like 4x5". I would use Coolscan as You allready have it and quality should be great. Since most scanning work is changing negatives and operating scanner, I would scan large, even if it takes more time. Determine maximum print size and scan only as large as needed, skip multisample but do take advantage of ICE.
  15. The Epson V500 is a fine scanner, with many of the features of the later scanners, like the V800.

    Except that the backlight for scanning slides and negatives seems to be 6cm by 12cm, so won't scan
    full negative sheets.

    The V800 will, but is somewhat more expensive. There should be an older (cheap enough) scanner
    with full sized backlight, but I don't know the specific one.
  16. could I just put my huge light table on top instead of the scan lid?
  17. If you plug in the actual lid, so it turns off the below light source.

    And if it isn't so heavy that it squashes the scanner.

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