Film and how to apprec the quality.

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by raymondc, Jun 25, 2016.

  1. I've shot 35mm film and dSLRs and have just gone to 120 format. With 35mm I only have my flatbed scanner, I did have a Coolscan bought used but it broke down after 1 or 2yrs. The same is happening with 120 format.
    What are your guy's output and are you happy?
    With a digital camera you could really appreciate the quality because you download it and see it all. With a flatbed you don't get that with 135 or 120 format. I enjoy the nature of shooting film and all the steps involved its tonality. Do you just shoot film, maybe spend money on film holders and software and if it meets your final output you leave it as it rather than exploit it? It's like taking a D800 and accept D700 quality? Do you send it out for high end scanning?
  2. I've never had great luck scanning film. The scans, no matter how good, lose the brilliance of film. Try shooting 120 slide film and run it through a slide projector. That's the output in all its glory.
  3. I tried the slides and projector approach. It doesn't really work for me. First of all: who did ever get their projector screen and framed slide properly aligned? - I mean in a way that the sharpness obsessed brickwalls shooting measurebator would nod through as perfect after standing up and inspecting the projected image as closely as the projection beam permits? - If we are printing in a dark room we usually stop down to f11 after our focusing efforts to make sure things work out although the enlarger head is mounted kind of straight above the easel. - Projection screens have to be placed by hand aren't perfectly plain and really hard to tilt.
    Another slides related issue: You need quite a lot of them to make initializing the viewing experience worth it. 150 maybe? - How many rolls does it tke to get that amount of better keepers together? - I'd prefer surfacing from the darkroom with an 8x10"
    To me slides and projector feel closer to viewing & judging files full HD screen. - You don't get down to the pixel level of an awesome camera that way.
    MF managed to convince me in the BW darkroom. - I always shot desperately fast film. An ORWO NP27 35mm neg printed 8x10 looks grainy. TMZ & Delta 3200 the same. - MF negs look bearable though. With slow films you probably have to print bigger.
    Digitizing: I went to apprentice school in a mixed class with media technicians. - We were taught to scann results in mind. Means yes my neg or slide might hold a lot of info but for online sharing do I need more than 4k stills from MF / LF work?
    Can't I spice a newspaper / yearbook with 1.3 - 1.5 MP pictures?
    In other words: if you want a photo wallpaper on your wardrobe doors: Pick that neg get the heck drumscanned out of it and print it well enough to urge you to put a linen tester on it. - But lets stay realistic: Thats one neg every 15 to 20 years. - The rest of the details your photographing might (and should!) hide unsseen in storage.
    I haven't figured out how to get an APS digital with macro lens etc. on some precision mount to serve as a microscope substitute in neg quality control. - Would be tempted to get my hands on such a device, permitting to have an 1:1 - or maybe even 1:2 shot in focus all over the frame.
  4. I have found that you can get a lot of the "punch" of chromes with careful scanning and editing.
  5. for film, its easy. B&W need to be wet printed and slide film needs to be projected. With those outputs, you will be impressed and appreciate what film can really do.
  6. First, I'd like to say, I really like your work Ray. The sad part of the creative process these days, is that you have to pay for quality. There are many consumer products that basically get you off and running, and for most, that's good enough. Quality scanners, lens, cameras, etc., are expensive. I'm sure if you had an Imacon Flextight (between 10-20 thousand dollars), and the software to go with it, you'd be dancing or crying all the way to the bank.
    I have a good scanner, but like you, I had to move up in negative size to achieve the quality I was after. For the most part, I'm not into buying whatever is new, nor do I feel that better equipment will always make you a better photographer. I still feel that film has a look that digital doesn't, and to be honest, I just like the process of developing film. For me, it comes down to which variable I need to improve to make my work better. Sometimes it's the equipment, and most times it's me.
  7. I think the best way to "scan" film with available technology is to use a macro lens and a digital camera. That works very well for 35 mm film, and holders are readily available. I haven't tried MF film yet for lack of proper holders.
    While the color will never match that of film perfectly, it comes pretty close.
  8. Ray what makes one person happy might not apply to you. What do you intend to do with your photos? You really have to start there.
  9. On a wet day here today. I took my 50mm lens out reversed to the slide, that one was 35mm and the b/w 120 format. The 50mm loupe looks so good better than my Coolscan in the past and my Kodak projector. With 120 format what I would like to do is make sharp A2 prints. ...
  10. My V700 will produce very nice 16x20 (A2) prints from 6x4.5. With very sharp negatives, you could go to 20x24. I use the inexpensive ANR glass sold on eBay that works with the OEM Epson holders, and I have adjusted the holders to optimum height.
    Scanning is a craft, like wet printing, or cabinet making or painting. There is a serious learning curve involved.
  11. I just send my film to NCPS for scanning.
  12. Sounds easier to occasionally outsource the
    scanning ... Or a macro lens approach.
  13. david_henderson


    I use a flatbed for scanning for anything screen-based, for the Blurb books I make, and any small prints I need- up to 12" sq from a 6x6 camera. It does all of these jobs well, but bigger than that and I get scans made by a scanning service on an Imacon or Coolscan 9000. Occasionally a drum scan for something very large or critically important.
  14. Important work I outsource the scans to a pro lab, and feel I get most
    of what I want from film. Even 35mm scanned well and at high
    resolution looks good.

    At home I have an Epson V500. I don't like any 35mm from it, but 120
    is good enough for web scans and moderate prints. The limits of the
    V500 have led me to add a Pentax 67 to the arsenal, in addition to my
    preferred Bronica ETR (645.) Pro scans of 645 are stunning - but my
    home scans are just ok. The 67 gives me more satisfying results from
    the V500.
  15. What have your thoughts been for those who have used an Imacon or drum scanner with color medium format film versus say a modern 35mm dSLR?
    I enjoy film for this hobby and it is not too expensive the equip are cheap and to fire off a roll a month for some Rest and Recreation and then get the very occasional shot professionally scanned (rather than buying any of these expensive scanners be it the used Nikons or that Imcon / Howtek) and allow their experienced technicians do it.
  16. The largest I printed a scanned 120 film b/w negative with my V750 is 30"x30". It looks pretty good but knowing the techniques I know now I think I could have gotten a better image today. Either way it's a good way of getting your images onto the computer.
    The way I've been doing it today, though, is to tape your negative/slide to a diffuser (I use the white part on my lightbox) and a Hasselblad 120mm macro lens, extension tubes to bring it to 1:1 and a Nikon D810 or D700. For lighting I use a studio strobe, but have used a Nikon SB-xxx on manual setting (better for light control).
  17. Question: Who would play a musical instrument that makes no noise until lengthy processing is done on its delayed recording? I doubt anyone would get much beyond playing scales.
    Likewise, film is an image recording medium that shows no picture until it's too late to do anything about the content.
    Scanning: Been there; done that; sold the tee-shirt. Really, what's the point of shooting film to just end up with a digital file?
  18. For my personal B&W the Hasselblad is my go to camera. For color, digital is close to on par with high quality, find grained film like Ektar 100, but when it comes to black and white, digital falls on its sword compared to MF and a high quality film like T-Max 100. I still do like shooting 35mm occasionally, especially if I do not have an equivalent focal length for the Hassy. My longest CZ lens is the 250mm f/5.6, which is equivalent to roughly a 180mm lens in 35mm.
    My Nikon Super CoolScan LS 8000 does a superb job of scanning both 35mm and 120 negatives, far better than the Epson flatbed scanner I had before it. I looked high and low to find one and even though they were ridiculously expensive, the glass carriers for 120 made a huge difference in sharpness in the corners of the image because they hold the film perfectly flat.
  19. It used to be that some photographers would use polaroid cameras so that they could see in advance what the shots would look like.
    Story from someone photographed by National Geographic, as well as I remember. First one shot on Polaroid, came out all black. Next one way too light, eventually converging on the right exposure, but not using a light meter first.
    Now, one could use a digital camera to preview the shots before using the film camera. I often bring both, and sometimes do that.
    But I think people who grew up with film, got used to shooting without seeing. It isn't perfect, but you have an idea how it should look, and what you might do to make it better. Thinking, instead of trial and error.
  20. Scanning: Been there; done that; sold the tee-shirt. Really, what's the point of shooting film to just end up with a digital file?​
    Joe, that is exactly the problem. IMHO the photographic process is not finished with a digital file. A digital file is just an intermediate step. Photographing - Developing - Scanning - Printing. A lot of people I know don't do the printing anymore. They put it on the social sites and that's it. I print my photos and I love it.
  21. Question: Who would play a musical instrument that makes no noise until lengthy processing is done on its delayed recording? I doubt anyone would get much beyond playing scales.
    Likewise, film is an image recording medium that shows no picture until it's too late to do anything about the content.
    Scanning: Been there; done that; sold the tee-shirt. Really, what's the point of shooting film to just end up with a digital file?​
    As a musician for over 50 years and a photographer for about 35 years, I can't help but feel this analogy is misplaced. I believe very strongly that Ansel Adams would have most strongly disagreed with your assessment regarding film and its hopeless restrictions. The one thing that film achieves that digital can never achieve is delivering a final result that you can hold in your hand, a result that you can view with your own naked eyeballs with no intervening technology to quantify the results. If you think that what you see on the display of your digital camera is the same as the image file that was actually recorded -- well, I just don't think even you believe that.
    The reason for scanning a piece of film to create a digital image is, first and foremost -- portability. It can be displayed on the web easily; it can be sent anywhere in the world instantly. To a lesser degree, there is also the matter of archiving film images, which is especially valid with certain emulsion which begin to degrade over time. Better to capture them when they still look right than to wait too long, when there is little left to rescue.
    As for scanning, when I first bought my Epson 4990 (which was Epson's best prior to the advent of the V7xx series), I bought it with the intention of digitizing my rather large slide collection, mostly for archival purposes. But I soon found that I was not capturing enough detail with the Epson, so I started looking about for alternatives. What I came up with was a metho for duplicating my images using my DSLR first, and then later with my Sony NEX 7, which has a much higher image resolution than my old DSLR has. In fact, the Sony NEX 7's resolution is equivalent to the Nikon Coolscans that deliver 4000 ppi. Good enough for me.
    But that was just for 35mm. For medium format, I have been content with using my Epson. I set it to 2400ppi, which is plenty good enough for medium format IMO. I've generally had excellent results doing this with my Epson, both with slide and print emulsions. Examples:
    Yashica Mat 124, Tri-X developed in full-strength D-76:
    Bronica ETRSi, 75mm f/2.8, Portra 160:
    Yashica Mat 124G, Fujichrome 100:
  22. The best equipment is the equipment you actually have and can actually use and suits your needs.
    For a while I was obsessed with the idea that monstrous Microtek Artixscan 120tf dedicated film scanner I was using was going to be technically superior to any flatbed scanner I could afford. The only software that would run it correctly was the software that came with it, and that software would only run properly on OS X 10.4. So I nursed it along on an old Mac Mini.
    Then I started doing more 4x5 work and got an Epson V750. Fine, I thought, I'll keep doing 135 and 120 on the Artixscan. Then I improved my color management technique and realized that for various software-related reasons, I couldn't color manage scans from the Artixscan the way I wanted to. Additionally, the video port on the Mini just DIED randomly one day, and so I started screen-sharing into it just to use it for scanning. (How are your IT skills? HA!)
    It was hard, but I decided to give up on the Artixscan because nursing it along was really just eating up way too much time and distracting me from the real work: making pictures.
    And you know what? As I embarked on a pretty massive scanning project with the Epson, I started to realize that it was just as good, and superior in many ways, to the Artixscan. It was faster, quieter, fully supported by current software; I could color manage with it the way I wanted to; and best of all, after running many tests, capable of pulling in just as much detail from my negatives as the dedicated film scanner!
    Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed at how much time I lost obsession over a technicality that was really an assumption that turned out to be (mainly) false. Don't make this mistake! Just do good work and let me assure you that using a modern flatbed scanner, you can make excellent prints even from 35mm film. I regularly print 35mm at Super B sizes (13" x 19") and I'm very happy with the results (YMMV: I use Portra, and I like grain...! And remember, grain has little to nothing to do with your scanner unless you're scanning at low resolutions and getting aliasing effects... Use slide film -- or DIGITAL -- if you want less grain.)
    One of these days, I will treat myself to a good drum scan just to see if I absolutely must drink that KoolAid, but frankly, I've been too busy buying film, taking pictures, processing film, scanning and making prints I am very happy with to bother.
    My Tumblr (obviously you won't be able to appreciate print quality this way):
    Comparison of the Artixscan 120tf to the Epson V750 (Yes, with sharpening applied, okay? Sharpness is not the same as detail/spatial resolution. I learned this in my 7th grade science class in the unit about microscopes, geez. Looking at the two scans now, I would say that the grain is more cleanly rendered in the V750 scan, actually.)

    My current scanning technique for color print film:

    NB I just use the stock holders that came with the Epson, did some tests to figure out the best height setting. I use Vuescan for scanning. I use Photoshop and occasionally Lightroom for "developing" and "printing". I use a PA249 monitor, and the stock calibration is better than anything I've been able to do myself with a puck. I print on an ancient Epson 2200. Obviously I can keep improving technique and equipment here and there, but the point is that you should never let that get in the way of just doing the work.

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